Last semester I bought FF13. I think I’m only around 30 hours into it. This is a bit strange, given that normally when I buy a game such as this I tend to play it to completion. Unfortunately, I normally fall asleep after playing for an hour.
You can ignore all those stupid reviews of people talking about how linear FF13 is. I could care less. This is a JRPG. When have JRPG’s ever been non-linear? Just because western companies like BioWare have started making succesful non-linear RPGs where every decision you make has some sort of moral consequence does not imply that I want to have that in all my games. What do I expect from a JRPG? It should be pretty, it should have a fun battle system with depth, and it should have a reasonably interesting story.
Start with the good and move to the bad. FF13 is pretty. The graphics are pretty much some of the best things I have ever seen. Good job Square.
Moving on, FF stories have continuously gotten more and more bizarre as time progresses. Back in they day RPGs had a bad guy who took over the world and you had to stop him. You had a clear end goal and everything done in the game was building up towards that. I’ve progressed 30 hours into the game and I still have no clear indication of what I’m doing and who I’m fighting. All I know is some people want me to do destroy Cocoon but i don’t want to. So now I’m wondering around randomly in hope that through sheer determination and hard work a solution will present itself. It took me hours just to figure out what a Fal’cie was and I’m still not sure what their purpose is in this game. I have no motivation to play because I don’t know what I’m doing.
I still have no idea what this is…
Then you move to the battle system and it all goes down the shitter. On paper, I could see where the designers were going. You have 3 party members and they each are assigned a role, either DPS, tank, healer, buffer or debuffer. Then you can switch the roles of your party to fit the need. Enemy deals an infrequent burst of damage then switch to a tank with healer. Need to DPS down something, switch to 3 DPS. Long fight buff your part first then DPS. For boss fights, this works our relatively well. You are frequently switching between roles depending on the situation.
When fighting trash however, everything breaks. There is no point in buffing yourself because you might as well put 3 DPS and power down the enemy before you take too much damage. If your health lowers, you switch one person to healer and continue on. This gets unbelievably repetitive. It doesn’t matter if trash is unique because I do the exact same set of commands for each one.
To make matters worse, they will periodically place monsters that are clearly too strong for your current level right in the middle of your pathway. The game states that “Some monsters are too strong for you. You should skip them and fight them later when you are stronger.” Why the fuck would you do that? It would be like FF7 when you have to use a Chocobo to get around the Midgar Zolom, except they don’t tell you about it. Not to mention that sometimes, these monsters won’t seem unkillable for a few minutes. Then all of a sudden they will do some super attack and wipe your party. So you just wasted 5 minutes attacking a monster that you should have bypassed in the first place.
Even if you do end up killing him after 15 minutes of tank and spanking it, you get no reward and less experience than if you had just killed 5 little shit monsters. At least if you fought the Midgar Zolom you could get Beta. It’s a terrible design decision to place super strong monsters periodically throughout the hallways with the intention of you skipping them.
Finally, you have no control over the movement of your characters. You can’t have you characters spread apart to avoid area of effect spells and it’s frustrating as hell to watch as the 3 of your characters act retarded and deliberately move in front of the monster spewing a frontal cone of fire.
It is clearly the best strategy to group up here.
I was already pissed as hell in Dragon Age when the other AI controlled characters would walk across a pit of fire to follow me instead of going around, but at least you could control your main character (I actually liked Dragon Age’s battle system except for the AI). My guess is Square’s design team had a team meeting that went like this:
Designer 1: You know what game was great? Wii Tennis!
Designer 2: I agree. There have been tons of Tennis sim games before where you had to control your player’s movement AND swing the racket. But Wii Tennis makes it so much easier by having terrible AI control your movement.
Designer 1: Yes. It turns a game with depth into a game where all you do is look at a pixel and when it flashes you swing the controller.
Designer 2: This gives me a great idea. Let’s make a battle system where you can’t move and just press X to attack over and over again. We have an engine that could support movement, but we’d rather use a system that the SNES used.
If you’re going to make positioning relevant for the battle system, why would you not give us control on where we can walk? The only thing I’ve found to semi-control this is to exploit the fact that ranged attacks make your character stay in place while melee attacks move them closer to the enemy. But most of the time it doesn’t matter cause the boss will move around in circles while we’re stuck standing still.
The music in this game is terrible. Everything sounds like eurotrance or something you would take LSD and get fucked up to. I guess I can blame this on the lack of Nobuo Uematsu.
The Paradigm system that determines roles doesn’t save them for parties. So whenever you switch your party members in and out, you have to go and reset each and every individual role setting. Talk about a stupid oversight.
Vanille’s English voice actress needs to shoot herself.