Final Fantasy XIII accomplished
Well it took me forever, but I finally beat Final Fantasy XIII. Very worth it. Several folks on the IGN boards were pretty critical of it, but I thought it was great. Different than the few I’ve played, but not necessarily in a bad way.
Since FFX is the first game in the series I’ve played I always seem to use that as my benchmark. I’m a sucker for the cinematics and the new game didn’t leave me disappointed. While several of the scenes are pre-rendered at some high dollar CGI studio, a majority of them are real time and running on the PS3 hardware. They blend surprisingly well, and in the video I posted above, if you aren’t paying attention, you probably can’t tell which is which. I have to glance down at my original NES and just appreciate how far video games have come.
The story is another good ole’ “save the world”, “will we ever see each other again” tale. The thing about these games and the stories (for me at least) is that they are so damn long, and at times so frustrating, you can’t help but become emotionally invested in the characters. Even if the story isn’t a literary masterpiece. When you finally just beat some hard ass boss and you feel that sense of relief and victory, you also see those same emotions coming through the characters in the game. And when you fight that enemy and win, still only to have someone they love ripped away from them, it makes you want to know why. I’m a geek like that I guess.
So I’ll admit, against the grain of the Final Fantasy purists that spin ye olde tails of classic turn by turn, overworld exploring, 8-bit times, I play the game, for the scenes and stories in between the battles. I still enjoy PLAYING the game, don’t get me wrong. I love customizing the weapons, and filling the screen with huge numbers with the best of them. But if it weren’t for the dessert, I probably would skip the meal. There I said it!
In FFXIII The battles are pretty automated in that you aren’t picking every single attack, but you do get the ability to issue specific orders to the character you are controlling, and focus your party’s attacks on a single target. The real meat of the battle system is setting up paradigms. Basically mixing and matching combinations of specialties which you can readily switch in the middle of battle. You don’t have the luxury of having enough experience to just make everybody specialize in everything, so it’s best to diversify the disciplines of your characters so you have the flexibility to adjust to whatever the battle calls for.
All in all, I’ll probably find myself playing this game again sometime soon. The end wasn’t quite what I expected (in a good way) but I wish sometimes the endings weren’t quite so perfect. But then again, there’s my FFX bias shining through again.