By Video_Game_King 9 Comments
Final Fantasy XIII( Final Fantasy and I h....damn it!) That Greek dude is back. Look, I know, kinda odd that he's singing that folk song or something, but I can't get him to leave. Anyway, where was I? Oh, right: Final Fantasy and I have this odd relationship with each other. It's not as straightforward as the Fire Emblem Fuck or the Cyborg Justice Cockslap; no, some games are so awesome that I immediately kill those who doubt their awesomeness (4, 6), while others are pieces of crap that drive men to insanity (2, 8, 12). Where does Final Fantasy XIII land? I could say it, but then you wouldn't read the rest of this, would you? That's right.
And just to keep you reading, I'll do something original: not start with the story. Sort of. This was one of the few games I pre-ordered, and since it was from GameStop, the forces of evil must have united to screw me out of a decent pre-order deal, like the one for AC2 or GoW3 or Brutal Legend. (Instead of, you know, ruling the world or designing a sequel to Devil Survivor or something like that.) Instead, I was left with a crappy mini-guide that covers half the first disc, and a few avatar items that I couldn't get on the first day. Also, a game, set in something very German, judging by the opening cutscene. What the opening cutscenes also tell me is that you play as a cold bitch named Lightning, trying to rescue her sister from a robotic Burning Man. For some reason, a character from Lethal Weapon is with her. However, upon entering the Burning Man, she meets up with two kids and a douche whose only purpose is to demonstrate next-gen beard technology before failing so hard that people hate her and fate turns her into a hideous monster. "Good!", I remember saying. The clearly Japanese-yet-not-Japanese characters were about as likable as a high school full of emo Hitlers, the story was confusing for no reason, and the copious amount of cutscenes demonstrated everything that was wrong with writing in games: being like movies.
Hold on, this reminds me of something: Final Fantasy VII! Yes, remember how the beginning of that game was horrible? No, because you're one of those FF7 fans? Great, now you're going to hate me if I don't vindicate myself with the following: eventually, the game gets pretty good. Specifically, around the part where you're offing guys on a motorcycle in a stream of ultimate badass. Same thing applies to XIII, only replace the motorcycle with a giant robot, and slashing with moving. Yes, awesome. It's at this point (actually a bit before, but I'm going with this because it has robots) where the characters become more human, where the conflict actually appears, and the story evolves into....damn it. Same problem as the first disc on FF7: the quality wavers up and down constantly, like they kept switching out the great storytellers for random hacks they found on their way to work. However, unlike FF7, this happens throughout ALL the discs, even up to the (in context) apt ending. Some moments will come across as full of great depth and meaning on equally deep subjects like fate and religion, others will feel so anime that you'd swear that you just saw a tentacle around the corner (they got that all out of their system in the beginning, with the Burning Man part), but the weirdest part is that some of them are the exact same moment. Woah, confusing.
Just like this game's storyline. (I promise, last thing on the story.) Like Final Fantasy XII, the game has a certain level of egotism and confusion that will leave you scratching your head until you forget what a plus sign is. However, unlike FF12, 13 realizes that you may be confused, and does some things to address the issue, like recapping the story from time to time or giving you a glossary you won't read through ever. Also, it's a game, not a $50 disc that jerks itself off. A very linear game with little to no diverging paths whatsoever, but still a game you can actually play. The reason I don't criticize it for being so damn linear is because the best game ever is also a straight line of "gameplay, cutscene, gameplay, cutscene", and this is where I end the comparison. If I even mention the gameplay, Sigurd will walk into the room and show her how to use a sword. (Step one probably being "don't strap the thing to the back of your legs, you moron.") That's not to say the gameplay is bad, because that would be just as stupid as strapping a sword to my thighs. Again, Final Fantasy XIII is an actual game, meaning you fight enemies.
