Disclaimer: This is 100% my opinion. If you love this game, that's perfectly fine. I don't expect everyone to agree with my opinions. I just think SE is capable of greater, because they've done better in my opinion. /Disclaimer
In a lot of ways it's a well made game, in that there aren't any real technical problems with the game. The problem is with the design, not the art design that's fantastic and the graphics themselves are amazing. The actual game design is what isn't well crafted. There hasn't been such a severely flawed design of a Final Fantasy since Final Fantasy II. (the original version, the remakes on PSP/iPhone/GBA fixed a few of the problems with it)
Which is simply unacceptable. SE knows what they're doing, but some how that didn't translate into this game's design.
The best examples are;
1. They decided to add in AoE (Area of Effect)Attacks in a game where you have no control over your character movement. That makes no sense. You have no control over where the AI takes your party members or your own character. They just run around randomly. On the flip side, you can't get your own AoE to be all that effective either because you, again, have no control over where you're going. If you have in your head a path to your enemy that will get you some AoE damage against the enemy, it's probably not the way the AI will take you.
2. There's no control over party members. The AI only has 3 generic unhelpful settings. No customization for their priorities at all. After Final Fantasy XII's Gambit System, that is simply unacceptable. The Gambit System was amazing when you finally got around to getting all the skills for it. Which was a flaw in FFXII, but there was room for improvement in FFXIII but they ended up going with stupid AI that you can't do anything with instead. Instead of stacking two or three Cures or saving for Cura, the AI will cast one at a time right away. Which doesn't heal you enough for the damage you're taking.
3. Your character gets KO'd it's game over. You can revive the party members, but they can't revive you. It makes no sense. If they had allowed us to switch characters like the past two main Final Fantasy games (FFX, FFXII) have allowed us to do then you could just keep going. And because of 2 your unable to ensure your own safety unless you take on the healing position. Once again, they decided to go back in time.
4. The entire design leans toward Western RPG design, but completely fails to actually get it to work. The 'Sentinel' for instance is meant to be a tank (take all the damage away from the others in the party). However, that means nothing because of #1. You can't move your characters AWAY from the Sentinel who is taking all this damage, including AoE attacks. So your Healer is just standing right next to the tank using one Cure at a time, doing you no good. Thanks Example 2.
It seems to me that Square Enix was simply focused on pushing out amazing graphics. That's the highlight of FFXIII. The story is okay, even if all the story updates in the database end up repeating the same thing, just worded differently. Which was lazy and frustrating if you wanted to pay attention to them.
Now, let's talk about the linearity. First I'd like to debunk the story defense. IE: "They're fugitives! They can't chill out in towns!" That's a huge cop-out. How does one know that they're fugitives right away? Right, they don't. So they could easily work into the story them being in a town. SE have said that towns are 'hard'. They were lazy. Level-5 created some of the best towns in White Knight Chronicles, you may hate the game, but those towns were HUGE and you could go in and out of the Houses without any additional loading. It was all one huge instance. Sure the graphics aren't as good as FFXIII, but graphics and nothing else hardly makes a game great.
Now, let's talk about FFX, because people always defend FFXIII by pointing out FFX's linearity. Yes, FFX is linear. However, you can return to nearly ever place you visit. At a certain point, you can go where you want in the previous places. You've got the ability to EXPLORE and BACK TRACK. And there are tons of different side-quests to fill out your time between battles and story.
In FFXIII all you have are battles along a path toward story sections. Eventually it opens up, but by then I was so bored that I didn't even care. It's too little too late. There's still nothing to do in those 'open' areas aside from battles.
Now on to the battles, I found them extremely tedious. Now I know that's rather ironic, given that many consider turn based combat boring but I find it enjoyable. I get that, but FFXIII's battle system required zero thought on my part. (again I realize the irony, but turn based is only tedious if you go grind, which actually helps to break the game making the entire game boring and it's all because you over powered yourself) I can play about 30 minutes before I get physically and mentally tired, because it doesn't require any thought from me that my body just might as well be laying there sleeping.
Paradigm shifting doesn't add any depth at all, as many suggest. It's just an annoying obstacle to separate the abilities your characters. Add to that in each battle the first shift you do, takes forever. While you still take damage you have to watch them flip their weapons to shift.
It's just ugg... I was not a fan of this game. The Positives are obviously the graphics, they're some of the best (if not the best) in the genre. The Music is pretty good in most cases. The story is interesting, but the lack of Japanese audio is annoying and shows how little SE knows of their userbase. The English dub leaves a lot to be desired. Vanille is terrible. The voice actress for her is awful. Throughout half of her dialog she has a forced and annoying accent. The other half she doesn't have it, then her accent kicks back in full force to make up for the fact she didn't have it for awhile. It's... ugg. The story isn't enough to warrant playing through all the tedium.
There's no reason for SE to not include Japanese audio on the PS3 version. The 360 and PS3 versions aren't the same, they could never be because of DVD. The PS3 version is uncompressed. The 360 has compressed visuals and audio. Besides, FFXIII was advertised as a 360 exclusive by Microsoft, so they obviously didn't care that much about equality for each version. Not that it's the first thing pertaining to FFXIII that they'd have lied about.
on April 3, 2010
The pacing is slow and takes the game about 20 hours to become somewhat interesting and playable. The combat while trying to seem fast and looking elegant is nearly all automated and uninspiring, though you can choose what your character does (you only ever can control one) the auto-combat feature chooses the best course of action. I had no fun playing the game at all and ended up playing it though as quickly as possible because I spent my good money on it, if i had not paid for FF13 it wouldn't have made it past the first 5 hours which can be summed up by run down a corridor, which is the same as the next 5 hours, and then the next 10 hours after that continuing to the end of the game. The characters are all cliche and follow the typical Final Fantasy cast, the Hero, the person who doesnt get along with the hero until part way though, the comic relief, the annoying girl, the annoying guy, and the late to join the party character.
