Review: Final Fantasy 13 (PS3)

I will make this short and dish out the most important part first:
It is my honest opinion that this is the worst Final Fantasy game I have ever played. (based on the main numbered series)
OK it looks like this is not ending so fast…

Gameplay
This is the major flaw in the game. It is boring, unnatural and annoying.
I get the feeling they wanted to implement something new at all cost and messed up the battle system in a very grave way.
Don’t get me wrong: New stuff or changes don’t have to be bad but it should be properly executed especially on a long-standing and important franchise like this. If you want to make experiments create demos or create a new IP.

The paradigm shift sounds at first like a nice strategic add but it becomes a hectic mess.
There are some battles where you have to change the paradigm so many times it kills the flow of action.
The problem increases because there are some enemies in the game that can only be defeated by certain tactics, nothing else will work. Instead of adding a strategic layer it becomes a burden and an absolute must if you want to win especially if you face some of the stronger enemies.

This becomes especially frustrating when you face the espers in the game. They are part of the story and you must beat them. The only way to beat them is to follow an exact strategy of what you have to do otherwise it is game over after a couple of minutes because the battles are timed.

A pro po time: If you fight a boss for too long the game will start a death counter because you take much longer then anticipated. Well, your down to 5% but the timer runs out. Out of luck eh? Annoying and frustrating again. Why limit it? If I need five minutes more to beat that damn guy let me do it.

Typical RPG leveling also faced a cut. Yes you can level but only so far. Each chapter in the game limits how far you can level. After that you cannot spend anymore points on your characters. You could save more points for the next chapter but for the current chapter your stuck with what the game allows you to grow on.
Only after the main game this limit is completely removed. But for what reason? I played trough the story and now I can play “monster hunter”?

Two of the most important aspects of the Final Fantasy franchise were drastically messed up.
The game often caused me to pull my hair out or to throw my controller (I’m glad their quite robust).

Another point of many complaints was the linear progression. There was no freedom of movement. The maps were often straight ways (not literally) and missing an item box was almost impossible. I don’t mind linear progression if it serves a purpose and allows for great storytelling. In my opinion this is the case here. I can definitely see where the developers wanted to go with the linear style and the story but they could have done much better with delivered a less satisfying experience and caused the complaints.

Visuals
The games visuals are stunning and look fantastic.
There have been situations where I stopped just to look around and to enjoy the scenery.
Unfortunately the best scenes are sometimes placed in such a way that you cannot really enjoy it.
Either because you are in a hurry and the game does not really allow you to rest or because you cannot stay where you are (i.e. cutscene).

The only negative part for me was the automatic camera during the battles. Sometimes it felt like the camera does not know where it wants to go driving back and forth between positins or frantically rushing to the other side of the field turing the enter view around.
A little less would have been a little more here.

Soundtrack
The soundtrack was very good and for me the best part of the game.
I really enjoyed it and I was happy I got the four CD soundtrack with the Collectors Edition.
It might not be as outstanding as previous iterations of the soundtrack but it is very great
and I can recommend it.

Story
The story is quite interesting but fails to live up.
There are some interesting quirks about the world, the way it exists, what society relies on and how fragile it is.
Still you never really start to care for this world. Not until maybe the very end where you understand some connections
and where some characters make important decisions.
It is not bad but also not very good. Decent you may say.

Summary
Gameplay 1/5
Visuals 4/5
Soundtrack 4/5
Story 3/5

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