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Scryer
12-08-2010, 02:07 PM
Hey guys,

I am back to review another FF game in parts. I was originally going to do FF8 or FF10 but I ended up replaying FF13 instead. I am going to review this game in parts just to keep things fresh and it is a little more fun to how my opinions have changed throughout the game.

So here's some background in regards to my history with the game: I have beaten it before on Xbox 360.. back in May. I did do most of the sidequests. After I beat FF13 I just couldn't pick it up again. After my first playthrough of the game I really did like the game and everything but I just couldn't replay it. So I guess I am forcing myself through the game again just to see what my final thoughts are.

Final Fantasy XIII has by far received the most bipolar feedback from its players this year; some hate it to shreds on all levels and some love it passionately. Or so it seems. I'm the on the side that really liked the game. But it isn't my favourite game.


Part 1 (Chapter 1 - Chapter 3):

So you're on this train... You see Lightning kick some ass and you don't know why this is happening or what leads up to it. It's got sweet music and it is a very artistic FMV, in fact it is one of my favourite FMV's of the game. And then suddenly you're in a boss battle. So the game is starting out in the middle of the story; also called non-linearity of a plot.

The Hanging Edge has a very strong look to it. It's green, it's dark, and it's at war. As you progress through the Hanging Edge with Lightning and Sazh, you learn little bits and pieces of the storyline. Most importantly you learn what the Purge is and that Pulse is bad. I also noticed that you're no longer walking alone.. Sazh is walking with you and he is even talking! It definitely makes adventuring not seem so lonely but at the same time I feel that you can miss some important information if you're not hanging around them. In the end I definitely think that it is a cool effect.

Eventually you switch over to Snow and team NORA. At this point Snow is definitely a loud character in comparison to Lightning and Sazh. The thing that really bugs me about Snow is that most of his lines are really cheesy. What he says definitely doesn't appeal to me; Snow sounds a bit gimicky and meaningless. In retrospect this might be what they were going for. Same with Team NORA, they all sound gimicky, cheesy, and a bit weak. Except for maybe Gadot. I actually liked him a lot to my surprise.

The Hanging Edge is a zone where you're walking basically in a straight line. There's not a lot of freedom but hey, this was at the beginning of the game so I don't mind so much. Besides, you're starting in the middle of the story so I expect that the producers' need to take the reins and train the player to learn what is what really fast. I'm not going to make any judgements on the battle system until I am able to use a summon.

Anyways, back to Snow, we are introduced to some of the main characters including the narrator of our game (Vanille) and Hope. We are also given Hope's mom's death, which is a key point in the game. Snow somehow survives and meets up with Gadot after they fell from that bridge. And god forbid, Snow mentions Serah for the first time. At this point I really didn't mind Snow that much but now I know that everything he say's after this point is going to include “Serah” in it. After that happens, you switch over to Vanille and Hope; they make their introductions and gives the player a new dynamic, which is Hope blaming Snow for his mom's death. After they see Snow head for the Pulse Vestige, Hope and Vanille jack a vehicle to follow him.

We are now at chapter 2. The Pulse Vestige zone has some pretty cool music to it; I think it's one of my favourites. The place is set up kind of like a temple from FFX. It looks particularly a bit like the Bevelle temple's cloister trial only lighter. Moving on, we get a cutscene where Vanille finds her rod behind a statue and we never know how it got there in the first place.. My impressions of Vanille and Hope are pretty good at this point. Hope is obviously traumatized and Vanille is really trying to be a good friend.

Moving on, there are a couple of cutscenes involving Snow claiming that he's the hero and all of this shit. And at this point his voice is like “nails on chalk-board” to me because his lines are so incredulously cheesy that it's ridiculous. I was embarrassed to be playing a game with Snow at one point; it made me feel immature because he's all like “I'm the hero”; “I'm coming for you”.

There are also scenes with Sazh and Lightning which are a breath of fresh air at this point. These kind of scenes are obviously hinting to the player that the 5 of them are going to meet up in one spot. When that does happen, we meet Serah for the first time. She has good lines but they are said in a way that it makes it sound cheesy. Serah say's her lines like she just got shot 5 times in the chest or like she's dying from a disease, and no one is weak like that in the end of the game. I think that her lines would have been so much better if they were said with strength and then she turns to crystal but that's just my two cents.

