Final Fantasy XIII - Final Thoughts

I took full advantage of the President's Day holiday by playing Final Fantasy XIII for about 6 hours. After dedicating what felt like an eternity grinding through the game (45 hours to finally complete the game, average for a Final Fantasy game) I just wanted to be done with it. Now, I will share my final thoughts. There will be unmarked spoilers ahead. I'm a terrible writer, so forgive me if it reads roughly. I just type thoughts as they come to me, and the final product is onl semi-coherent.

I was told a dozen times that the game gets better near the end, and it really opens up in chapter 11. I agree with both statements, though I don't think the openness in the 11th chapter is what makes it better. In fact, it was just confusing and boring. I worked through the first 20 or so quests begrudgingly (I did it for the sake of the Chocobos). I really didn't find the sidequests fun at all, they were nothing more than even more battles. I felt that the game improved once I moved past the open fields of Pulse back into the corridors. This time, though, the corridors were much more interesting. I enjoyed "exploring" (if I can call it that) Oerba and Eden. More so than the journey, this is when the battles became interesting. I was no longer able to button mash, I had to pay attention to what was going on. It is here that I began to appreciate the paradigm switching pleasures of XIII.

Worth mentioning also is the music in Pulse. For the most part, the game's soundtrack is underwhelming. This is important, as just about every game in the series has a memorable soundtrack. Until Pulse, most every song was recycled for each new set of corridors, and the music was more ambient than anything else; hardly memorable. This stands in contrast to previous games, where each new area, even the least important of forests, had a catchy tune. The different branches of the Pulse overworld had nifty songs that I enjoyed listening to, which was nice.

So, the story. WTF? To be honest, I feel like the story, and most every aspect of the world of Final Fantasy XIII, was overly complex. The story was just too hard to follow, and not interesting enough for me to make an attempt at figuring it all out. It got worse when I arrived in chapter 12. So much was going on at the same time, resulting in a headache. To the story's credit, it ended.

I want to take a moment to say how confused I am by the world of Final Fantasy XIII. First of all, I had no sense of geography for 45 hours of gameplay. Though I saw the planetary object that is Cocoon, I never actually felt like I was standing on solid ground. Part of the immersion experience of many games is a sense of place, be it an entire world, a city, or even the galaxy. Each area in Final Fantasy XIII felt like it was in a place completely removed from the last. I actually searched for a world map on Google, and what I found was not helpful (for some reason, I can't link it, but it's not really important).

Another piece of the world that I both dislike and am confused by is how... unnatural it is. I ca't grasp that these eidolons, which are apparently some naturally occuring thing, are all robots that can transform into vehicles. Maybe I can grasp it, maybe the gods of their world prefer to make robots, but I sure don't like it when Shiva turns into a motorcycle. That is dumb. I really just hated the over use of impossible technology. Oh, not to mention how overly ornate and impractical some of the stuff is. Barthandelus, why does your combat form have four female heads? I'm also quite sure that the Proudclad could not properly function as a battleship in any world, fantastical or not. The artists over at Squenix need to calm down.

I'll close my random thoughts on the game by saying that, of the Final Fantasy games I've played from beginning to end, XIII is my least favorite. I don't hate it at all, it's just my least favorite. For the most part, I enjoyed the game. It's just not as good as its forerunners.

Now, I'm moving on to Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Final Fantasy X in my quest to complete every game in the series. After X, the only main games that remain for me to complete are the first three.

12 Comments
13 Comments
Posted by BoG

I took full advantage of the President's Day holiday by playing Final Fantasy XIII for about 6 hours. After dedicating what felt like an eternity grinding through the game (45 hours to finally complete the game, average for a Final Fantasy game) I just wanted to be done with it. Now, I will share my final thoughts. There will be unmarked spoilers ahead. I'm a terrible writer, so forgive me if it reads roughly. I just type thoughts as they come to me, and the final product is onl semi-coherent.

I was told a dozen times that the game gets better near the end, and it really opens up in chapter 11. I agree with both statements, though I don't think the openness in the 11th chapter is what makes it better. In fact, it was just confusing and boring. I worked through the first 20 or so quests begrudgingly (I did it for the sake of the Chocobos). I really didn't find the sidequests fun at all, they were nothing more than even more battles. I felt that the game improved once I moved past the open fields of Pulse back into the corridors. This time, though, the corridors were much more interesting. I enjoyed "exploring" (if I can call it that) Oerba and Eden. More so than the journey, this is when the battles became interesting. I was no longer able to button mash, I had to pay attention to what was going on. It is here that I began to appreciate the paradigm switching pleasures of XIII.

