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Final Fantasy XIII - what I expected and what I got.

The Final Fantasy series maybe different from one another but there are things that I look forward to in every Final Fantasy which FFXIII lacked, this is my opinion...

Characters

First, let’s talk characters. Unlike the Final Fantasies before none of the characters have an epic feel to them, Lightning started really well, however she seemed to become less loveable as the game progresses. She was more like a spoiled kid who has to do it her way. The game also doesn’t translate bad-assery when playing. I remember in FFX where the first time you see Auron land a hit, you’d go ZOMG so strong! This game didn’t have that at all. Other FF’s had that too like being in a party with Sephiroth in FF7 or Beatrix in FF9.

There were some great moments for me like Sazh and Vanille’s scene which certainly gave me a better impression of Sazh. In an RPG I don’t think I’d want to play as a bossy main character, cry baby, over optimistic girl or a dude that tries to act cool. It was too much drama for a Fantasy game. At least Fang was ok she was pretty bad ass but had weird lesbian moments with Vanille that weren’t hot. The problem is that the characters were all forced to undergo changes or strange revelations that were not necessary. As if all the characters had to be round. And YES I found Vanille ANNOYING. And for the most part my friends and I use Lightning, Fang and Hope... had to use Vanille once for a quest and. They were simply better stats wise and less annoying. Sazh is still ok in my books but loving a character is very opinion based and it is the developer's job to find the correct balance in making characters that cater to the audience.

It's already pissing me off!

The game had too many main characters which was pretty confusing. I’m not saying a lot of main characters won’t work but you still need a sufficient number of supporting characters which the game lacked. At first I thought Lightning was the main character but as the game progressed I had no idea who it was anymore. A lot of people actually love supporting characters from the older Final Fantasies like Rydia, Shadow, Vincent, Zell, ViVi and Lulu. These characters had less screen time but people loved them more than the main characters. It was as if they were balancing the characters.

Villains

The villains of FFXIII actually had a bit of character development but it needed more. I would have liked it better if they showed me more of Cid Raines or Jill Nabaht or the other dude. They were pretty interesting characters but fell short. The final boss was a bit cliché and I could have forgiven it if they had better character development for the other villains. Thinking about the older FF villains you have Golbez, Exdeath, Kefka, Sephiroth, Ultimecia, Kuja, Jecht. All of which had more character than the villains in FFXIII.

Weapons

My biggest problem would be the upgrading weapon system. It is certainly not a fun mechanic, when did grinding become fun anyway? There are games like Disgaea for that but this is Final Fantasy grinding was an option not a requirement. I liked finding the best equipment, not this upgrading bullshit. Seriously, moments looking for the best weapons were memorable like finding Vincent’s final weapon behind a waterfall, doing the silly mini games for FFX to unlock Caladbolg was pretty memorable in my opinion. This game had none of that.

The different weapons for each character weren’t as exciting as the older FF’s. They seemed more like palette swaps than anything. I remember having fun equipping different weapons in FF7, they had a variety of weapons and animations. Cloud could equip a nail bat which I found refreshing and quirky, Barret had the Cannonball that didn’t shoot it but used it to bash enemies, that was a small quirk but I certainly enjoyed it.

Lightning's Weapons, see what I mean by palette swaps? 

(Look at Lightning's "different" weapons)

Limit Break

For me Limit Breaks were something to look forward to in FF. They were usually broken but I never complained because they were meant to make you feel like it was an epic winning move. In FFXIII however, it was a situational attack, it wasn’t as spam-able or as reliable as before. In older FFs there were more Limit Breaks for each character or variety to them. FFXIII had one move per character and some of them were very similar, I was disappointed to say the least. Again it felt like they were balancing for an MMO not a solo RPG. Hope had something that looked like Holy or Ultima while Vanille had Death. Really? You call these Limit Breaks? These were just regular spells! Well I guess Limit Breaks were pretty much non-existent as they are more like special moves now. How boring.

Summons

I was really excited when I first saw previews of Gestalt mode. But the limiting factor of having 1 summon per character was really disappointing. Then they were almost useless in the game, seeing as you can use them only once per battle from the high TP cost and that they weren’t that strong for the cost they incurred. Their final moves were not creative either. Most of the summons had a spinning attack which was a very boring endeavour. I was looking forward to epic final attacks but seeing similar looking moves certainly did not entertain me. The game didn’t really explain why they only get one summon each though. I would have enjoyed it more if I could get control of Carbuncle, Phoenix or Ifrit. Summons were a big part of the franchise for me. It’s clearly something only from Final Fantasy that I grew with. What happened to the strong summons we aimed for? Knights of the Round, Eden, Arc, Magus Sisters and then in FFXIII we have...balanced Summons?

