Wednesday, March 31

Litmus Test: Final Fantasy XIII

I know I reviewed God of War III, but it is an action game. Action games typically take 6-10 hours to complete, so that means I can complete these games and write about them without my professional and personal lives copping a beating. Final Fantasy XIII is a role-playing game. Role-playing games very rarely take less than 40 hours to complete, and sometimes as much as 100+. Sure I could've finished it already like so many other people, but that would more than likely mean that I would be close to unemployed and my lovely fiance may not be too happy with me.

The purpose of this article is to provide you with my initial impressions of FFXIII, as well as indicate whether you should give it a look.

What is it?
Final Fantasy XIII is a role-playing game which asks you the question: "Do you have the courage to face your destiny?" Your answer to this question will be in direct correllation to another: "Do you have the courage to follow a straight line for at least 10 hours?" If your answer to both of these questions is yes, then this game may be for you.

I am sure that many of you have read sentiments which portray that FFXIII is a very linear game and there is very little of the usual RPG fare like towns and (traditional) stores. While these observations are true, I need you to bear with me and with FFXIII. I am now about 12 hours in and while the game is still a straight line, it is a beautiful straight line with an emotive and intersting narrative running along with it.

Why should you care?
Some of you may have watched the video above and quite rightly thought "What just happened?" That will happen a lot in FFXIII not only because some narrative elements are slightly clumsy (not half as bad as I had been led to believe) but also because a lot of FF cliches (O M G) have been discarded or reinterpreted. For example, after 12 hours I have not used any MP but I have still cast spells!

Final Fantasy XIII employs a lot of (in my opinion) necessary changes and brought in some new elements to make the experience different to any other Final Fantasy titles you may have played. The only problem is that these additions are introduced in such a painstakingly slow manner that I can understand if you will or already have lost patience. It takes about 3 hours before you actually start upgrading your characters' skills and just short of 10 hours before you can upgrade equipment.

 Is it worth a shot?
Yes. It still may not be your cup of tea but there is too much to potentially miss in this package. I have heard many criticisms of FFXIII and in the grand scheme of things, few of them have so far proved to be valid. What you get is (for the most part) a wonderful and endearing cast of characters, an intriguing lore (complete with wacky terminology), a complex new battle system (which will eventually *I promise* make sense) and fantastic art direction.

On ABC2's Good Game I became quite fearful when they started talking about the Auto-Battle button and how it has dumbed down combat. This is far from the truth. With the need to switch paradigms and the wealth of abilities and techniques at your disposal, you learn the Auto-Battle button is just as essential and functional as Attack in every other Final Fantasy game. You may not use Auto Battle every turn, but you WILL use it and appreciate that it is available.

Will I finish it?
I will definitely try. Final Fantasy XIII has captured my imagination and my time and I am looking forward to recruiting the rest of the cast and summons. Just quietly, the baby chocobo is one of my favourite FF characters of all time: cute AND hilarious!

Have any of you guys played FFXIII? What were your feelings regarding combat/linearity/summons? What is your favourite FF?


  1. You're taking one for the team on this one. I longer I live here, the more I move away from the usual tropes and characters of the genre.

    I thought Crisis Core was alright, but all that nostalgia I thought I had for FFVII was gone. What a tired old miserable scrooge I am.

    If it was Vagrant Story or Front Mission, then it's a different story.

  2. I was going to pick this up, but with BC2, the new map pack for MW2, and my ongoing love of FIFA 10, I just don't know if I would get the time to play it. It looks absolutely amazing though! And the characters actually look cool, which is always a nice change.

    My fav FF was XII, but that is only because that is the one I put the most time into, and I highly enjoyed it. It was an absolutely immense game. I think VII and X need honourable mentions as well.

  3. Crisis Core was a hard slog towards the end. Not because it was overly difficult but rather it was too easy and story went all Neon Genesis on me. I love Vargant Story, it has aged like a fine wine.

    Sambo you would find time for FFXIII if you didn't spend 14 days (on my last check) playing MW2. VII was good, X was awesome, VIII was the best.

  4. Vagrant Story is like the PSone's Demon's Souls - takes no prisoners.

  5. I haven't played Demon's Souls but I am sure this statement is apt. APT I TELL YOU!