Worth mentioning also is the music in Pulse. For the most part, the game's soundtrack is underwhelming. This is important, as just about every game in the series has a memorable soundtrack. Until Pulse, most every song was recycled for each new set of corridors, and the music was more ambient than anything else; hardly memorable. This stands in contrast to previous games, where each new area, even the least important of forests, had a catchy tune. The different branches of the Pulse overworld had nifty songs that I enjoyed listening to, which was nice.

So, the story. WTF? To be honest, I feel like the story, and most every aspect of the world of Final Fantasy XIII, was overly complex. The story was just too hard to follow, and not interesting enough for me to make an attempt at figuring it all out. It got worse when I arrived in chapter 12. So much was going on at the same time, resulting in a headache. To the story's credit, it ended.

I want to take a moment to say how confused I am by the world of Final Fantasy XIII. First of all, I had no sense of geography for 45 hours of gameplay. Though I saw the planetary object that is Cocoon, I never actually felt like I was standing on solid ground. Part of the immersion experience of many games is a sense of place, be it an entire world, a city, or even the galaxy. Each area in Final Fantasy XIII felt like it was in a place completely removed from the last. I actually searched for a world map on Google, and what I found was not helpful (for some reason, I can't link it, but it's not really important).

Another piece of the world that I both dislike and am confused by is how... unnatural it is. I ca't grasp that these eidolons, which are apparently some naturally occuring thing, are all robots that can transform into vehicles. Maybe I can grasp it, maybe the gods of their world prefer to make robots, but I sure don't like it when Shiva turns into a motorcycle. That is dumb. I really just hated the over use of impossible technology. Oh, not to mention how overly ornate and impractical some of the stuff is. Barthandelus, why does your combat form have four female heads? I'm also quite sure that the Proudclad could not properly function as a battleship in any world, fantastical or not. The artists over at Squenix need to calm down.

I'll close my random thoughts on the game by saying that, of the Final Fantasy games I've played from beginning to end, XIII is my least favorite. I don't hate it at all, it's just my least favorite. For the most part, I enjoyed the game. It's just not as good as its forerunners.

Now, I'm moving on to Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Final Fantasy X in my quest to complete every game in the series. After X, the only main games that remain for me to complete are the first three.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

That's a really solid summary of the game's strengths and weaknesses. It's not a bad game, but it's just not my favorite either. Good stuff, BOG.

Also, yeah. Shiva as a motorcycle is just flippin' stupid.

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Posted by FancySoapsMan

I liked FFXIII's crazy art style. It doesn't make any sense but there certainly isn't anything else like it.

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Posted by Animasta

13-2 I found way superior; I was super lukewarm on 13, and I've almost got 1000 points on 13-2, so don't lose hope!

Posted by BoG

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: Seriously, I want to know who gave that idea the thumbs up.

@FancySoapsMan: I guess that is where the art style comes in. I'd like to know what came first, robotic Odin horse concept art, or robotic Odin horse gameplay concept. I have a hunch that it's the art.

Posted by Tireyo

It looks like I'm not the only one who is conducting a project or quest. You and Final Fantasy, me and anime!

Posted by TooWalrus

I loved XIII way more than I should have. I still enjoyed XIII-2, but I fully acknowledge that it's a bad game. I got stuck at the final boss, so I'm gonna grind a little bit, and finish up tonight.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

I adore the Art Style of 13, something about it's mish-mash of ideas and bright colors just works. It has a coherent sense of randomness if that makes since. Thus I was able to fully believe the world of Cacoon/Pulse. I don't care for the plot but I find the fiction for world they create very interesting. I think the characters are some of the best designed in the series, especially hope. 13 is one of the only games where I spent a lot of my time walking and spinning the camera around to look at the scenery. I remember finding some areas so dang gorgeous.

The music I also disagree with, I think it's one of the best soundtracks in the series. All battle music was superb, the music was varied well produced and suited the environments perfectly. It has a different feel from Uematsu's work and may not be as catchy but many of the songs stand out to me.

