Final Fantasy 13…and no towns -_-

Overview
As of March 9, 2010 Final Fantasy XIII has been released in North America, and regardless of the post title, Square-Enix’s latest installment in the long running Final Fantasy series is sure to please everyone who’s been waiting for the last 5 years since its initial announcement….right?

My small disclaimer:

The information I’m providing here is based solely on my knowledge of playing the Final Fantasy 13 Playstation 3 version. Although I’m sure the only differences between the Xbox 360 and the Ps3 versions are the amount of disks (the Ps3 has one disk vs Xbox 360’s 3! ~ouch~), and the Ps3 version having a higher capable resolution. I thought I’d just point that out.

Story

Story

Taken directly from the Final Fantasy 13 manual:

Final Fantasy 13 Prologue:

Cocoon–a utopia in the sky.

It’s inhabitants believed their world a
paradise. Under the Sanctum’s rule, Cocoon
had long known peace and prosperity.

Mankind was blessed by its protectors, the
benevolent fal’Cie, and believed that tranquil
days would continue forever.

Their tranquility was shattered with the
discovery of one hostile fal’Cie.

The moment that fal’Cie from Pulse-the
feared and detested lowerworld-awoke
from its slumber, peace on Cocoon came
to an end.

Fal’Cie curse humans, turning them into
magic-wielding servants.

They become l’Cie-chosen of the fal’Cie.

Those branded with the mark of the l’Cie carry
the burden of either fulfilling their Focus or
facing a fate harsher than death itself.

A prayer for redemption.
A wish to protect the world.
A promise to challenge destiny.

After thirteen days of fates intertwined,
the battle begins.

Besides that interesting tidbit of information above, the extra backstory is that about 1300 years ago the god-like beings known as the fal’Cie built the mini-planet Cocoon as a sort of paradise that floats high above the hell like world of Pulse. The Cocoon fal’Cie have created lifeforms, and machines so that the human inhabitants of Cocoon could live peacefully.

The only huge war that is talked about alot in the game is the War of Transgression, where the enemies of Cocoon, the Pulse fal’Cie, and l’Cie tried to invade Cocoon and destroy them. Because of the past war, all inhabitants of Cocoon have been told that Pulse is definitely a hellacious type place, and any human who comes into contact with a Pulse fal’Cie is immediately “taken care of”, since they have a possible chance of infecting other peaceful members of Cocoon’s society with their taint.

When you start the game you’ll be starting off with Lightning our main female character in the game aboard a train with some other people. Shortly there after certain events happen, you’ll meet your next playable character Sazh, then Snow and his misfits, then for a good majority of the game you’ll switch between specific teams of characters as the storyline is thrown at you while you battle your way to victory or defeat :).

~My thoughts~

The storyline is definitely force fed to you. All of the FF13 fans knew along time ago after we started seeing maps for the game that it was going to be linear. The main reason I play rpgs is the benefit of kind of escaping into a nice little fantasy world and experiencing another’s fictional world. This story however could have done with a little more explaining in certain points. Also with the way the story is presented to you alot of people think that is a reason for no towns. I think this is complete bs, but I’ll get into that topic a bit later.

Since there are no towns, as the game is railing along (lol), you’ll definitely see your fair share of cutscenes. You can however skip these and read the datalog to get extra tidbits of information you skipped or to get more insight into why people are acting bitchy or whiney which is some of the case for certain individuals (*cough*Hope*cough*). However why the hell are you playing one of the most gorgeous Final fantasy games to date if you’re going to be skipping cutscenes?

Gameplay

Gameplay

Now for what I liked alot about FF13, the gameplay. Like I said before the actual game itself is quite gorgeous, everything is showing the power of the Ps3 from the cutscenes right down to how fast you get out of the Spoils screens when you leave a battle.

Speaking of fights, just like all of its predecessors, FF13 has managed to pull off another innovative battle system by introducing what they call the Paradigm Shift System.

