the walking writer

I missed FF13 when it originally came out as I didn’t have a console that could play it. Just before the start of summer, however, I significantly upgraded my computer and made the game my first purchase to try out on my new desktop’s gaming capabilities. After the disappointment I had with FF12, I wasn’t too sure what to expect with FF13, and I had heard a number of critical comments about the game over the years. Unfortunately, I now agree with most of the criticism, especially:

The Linearity of the Game

FF13 is a very linear game; in fact, some have referred to it as a hallway simulator. Most of the game is spent running through hallways, just to get to point X and fighting tons of monsters along the way. There are no towns with NPCs to chat to or stores to visit for goods; you always have access to the shops through the save points. Some fans of FF13 point out that FF10 was solidly linear as well. This is true, but the world of FF10 was populated and rich with interesting people, beautiful backdrops and actual towns to visit. In FF10, your path makes sense: You’re helping Yuna on her pilgrimage that has a set list of destinations. In FF13, there were plenty of chances to go off exploring, but you were never allowed to do so.

Unappealing Characters

Every Final Fantasy game has at least one character players don’t like, but I struggle to really identify one character I do like in FF13. Lightning is probably the closest, although she is quite similar to Cloud from FF7. Vanille fulfills the Rikku-type role, but even Rikku was more likable than Vanille. Hope is fairly annoying early on, but he do improve eventually. The others are just sort of there, and they didn’t really make much of an impression on me.

Open-World Boredom

When you’ve finished most of FF13, you are finally shipped off to an open world. When I made it to that point, I was hopeful. Although this open zone is nice enough to look at and has some interesting creatures, there’s really not much to do except undertake some “Kill X” type quests. This was a good spot for there to be more to the game, but it was lacking.

The Frustrating Battle System

The battle system is frustrating to me. I don’t expect every Final Fantasy to use the exact same battle system; innovation is a good thing. But I couldn’t stand the system in this game. I absolutely detest not having control over my characters. I don’t like crossing my fingers and hoping that Vanille manages to heal Lightning before she dies. I can handle controlling three characters just fine; it’s not that difficult. The paradigm shifting seemed cool in the first few dozen battles, but constantly switching around (and having to remake your paradigms after every single party change) was annoying.

Poor Storytelling

When I play a Final Fantasy game, I except a good story. Despite not being a big fan of FF12, I can still appreciate that it had an intricate and interesting storyline. FF13 doesn’t rank highly in that regard. The story starts off quite confusing for a very stupid reason: terms with very different meanings have very similar spelling, making them easy to confuse (l’Cie, Fal’Cie, etc). Many of the game’s cut scenes don’t really add much to the story and go on too long. Extra information is stashed away in the game’s datalog in the menu, which is very lazy way to explain the story.

FF13 did have two main features that helped, but unfortunately were not enough to save the game, namely the music and the graphics. The music is exceptional and memorable, including the main battle theme and my personal favorite, Sunleth Waterscape. I enjoy playing the music of FF13 in Theatrhythm on the 3DS. The graphics are also breathtakingly beautiful in FF13. As I was playing the game, I sometimes caught myself thinking about seeing an older Final Fantasy title, such as FF6, in a game as beautiful as FF13.

In the end, I just couldn’t force myself to finish FF13. When I was younger and the available video game selection was lacking, I played all my games until I was done. But now, with better games sitting in my backlog, I just can’t suffer through a bad game anymore.