Game play is frustrating because of artificial unfair not difficulty, the game is unfair. You can only control on character out of your three person party, the AI takes over for the other two, which leads to a lot of game overs when you need your party to do something and they end up doing a completely useless task. The other problem with this is if your character dies its game over, and your character will die a lot, the AI characters wont set you as priority so in large area of effect damage you wont be healed first. Bosses do a lot of area of effect damage be it spells of cleaving auto attacks, and this can make a boss fight extremely difficult or easy depending on how the AI wants to act, some fights your party will spread out and not get cleaved by a single attack and the fight goes along quite bearably, but the majority of the time all 3 party members will stack on top of each other making the fight hectic and unenjoyable because you are taking massive amounts of damage that are difficult to heal, and usually results in a death of one character who can never last more then one hit because the attacks happen so fast, as soon as they are revived take cleave damage and die. The paradigm shift combat system is interesting at first, but feels like you are playing an MMORPG such as World of Warcraft when you have to use a healer, dps, and tank role vs bosses, and can use any arrangement of dps/heal/tank vs random enemies.
The cinematic scenes are very well done and look great on a HDTV, and its about the only good thing the game has going for it.
Overall the game is not fun and feels like you are playing single player version of World of Warcraft, but with the stupidity of the horrid AI. Skip this game at all costs.
on March 10, 2010
Edit:Added more detail 3/12/2010
i gave this game a 2.5 stars. ff13 is not a traditional jrpg. its more of an action rpg. very different from the roots of past final fantasies. too streamlined and mainstreamed, in squenix's attempt to get more players. game will work for newcomers and some rabid ff fanboys, but it will split the opinion of fans and maybe more of the older fans that have played most of the games/played the earlier ones.
very nice graphics
average voice acting
trying a new battle system
the first couple of hours is VERY linear. the maps are just basically long tubes where u go from the bottom to top. u fight easy mobs in ur way (just spamming x) then a cutscene. walk/fight a few more minutes, then another cutscene. rinse and repeat.
no towns. no more exploring or talking to people around town. hardly any interacting with any npcs...
u basically buy items from an online shop in save points. walk/fight 5 mins u then come upon a save point, walk/fight another 5 mins another save point...rinse and repeat
hardly any equipment customization. older ffs had every piece of armor u can buy and replace from shops like chest/leggings/boots/gloves/weapons/accessories...in ff 13 not anymore.
no more battle victory sound.
u dont rly get xp after battle encounters, u get em at the end when they weigh how u did vs the fights with mobs of the dungeon.
for the first few hours u basically just spam x for pretty much every single enemy encounter.
u can only control lightning. gone are the days of the previous ffs on how u can control the full party
people will say 'the game gets less linear after 10-11 hours' or that 'the game gets good after 25 hours'!
are you kidding me? if this was any other game and not a part of the final fantasy series, people would have stopped playing after the boredom u get from this game from the first 3-5 hours...
tell a normal gamer to stick through 10 to maybe 25 hours of a boring game, and lets c if they will do it.
previous final fantasies did not have to be played through 10 hours of boredom before the game got good...unlike ff 13.
got this game today and been playing for a couple of hours now...and unfortunately, ive lost interest in playing this game. only 2 final fantasy games that lost my interest before, and they were ff x-2 and ff 12.
im a huge final fantasy fan, played 1-12... the series has sadly been going downhill since X.
to potential buyers who want to try out jrpgs, final fantasy 13 is not ur traditional jrpg, so dont look down on jrpgs because of ff13. theres a lot of good ones out there, persona series, even try the older ffs, like ff 4-9. for ff13 they took too many things out to try to mainstream and streamline this game.
game is too linear, no towns, shop is in the save points, characters arent rly that interesting, plot boring, little equipment choice and customization, u can only control lightning. game feels lifeless.
on the good side, the game's graphics is very good, hardly any loading times, good voice acting, u get used to the battle system (at least squenix was trying something new)...
before ff13 came out here in north america, i was checking amazon japan for ff 13 reviews, it was getting horrible scores there, and i was hoping they were wrong about ff 13. sadly they were right, this game is not that good. i just bought mass effect 2 last week, and am putting ff 13 down to replay mass effect 2 again.
i just hope squenix learns there lesson and go back to the old roots of what made ff games great.
on March 14, 2010
I am (was) a huge fan of the FF series. I was eagerly awaiting this one and it's one of the reasons I learned Japanese: so I never had to wait for the US release. I bought the stupidly expensive Japanese version and fast realized it was not nearly as good as my favourites: FFX and FFXII, both completely different games with different combat styles but amazing in their own way. This game just completely missed the mark in so many ways. Sure, it looks great but the combat is monotonous and offers little control. The heavy-handed writing is painful and it's just a drag to wait through. The summons are a bore. Even the shops and treasure chests are badly done. It's hard to believe they could screw up everything but somehow they did. It all just feels wrong and I didn't enjoy much of this game.