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Square-Enix's Final Fantasy... PLEASE!

Posted by Thor , 12 March 2010 · 3,144 views

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What's there to say about Final Fantasy? A series that is known for huge stories, crazy plot twists, amazing character/monster design, amazing music and visuals, thought and emotional invoking, exploration, hours and hours of game play. Final Fantasy is a series that I have been addicted to ever since I was in late elementary school. The idea of playing a game that was so different from most of the games of the time. You actually have to work to build your character up and think about what you are doing rather than just being put on a platform and pointed in a direction and follow that path till you reach the goal.
As I'm going into this rant please remember that if you put a name on a game "Final Fantasy" it will have a lot to live up to, because of its history. So many games with the Final Fantasy tag over the past few years have done just the opposite and XIII is no different. I have not beat the game yet but I've put quite a few hours into to so I can make a good observation about what the rest of the game will be like.
Letís start where all Final Fantasy games start... in the beginning!
This again is something that every Final Fantasy game is known for, the set up for the story. Final Fantasy XIII starts of very ďho-humĒ. Usually Square does a great job of grabbing your attention and shake you like a newborn baby with shaken baby syndrome. They did a very bad job this time around I was left yawning right from the start. You will also notice right from the beginning the music is no where near as good. When Nobuo Uematsu was doing the music the game had depth and feeling just because of the music he came up with. Now it just feels bland.
This game seems like they tried to take bits from FFX and duplicate it but failed. The level up system is done in the same fashion where you have a grid that you have to select your upgrades such as more HP or more MP. Which is not bad but it was not executed as well as FFX.
The battle system at first glance is rather confusing and as you progress through the game you are taught how to use it and it becomes quite interesting. You have to implement a lot of strategy to play this game rather than very little thought. Basically how it works is you control only one character, yes only one the other characters are computer controlled, which is the worst thing about this system, you select your ďJobĒ and then attack. You can select several attacks at once and you can mix it up. Be it just a simple attack, magic, blitz, or what ever it will be Ė depending on your character you can select multiple attacks or multiple magicís or do some magic and attack all in one action. As you hit the enemy they have a stagger bar that will increase and when that bar maxes out the enemy will get dizzied and you will for the most part have free hits for a certain amount of time. Stronger enemies will still be able to attack during this period but it will not be as effective. So your main objective is to switch your jobs around to find the best way to dizzy your opponent so you can crush them.
At first I really hated this battle system but over time I have come to love it! It does have its ups and downs. The biggest thing I like is the strategy involved in figuring out how to kill the opponent. The bad thing is some battles will take forever. If you donít know how to kill the monster even weak monsters will take too long to kill and it gets boring quickly. The other bad thing again is thought the entire game you only control once character at a time. Of course you will get to play as every character in the game but only being able to use one of them in a battle is like only having one arm and one leg in an Olympic swimming match.
Another thing that really annoys me about this game is when you die what happens? You start right at the begging of that fight you just lost. Now what is up with that? There is really no downside of loosing a battle because you just get another chance, and another, and another. Some people might see this as a god send, I see it as a flaw in the game. If you donít die in the fight and you win your life also replenishes. So youíre at full strength in the next battle, again which just does not make sense.
Now on to how you encounter enemies. No random encounters, you can see them coming in front of you. This is sad only because itís so much easier to get a preemptive attack; on top of that they give you items to make it even easier. You spray your self with this item and it some how makes you invisible to your opponents. You walk up to them and immediately gives you a free hit to each one of them. Which just about maxes out their stagger meter so you can kill them really quick on those preemptive.
No over world no real exploration. Iíve not even really been to a town, Iíve been dropped into an area of a town but not gotten a chance to look around and talk to people on the street. No stores, well not really, you canít shop at stores. You buy your items from little kiosks in the battle fields. These would be little computers that control everything. You can save your game, or access stores. With what little money you find in the game it doesnít really matter anyway.
One of the really cool things about these kiosks though would be the upgrade system. As you play through the game youíll find materials that you can use to upgrade your weapons and accessories. Itís basically like grinding in Phantasy Star Online where you use these items to make your weapons stronger, Iím sure there is a limit as to when the weapon cannot be upgraded and further but Iíve not yet come to that point. The idea of customizing your weapons in this game is probably the best idea out of everything they have tossed into Final Fantasy XIII.
The monster design of some of the monsters and characters really has me thinking though. They really messed with classic enemies some for the good some for the bad. Such as the Bombs, they are now these metal monsters that some what resemble the bombs of the past but not at first glance. Some of the new creatures in the game are rather dumb as well. Like Incubus itís a bird creature that does a Native American dance while itís fighting. Iím sorry but I just did not understand that, I want to find out if this dance was actually based on a real dance but alas Iíve not yet found it.
How about the Eidolons, or as most people may know them Guardian Force, or maybe Summons or Espers? What ever you call them in this game they are called Eidolons. I donít even know what is up with them. Shiva and Nix transform into a motorcycle. Odin transforms into a horse. Though when you summon them and use them in battle they are very cool, that is until you transform them to do a dual attack.
And the character names like Lightning, Snow, and Hope. Come on Square couldnít you think of something better than that or are you all tapped out in the imagination department. As for Vanille, she is the most annoying character from any Square game invented! She is a tween/teen that acts like she is only 6 years old. The voice actress that either killed her or it was the script that killed her.
Much of what I may be griping about in this game may just be minor gripes and I probably would not have even complained about them if this was not a Final Fantasy game. Had they slapped a different name on it Iím sure I would not be nit-picking at it as much. Come on though. Like I said if you are going to put that name on a game you are going to have a lot to live up to so it better be done right.
End thoughts as a Final Fantasy game I'd give it about a 5.5 out of 10. If it did not have the Final Fantasy Name it's more of a 6.5. What I would like to see is Square to go back to the roots and make a real Final Fantasy game that closely resembles a Final Fantasy 6 style but with the graphics of FFXIII. I canít believe that I spent $60 on this. Of course Iím going to finish the game because I want to get my money out of it. If you have read this rant, and are a fan of the series or maybe your new to the series, please rent it before buying it.
I think I need to go download FF7 for the PSN or maybe I should just go play some SNES Final Fantasy to wash this out of my memory after I finish.



