This game did turn out to be surprisingly more of a hallway than I had imagined from other people’s reviews, but that simply isn’t a problem if a game still delivers in other things, to MY taste, like in gameplay, music, story and characters. But… it doesn’t.
Final Fantasy XIII is like Super Mario Bros
(with some adjustments) by guest author: @leaf55
This is Super Mario Bros.
Now zoom in to Mario.
Now change the graphics.
Good things first, the graphics are beautiful. Some places in this game are must-see. However, my problem is that the game doesn’t care about impressing you with its story, characters or music, like it does with graphics. There’s no balance here. Imagine spending a day or two making a Super Mario Bros inspired game for PC. Now invest a few hundred billion dollars and 10 years into graphics for it. It’s all in how much you will see in the graphics, and how many weird bizarre things there are, for no reason other than to impress the player and try to make up for the lack of anything else. In this game, the damn pope can turn into a wall with a big face and that transforms into more faces. That is a thing that happened, but is a lot of wasted creativity.
I wish many early RPGs got remade with this much detail, but not necessarily with this level of realism or art direction. I personally do not care about how technologically advanced a game could look. The graphics could be done in MS Paint, and if they appeal to me, it would be the same score.
This is like taking a cup of coffee and watering it down to 100 cups, and serving it in the fanciest looking, most expensive coffee cups you can find.
Take the soundtrack of Super Mario Bros. and instead of like 5 memorable fun songs, give it a huge soundtrack of like 100 or more songs that sound like an epic movie, most which will sound alike. Hardly any of them will be memorable or fun. In fact, give it about 2 memorable ones, but make it so they only appear 5% of the time. Sound quality is top notch, though.
Other games make me excited to hear what the next town sounds like or what the next dungeon or boss music is like, even if the music instruments are from the basic Windows MIDI drivers or don’t loop properly.
To be generous. Because it’s not ugly or horrible, and some people liked it more than I did and I accept that.
Scroll down. Now back up. See all that text ahead? That still doesn’t cover everything wrong with this game. Turn every Goomba and Koopa from Super Mario Bros into a lengthy, turn based battle, and multiply them by a thousand. In this game, you do nothing but battle. Battle, win, and when you’re done, your reward is a new area with more battles. Then the newer battles are longer and more difficult. Long but very fast paced. Let me explain. You don’t know what’s going on, other than the fact that you’re hitting enemies and are being hit, and others are casting a bunch of spells of which you don’t even need to know if they’re effective or not, because it’s automated. With so many numbers littering the screen, you just can’t follow the battle. All you can do is look at the life bars and turn into healing mode if you’re low on HP.
The enemy’s stagger bar is good though. It’s a departure from traditional RPGs, in which you have to increase it by casting spells, and when full, the enemy is greatly weakened and you can use your physical attacks. You even launch it into the sky so it can’t fight back, while you are still attacking it! This was cool… the first time. Do it 25 more times and it loses its value.
What ruins this the most is the fact that inside battles, you are limited to what setup you selected BEFORE the battle started. If you’re a healer and don’t have a good healing formation, you are done for. Not only that, but you are limited only by what the group will do, rather than by individual characters. So if the healer will heal, I have to set up what the others will be doing while the healing is happening. But, I don’t know what I need because different battles require different strategies. So you might find out that in some cases, attacking is useless while you heal. You’ll need to make a whole new setting just for that. Change your characters, your settings will be deleted! This made me feel lazy enough that I didn’t want to use any other character besides the three I liked most. Sometimes I even reset the battles soon after they started because things went wrong too soon. The ability to reset a battle is welcome, but is also a big waste of time. It would have been better to give the player normal control of the battles and all this mess could have been prevented.
When the characters are wounded, I am not allowed to stop to think of my next strategy to fix that, the game pushes you forward, and thus I make poor choices. Sometimes, you can’t even battle anymore because an enemy decides to kill you instantly and with little to no warning, when it only had 25% life left, which usually takes 10 minutes to get there. You have to repeat this several times and try to find out what it is that you’re supposed to do so you don’t get killed instantly and unfairly. Granted, the battles go so fast, it keeps me awake. I can play some RPGs in my sleep, but not this one.
Worst of all, I think it doesnt even matter if you get equipment or not. I upgraded my equipment about halfway through the game, and it made every new weapon obsolete. And status ailments? I didn’t know what FOG was until I battled the final boss. Turns out FOG is a little icon of a magic staff with a tiny X next to it. This means the character cant cast spells, but you don’t know this is called FOG unless you read the in-game encyclopedia.
