With my large list of things to review, you will get to enjoy two reviews a week for a limited time. That’s right, for the cost of nothing, you get twice as much for a short time.
Final Fantasy XIII-2, better known as ‘If You Think This Will Be The Final One, You’re an Idiot.’ or known as ‘We Aren’t Yet Done Milking This Franchise To Death.’
For those that don’t know, FF as I will now refer to it as, is a JRPG that exemplifies everything people dislike about the genre.
Not actually wanting to BUY this, I played the demo, which is actually why I wouldn’t buy this game.
The demo starts with you having to fight a giant in a tutorial, which introduces you to some basic moves, such as attacking and the ‘paradigm shift’ feature that allows you to change AI behavior in battle. It shows you how to queue up attacks, but nothing more complex than that, leaving you to figure out the rest through trial and error throughout the game.
Like any FF game, the story is the main driving point, with you having to have played at least the previous FF game to understand it, and maybe even more previous FF games. To quote “Yahtzee” Croshaw, ‘Final Fantasy 13 comes on three discs not because it’s a roller coaster of an epic, but because it’s padded like a menstruating firehose.’
My own experience lends me to agree completely with that. In several hours in the demo, I wandered around a small ruin while enemies randomly spawned in so that I could have enough experience to face the giant for the second time. Naturally, I went for weakening him by using the mind control thing, which was basically a few of those puzzles where you need to collect some things and get to the end, but the tiles fall out where you walked. Except they were the easiest puzzles of that type I had even encountered.
After wandering around or a couple hours, I went out and faced the giant, and promptly got flattened for my trouble. And yet, to that point, I had been beating every other enemy in mere seconds, in battles that could best be described as ‘curbstomp’ and yet the giant flattened me.
Which brings me to the issues: FF now is trying to combine real time and turn based combat, which is, again to quote Yahtzee, a bit ‘like combining jam with pus.’ The gameplay tries to be an action excitement, with you merely selecting the exciting moves that character will pull off next. It feels very disconnected, like watching an action movie where it has you push a button every so often. Like real time, there are no turns for you or the enemy. However, like turn based, everything is based on stats, so your chance to dodge an attack isn’t hitting a dodge button, but by having a high enough percentage somewhere.
And I’m not sorry at all to say this, but that is just stupid. You are using plenty of elements of real-time combat, I should be able to not get crushed because a coin was flipped and didn’t land in my favor. Pure turn based is for those who like strategy. Pure real-time is for those who like being in the action, trading blows and dodging attacks. Blending the two results in an unplayable mess where battles can very quickly become a test of luck.
At least Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas managed to combing the two system into one, with the use of V.A.T.S. which allows you to have enemies hold still while you carefully pick off limbs. If you don’t know which end of a gun makes the loud noises, it them becomes a turn based system, with all the background dice rolling and coin flips. FF is merely a reminder why combining the two systems needs to be handled very carefully, or why you should just not bother.
What else…characters are basic stereotypes (angsty, serious, manly, ethnic, kooky) with no characterization. Sure, they have defining characteristics, but that is a result of them being base stereotypes. I couldn’t even keep names straight, and just referred to them mentally by the behavior. They also dress like someone designed clothing with an etch-a-sketch and fed it into a threshing machine.
FF13 (not 13-2) apparently even came with a booklet that explained the plot, character motivations, and all that other stuff. You are supposed to WEAVE EXPOSITION INTO THE NARRATIVE, don’t just be lazy and useless by handing the players an (obscenity deleted) glossary. The point of a demo is to make you want to buy the game, and, well, this fell flat. The only reason I can’t say if this one has just as bad a story is that I don’t want to fork over $60 of my money for this travesty.
What ever happened to older JRPGs, where there was game and story, instead of the game being about menu driven combat, angsty drama, and over the top cutscenes? Where did the previous fun go? I’ll field this question to VG Cats.
Score: 1/5 bad
Pros: if you like challenging yourself to finish a game in one run, or like speedruns, this will provide a great challenge for you.
Cons: Characters are base stereotypes, the combat is horrible and mostly unusable, the game is about angsty drama and cutscenes instead of game, the story requires you to have a flowchart and extensive notes. FF13 came with a BOOK instead of having any amount of understandable story in the game itself.
Verdict: Don’t buy this, unless you hate yourself and want to play a ‘game’ as some form of self-flagellation.