Thoughts on Final Fantasy 13.
WARNING! May contain spoilers! For those of you who really want to play FF13, I advise you not to read on. You've been warned.
Now then, let the rant begin...
Final Fantasy has been one of my absolute favorite video game series of all time, ever since Final Fantasy XII exploded onto the scene. I was spellbound from the story, adored all the characters, and gasped along with the rest of the world as Sephiroth passed into video game history with his murder of Aerith. When Final Fantasy XIII came out, I literally fell head over heels in love with Squall Leonhart, who continues to hold the top spot in my heart for favorite video game crushes of all time.
Final Fantasy VIIII slid a little, in my opinion, but I still enjoyed the story, even if the characters were too chibi for me to really connect with. FFX was gorgeous, redeeming itself with fantastic characters, jaw-dropping graphics, and a truly epic, heart-wrenching story. I sobbed at the end and I still tear up every time I see it.
We won't mention the sequel to ten, or what they did to Yuna's character (or wardrobe). Though I did enjoy that very last scene that gave us a bit of closure to Yuna and Tidus' story.
FFXI the MMO does not count. FFXII had enough of an epic storyline and intriguing characters to keep me interested.
So, that said...
What have they done to Final Fantasy XIII?!?
What happened to the great, sprawling cities, the huge maps that let you run all over Garden or Midgar or Spira? What happened to the people you could talk to on the streets, the shops you could visit, or the endless side quests you could collect to while away the hours? So far, all the maps have been straight shots, from one point to another, with nothing but endless fighting between them. No dark, glittering cities, no quaint little villages in the trees or huge sprawling metropolises, just a straight path with bad guys on it. And yes, while I'm aware that many games are just like this, its not FINAL FANTASY. It doesn't have the classic Final Fantasy feel we all know and love.
Second, the characters. Normally, the characters of the Final Fantasy series have been awesome. They may be slightly cliche, and sometimes annoying, but they usually have something that makes them stand out, something that makes them unforgettable.
With two exceptions, I cannot stand any of Final Fantasy XIII's cast. The main character, Lightning, is rude and callous and a total bitch. She doesn't have Cloud's guilt or Squall's quiet brooding nature, she's just unsympathetic, and she treats her companions like they are completely beneath her. Hope, the little kid, is a sniveling, whiny wuss, and the token "perky girl" character is the most obnoxious of all. (Think Selphie Tilmatt times fifty.) Snow and Sahz are the only two characters I can stand. I haven't really met the sixth, except for a brief cut scene where she's working with the bad guys, so I don't know what to think of her yet.
The storyline is interesting, I will admit, but not up to Final Fantasy standards so far. I wanted more depth, and what I got is a "hack-n-slash." I wanted a lush, sandbox world, and I got a straight shot path with monsters.
Granted, I'm only about five hours into the game, and I'm still reserving final judgment, but so far Final Fantasy XIII has failed to impress. Even worse, it has greatly disappointed. I'm hoping the characters will start becoming more likable, or the storyline will start to improve, otherwise I'm going to be very depressed. The fighting system is fine for what it is, but its never the fighting that has drawn me to Final Fantasy. I don't want a hack-n-slash. I don't want a simple "walk from here to there and kill everything in your way," game. There are other series for that. It seems everything I love about Final Fantasy has been changed, and what is left is a mere shadow of what it could have been.
Wow, that was quite the rant. But it had to be said. I think I'll go back to Assassin's Creed II for now. At least Ezio's story is more interesting.