Does that look like fog? Isn’t it supposed to be called SILENCE when a magician can’t cast spells? The heal item doesn’t even have the icon! Actually, there are a lot of things you wouldn’t know about if you don’t open up that damn encyclopedia thing.
So, no story. I mean there’s some story, but Super Mario Bros has a story too and while it’s only in the manual, it was still somehow more intriguing than this. No, seriously, look it up, it’s on the 2nd page, and it says that all those Goombas were once peaceful people! This game is just battles. More on the story but before that.
This doesn’t feel like FF or JRPGs in general, where you have towns to explore and have fun talking to people, reading jokes, getting hints and secrets, then finding mysterious places that are unreachable and wondering if there’s an awesome item that will let you get there. There are games like Dragon Quest, where the battles seem to be by the millions, yet this is hardly a problem because the dungeons, story and gameplay flow are very well balanced. These factors are just non existent in Final Fantasy XIII, because it’s almost entirely a fighting game.
Again being generous. Because at least it can be played.
~STORY & CHARACTERS~
Story time. The core is OK, okay? I’m a fan of “saving the world” type of stuff. As long as it’s done in a fun and clever way that makes you open your mind and realize that things really aren’t that simple about life. From a game with Final Fantasy in its name, I expect something of epic proportions. Something that can make Chrono Trigger and Dragon Quest look like just side games, as they mostly were during the SNES era. But I just can’t hear the story over the sound of the admittedly awesome graphics or how much you have to battle. Remember being annoyed that Nintendo keeps telling the same story of Mario saving the Princess from Bowser? Imagine that Nintendo tries to get your attention by changing the names and adding tons of filler. So you have Strawberry and Claw out to save princess Sienna from the bad Eolophus and restore the kingdom of Asafoetida. …does this sound stupid? That is how Lightning, Snow, Fang, Vanille, Sazh, Serah, Fal’Cie, l’Cie, Pulse and Cocoon sound like to me.
I’ve found RPGs with more creative storylines on Gameboy. Yes, the 1989 classic. And some of them were named Final Fantasy in USA, too. And Final Fantasy XIII puts itself under those games in terms of story, but tries to appear highly superior by making it look like it’s a big deal with graphics and exciting cutscenes. But, if you want to make a good RPG, don’t sugar coat it. It’s such a shame that I can find a story in old games that will make me think, learn, laugh, be sad, or excited. Here I’m only sad, and it’s not because the story is sad, but because I wasted my time trying to care about it.
As for characters, compare with Super Mario Bros again. Look I’m not saying they are the same game okay? I’m talking about how they are seen in popular culture as a phonemenon! Anyway, we have Mario, Luigi, Toad and the Princess. Mario and Luigi don’t say anything throughout the game, and Toad and the Princess have just 1 screen of text each. Now look at FF13:
“We’re gonna do this, together!” -Hope
“Hey! Wait for me!” -Sahz
“I don’t get it…” -Vanille
Generic. This is in contrast to other games where your characters’ dialogue gets much more intense, and these characters just stop what little development they had halfway through. Characters are supposed to find different things to react to, and let the player know them through the things that happen adventuring. To be fair, during the first parts of the game, they did have more involvement and growth, like Hope and Snow had some legit story and emotions, but once it settled, it became about nothing and swiftly forgotten.
I liked Snow and Hope’s story, especially the fact that Hope attempted to murder Snow, and his reason for it. Not sure why people hate these two. The part about Hope’s coming back home is good too, and what happens with his father and Snow. These things really moved me. But by and large, a resounding meh.
My generosity is endless.
Was I excited every time I continued my journey? When the story was good, but not after halfway through. After that, the only fun I had was… the battles. I had no choice but to love trying to figure out every enemy, and it was satisfying, but the annoying bosses, lack of good story, characters and music held me back. Would I play this game again? Nope. Does this game make me interested in the sequels? Nah. Would I play a remake, if it was… fixed? Maaaaaybe.
Final Fantasy as a series was lost a long time ago, starting with FF7, which is when the focus started to go all into the graphics because it was discovered that customers in the majority will buy games by how up to date the graphics are. Where are my 5 games that take after Final Fantasy VI’s style? Why are there even 2 sequels for Final Fantasy XIII? This game should have been a spinoff series called something else entirely. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so disappointed, and the original series could remain stronger to its core.
~~from the editor: @heyitschet here. just reminding you all that Hope has mommy issues and Lightning looks just like Hope’s mom. i’m not saying they were banging in chapter 5, but I would like to think that they were banging in chapter 5. enjoy thinking about it.~~