Airships

A place to call home, the airships in the older FFs served this purpose. It wasn’t merely a vehicle for transportation. It was a base of operations, a home where we wasted time just going around it to see the insides of your ship. It creates that place of peace in Final Fantasy where not everything is about killing monsters. It was like the gamers’ safety bubble.

Linear Progression

Everyone knows how linear the game is but it didn’t stop with a linear story, it also had a linear levelling system that also stopped you from over levelling. Some players find it fun to be over levelled when defeating bosses, taking out that option is like taking away an RPG element. Even the quests were linear! They unlocked after finishing a certain quest.

Battle System

ATB system is now forever active there is no wait option which was how I usually played my Final Fantasy, I liked that it was an option before because even though I preferred the wait ATB, I still used active. They should kept that option, the game that made Turn Based RPG a hit for me is now breaking away from the series. It feels like its slowly turning into a different game/genre. I will whole heartedly disagree with this decision for the series. Heck even Dragon Age lets me pause the battle to pick my moves!

Controlling one character at a time in a battle is like giving players less option in playing, sure I’m fine with character AIs but enforcing them and having almost 0 control on your characters is simply a step back from Turn based RPG than a step forward. In a game that focuses on commands having control over characters is very important. The AI would be helpful in grinding situations but that’s about it.

They made the game faster by losing the wait for turn aspect, and enemy break but at what cost? We lost having the leisure of time picking the proper spells for characters. Controlled only 1 character at a time and couldn’t even shift to the other characters. Linear skill set instead of having control over the skills of characters or the ability to create hybrids like an attack type character with heal or support moves. I’m not a fan of this new system because it’s harder to be creative and makes the game limiting. I’d rather have a slower game with more options, role playing and control than a faster paced linear game.

Also, my friend pointed out an issue on magic where the MP system was totally erased. This made the game simpler creating less strategy decisions, well it already lacked that anyway. Since we had no control over the AI I'm guessing they decided not to add the MP system as it would piss people off because the AI might over use magic or not use them at all. This added to the boring battle system, MP management was a good mechanic evident in many games only in different names, hey that rhymed. I have no idea why they would scrap that mechanic or made them realize that the new system just sucked.

Mini Games

FF8 and FF9 had an awesome card game mini game but I liked FF8’s card game better it was fun and less confusing. FF7 had Golden Saucer which had a huge array of mini games; Chocobo Racing was one of my favourites along with breeding. FFX made mini games much more rewarding with the ultimate weapons but less fun as they became more like a requisite than a for fun game. This game had ... that robot attack thing which I barely remembered and well chocobo treasure hunting... not much of a fun mini game you couldn’t even replay the robot mini game.

Quests

What happened to going around town to learn more about quests or finding them on our own by exploring? Now it’s being hand fed to us like an MMO and it certainly isn’t fun. MMO quests were there to make levelling easier. The FFXIII quests were there... to fight a progression of harder monsters? I’m really not sure as if it was there just cause...

After Thought

If you’ve noticed most of my comparison uses the latter versions of the Final Fantasy series because this is how I thought the progression should be. I can’t compare them with older Final Fantasies because they are mostly basic and the newer FFs grew from them not change them. I also did not take into consideration FFXI and FFXII because FFXI is online and not the same genre, FFXII did not embody the progression of FF as it should be but it certainly wasn’t as bad as FFXIII at least it got some things right.

It feels like Square Enix is F***ing with its loyal customers by giving us a game that barely resembles that of the games we loved. Even to the point of milking the franchise releasing 3 games in 1 numbered Final Fantasy and online games that don’t deserve being called a sequel. Square Soft made Final Fantasy: Tactics without using the number, so why wouldn’t they call a game like Final Fantasy XI that isn’t the same genre as the numbered Final Fantasies, Final Fantasy: Online? Their logic simply escapes me, or they simply did not think about that. Well, I’m still excited for FFversus XIII even though I think it deserves a different name. Hopefully I won’t be disappointed with that one. Expectations are a bitch.

I did however like the graphics,music, cinematics and the menu interface of the game.

Stop balancing the damn game like an MMO SQUEENIX!

THIS PICTURE WILL DESCRIBE MY FEELINGS FOR THE GAME.

To my readers:

Would you play the Final Fantasy I expected? Or do you prefer the Final Fantasy they are changing the series into?

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