With this new battle system fights are much more quicker, frantic and suprisingly efficient…well at least about 90% of the time. The way it works is you only have control of one character. When you go into your very first few battles your paradigms (or tactics) will all ready be set for you. You of course can change them in your menu screen when you have the chance, and they also can be arranged differently depending on the members of your party.

Paradigm menu Screen

Each member starts off with 1 role they can do well then it expands as the game goes along. Not sure if this was done intentionally or not, but it is another form of restriction present in the game. The roles that you see in the first few parts of the game are:

  • Commando-Allows your stagger gauge on an enemy to deplete slower. More physical attacks.
  • Ravager-Allows the stagger gauge on an enemy to fill quickly, works well in conjunction with the Com. More magic attacks.
  • Sentinel-Acts as a Tank type character for the group, provoking the enemy and reducing overall damage done to the group.
  • Saboteur-Provides numerous debuffs that weaken enemies, and some debuffs do damage to the enemy as well.
  • Synergist-Provides numerous buffs for the party.
  • Medic-The only form of a “white mage” you’ll ever see in the whole game…unless you count your potions.

Now commenting back on the battle side of things when you start your battle if your settings are default you’ll see Auto-Battle, Abilities, Techniques, and Items.

Auto-Battle is what a normal gamer will press about 94%% of this game besides pressing the occasional L1 button to shift paradigms, and maybe using a summon (which are now called Eidolons, but include some of the recognizable summons over the years we’ve grown to love) with the Technique button.

The actual battles are ridiculously quick. You won’t be able to press attack and run and go make a peanut butter and banana sandwich with this game, since there’s no option to make the battles into a wait system like old school FF battle systems. You will have to use the paradigms for quick “shifting” so you not only avoid getting overwhelmed by bosses but normal mobs sometimes as well.

What Square-Enix has done here is eliminate alot of the tediousness that I assume alot of rpg gamers have complained about over the years with the just pressing Attack button to clear through mobs. But at what cost? Is it really worth it to lose the ability to choose your own skills to attack the mobs, and instead have the computer choose all of your moves for you with the Auto Attack ability since it does it much quicker then you? (And also let me add more efficiently…) One can only wonder.

As far as getting equipment to make things slightly easier in battle, you can either find accessories or weapons (since those are the only two equipment slots you have) through the floating treasure chests, which is cool little upgrade from the “grounded” box-like treasure chests from the past, or since there are no towns….you’ll be doing all of your shopping at save points. That’s right I said save points…”you basically give something to nothing and get something back in return” (Thank you Uller for the excellent analogy)… wowie.

The other thing of mention is the leveling system. To sum it up the leveling is done by collecting CP and if you’ve ever played Final Fantasy 10. It’s a much much simpler version of the Sphere Grid, with a whole lot of restriction until you get a little bit further in the game. Nothing new to see here move along…

FFX Sphere Grid System

Besides the nice new battle system you don’t have much more to look forward to. The rest of the “gameplay” got lost somewhere in the 5 years of production time it took for us to see this jewel. The game is disgustingly good looking. I myself don’t have too many complaints about the new battle system, and the game does some what add an extra dimension to the gameplay after some hours into the game…. correction about 35 hours into the game once you hit Chapter 11.

Keep in mind there are only 13 chapters in the whole game.

Those extra gameplay elements do not include any of the following:

  • Real town type exploration.
  • Sidequests given by real people.
  • Minigames
  • More tutorials, because believe it or not you will be able to see tutorials on how to play in the game all the way up to I believe Chapter 6
  • A reason to keep playing the game, if you are tired of trekking through narrow corridors to keep fighting towards a story that is only here and there in execution.

What you will find however once you hit Chapter 11 and beyond:

  • A huge open world that you won’t be able to explore as easily as you’d like cause more then 70% of the monsters there can one shot you (aka insta-kill) in one swing of their paw, stump, sword, breath etc. etc.
  • More fighting.

~My thoughts~

I’m somewhat happy with the gameplay elements that were presented to me in this version of Final Fantasy…and before I finish this I must say I am definitely a fanboy of the Final Fantasy series through and through. I even plan on buying the next Final Fantasy whenever it’s getting ready to come out.

