First of all, if you’re reading this thread, I’m assuming that you’ve either finished the main story in FF13, or that you’ve abandoned the game partway through and don’t care. Either way, prepare for free discussion of plot details and anything else relating to FF13 that strikes our fancy.
First, some vertical white space to allow eager eyeballs a chance to stop, if you’ve blundered in here by accident:
OK. I’m going to start now. I expect this to be a lively discussion. :)
I finished the main story line last night. Total time logged: a little over 46 hours. And quite frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about this game, now it’s done. Was I entertained? Yes. Did I get my money’s worth? I think so. Was I disappointed? Ultimately… yes, I think I was.
Things I liked, in no particular order:
S-E really delivered on the graphics. Say what you will about the story, the characters, or the gameplay, at least the visuals were there.
… and so was the soundtrack. This is probably my second-favorite FF soundtrack, next to FF10’s.
No random encounters. I really really hate the random pop-up encounters of older FF games, so I’m happy that they kept the FF12-style of encounter, where you can see what’s up ahead, and plan accordingly.
Generous save points. The game is well-populated with places to save your progress. But you almost didn’t need that many, because of:
The Retry feature. Yes, yes, YES. No more replaying strings of battles because you got screwed by a bad break in the last one. (I’m looking at you, Progenitorial Wrath.) If I had to rank FF13 features that I’d like to see continued, this probably goes at the top of the list. Hands down, the biggest frustration saver since the abolition of random battles.
The setting. It should have been great. A hollow, artificial planetoid with a high-tech civilization, hovering above an untamed wilderness planet. What potential! Sadly, it ends up being squandered, to a large extent.
Things I didn’t like:
The game just feels a bit too dumbed down. It looks like S-E was going for a streamlined experience here, and if so, they succeeded just a little too well. You’re not quite mashing X to advance through a series of cut scenes, but big chunks of the game feel that way, especially in the first half.
I thought the ramp-up in FF12 was long (nine hours until you get control of the gambits? sheesh!) but FF13 is even worse. Early combat is easy (good!) but it stays that way far too long (bad!). You’re ready to move on to bigger challenges, but the game withholds them from you. You don’t even get the ability to choose the active party members until you’re halfway through the game. Perhaps this was done deliberately, to force you to learn the use of the various roles in combination, but twenty hours of this?
So, let’s talk about the combat system. It delivers fast-paced and usually exciting fights, once you start encountering challenging opposition. However, to maintain the flow of combat, S-E has basically taken most of the control out of your hands. All those great abilities you get in the Crystarium? You hardly ever need to refer to them directly.
And while we’re talking about this, why lock the combat system to one character? Why can’t I switch the leader around in the middle of a fight? Just that one little change would have given me more than enough micromanagement capability to make me happy. Similarly, the whole “leader dies, game over” thing doesn’t make sense to me, except perhaps as an artificial restriction whose only purpose is to make battles riskier.
The Crystarium might as well have been a straight line, for all the difference the branching choices made. By the time the next expansion came along, my characters would typically be maxed out in their primary roles, plus a secondary role each.
The upgrade system and the shops felt completely bolted on. I got through the whole game without spending any money, selling any items, or upgrading any equipment. I didn’t need to. Granted, upgrades probably become important for post-endgame missions, but it might have been nice to have a reason to use the stuff I had in the main story.
90% of the weapons and equipment I collected just sat in the inventory. If I used anything, they were +HP, +strength, and +magic items.
Were there rideable chocobos in this game? I never found them. I assume they were down on Pulse somewhere. In any case, I didn’t need them.
Why mark glowing “jump here” circles on the ground? There’s precious little to explore as it is; why not make players do at least some of the guesswork? Next game, we’ll be choosing a destination from a list and watching the characters move and fight their way there automatically. :P
There’s more I haven’t said about the story and the characters, but I’m out of time so it will have to wait.