Yes, I just beat FF13. Yes the graphics are amazing. Yes, playing on a 50 inch HD was a real treat. So, now that we are once again made aware of the obvious facts, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the game.
So as you know if you are a FF fan, the franchise is always trying out new things.: New ways of leveling, new combat systems, new weapons upgrade/creation modes. They also stick to a pretty old formula: The ability to summon, airships, some guy named Cid who pilots said airships, a governmental conspiracy, and some crazy abstract looking final boss that could be the nearest thing on your desk come to life and dipped into LSD and gold.
Final Fantasy 13 fits the mold perfectly. Let’s start from the start shall we? Super soldier on a train, bad stuff is happening, some kind of revolt, drama. Wait, isn’t that how FF7 started? Ex-SOLDIER? Train? Midgar I mean, Cocoon crashing down and killing everyone? Huh? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, or as Square did, just rehash an old favorites with better graphics. Wait, what just happened in the story? Better check…THE DATALOG.
That’s right, there is something called a Datalog in this game which details the story as it happens, as well as character bios, monster data, and more. You NEED to read this datalog or you will become hopelessly lost in the story because the game itself along with cutscenes just don’t provide enough data to provide the viewer with a sensible and logical plot. So we are forced to read log entries just to follow along with the events of the story. Personally, I didn’t WANT to read about it, but felt I needed to. That’s a bad sign for a game.
Throughout the game your 6 playable characters get separated and you end up fighting monsters in groups of 2 or 3s. This to me is the best part of the game. Having only 2 characters makes the game a little challenging, and it was nice to jump back and forth between vastly different environments and plotlines. Because the writing was so boring, I found myself aching to tell the toons I was with to STFU, and soon enough they would and I’d be playing with the other group.
Unfortunately after chapter 10 or so, you all merge into one squad again. And here is where I really started to hate the game design decisions. If you remember from FFX you could only play with 3 toons at once, but you could swap in the other 3-4 during the battle. It was great, it was fun, it was fast, kept things moving, more choices made the battles more interesting. Here…in FF13 you have to pick only 3 of the 6. That’s right, no swapping. In fact I played with only those 3 for the rest of the game. There was absolutely NO need to even level the other 3. The only reason I did was because I was about to hit the 1 million xp cap and didn’t want more to go to waste in case I ever did feel like using them. Even worse, is that if you do feel like swapping ,all your Paradigms get reset and you have to spend a few minutes resetting and creating. It’s tedious, annoying, and broken imo.
I chose to use Fang, Vanille, and Sazh from the time I got to pick, to the end. The reason I used these 3 is because they all had 3 distinct “roles”. Fang was a tank, debuffer with the slow spell, and dps. Vanille was a debuffer with poison, a good healer, and dps. Sazh was a buffer with haste, dps, and well dps again. The other 3 toons may have tanked better, or done a little more dps, but I never could bring myself to lose an entire role option just to have one role be a little better. My main strategy was to have Fang tank, while the other 2 buffed us to bujezus and the other debuffed, then change my tank to toss her debuffs, while the healer healed, then all swtich to DPS and just faceroll to victory. That strat worked for every monster in the whole game. It took about 40 seconds to get all the buffs and debuffs up, but once they were, it was like a nuke was dropping.
So there you have it, half of the characters I never used, and if I did, it would have been a pain. ONE strategy worked for every single monster and boss. Unlike FFX there were no flying monsters you had to use Wakka’s ball to hit. The summons were just weird to control so I hardly ever used them except to get a free party heal on the harder bosses. Plus, they all looked like mechs my girlfriend’s 10 year old likes to play with. And don’t get me started on the “lore” behind the summons. There was none…with the exception of the characters taking wild guesses as to where they come from.
The weapon upgrade system is so weird, arduous, and annoying that I turned to the internet for the guide on how to best use it. What I learned was, buy 36 bones, use them to give your weapon a 3X bonus, then use the mechanical thing with that gives the most exp. But then your 3X bonus goes away, so you have to do it again, and again, and log out of the upgrade menu, log into the buy menu, buy stuff, log out of the buy menu, log out off it all, then wait a second, then log into the upgrade…HORRIBLE. Not to mention there was no graphical changes during the upgrade process, just the numbers next to the name of your item increasing in VERY SMALL increments. BORING! To get the “Final” weapon you had to spend 2 million gold PER ITEM just to transmute it. Not to mention each toon has 7 possible Final weapons. I skipped all that and beat the game with none of them.
Say goodbye to the long quest to the final dungeon to get the super hilt to make the final sword in the awesome cave of wonder. Nope, it’s just go to menu, spend 2 million gold, waste 5 minutes pressing X over and over, yay final weapon. Really? That’s all they could think of…ugh. Whoever got fired needs to be rehired at Square Enix.
I will write another blog about the story itself, but I will end things here to prevent newcomers from entering spoiler territory. My final word on FF13 is this: If you have a HD 50 inch screen, play the game for the amazing graphics, if you don’t, rent it but don’t expect anything interesting as far as story or playability goes. And get ready to mash that X button.