I am a HUGE Final Fantasy fan. Since the original Final Fantasy came out for the NES I have played through every game ever released in the US. I own over 40 Final Fantasy games, including spin-offs and re-releases. I have sunk endless hours into Final Fantasy. My wife often jokes that without my contributions Square-Enix would have gone out of business long ago. I bought my PS3 knowing that someday it would be able to play ‘next-gen’ Final Fantasy games. I had been anticipating Final Fantasy XIII for years and I eagerly followed the Final Fantasy XIII news on the internet until finally the game was released.
The game is visually impressive. The in-game graphics are some of the best of the generation, and the pre-rendered cut scenes are amazing. Unfortunately that’s the nicest thing I can say about this title.
The story being told is pretty interesting, although true to Final Fantasy form it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The story is what kept me playing this game even though I never understood what was going on and was constantly irritated by the game mechanics.
My biggest gripe about the game is that it plays itself. I was entirely unnecessary. In combat situations each member of your group has an active ‘Role’ such as an attacker, spell-caster, healer, etc. Each team member can only have a single active role so it is up to the player to tell each team member what role is currently active. Your team members automatically cast spells or attack enemies during battle. There is no need for the player to do anything. The only character you have any control over is the team leader but the most useful action you will be selecting is ‘auto-battle’. Not once during the game was I required to use an item, or manually select an ability. I still don’t even know what half of the abilities I had even did.
My other big complaint is the leveling system. Your characters level up using something called a ‘Crystarium’. Basically as you defeat enemies you collect points that you can spend in the Crystarium to upgrade your character. The funny thing is the Crystarium is almost completely linear, so basically you just open it once in awhile to spend your points on the few new abilities you can afford and then you close it. It seemed like a lot of unnecessary work and I often wished there was some sort of ‘Auto’ button to automatically invest your points. Why not? The rest of the game played itself. In this game equipment can also be upgraded. The trick of it is that you must first use a material that increases the experience multiplier on your equipment and then you use a material that actually gives you experience, and wipes out the multiplier. If that sounds complicated that’s because it is. You’ll spend a lot of time consulting tables and charts (conveniently located in the strategy guide, sold separately) if you want to make the most of your equipment upgrading.
I had numerous other annoyances with the game, but I could have overlooked those if the combat and leveling systems had actually been fun.
More than any Final Fantasy in the past, this game is a series of battles between cut-scenes. The big difference is that in this game the battles play themselves.
* Graphically Pretty Cool
Is it fun: No