It all starts in the world, where there are no more random encounters! Yay! Now I can sneak upon my enemies (granted that my teammates don't run ahead and ruin it all), stealthing them to death with a level of satisfaction equaled by my sense of disappointment in the battlefield choice. You see, instead of fighting them right there, or even going to a battle screen that is that, you go to some generic filler place EVERY SINGLE TIME. It's 3D, people! Use it! You know how else you could use that? In the battle system. It takes place in real time, which would imply you can dodge and target multiple enemies simultaneously, right? Apparently not, since we're still tethered to the ATB of old. The closest thing to dodging an attack is doing one that puts you far away from whatever is trying to kill you. If it's one monster, and he's beating you senseless, well, you're fucked, since having massive balls in combat somewhat prevents you from running away. Just ask Bushwald Sexyface. If you want to get away from an enemy, the only way is death. Speaking of which, all you need for a game over is the that character you're controlling dies. Look, I know FF12 was crap, but at least it knew how to handle death. Here, I can't even switch to another character when Lightning gets hit in the face with her namesake. There are two big shoulder buttons Square. Use them!
I just realized that I haven't explained the battle system at all, so here goes: in battle, you're limited to a select few abilities from one character. This may sound like a bunch of crap, but that's only until you realize that there's a paradigm system, where you assign characters certain jobs they employ in battle. Examples include Perpetual Energy, What the Hell, and my personal favorite, Know Your Place. I can already sense some of you pointing out the hypocrisy of hating FF12 for what this is doing again, so I've cut off your fingers. Happy now? I was, since I was playing this game. You actually have to pay attention in battle, deciding what paradigm will work and switching at just the right moment, hoping the game doesn't show them shifting individually into death. There's a sense of satisfaction to be had in it, too, given that you're given a meaningless score at the end of each and every battle. It would help to know what time you're aiming for BEFORE you battle these guys, but it's not like the game is withholding anything from me because of a crap score. After all, I still get items (in the beginning; closer to the end of the game, they disappear into a nexus point between dimensions for some reason) and experience.
Wait, did I say experience? Good, I can transition into the ability system and finally wrap this behemoth up. The shortest way I can describe it is "Final Fantasy X": you gain points in battle you can put towards an ability/attribute in a certain class. It took me a bit of a while to realize that there were actual numbers involved in this, mainly because early on, the game goes through a cycle of "fill it all, gain a billion points, get new level, rinse and repeat." Not only until the second disc or so does it finally become harder to fill an entire class before the next level-up. It's at this point when the crystarium system (that's what it's called, shut up) becomes exactly like the paradigm system: in need of refinement, but still full of lots of strategy and reward, even if there's a noticeable bit of overlap between many of the jobs. For example, every job has the Renew ability, a healing thing that you'd think would only go to medics. But no, everybody can use it, but only as a technique that's limited to TP (MP, but with a T). Not that you'd know that when you get it in the crystarium thing. OK, that's it. That's all I'm saying.
You'd think after this extremely large blog (and you'll see exactly why it was so large in just a minute), I'd give the game the Me Award for Being Like a Shitload of Games, but I have a better idea. Instead, I give this game the Most Notes I Have Ever Given Award. I see you are confused, so let me explain: as you (hopefully) know, I take notes on the games I play, (hopefully) ensuring quality in these blogs. Before this game, the most notes I had ever taken on a game was Assassin's Creed II, I think, which peaked at about 60ish. So how many have I given this game? Hold on. * turns on music* Ready? 124 GODDAMN NOTES. Now you see why I thought this blog would be really, really long. Obviously, those notes are not spoiler free at all. Or able to be viewed on a computer without it spontaneously combusting, judging by my computer's reaction just making it.
- The story seems to waddle between meaningful and an ass-bruising.
- Same with the gameplay, sort of. It's fun and interactive, but in need of quite a bit of refinement.
- I'll use this final bullet to say everything I couldn't before: weapon system needs much improvement, good graphics, it's Final Fantasy, summons are enormously cheap vehicle things, Cie'th stones are MMORPG self serving, a bit of uncanny valleying, battles quickly inconsistent, battles match cutscenes well, very long at 50 hours, like a more focused Romancing SaGa, Sazh starts off in a way that makes you think Square is somewhat racist but eventually evolves into a fantastic character, Pulse is Australia ( Land of Trolls), and the ending perfectly sums up how this game behaves. Nyaaaagh!
Here's why I love Final Fantasy: an androgynous Japanese guy wailing his heart out to an Amano drawing. Also, this video taught me a bit of Japanese. (Warning! Nerd boner cannot get any harder!)
Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart ( You know, this is the third blog where I've had two RPGs (one pretty big) on display at once.) And looking back, some pretty big things have happened in those blogs: the first saw the birth of Bushwald Sexyface, the second contained a rape analogy for a game that convinces me how right Kefka was, and the third will most like have absolutely nothing of note. Why? Keep in mind that while the first game was huge and rather recent, this one is the exact opposite: an obscure, forgettable RPG from 7 years ago in Japan only. Also, the scores are literally opposite, go check.
Keeping true to the original Dragon Quest Monsters, this one follows the adventures of a major character from a previous Dragon Quest (this time, lucky number 7); keeping true to my original playing of Dragon Quest Monsters, I have not played Dragon Quest VII. Not that it comes up or anything; 2 minutes into DQ7 Land, and our protagonist jumps into a Narnia dimension (AKA DQ2 Land) where a magical dream pedophile demands that the children of the world come to him with magical orbs. If you're hoping for more story than that, then you should play Final Fantasy XIII, a game with some actual type of story. All this game contains is, "go to demon guy, grab orb (somehow), repeat three more times, see a plot twist before it actually happens, watch a cliffhanger ending that fails to do anything about that cliffhanger", all of it in a length of time about as long lasting as a thunderbolt.
Then again, you don't play a Dragon Quest game for the story, right? *feels the swift kick of justice to nuts* OK, point taken, but you could kinda see where I was taking tihs: how you play the damn game. Simply put: you don't, because it's not that good. Case in point: the ration system. Remember how you could walk freely around the world in every RPG ever made ever? Caravan Heart felt compelled to innovate in that by putting a stupid limit on how much you could travel, since moving costs you a certain amount of rations with each step. It doesn't bother me much later in the game, but very early on, when monsters carry no more than $50 at a time and hide in unexplored corners of the Earth, it becomes a needless drain on your resources; you have to spend money on rations to move on, but you only get money from monsters, who only come out while you move around, wasting rations and forcing you to buy more rations in a blatant attempt to make the game longer than it actually is. The only reason you shouldn't just warp from place to place (besides the lack of a warp spell or item) is because of the random events that happen on the overworld, like deciding to diet (not for practical reasons, just to fit into your bikini in time for summer) or getting attacked by monsters (this is not a joke, it is an actual thing, however weird it seems).
So how do you fight back against these "random encounters", if you will? There's a very simple process by which you beat them: get a drinky bird with severe daddy issues, place an infinitely refilling shot glass of tequila in front of the bastard (also helps to call him a bastard during the process), and watch him drink until you win the battle. Or, if you don't know any drinky birds, then you could just set the little programmable AI options to "just attack, you morons." What I'm saying is that all you need to beat the game is to mash the A button, the sole exception being the bosses: they fall to a combination of A mashing and stat adjusting. The only thing that sets this game apart from crap like.....other crap is that each monster also has their own entourage attending them in battle, doing things like healing and extra attacks and stuff like that. Sounds cool, right? Well, it would be if you could control who goes when, or if they didn't limit themselves to their one monster (jealousy, I presume), or even if the system was just honest and let you fill all the slots with nothing but healers. But, of course, none of that is real; you're stuck with a billion useless units who would rather that this is a game of Tetris than an RPG.
Let's see...I've destroyed the story, the battle system, moving around...what else needs to die? Oh! The breeding! Or not. Rather than breed monsters to create new monsters throughout the game, you gather the hearts of monsters you fight throughout the game, presumably NOT like this. After you've collected enough hearts (two), you go back to base camp and ask Doctor Moreau to mash hearts into a monster, hoping that something kickass comes out of it. Nothing wrong with that, but still, the other two/three games before it did the same thing, and slightly better. Hooray! I have destroyed any notion that this game can be considered good! How exactly should I celebrate this?.......Ooh! I know! How about giving this game The Little Mermaid Award for Pointless Sexual Undertones? No? Let me explain: besides the dream-pedo Chris Hansen wishes he could hunt down, keep in mind that this entire game takes place in a closet, and your goal is to get back home. As in "the main goal is to reveal how gay you are." As in "playing this game will turn you into a character from The Sarah Silverman Program."
- Apparently, going back to DQ2 Land also drags the story down to DQ2 level story.
- Press A, move forward, buy food, repeat in random order.
- Making monsters.....OK, that one's actually OK, I guess.