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Final Fantasy XIII = Meh

I recently picked up Final Fantasy XIII for my PS3 and have started playing in.  I’m on Act 9 and nearly 18 hours in and so far I’m not sure I like the game.  Lots of people have complained that the game is incredibly linear.  They’re right, just follow a marker on the map and go straight is how to beat each mission.

I’m beginning to think that Western RPGs have spoiled me.  I’m a huge fan of BioWare’s games.  To be perfectly honest I believe that BioWare has never made a bad game.  Mass Effect 2 is probably my favorite game on my 360 right now.  And you know what makes it so great?  It’s the characters.  You actually care about them and about what happens to you.  FF XIII just doesn’t draw you in like BioWare games do.  Also, BioWare has spoiled me by letting me make a choice that has far reaching repercussions and could alter the course of the game.  Games like Final Fantasy, you are just along for the ride, and its not quite the same experience.

I’m going to keep playing Final Fantasy XIII and give it a try.  I was reading over on Topless Robot and it seems they hate the new Final Fantasy.  In fact one of their latest posts is called 13 Reasons Why I Hate Final Fantasy XIII.  It’s a pretty good read, but I want to highlight a couple of their observations.  And please go read the article if the couple things I reference are interesting to you.  Also, beware that the article on their site is rather profane at points so if you are sensitive to language you might want to be wary.

9) The Amazingly Uninteresting Characters

Final Fantasy XIII features six characters in your party: two are okay, and four are awful. That’s not a good ratio. Sazh and Fang are the only two characters that are even slightly likeable, although Fang is exceedingly Australian for no discernible reason. The remaining four characters are unfortunately more prominent than Sazh and Fang, and thus their awfulness is only emphasized. Lightning is an enormous bitch to everyone for the first 15-20, even to the point of abandoning children in the wilderness. Snow is a moron, running his mouth about being a hero with absolutely no comprehension of his or others’ situations. Vanille — also oddly Australian (I’m not dissing Australians, it’s just weird for two fantasy characters to be randomly Australian) — is shallow, bubbly, ignorantly joyful, and upsettingly sexualized despite being 14 or something. And then there’s Hope — oh, Hope, shown below, the 13-year-old boy who could give Evangelion’s Shinji a run for mopiness. Blaming Snow for the death of his mother (moms aren’t that tough, sorry) but absolutely refusing to confront him about it, for no reason other than to pad out the game. Constantly collapsing to the ground to whine and moan. He is irredeemable awful.

How is this different from, say, the sullen Cloud of FFVII or the outright jerk Squall of FFVIII? Without trying to go into a massive nerd diatribe here, I’ll say that Cloud starts as more a gruff Han Solo-type , and his emotional breakdown only comes later, and is an integral part of FFVII’s examination of heroism. FFVIII’s Squall is certainly a jerk, but the game is essentially about him accepting others, so starting as an aloof bastard makes sense. But two points I would raise specially: first, in both FFVII and FFVIII, there are other non-jerk, genuinely likeable characters to take up the slack. If if you can’t stand Cloud or Squall, there’s Tifa, Aerith, Cid, Barrett, and Rinoa, Seifer, Quistis, etc. Furthermore, Cloud, Squall — and even the rest of the characters mentioned — have actual pasts and backstpries that make them interesting. For all intents and purposes, all six FFXIII character’s lives begin 13 days before the game starts and a fireworks show, which I know because the game keeps flashing back to it from everyone’s point of view, as if it’s interesting.

These characters have no depth and, thanks to the horrible (lack of a ) story, no discernable motivation. It’s impossible to root for them, like them, or care about them. I hate them. Especially Hope. Oh, and you can’t get distracted with other characters, because there are maybe three bad guys who maybe appear for 30 minutes of the game’s first 25 hours (most of that being a single boss fight) and maybe three NPCs, two of whom are shown only in flashback and all of which are dead. No one else. Not a single other character in the entire game, not a single other person to talk to. Epic!

4) The Childishly Horrible Storytelling

I proudly tell people I play Final Fantasy games for the stories. Obviously, I thought FFVII was brilliant. FFVIII was more intimate in scope, but genuinely moved me. FFX was very bizarre and not particularly deep, but it was entertainment. Final Fantasy XII’s story was incredibly, incredibly boring… although it was coherent. But Final Fantasy XIII is a mess. I told you of the awful characters, of the ridiculous names that all include “Cie” in them, that even at 25 hours the players have no idea what their goal is whatsoever. But FFXIII can’t even tell this awful story right.

Of FFXIII’s first 25 hours, I estimate maybe 8 full hours of it has been cut-scenes — cut-scenes which don’t advance the story ever, because no one knows what is going on. They are clumsily forced into the game at every opportunity; you can’t get through a single map without at least three of them popping up to waste your time. They’re never short, and they’re never meaningful. It’s just another chance for Lightning to be a bitch, Snow to be a jackass, Vanille to prance around disconcertingly, and Hope to collapse to the ground, put his head between his legs, and moan. You can’t build any momentum as a player as you’re constantly getting interrupted, and you’re constantly bored as a viewer because all the cut-scenes are horrible.

It boggles my mind how Square Enix could do this. No matter how much you like or dislike their games’ individual stories, they’ve always been wonderfully paced, especially with the gameplay. Final Fantasy XIII is like a sad parody of FF games. It’s a shitty story told shittily.

Those are two of the big flaws that bother me about the game.  I think the guys over at Topless Robot are pretty much spot-on when it comes to the flaws in the newest Final Fantasy.

Via: Topless Robot


One response to “Final Fantasy XIII = Meh

  1. Shane March 24, 2010 at 8:00 am

    **Spoilers** although not much more then already in the article.

    See I can’t disagree more, but not that the game = Meh that I entirly agree.

    9) The Amazingly Uninteresting Characters

    “Fang is exceedingly Australian for no discernible reason.”
    Fang and Vanille are both from a different place then the rest of the characters so for them to have a different accept only makes sense.

    “Blaming Snow for the death of his mother (moms aren’t that tough, sorry) but absolutely refusing to confront him about it, for no reason other than to pad out the game. ”

    Guess they should of played more of the game…

    4) The Childishly Horrible Storytelling

    With 13 they attempted a more complex story similar to 7 so as the player does not know what is going on until the end of the game.

    Honestly the linear portions of the game were by far the best. My largest disappointment with the entire game was the non-linear section was horrific. The story of the game was good outside of the very end which left much to be desired and of course I utterly hate the battle system in the long run.

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