However I’ve been having a real hard time trying to find other reasons (besides graphics & a quick battle system) to like this this game. I think one of the main reason is because I’m so nostalgic of past Final Fantasy titles. A lot of gamers have made comments on some of the forums I’ve visited about how they love this game, and they are glad Square-Enix went this route. However at the same time the census for the amount of people who think this is a travesty to the series is pretty much the same. There are mixed reviews all over the place and I can see most of the reasons why.

Like my title said, no towns.

I made a comment in this post earlier about most gamers should have known about this very important fact, and yes I knew and I’m sure a helluva lot of other FF fans knew as well. The reason we still got the game is I’m sure we thought “Ahh shucks, Square has always been good with innovation before maybe the other things in the game will make up for it, or maybe even gosh those graphics are pretty!”

The reason that was stated by Square that there are no towns is because it fits in with the storyline. Like I said above that is straight bs, because there are always ways to incorporate town like places to visit. I really do think the devs were being lazy. To add to this point there is even one point in the game where you go into a town, and you still cannot do the town like activities! The game just rails you to your next battle and cutscene.

Going back to my nostalgia comment, old school final fantasy games had towns. We all know this, but the main reason for towns in my eyes was to break up the monotony of walking outside or in a dungeon and having to do numerous battles. Here’s some comments made by some forum members that I think sums up my comment(s) quite nicely about this game:

One member said: “I think the battle system is great. By releasing you from the monotony of picking specific attacks you are free to engage in higher level strategies, organizing paradigms and deciding when to change. I never have to wait long for the stagger gauge as I organize my paradigms effectively. Leveling is fine but I wouldn’t mind if it was passive (a la FFVII). My only problem is the lack of towns to explore.”

And a funny guy right after the above person said: “By releasing you from the monotony of picking attacks you are freed to experience the monotony of autobattle and endless dungeons.”

Yes, the FF games of the past have been linear to a degree. Yes, the FF games of the past presented an illusion to the player that you had freedom. Yes, random battles where you couldn’t see the enemies sucked. We all know this, but I digress, can you not say that the past Final Fantasy games did it with style?

I know all people will not agree with the things I think are awesome in the past Final Fantasy games but here’s a “quick and dirty” list:

  • Towns- I loved exploring! Even if Random Npc A didn’t say much as long as I ninjaed everything from peoples’ houses, and also spoke to them eventually someone would make a comment about the ultimate weapon or a way to find the materials to fix the old dam bridge so I could move on. I mean it is an rpg (roleplaying) right?
  • Minigames-Casinos, Card Games (go Tetramaster!), Chocobo Racing, or Chocobo Treasure Hunting, and of course my fave Blitzball!
  • Sidequests-from real people! Like please go save my son, I didn’t mind the fetch quests. Also depending on the game some sidequests gave you extended hours of gameplay and more insight into party characters. It was usually awesome all around. :)

Characters

Final Fantasy 13 Characters

Videos

Final Fantasy 13 JP Epic Boss Battle from iProGamer
Final Fantasy 13 JP Shiva Boss Battle from iProGamer

Image Gallery
This image gallery contains a lot of nice photos, screenshots, & fan art for Final Fantasy 13. Enjoy :D

Extras
Here are three maps made courtesy of twobrothersandasister.com just so you can see a little bit of the linearity:

You can also find their complete FF13 map location guide here.

Words from Z
In conclusion I’ll say this again I’m definitely a Final Fantasy fanboy, however I’m definitely iffy on this latest installment, but I’ve already played it so now it’s up to you to decide. It will go into my list of rpgs because that’s just what I do. :D
I will however just go ahead and assume that this Final Fantasy is more then overrated.

I just hope the next Final Fantasy will bring back all the things that us older fans love while also allowing themselves to be innovative. Square-Enix should keep in mind that sometimes certain types of innovation isn’t always the best move. That’s just my humble opinion.

So have you played it yet?

Share