Developer/s: Square Enix
Publisher/s: Square Enix
Platform/s: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action, RPG
Vintage: 17 December 2009
Some 1,300 years ago, a group fal’Cie constructed a paradise for humanity: the shell-like city of Cocoon, which floats high above the surface of Pulse under the power of the Cocoon fal’Cie Orphan. Then, the Cocoon fal’Cie created life forms and machines for Cocoon’s inhabitants to use, and humanity flourished. A war was fought between the fal’Cie of Pulse and the Cocoon fal’Cie, and Cocoon prevailed in what was eventually known as the War of Transgressions. However, fear lingered in the hearts of the people of Cocoon, for the day another invasion might come from the world beneath again – wiki (I’ll stop there because it gets a lot more confusing and I couldn’t be arsed to try to explain it).
Graphics: 4/5 – Final Fantasy XIII ( which I will refer to from now on as FF13) is without a doubt the best looking Final Fantasy game in the series’ long history, however it isn’t the best looking game available for the system. Sadly, once again Square Enix has decided to create another high-gloss future-themed game that looks all too bright and glossy to be taken seriously. I much preferred the dark, atmospheric tones of Final Fantasy VII. FF13 uses some brilliant textures and the fully 3D backdrops can be quite impressive but the same can’t be said for the characters. The characters in the game feel rigid and lifeless and the incessant
stomping noise of the protagonist’s feet as you walk around the environment is downright infuriating. Once again, the text boxes of ‘ye old days’ have been abandoned in favour of painful-droning-dialogue sessions complete with miss-matched lip syncing. So while the graphics are extremely pretty, they’re in no way perfect though the same can’t be said about the cut-scenes. Like the last few games in the series, FF13 is filled with beautifully animated pre-rendered full motion video sequences which are absolutely stunning.
Gameplay: 1/5 – You can have the world’s best visuals but if you’re game lacks playability it will fail, case in point with FF13. Let me stress that Final Fantasy XIII is not an RPG, it is an action game with role-playing elements. You know there’s a problem when games like Uncharted and Dante’s Inferno are more open-ended than a Final Fantasy game. There are no towns, no world map and no leveling up, instead the game employs a system called Crystarium which mirrors the Sphere Grid system in Final Fantasy X. So instead of gaining experience points, your characters gain Crystogen Points (CP – guess the Japanese didn’t see the problem with that acronym) which can then be allocated to specific abilities that each character eventually has access to (so much for variety). FF13 uses a modified version of the ATB (Active Time Battle, ref; FFVII, VIII, IX) system which seems to be the main focus of this game as you are almost constantly fighting. The play mechanics are as follows, start at point (a) and walk to point (b). In between those points are monsters, slay monsters to reach point (b) and watch a cut-scene, repeat formula till game is complete. There is no exploration as you are constantly being funneled through one tunnel-like map after the next. Ironically, the single ‘large’ area in the game (some 30 hours into it all) requires that you race through it as all the monsters are impossibly difficult to beat and are able to murder you in one hit. This ‘open area’ is also where you’ll encounter the game’s only mini-game which I didn’t even bother to do because it’s painfully boring and will only earn you
more useless items. Usually the Summons/Eidolons are an integral part of the game (and spectacular to behold) but they’re quite useless in FF13 (and few in number, totaling six) and for some reason the developers felt the need to have them turn into vehicles, much like Transformers – wtf Square-Enix?? You also only get control one character in the game during a battle (whomever is selected as leader) and I absolutely hate that. Due to the game’s terribly repetitive nature, it becomes very tedious very quickly. I’m amazed I managed 30 + hours as near the end of it all I just wanted it to be over.
Characters: 2/5 – Those familiar with Square-Enix will know that their games are usually populated with unique and interesting characters, sadly FF13’s roster of playable heroes (six in all) are as three-dimensional as a NES game. They have no personality whatsoever and are immediately unlikable.
- Lightning – The lead protagonist, makes Squall Leonhart look like a happy-go-lucky Disney character. Lightning shows no personality at all and her incessant droning is extremely off-putting.
- Snow – the second protagonist, a character very much like Zell From Final Fantasy VIII only very irritating due to his overly optimistic can-do attitude seemingly mirrored on anime characters like Naruto.
- Vanille – Horribly upbeat and quite possibly the most annoying character of all time.
- Sazh – Stereotypical token black guy complete with Afro. Lacks the coolness of Barret from Final Fantasy VII, and is utterly useless in a fight.
- Hope – An emo, weak little fuck that breaks down in tears several times complaining that he is inadequate, blah blah blah…needs to be shot.
- Fang – Arguably the most powerful character, easy on the eyes and not completely annoying.
So the playable characters suck ass and on top of it all, FF13 lacks an awesome antagonist as in the other games in the series. There is no emotion in any of the characters, and I felt absolutely nothing for any of them. Lack of character development in a ‘role-playing game’ pretty much signals immediate failure. Not only that, there are about five NPC’s you encounter throughout your journey that you can actually interact with and even then they have nothing of interest to say. There are tonnes of NPC’s littered throughout, but you can’t approach them and ask them questions and whatnot, instead they make a comment as you walk past them.
Soundtrack: 3/5 – Good music is synonymous with Final Fantasy titles and while there are a few good tunes in this game, the repetition of the central theme throughout the game becomes very annoying. For a five-CD soundtrack there sure isn’t much to listen to.
Lifespan: 1/5 – If you actually have the time and patience to wade through this shit-fest and complete the game you will find that there is absolutely zero re-playability. After completing FF13 there’s simply no reason to ever play it again as it offers no hidden secrets to uncover and the fact that all the playable characters have pretty much the same abilities means there’s no point in trying to play again with a different party.
Overall: 2/5 – As a die-hard Final Fantasy fan, I’m deeply disappointed in this latest installment in the series. At best, Final Fantasy XIII is an overly drawn out, average action game that Final Fantasy fans will probably hate much in the way that I did. I think the true Final Fantasy experience ended after Final Fantasy IX on the PSOne, and to all those critics who said the game opens up after five hours, what the fuck were you playing?