5 Core Final Fantasy Features that Final Fantasy XIII is Missing

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As a Final Fantasy nut, a numbered Final Fantasy game of this console generation was obviously huge news. Final Fantasy XIII (SquareEnix, 2010) was enormously anticipated for me and I’m sure a myriad of other gamers. I’d go as far as saying it was my most anticipated game for the PS3, and I even got it at 12:10AM at a midnight launch (Australia also received the game before most countries including the US, funnily enough).  I played through the entire story in about a week, and I actually really enjoyed it, and as a game, it really was very good. There are a few key things however, that Square decided to do differently this time around, that they really really didn’t have to. I mean, there’s no better use for the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Things that are staples of the Final Fantasy series, things that I love so much about the series, that they blindly changed that greatly hurt what could have been another Final Fantasy classic. Here are those 5 things, neatly laid out for you.

5. An Amazing Soundtrack

Soundtrack matters in Final Fantasy. It matters in every game, but most of my favourite video game music has been from Final Fantasy games. ‘To Zanarkand‘ has the ability to send chills down my spine. The FFVII main theme is incredible. Final Fantasy XIII has no compositions even close to those songs, and even the legendary ‘victory theme’, present throughout Final Fantasy I-XII isn’t even this game! I bought the collector’s edition which came with the soundtrack, and I also downloaded the full (4CD) OST. This soundtrack’s peaks are few and far between. It’s still an above average soundtrack as far as video games OSTs go, but in the realm of Final Fantasy, a high standard is expected. When you first start final Fantasy IX and hear ‘The Place I’ll Return to Someday’ you know you’re in for something really special. Although I did like the XIII theme, it never had the same impact, and when I hear it I don’t feel like playing the game. Even just looking for youtube links has lead me into a plethora of nostalgia, and yes, the music alone makes me want to start playing these games again. It may sound as though I am not giving XIII the benefit of time, but I’m pretty certain on this one, because I distinctly remember playing FFX and immediately loving the music. I even went as far as to learn a few of the tracks on piano. With XIII I couldn’t really care less (but I’ll learn them anyway for the sake of playing Final Fantasy songs.)

4. Side-Quests

Sure, you had the missions towards the end and post-end, but these aren’t side-quests. They were: find a monster, then kill it. They provided ‘stories’ for these missions as though reading them would make the quests feel a little more meaningful, but they really weren’t. There was the side-quest of finding and putting together that robot to get the gold nuggets, but even that would’ve been an average side quest in every other Final Fantasy pre-XII. This might be there for the linear storyline/gameplay, but I miss the days when you had to look around the town for someone’s missing cat and they’d give you like, a sword. “Thank you for finding my cat! I was devastated! Here, have this sword and fuck up some Flans.” Without side-quests FFXIII really lacked character and individual growth; these side-quests were choices you made, and without them there is very little separating you and any other person playing the game.

3. Towns and Non-Playable Characters

THERE ARE NO TOWNS! THERE IS NO WORLD MAP UNTIL CHAPTER 11 AND IT’S NOT REALLY A ‘WORLD’ MAP! Final Fantasy XIII is absurdly linear, there is extremely limited exploration and everything is tailored so that the game is played in a set way. This is one of my most hated aspects of the game, because exploring is fun! I, and I imagine many gamers, want to explore the diverse worlds that the previous Final Fantasy games are so well known for. The UI map is almost unnecessary on most areas, as there is literally one path you can take. You feel so isolated in this game; you feel a lack of ‘character’ and input to the game that almost all other role-playing games have. You can’t go from town to town back and forth talking to various NPCs to gain information. All of that is lost. In fact there is almost no player input in the entire game, there is only ever ONE way to get somewhere. A to B.  XIII’s map design is laid out more like a hack’n'slash game than an RPG, which really loses a lot of joy for me. It’s just so frustrating not being able to explore the world freely, and it really should have been one of the first priorities on Square’s drawing board.

2. A Villain

I’ll be honest, finishing XIII and finishing VII/VIII/IX/X were completely different experiences. I didn’t have that connection to the characters (okay, maybe Sazh) like I did with the others, and thus wasn’t that sad when the game ended. I didn’t feel like I was ever fighting against someone, and when the ‘final’ boss revealed him/her/itself, I had no idea what was going on. There’s no developed back-story, it’s one of those “I will now explain everything right before the final fight HAHA you will not defeat me” reveals. Then you defeat it and they make the youuuuuraaaaaaggghhh scream. It couldn’t BE more lackluster. Sephiroth was talked about from the beginning of VII, and he had a huge hold on the storyline and the way I played through the game. XIII really felt like you were just walking towards something unknown, which you know is cool and all if executed well, but Orphan was really just an evolved version of a sub-boss. And for those that didn’t play it, want to see what the all powerful final boss Orphan looked like? Want to see him next to Sephiroth?

Who's more badass?

1. (Non-ATB) Turn-Based Combat

Let me pre-face this with how I loved how the battle system looked. It looked incredible, fluid, and highly detailed. Also, it felt innovative and I loved the speed of the system, and you can really see where Square was trying to head in terms of gameplay (for better or worse). However I can’t stress how 2 dimensional the system really is, and how 3 dimensional it tries to be. Yeah you read correctly, I believe FFXIII has a potentially extremely rewarding system that could be hard to master. But where it falls down is the dreaded ‘auto-battle’ button. For 98% of the game, you feel as though you’re just spamming ‘X’ (or ‘A’ for you boxers) because it chooses your best chain of commands and for the majority of battles you can just crush it. Even though you have this vast array of commands at your disposal, the game assumes we’re all idiots and we can’t choose our own commands. “Why don’t you just not press auto-battle?” you ask? Because it’s there and because the speed of battle implies that you use them. With little exploration and amazing visuals, I really expected the combat system to be what made this game flourish, but once again my high expectations were let down. I miss being able to place each of my party’s attacks and watching them unfold, but most of all I miss having to think about my next move instead of letting the AI control everything. I don’t like taking a back-seat in what should be the most important part of the game, and I really hope Square learns from these mistakes in FFXIV.

I smell sitcom!


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Author: TheCliveShow View all posts by

3 Comments on "5 Core Final Fantasy Features that Final Fantasy XIII is Missing"

  1. FungusDells May 20, 2010 at 8:01 pm -

    True true. Although I’m fkn lazy so i don’t even mind the x mashing too much. Lightning is so dreamy.

  2. Schism May 21, 2010 at 12:32 am -

    I think I am in love with her.

  3. get paid to upload December 4, 2010 at 10:36 pm -

    The next time I read a internet site, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as significantly as this one. I mean, I know it was my selection to read, but I truly thought youd have something intriguing to say. All I hear is often a bunch of whining about some thing that you could fix in the event you werent too busy looking for attention.

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