FFXIII - No Hope for a Sequel
As a huge Final Fantasy fan, I've always enjoyed the deep engaging storyline, the relatable cast of characters, and the feeling of being in a world with limitless possibilites, for as the title says, this is a 'Fantasy'. I could not wait to sink my teeth into the newest installment of the series, hoping to re-capture the joy that the vintage games made me feel, because in this day and age we needed a game that could rise above graphics, a pointless plot and dialogue that a five year old could have written.
Then I finally bought the game, full price, and noticed the three disks for the xbox 360, and my imagination switched gears into overdrive...this reminded me of the classics! My hopes skyrocketed, only to be shot down the very moment this first hint of blatant 'we don't give a fuck' dialogue spurted out of one of the many expendable character's mouths.
On a more positive note, the game tends to ooze eye bleeding beauty, that I can defend, even on the 360 verson, the cut scenes are heart-breakingly beautiful, and the worlds are a mix of pure technological prowess of Cocoon, versus the wild and natural world of Gran Pulse.
That little detail is, in fact, the most positive thing I could ever describe in this game. The plot, for what you see in one of the many cutscenes, is pure rot. It hinges on events that should be interesting, but as the player is at first thrown into a fast moving train with your bad ass main character and her stereotypically black cohort, afro, jive accent and all, Sazh, (they actually couldn't think of anything new, so they raped FF7...come on) as they fight their way through a series of lackluster soldiers and strange robo-panthers, in order to free the box's character, Lightning's, sister from the nefarious clutches of...someone. The player is literally thrown into the game with no pretext, all of which is revealed in codex pages, or in very, VERY, minor passing during conversations with characters, which ironically enough, hinge on you caring enough to read the codex pages to fully understand what in the name of the Fal'Cie (another term thrown at the player from clean out of nowhere), is going on. This is a common theme in the game, forcing the player to read the codex pages if they want to know even the slightest hint about the prologue to this game. I'd have to agree with the Zero-Punctuation take on this idea, that exposition should be weaved into the storyline, not handed to the player in the form of a script. This was a disappointment and I'm sure any JRPG fan with the same taste in their games would feel the same way. We are then introduced to Snow, the self-proclaimed 'Hero', and loyal customer at Cocoon's mismatched and combat-retarded douchebag store. He leads a group of rebels, named N.O.R.A., the meaning for this is something that the player knows nor cares about unless they read the codex, so this game continues on it's downward spiral. Following this overly stupid scene, where an army of heavily armed and armoured soldiers get slaughtered by androgynous teens with designed t-shirts on, we are introduced to two new characters, Hope, a whiney child with no confidence who more than likely wets himself at the first sign of danger, and Vanille, the most high-pitched and utterly stupid characters ever created in the series. Hope, Snow and Vanille are all stuck together when the game begins, although Snow begins conscripting even more innocents, including Hope's mother, with no combat training or armour, to help him take the bridge to save all the people he can from the evil government...for some reason...it is the games most common theme really, not knowing whats going on at any time...ever. Hope's mother then delivers the line that made me hate this game: "Mom's are tough!". A line that is so pointlessly stupid, so lazy a translation (as apparently in the japanese subtitles she says something about protecting those she cares about, or something along those lines), that it ruined any hope I had of liking the game's storyline. The only decent character in this entire game, Fang, only comes in at around Disc 2, so I'm not going to give opinions on her, because the majority of the story in the initial section of the game doesn't contain her.
So basically the characters hunt down Lightning's sister, Sarah, who is also Snow's fiance, a plot point you won't care about, to save her, she ends up becoming crystal, (and really, would you blame her?), and they all become L'cie, with brands that do...something...again not really explained unless you read the codex. As it turns out from the 13 (see what they did there, did you? DID YOU?) cut-scenes explaining, at that very poorly, the events that led up to the beginning of the game (and NO that doesn't count as a prologue, it's lazy, it gives only minimal amounts of visual information on some of the characters and explores NOTHING new about them), Sarah was made a L'Cie...by Cocoon's Fal'Cie (just roll with it, I promise you, its exactly like this in the game, if you want to know the story, wikipedia it, I swear, its more useful than playing the game), and Snow and LIghtning argue over her fate, with Snow wanting to save her, and Lightning being a bitch and saying she'll hunt her if she really is. Lightning then delivers a line that, if is a direct translation, makes me believe that square enix think every young woman talks like some generic, dumbass, stereotype airhead from a Lindsey Lohan movie, in the form of: "Worst Birthday ever!". At this point I knew this would be a trek, but the worst is yet to come. THE COMBAT!
