Welcome everyone to a very special multi-part event. Since we are now heading toward number 200 in my written reviews, this will be a multi-part review of role-playing games. This is a genre that I hold dear to me. I have played the best, like Final Fantasy 9, and the garbage, like Quest 64. Good lord, I hated Quest 64. For this special event, I am choosing multiple different rpgs from Enix to Game Arts who I think make the best rpgs. For the first in this multi-part review, I decided to kick things off with a bang, and review an RPG that I promised myself I would never EVER review. Let’s start part one with Final Fantasy 13. It’s weird since I just hated the look and idea of the new Final Fantasy. I thought it went way too far from the source material, and it deserved a lot of the bad and negative reaction it got from the fans. It is definitely one of the worst in the franchise, but is it really that bad of a game? I played it and maybe some of my opinions of this game might have changed, but who knows. Let’s begin on this unusual adventure, shall we?
The story in this game takes place in a mystical floating world known as Cocoon. The government in Cocoon, named Sanctum, is doing a purge of all the civilians who have come in contact with the world below, known as Pulse. A former soldier of the government named Lightning is the main protagonist, and she plans to take down the government and save her sister who was captured. She joins up with 6 other characters and ends up on Pulse itself. They are tasked with an unknown assignment that is unclear to everyone. There are some interesting parts of the story, but it feels flat. It isn’t my favorite of the franchise since I think 6 and 9 have the best story in the entire Final Fantasy series, but like I said, there are some interesting points that come up from time to time. Overall, it feels like a clichéd Japanese RPG. I’m sorry I started my criticism here, but this game really bugs me. From now on, I will make sure to keep the criticism for near the end of the review.
The gameplay is a surprisingly linear active-time RPG with some turned-based elements and other elements from games like Final Fantasy 10 mixed into it. The party again only holds 3 characters at a time. I am sorry, but what is with the 3-person-only party? I mean Suikoden 5 can have up to 6 or more people during the RPG parts of the game. It just amazes me that this company has some weird fixation on the number 3, with a lot of the later games in the series only having 3 people in the party. Anyway, the gameplay kind of reminds me of Grandia, since there is a loading bar-style battle gauge, that when fully charged, you can pull off your moves. You only get to control one character and that is the leader of the group. The main gimmick in the active time battle is where you can pull off different formations called Paradigm Shifts. This is where the different characters change what class they are. There are offensive fighters, offensive magic users, healers, sabotage artists, defense masters, status helpers, and you get the idea. Each shift is useful and will be the deciding point on certain battles, which at times can get very tedious if you are not informed about what the weakness of the boss is. Each character also has a guardian they can summon to fight alongside battle, or combine with them, and for some reason, the guardians then become something that reminds me of Transformers. You don’t really level up as much as you do in Final Fantasy 10. The leveling up system from Final Fantasy 10 is basically used here to a better extent, and isn’t convoluted. Each time you win a battle, you get experience that is used to upgrade a sphere-like system for each class that your character can be. Each class will be upgraded during different times in the story.
The graphics are almost way too good for its own livelihood. I mean, yeah, the hair looks cheap at times, and sometimes you can find flat textures, but I haven’t seen such a good-looking game since God of War 3, Little Big Planet 2, Uncharted 2, and Flower. The time between games definitely gives Square time to make their main game franchise look good. The music, while not as good as Final Fantasy 6 and 9, is still pretty good and has really catchy battle music. The music was composed by Masashi Hamauzu. He is mostly famous for games like Unlimited Saga, SaGa Frontier 2, and Sigma Harmonics. The voice acting also is good, but it feels more like a game from the Tales series, which isn’t bad, but it makes me feel like they could have done better. I mean, it’s not that the cast is bad. They have big stars like Ali Hillis, who was Dr. Liara T’Soni from the Mass Effect series. We also have people like Troy Baker, who was Jetfire and Zeta Prime from the recent Transformers: War for Cybertron and Reno Wilson who was the Black Baron from Madworld. They all do a good job, but the script kind of falters at times.
Now, this is the part I have been waiting for, the bad parts! When I first played this game I didn’t think it was that bad, but after playing it for a few days, it just showed more and more problems. First off, when I was playing through the game, I didn’t mind the linear style since it didn’t mean no free roaming monster hunting quests, like in the last game. However, it just got WAY too linear since there are no towns to visit and no people to interact with. It’s just one long corridor with no stops. There might be a few puzzles here and there, but it just got way too tedious, since you were just going in a straight line the whole time. I also hate the weapon customization feature, since when you get a new weapon, you can’t just de-equip everything. If you do unequip everything from that weapon, you only get a few things back. The parts didn’t seem to do much either. It just made me wish I could just use a stronger weapon like in Final Fantasy 9. While I like the fast-paced turn-based elements, I felt like there wasn’t too much depth to it since I kept just doing the auto battle and battle stance change. It’s like I wasn’t even playing at all. The characters are just bad and annoying. I couldn’t care less for half of the cast. I mean later in the story some characters become tolerable, but it still doesn’t change that this game feels like a clichéd JRPG. That is basically the biggest complaint I have about this game. It doesn’t feel like a Final Fantasy game. There is not one thing of fantasy left. It’s more like science fiction fantasy. If I wanted to play a game called science fiction fantasy, I would play Xenogears, which is so much better than this game. When I play Final Fantasy, I want to see some small steam punk themes here and there, but no spaceships and robot dragons. Like I said, I want to play Final FANTASY! Not Final Science Fiction Fantasy. Why are they going this way? Do kids not like swords and magic anymore?! I mean Demons Soul sold really well, and it’s dark fantasy. KIDS CAN ENJOY FANTASY SQUARE ENIX. Stop investing in games like Kane and Lynch 2, and invest on some fantasy artists, and bring back the original team for the Final Fantasy games. Heck, I would love to see a remastered version of Final Fantasy 9. At least you have a different team working on Final Fantasy Versus 13, and at least that game plays similar to Kingdom Hearts from the looks of it.
Overall, Final Fantasy 13 might be liked by few, but I HATE this game. It isn’t Final Fantasy at all! It is one of the worst games in the franchise. I feel sorry for people who played this. I feel sorry that people think this is what Final Fantasy needs to be. I cannot recommend this game for people who haven’t played this game yet. If you want to play a truly great Final Fantasy game, then download Final Fantasy 9 or just look for the Final Fantasy Chronicles or Anthology on the Playstation 1. Or just invest in that cool Final Fantasy 4 collection that’s out for the PSP and I think PSN. Square has lost a lot of my respect since Final Fantasy 11 and ongoing. Let’s hope they don’t mess up Deus Ex: Human Evolution. Now, let’s move onto an even better RPG in the next part of this special.
This game gets a 6 out of 10