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May 20, 2010

Review: Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII
Square Enix
Available for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360

I have been a long time fan of Square Enix products since the early days when they were known as Squaresoft and produced amazing games like Final Fantasy VI, Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger. However lately I have felt like the magical goose that once laid the golden eggs has since dried up and can barely produce a normal egg let alone a golden one anymore. I use to anticipate every game that came out of Square Enix’s roster but now I find their games feel broken and rushed.

The best example would be this week’s review game, Final Fantasy XIII, the newest installment in a once amazing franchise which now feels like an once proud show dog which has been over breed and cross breed with any dog that would sleep with it in order to produce various new Final Fantasy prequels, sequels, off-shoots and re-makes. Ultimately though Square Enix has just ended up with a bunch of sick and retarded puppies that no one wants like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles or the new Final Fantasy XIII which they revamped into some strange, overly JRPG tale that barely resembles the FF games we know and love. As the saying goes, ff it ain’t broken then don’t fix it and Final Fantasy X and XII weren’t broken, so why on God’s Green Earth did you stray from the winning formula and come up with this piece of crap?

Basically Final Fantasy XIII (try to keep up with this plot) has you following both Lightening and Sazh who are rushing to save Serah, Lightening’s sister from the fal’Cie who have turned her into an I’Cie. I’Cie are people who are marked with a focus; a vague task they must complete and if they do not complete this task within a certain amount of time, they will turn into crystal statues. Along the way, they pick up various team members, Snow, Vanille and Hope; people will similar ideals who all join in the fight against the fal’Cie. Unfortunately in their fight against the fal’Cie, the team becomes I’Cie too, and must figure out and complete their focus before it is too late. Meanwhile there is also a purge going on of all the local people which is adding to the fun of your surroundings.

If you manage to follow along with the storyline and not get confused beyond belief, then get ready for more boring fun. While past Final Fantasy games tend to give you at least a sense of freedom with an open world map, this game will never show you anything more than one long map to keep running through. You will never find a town to explore full of quaint little people that say the same thing over and over again or find a cute little airship to take over and explore your world. NOTHING, NADA! You are stuck following linear maps for most of the game and if you want to level up in order to handle new higher level enemies then you have to back track to do so. There are some side quests that pop up later on in the game but by this point, you are so use to 2 walls on either side, you really don’t care.

The characters will eventually have to you bashing your head into a wall with their annoying attitudes and even more annoying dialogs. I personally wanted to stab Hope through the eye with a pencil as he whines more than my youngest nephew and he’s a baby – he’s suppose to cry. I found it incredibly hard to believe that this little mommy’s boy was going to help save the world from the fal’cie because he can barely function without his dead Mother. I think the only character I liked was Sazh and his little Chocobo which lives in his afro but he seems the most out of place amongst all these people. He was too normal and too cool to be hanging out in a JRPG story. Overall everything character besides Sazh was either too depressed, angry or upbeat which made the game comparable to a bad anime movie.

Unlike previous Final Fantasy games, you have little control over your team members during battle which makes strategy and preparation very important. Instead of choosing your battle commands before each round during battle, you instead pick battle roles for yourself and team members and then your team members will automatically pick the most proper command for that moment from their list of techniques. Roles include a fighter type, magic type, effects type, protector type and healer type. You will have control over your main character at all times but you will only have access to their current role commands as well as your general item selection and role switch command which is why multiple role combos is important. If you diversify your roles throughout your battle, your party will live longer and kill faster with the use of effects and protector roles.

Each role type has various commands and status upgrades you can unlock with CP points you gain during battle. Upgrades are done through the Crystarium which is very much like the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X except that each role for each character has a different Crystarium. You can also upgrade items like weapons and accessories with random item parts you find during battle. You don’t find this out until the 4th Chapter and I had sold most of my parts by this point because the game doesn’t give you a lot of gold. I was mad to find this out so late in the game because parts are hard to find. Maybe if monsters actually dropped gold like in previous games I wouldn’t have sold the parts though.

I honestly think the only reason I kept playing this game is to find out if the storyline gets any better because I wasn’t happy with anything in this game beside the usual amazing graphics and sound. Square Enix does always make pretty games and I was blown away with the great use of contrast with Cocoon’s perfect crystal world and Pulse’s junky and grungy surface world. The characters continue to look more and more like real human beings with every new game.

Created by Masashi Hamauzu who also scored Dirge of Cereberus, Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack features a song from Leona Lewis, “My Hands” and it is quite beautiful. I don’t think anything will be quite as cool as the Final Fantasy X-2 soundtrack which I still groove in my car to but I think overall this soundtrack is tranquil and franchise worthy.

2 years is a long time to wait for a disappointment and now all I can think about is Kingdom Hearts 3 and how they could screw that up too. Considering what a bastard child Kingdom Heart: 358/2 days was it is a possibly. I hate to be cruel to a company whom I loved and relied on for so long for awesome games but they just have to learn to stop messing around with their bread and butter franchises. Final Fantasy wasn’t broken so why in God’s name did you try change it? I want my good game company back!

Rating: 6 out of 10


Adora said...

I'm right up there with you Faith, to me final fantasy died after 9, after that it seems that square lost there story department in the merger, and after the first ff movie disaster with looked pretty as hell, and that seems to be all that square can do any more i miss the huge grand story's from ff4 5 6 7 8 9 the story's that made you cry and want to fight that evil and it brought your heart into the story a bit more, but alas we are stuck with mediocrity and have to put up with it since there doesn't seem to be much of a choice, other then the A.D.D. focused games of today.

Sorry for any grammar errors.

Carlos said...

Spot on review. Final Fantasy XIII has the honour of being the first in the series I've ever traded, let alone failed to complete.

Still, it sure looks pretty...