Honestly 13 is one of my favorite Final Fantasy's and I prefer it over 13-2.

Posted by BoG

@ImmortalSaiyan: What do you mean when you say the characters are some of the best designed in the series? Are you referring explicitly to art style? If that's it, I guess I can understand. The music, though, is a different issue. I agree that the game has some great songs. I also really liked the battle theme, and I enjoyed most of the music on Pulse. Not to mention, the main piano theme is beautiful, and just oozes Final Fantasy. What got to me are the songs that played in the more dungeony areas, because they were all the same, and all boring. For example, a boring song that, if it doesn't play in multiple areas, it sure sounds super similar to other songs:

On the other hand, there are gems like this:

Lovely, and original.

Overall, I like the soundtrack, but I think it could have been much stronger. Of course, maybe I'm being a bit mean, it's not like every song in every Final Fantasy title is remarkable.

I've been pondering about what I'd like to see in the future, and I think that Square needs to take some risks with the art style. Even though the designs in XIII are crazy, it's a pretty safe art style. I want Squenix to do something similar to what Nintendo did with Wind Waker, or what Capcom did with Street Fighter 4. They went against fan wishes, and the result was something fantastic and beautiful. Perhaps It would be easier for me to swallow such wild concepts if they weren't ultra-realistic. If XIII is the most technically impressive game Square ever creates, I'd be happy. In fact, I thought I read somewhere that Final Fantasy X is technically superior to Final Fantasy XII, yet XII is a much more beautiful game. Again, I don't know if this is true, but I kind of want it to be.

Of course, I doubt Square will grant my wish. They seem to talk about Mass Effect a lot, so I'm guessing that the "Fantasy" in "Final Fantasy" may be on the way out.

Posted by ZenaxPure
@BoG said:

@ImmortalSaiyan

Of course, I doubt Square will grant my wish. They seem to talk about Mass Effect a lot, so I'm guessing that the "Fantasy" in "Final Fantasy" may be on the way out.

Unlikely, I'd say. The thing everyone always forgets is that different people/teams work on each main series Final Fantasy game. I highly doubt whenever Final Fantasy 15 rolls around it will have much to do with the group that lead development of 13. Final Fantasy 14 (yes it's an MMO, whatever though) is plenty fantasy and I am sure plenty more down the line will as well.  
 
I know I've said it in a few threads now but: Ito has to be back for FF15 (or some big Square project), like that man is still working at Square but literally does not have his name credited on any current gen game outside of a special thanks. Surely he has to be working on the next big thing, right? He is always involved with my absolute favorite FF games and it's been too long since 12, I want to know what he is doing.
Edited by ImmortalSaiyan

@BoG: Yeah, I was referring to them visually, although I don't mind their personalitys as well. They are a decent cast of characters, could be worse. I like the song you said was boring, it may not be complex but has a tender quality to it that I like. It's a fine listen apart form the game but taken in context is suits the environments, in which it plays to a tee. many of the songs you hear have that backing track quality to them. May not make for the most exciting soundtrack but the game as a whole is better for it.

Because I can i'm going to post a few of my favorites tracks that come to mind.

I think 4 is enough.

Posted by BoG

@Zenaxzd: Yes, I guess you're right. I would bet money that Ito is the head of the next FF project. I can't find a reputable source (only Wikipedia), but I know that he's supposed to be in charge of a large-scale project that has yet to be announced. If it isn't Final Fantasy XV... then that's crazy. I also agree that he's been he has been involved in the best FF games. If you look at that GB page, you can see it. The active time battle was his brain child in IV, the job system in V, the junction system in VIII, the battle system in XII,and he directed IX (one of my top 2 FF games). If it is up to the XIII team, though, I think they're going more futuristic.

Posted by ZenaxPure
@BoG: Go and play FF13-2, I think the 13 guys are going to be busy with other stuff for a while :P (especially considering some of them are overseeing FFX HD now) 
 
The thing about Ito I always go back to though, wikipedia puts it best. He's been the lead director on the 3 highest rated FF games of all time: 6, 9, and 12. Those are hands down my favorite 3 in the series. I certainly love plenty of other games in the series (heck, I thought 13-2 was absolutely amazing, hence my avatar) but what I've learned over the years is Ito knows exactly how to make a game to blow my mind.