Ok, so this one doesn’t really belong here. Normally when I intend to review a game, it isn’t quite retro, but it isn’t really recent either. My reasoning behind this is that I’m assuming that if your’e reading these posts, you’re either nostalgic, or you’re a gamer that actually hasn’t played these games. Final Fantasy XIII, though, is very near to being the newest in the series, barring XIV, which is an MMO. So what’s the deal?
Simply put, it’s what I’m playing at the moment. I’ve talked my fair amount of trash about FFXIII, but in honesty, I never made it off the first disk the first time around. Now, in fairness, you spend a matter of hours in this samey, crystal environment, and I was bored to tears. That isn’t to say I value visuals over game play, but the game play is so dumbed down in this early portion of the game, it isn’t really fun. The game is holding your hand all the way through, making sure you don’t dribble on yourself.
The game play absolutely gets better further into the game. And by further I mean the end of the second disk. Seriously. I am at the start of the third disk, and only just now are all the different roles available to all the characters. Not to mention that over two disks in, I have not touched the open world, or seen a chocobo outside of a theme park.
That isn’t to say that the game is bad, or that it isn’t fun. However, it definitely wears on you. Not ‘grows on you’, wears on you. Like water carving stone. A steady drizzle of ‘I don’t care about these characters and story’ becoming a torrent of ‘no fucks to give’ which ultimately carves a canyon out of solid rock. In a word, the game’s story and characters lack depth. They come off as flat, two dimensional archetypes that would usually be reserved for bit characters in a short story. There is a cut scene almost every ten minutes in this game. You may see how this could become a problem.
Just as in western popular media, it’s formulaic to a fault, and I am not mesmerized by its country of origin. There are Japanese books, films, and even anime and games I like, but I don’t like them because they are Japanese, I like them because they are good. I am somewhat sad to say, FFXIII would probably have been better without its story. It probably would have been better without voice actors. I dread every moment Vanile opens her mouth. If you happen to think FFXIII is the pinacle of story telling, I encourage you to go read an award winning book, and see the difference.
Final Fantasy the thirteenth is a game, which might mitigate my ire a little bit, if such emphasis wasn’t placed on the story. We’re treated to beautiful cut scene after cut scene. Some are rendered in engine, some are videos, and none of which I can actually bring myself to care about. At this point, it really is the in depth game play which is keeping me going, but my will to finish it has just about run out. I popped the game in today, ran into my first group of enemies, turned off my Xbox before the encounter even occurred, and went to go do something else.
The crystarium is fun, and the game play is fun, but it’s the same the whole way through. It gets old. The levels are your standard jrpg slog, with the admitted benefit that there are no random encounters. Even so, it’s fight, after fight, after fight, with the same mechanics, punctuated only by a story that has had any unique qualities it may have had leeched out by characters cut out of cardboard.
Play it if you’ve got nothing better to do, and that includes playing other games.