So about 2 weeks ago, I started playing Final Fantasy XIII (that’s 13 for those of you incapable or too lazy to read roman numerals). About 1.5 weeks later, I beat it. Probably would’ve been done faster, but I was distracted by school, real life…you know frivolities. I’ll leave out any spoilers unless you consider the game’s theme a spoiler, in which case…don’t read the conclusion.
So what do I think? I’ll try to keep it short, but there’s so much to say.
First off, there have been complaints that the game is super linear. This is true, but I think there’s two sides to the coin.
• The biggest disadvantage is that you just feel like you’re on rails. you run along the path, kill monsters, reach point A to point B with some minor battles in-between. The lack of random battles means you can’t even run in a circle to level up your characters a little. Instead, you have to walk a ways away, because the monsters will respawn if you wander too far. It’s linear until you get to the last tenth of the game, and 1 sidequest opens up. Well technically it’s multiple sidequests, but it’s the same type of missions.
• But I’ve always played FF games for their story, and the linearity of the game creates for a very cinematic experience, basically it feels like you’re watching an interactive movie. There is no chance you’ll get lost, and no need to talk to endless NPCs to find your way(or using an online walkthrough/strategy guide).
The combat system is awesome.
•It’s engaging, it keeps you paying attention, and unless you’re much stronger than your enemy. It foregos the usual mashing of the (X) Button as the more challenging fights require you to constantly switch paradigms, particularly if you want to get a 5 star rating. I was skeptical of the paradigm shifts at first, but I found myself using it a lot as the game progressed.
• Battle system is amazing, it’s still the classic ATB system with some of that action-RPG style from Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts titles mixed in. The computer AI is usually pretty wise, except when dealing with non-critical healing and some buff selections but it usually only happens with extended battles or more specific enemies.
•Overall I love the combat, and it’s probably one of the best innovations that occured in this iteration of the series.
Allow me to insert a random rant here about people I’ve heard complain about how easy the battles are, or the battle system about this game and FF12. Personally, I liked the FF12 battle system, the gambits, how you could switch between the characters DURING BATTLE, and I think that 13 improved upon it. People complain it was too automatic in 12, and that it’s boring in 13 because all you do is mash the auto-attack or auto-chain option. Well let me ask you this, when you were just leveling up in other FF games, what were you doing on the mobs that were likely lower level than you but still giving you a ton of exp. Surely you weren’t meticulously picking out spells and buffs to use on them, and if you were kudos to you. Like most of the rest of the world, I’m sure you were mashing the attack button until the mobs were dead, then walked in circles until you got another random battle to rinse and repeat until you were level 99. If anything FF12 kept you from receiving some sort of repetitive strain injury on your thumb, and FF13 alleviates it as well. So people need to stop freaking complaining about the battle system when they’d be doing the same thing anyways, the game has simply made it more efficient, and saving your joints from future arthritis.
Of course, it isn’t a Final Fantasy game if we don’t mention the graphics and the music.
• The music is sadly not written by Nobuo Uetmatsu, but it’s still well done. I’ve been pretty happy with it, especially when you fight Odin, and it’s on a bridge, and it’s a remixed version of “Clash on the Big Bridge” as a callback to Final Fantasy V.
• The graphics are amazing. Every game, the graphics improves leaps and bounds, the game switches between CGI and in-game cutscenes pretty seamlessly. While it’s still pretty obvious when it’s a pre-rendered movie (look at the hair people), the difference is almost negligible. Sometimes it was hard to tell. The environments are beautiful, and there are a lot of details and thought put into them. Tiny details in the background that I’m sure most people don’t even pay attention to. It really is quite amazing how much effort and thought was put into the character designs and the environment.
The equipment system is pretty simplified in this game. I personally liked equipping different armors and (sometimes) seeing it reflected on my character. It’s nice that the weapons change graphics in this game, unlike many other RPGs that exist, but there is like no equipment. You get your weapon, and “accessories”. I don’t really understand the choice on this one, but It’s nice that you can use save points to upgrade your weapons and accessories. I’m always a fan of “equipment improvement” systems in games. But I dislike the lack of body armor in the game, and the near impossibility to get gil from battles. You have to get drops from enemies in order to sell them to the store (those that can be sold for a premium) in order to buy components in bulk from the stores to upgrade your weapons and accessories. It’d be okay if the components were cheaper because you need a ton to upgrade your weapons fully, but they aren’t, and so it is annoyingly difficult to find the gil to upgrade your weapons!
In conclusion, I think the game itself was put together well. The characters grew on me, I hated most of them at the beginning, and I still hate some of them now that I’ve finished the game. However, they are much less annoying than they started, and there is a fair amount of character development within the game. The main theme is thrown in your face shortly before the final boss battle which I thought was a little tacky but it’s a pretty played out theme these days, “choice vs. fate” or some iteration of that. The game was excellent, although lacks too much replay value. Probably won’t play it more than once, seeing as how I saved a different file right before all the awesome cutscenes 🙂 .
My arbitrary score: 4.9/5
PS: Square Enix, where’s my world map? It’s been 10 years, come on now.