Final Fantasy XIII - 360 - Review
“It’s the end of the road.”
“But at least it’s not the end of the line.”
The conversation between two wooden characters in Final Fantasy XIII is a fitting description of the Final Fantasy series. Inundated with abysmal storytelling and poorly crafted characters, Final Fantasy XIII is an absolute mess when it comes to the finer things that don’t include graphical beauty.
Plagued with horrendous dialogue that will either make long-time fans cringe or naysayers of the franchise laugh at the shoddy work, Final Fantasy XIII is the epitome of how the video game industry doesn’t know how to put together a wonderful narrative for players to enjoy. Opting to use flashbacks and forced moments of moving the plot forward, FFXIII is as contrived as they come.
One of the flaws of FFXIII is the emphasis on making children among the unlikely heroes of the story. From the bumbling buffoon who trips over his own feet while trying to gun down nameless soldiers to the overly sensitive playable character Hope, FFXII takes the aggravating children and shoves them down the throat of the player. When one of the adults yelled out, “You think you die and everything'll be sugar and rainbows?” to an overly ambitious teenager, it became apparent that it was all downhill journey from there.
If there’s one thing that ruins the overall experience of a video game, it has to be a story that detracts away from the gameplay. The characters implemented into the plot don’t have much to work with besides a typical device of discrimination and a world in turmoil because of it. Sure, there’s a machine-like love story between the typical tough guy and America’s sweetheart, but for the most part, FFXIII struggles to find its identity until it’s too late in the game. To learn more about the backstory, players must divulge into the game’s data log to fully understand the circumstances the characters have been put into. This is one of the biggest mistakes of FFXIII; instead of telling a good story through the medium, the developers instead opted to write it down and ask players to read up on the silly lore.
Another problem with FFXIII is that it takes too long for its “point” to come across. To grasp the entirety of the gameplay features, combat system, and the perks of each character, players must brave through the first 5-7 hours of an enduring introduction. During this time, players hear words thrown around with no meaning that only befuddles the player to the point of frustration. Cocoon hates Pulse. Pulse doesn’t like Cocoon. Guardian Corps don’t have access to information PSICOM units have, but NORA is a resistance group that wants to stop the purge by the Sanctum. These words and sentences mean not a thing in the first six or so hours as players are stuck wondering, “What the hell are they talking about?”
While I moan about the unsatisfying story, there is one thing that Square-Enix and the developers were effective in accomplishing: the graphics. The best way to play through Final Fantasy XIII is to effectively mute the sound, whether it’s by drowning it out with your thoughts about the graphics or grabbing the remote. Even with the linear worlds provided (not counting the close to end-game content), Square-Enix was capable of delivering an inviting world through lush environments (though lacking interactive objects) and highly detailed character models. It’s true that the Xbox 360 version is a lesser version of the PlayStation 3 brethren, but even with that slight, it’s still one of the most beautiful games on the Xbox 360.
Due to the gorgeous graphics, it may be acceptable to fanatics and newcomers to have their hand held throughout the entire story. Final Fantasy XIII is supposed to be an epic role-playing video game, but instead, it turns out to be a disappointing interactive movie with cutscenes occurring every 20 minutes that do nothing to advance the plot. If I was to receive this as a gift, I would promptly reply in the same vain Lightning did when she finds out bad news about her sister and say, “Worst birthday ever!”