FFXIII has a new combat system, focusing on paradigms for each character, allowing for up to 6 different strategies in any given combat situation. Its a pity that this option is really only opened to you half way through the second disc, when all the characters FINALLY meet again. The system, in theory, should deilver deeper combat, allowing for strategy in high octane situations, as the combat is now in real time, instead of turn-based. I say in theory, because, in reality, this POS combat system couldn't work less if you tried to make it really suck. You only have control of your main character, the leader of the party, while the two other members are controlled by AI. This was an awful idea, as the option for auto-attack is the only button you'll ever hit, as the combat is so fast, you can't select attacks, making the use of the XP system, The Crystarium, pointless for obtaining new moves, as the default setting seems to be: spawn shitty little attacks because lord knows, the player doesn't need a Firaga to keep an enemy in the air, to do more damage while they're staggered. Which bring us to the new Stagger system for combat. Each enemy has a 'Stagger Gauge', that builds up as they take damage. Magic attacks build it faster, while the Commando class can prolong the gauge from hitting zero, via basic attacks. Upon hitting stagger, the enemy can be launched into the air, and then hammered with increased damage to KO them faster. The only issue is: the AI controlled characters, who insist on throwing their most powerful attacks at the damn thing at the same time, effectively letting the enemy hit the ground as they recharge their ATB gauge (classic 'bar has to be this full to attack deal), and forcing the Commando (ME) to relaunch the enemy again. The system fails on so many levels, makes the player feel so useless, that it might as well say "get a snack, I'll be done when you get back, you clearly suck and have no brain, and cannot comprehend the genious that Square Enix possess, creating an idea this advanced". It is a pure abomination, a waste of the gamers time, involving them in the actual PLAYING of the game as little as possible.
The final problem, and oh lord is it a biggun, is the linear path the game takes. Gone are the days when JRPGs had free roaming as standard, oh lord no, Square Enix have moved past that shit, that oh so very popular, loved by all RPG fans, shit. The game is just one long corridor, with changing scenery and increasingly powerful enemies you can make the computer fight while you drink in a desperate attempt to kill the part of your brain that controls enjoyment, so you can trudge through this game without thoughts of putting it in your suicide note popping into your brain every intelligence insultingly stupid cutscene and 2 hours of pointless corridor fighting moment of this piece of crap. The only free roam-esque area is gran pulse, and there really isnt much to do in it, you really just run from one side to the other to continue the game, in fact you cant get the chocobo to ride on until you've nearly reached the end of the game anyway, and the larger enemies are far too tough to take on. The game actually goes to such lengths to extend your game time that it forces you to grind later in the game, opening freaking portals to older areas, further showing how lazy the games design was, when even the developers have admitted that the game is devoid of decent content, and you have to play through the vast corridors of annoyance until you can get enough point to bulk your characters up.
This game is, as standard playthroughs go, a mandatory of 65 Hours. If you say you've done it faster than that, you sir/madam/sirmadam, are lying. This game forces you to grind, forces you to fight every damn enemy you can see in linear corridors that you cannot skip, and pretends that the long-ass cut scenes are worthwhile. The 65 hours of my life that this unholy piece of garbage took away from me will never return, and I have to live the rest of my life knowing that I fell for Square Enix's plot to sell an interactive FF movie until my inevitable suicide.
- Beautiful Graphics
- Lazy Story
- Pointless Characters
- Uninvolving Combat System
- Terrible Voice Acting
- Cringe-worthy Translations
- Awful Dialogue
- Linear Level Design
- Mandatory Play
WTF? Moment: Vanille point a gun Snow gives to her AT HIM, then saying "Bang!" like a freaking five year old...oh and every other stupid thing in this game.
On the upside: 70+ hours of Lost Odyssey made up for it...buy that game, support Mistwalker, they do amazing work, you want a classic JRPG? Buy that game. As for Final Fantasy XIII: Avoid at all costs.
Final score: 0.5/5 (Avoid at all costs)
(Oh and as for this FFXIII-2 coming out...No...just no...if you buy that, you deserve nothing more than to contract herpies. A herpies so strong, modern medicine cannot cure it, and then your hands fall off so you can't scratch it.)
Time Played: 65+ hours approx. (Xbox 360)