Final Fantasy XIII Strikes Back

Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t a great game. It took me a little while to come to terms with the thought that a “main” Final Fantasy game wasn’t what I had come to expect from Square Enix, and I had a hell of a time trying my best to enjoy it. I’ll freely admit, like most, that the game picks up right around chapter 11, which is when you hit Gran Pulse and the training wheels are finally lifted. But for me the experience was ruined before that point arrived.

I soldiered on, finished the game, and went back for some of the post-game content. The optional hunts provide a great challenge, and are definitely one of the best aspects of the game, but again I was pretty burned out by that point. And I thought that was a shame, because I can certainly see the greatness underlying the ridiculous and tedious hoops you’re required to go through in the first two-thirds of the game. The new combat system, Paradigm Shift, was actually the opposite of the auto-battle snooze fest that it at first seemed to be. I found it to be surprisingly deep and involved, keeping me more on my toes than the Gambit system in the previous Final Fantasy. And the graphics! I don’t think anyone can deny that both the in-game and cut-scene graphics were, and still are, absolutely stunning.

And at first I was OK with the opening experience of XIII. I’ve grown to expect modern Japanese developed RPG’s to hold my hand a bit through the opening hours of the game. Plenty of western developed games in other genres do this as well, and I feel like this is just a side effect of everyone wanting to tap into that new player market, and assuming (rightly so) that most people skip over instruction books and manuals at this point. So when I started to trudge through corridor after corridor after corridor, I was under the assumption that the game would cut the leash at around the four or five hour mark. But that’s where I was wrong. And I didn’t come into it completely unaware of the complaints tossed out by early importers, but I had hoped that in typical internet fashion things were being blown out of proportion.

Of course I also realize that the game has its fans. And before you decide to assault me with hate mail, feel free to take a step back and realize my feelings are FFXIII don’t need to match yours, nor do you need me to validate what you enjoy playing. It wasn’t my cup of tea, and I had expected more from the game than what I got. Which leads me into the point of this article; in that I think Final Fantasy XIII-2 has the potential to be the game Final Fantasy XIII should have been. And I hope, for the sake of the brand, it can do what Final Fantasy XIII didn’t.

Make a new Final Fantasy exciting again.