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Mister Zero
Mar 12 2010 03:00 PM
Really interesting review, I'm glad I didn't shell out 60 bucks because I would not have liked this game. The flashiness of it almost drew me in with the previews but hearing about how the game is set up bugs me.

I actually didn't like the random battle systems of the FF games, it was one thing that annoyed me, so I'm glad they changed that. It wasn't ALWAYS a problem, but when I was trying to progress the story and not fight, it got on my nerves terribly. I was always a fan of Chrono Trigger and EarthBound's battles, where you first see the enemy and then fight, sometimes having the choice of whether or not to fight at all. Regardless, it's still not enough to change my mind on the game.

The battle system does seem interesting, for the most part. I don't like how you only control one character and that when you die, the battle starts all over again.

Overall it seems like they really dumbed the Final Fantasy series down with this installment. I expect a lot of long-time fans to drop off after this, or I at least hope they do. As for the FFVII series entrants, I'm sure they'll eat it up. /tongue.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' />
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The battles don't just start over they start your character about 20 feet away from the monster so you can choose to fight it again if you want. But still what are save points for? Only if you want to quit the game basically, there is no disadvantage at loosing a fight now.
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It's like the game is controlling what you should do then to have fun with what you're doing in the game, like you said Thor it felt more like a chore than a video game.
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Schloss Ritter
Apr 22 2010 09:14 PM
This "stagger" system as you describe it reminds me of something similar in Dawn of Mana. At first, using your whip-vine in DoM to panic foes seems like a nice innovative change to straight up hack and slash; however, you soon find out you need to use it to smack objects and foes around and increase their panic meter in order to gain any kind of substantial stat increases. What is initially a fun diversion soon turns into a tedious exercise in having to panic almost every single foe before you can take them out, with a low enough cap on your abilities that you never really get too powerful. Add to this the chapter system that practically resets all your stats at the start of each of eight chapters, and the tedium begins anew each time.

Other than that, Dawn of Mana has a great setting, story, and lots of nostalgic callbacks to early entries in the series. If it wasn't for the "innovative" panic system they tried to implement to differentiate this Action RPG from the upstart Kingdom Hears series, Dawn of Mana might not have spelled the practical death of the Mana series.

Okay, it seems maybe I should have made this a blog entry of my own rather than a reply to yours, as I went on for much longer than I planned, heh.
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