Towns whose structure makes no sense; check. One of the worst companies about giving away achievements who have ever laid hands on an Xbox; check. RPG kicking around GameStop while I was bored and had less than 20 dollars on me with a need to simply add to my game collection, check.
Let me tell you about Final Fantasy 13:
There is over an hour of gameplay before it becomes an RPG
It might not be the worst thing in the world to play a game that has an interesting beginning that introduces the characters in a favorable and gratifying light. Final Fantasy 13 manages to do not do that, and while failing to make any of their 2 hours of movies mean anything to gameplay that occurs, and takes up half the amount of time to watch the nonsensical movie/story play out, probably feels like a step back it should also be pointed out that absolutely nothing is gained from any of the few battles that do take place when the game starts.
The game rarely gives money from encounters, instead allowing most of them to drop some kind of item that can either be used or sold, and this first batch of enemies do nothing to help progress the characters along on their way by either dropping something or leveling the player. This basically means that all of the first section is just a really boring action game that the player rarely plays, also everyone is healed instantly after every battle always. So not only is this section of the gameplay possibly the best example of pointless masturbation ever, it is also super boring to play through—like so many of my ex-girlfriends.
I guess this makes sense considering:
The game doesn’t trust you
There have been plenty of reviews and articles talking about the never ending tutorials, but no one really seems to talk about the fact that the game enjoys spitting out text screen for actions that have been common practice for hours. This goes so far as to try and drive these points home by having bosses that require the player to repeatedly use only these “newly available” tactics to defeat them. Maybe the first five hours of the game are ripe for lesson teaching fights, but when every encounter tries to drive home the point it gets old. It is like being forced to read the instructions on a condom every time before having sex, at some point you kind of have figured that out and know what is going on.
Thanks game, I almost forgot that I could switch my characters between classes during a battle. Also it hasn’t even been an hour between the last boss battle that painfully required these same exact steps, and several more serious normal encounters that seemed to really strongly suggest that I do the same thing, but there might have been a chance that I somehow forgot what button, singular, I should be pushing to make those changes.
Which I guess would make a kind of sense considering:
The combat is unforgiving and boring all at once
Cracked the code on how to finish off a boss, but balls deep is this ever boring and slow. I bet that if I changed to one of my other set-ups it could speed the boss’ decay by a couple of minutes… and because the characters can take up to a full 30 seconds to switch classes due to unskippable animations, time that they are still receiving damage, I now need to play this entire section again as my characters are dead. Glad I could waste that 10 minutes of my life with a bad choice that last well under a minute.
I don’t think it would be so bad if the game ever allowed one to either change each characters job on the fly or even stopping the action to allow reprogramming of the skill set to something that might make more sense for the battle currently being fought—either of these choices would make more sense than the current course of picking the one that looks least likely to get everyone killed all at once before any battle starts and sticking with that. It is odd that Square, who tries to change the basics of their gameplay system for every game to a fault, should be the ones to discourage people to experiment in their games—it is sort of like a woman tell you that doesn’t want anything weird after she has put the leather mask over your face.
But looking at things from the characters perspective giving them fewer choices might make sense seeing as how:
Everyone seems fine to have emotional breakdowns in the middle of a battlefield
Metal Gear was mocked for years because it asked if love could bloom on the battlefield, clearly Square thought Snake must have done a good job explaining that it could and preceded to ask if every emotion could be experience on the battlefield, possibly all at the same time—but with a main emphases on moping.
Did your mom die and you feel that the person who was responsible for that action kind of shrugged it off like it was nothing, even though that is kind of what most main characters do? Did your son turn into a crystal because of some kind of ancient curse or something? Is all of this happening while the entire world is trying to make sure that you turn into some kind of harmless paste that will be shot out of a canon and into the sun? Under the terms set forth by FF13 you totally qualify to have all kinds of thoughts about how unfair life is while soldiers run circle you with orders to kill on sight.
I guess even this might be more of a problem if it wasn’t for:
The bad guys have no redeeming features at all
Look at any other Final Fantasy game ever–or at least the older and better ones– and it is pretty clear one of the things that they had in common: all of the bad guys could be understandable in some light. All of them where pretty much making an attempt to take out something that was even worse in the long run, only they were doing it in possibly not the best way.
This world, which it was announced would take a full 10 years to tell the entire story of before the game even came out, thinks that the best way to deal with an infection– that everyone is perfectly clear only spreads by being chosen by monsters– is to kill anyone who is two towns over from someone who may have been infected. That isn’t something that I had to stretch to make funnier, the game literally says that about the empire. The game only stops short of showing soldiers killing a baby, and only then because it would probably have earned them an M rating instead of the T that they needed to remain as mainstream as possible.