Everything leading up to the fight with Anima was pretty cool. The boss battle was good.. The classic kill the arms, then kill the boss fight. The FMV's after the fight were awesome! It was very colourful and very well-done. The players are also given day 11 out of the 13 days prior to the Purge. Day 11 from Snow's perspective was very colourful and beautiful. The music was also cool as well. In my first playthrough I knew that all of the main characters would get a Day 11 shot as well.

Lake Bresha was definitely a very beautiful zone. The environment was amazing again. In this zone I found that most of the cutscenes were pretty cheesy. Especially Snow's lines. Also Lightning was getting shut-down a lot by Snow, which I found a little hard to believe. I mean she seemed way too angry to just get shut-down by a couple of lines. I wanted to see more bantering between the two of them, leading up to the punches.

Like I said, I found most of the cutscenes in this zone a little cheesy and gimicky; mainly because they had Snow in it. But sometimes Vanille would amp up the gimick-factor as well. There was nothing too memorable to add. So skipping ahead to the Shiva battle; it was hard for me the first time since I thought that Sentinel paradigms were useless but this time I got the Eidolon first try. Someone on youtube said that this battle is an analogy between Snow, Lightning, and Serah. Lightning represents the older Shiva sister who attacks you and Serah represents the sister who heals you. So the metaphor is that in order to win them, you have to just defend against both of them. And that's where I'll end this.

So far, I'll give this game an 8/10. The game starts off strong, most of the characters are pretty solid at this point, the music rocks, and the gameplay is okay. But it does get a little gimicky and cheesy at some points.

Any thoughts, dis/agreements? Feel free to post!

Vrykolas
12-08-2010, 09:14 PM
Good on you for doing this. Someone has to speak up for the game, and its always nice to see people make an effort.

Okay then, I'll tackle some of the points you made that interested me.

1) The Hanging Edge.
I'm afraid I have to disagree on the look of this place. I like the basic setup of what's going on with the purge train etc, but the area just seems pointless. I kept asking myself 'what exactly is this place supposed to be?'

I mean, it's just some roads over a big, big drop. Yes, it fits the name, but it does seem like a bit of a bizarre place to even exist at all. It just seems like a ridiculously dangerous set of roads that don't lead anywhere!

Instead of buying all those roads, maybe they should have bought a floor for the area...


2) Snow Villiers - hero or zero?
I don't dispute that Snow comes over as a bit of a goof, but that's the whole point. The game even has a cutscene dedicated to pointing out that he is nowhere near as cool and inspiring as he thinks he is (when he tries to rally the crowds and they just stare at with a puzzled expression).

The thing about Snow is that his charisma comes from not being the stereotypical devastately cool or amazing in every way conceivable hero (many, many films and games make their heroes the best looking, most intelligent, greatest at fighting, brooding dark souls with a troubled past etc etc).

Snow's appeal over the course of the game is that he's a cheerful, decent guy who tries his best - and it isn't always enough. He's an underdog hero, meant to appeal to those of us who groan whenever they see sulky 'good at everything, brags about it to everyone' brats like Dante from DMC.

Snow's insistence on being the hero is more a case of him needing a need for a hero, and wanting people to know that there are those willing to step up and do the right thing.

Also, remember that he and Serah are in love. One of the things about relationships is that people do act in a very vomit inducing way to people looking in. Movies may show macho guys and femme fetale heroines flirting and exchanging snappy dialogue, but in real life, partners who don't show affection get dropped very quickly!

So him claiming to be her hero is a bit cringeworthy, but it's only the level of soppiness that most people exhibit when they talk to their partners. The phenomeon of the guy speaking to his girlfriend on a mobile phone and turning from 'one of the lads' into some simpering wet blanket is well known to us all, I'm sure.

Incidentally, I think they don't like showing him talking to Lightning or Fang for long periods, precisely because they don't want to give people the wrong impression. The idea is for Snow to be focused on saving Serah and if he was given too much banter with the other women, it would risk harming that (in that people might start to wish for other relationships the game has no intention of developing).

It's perhaps not an ideal solution and it does tend to conjure up some odd scenarios. For example:

- Fang and Snow have no section of gameplay together when they meet up, and by not doing this, it keeps both of them out of the game almost entirely for absolutely ages.

- Despite being the main characters, Snow and Lightning are very hard to put in a team together. They are seperated for nearly half the game, plus having them in the same team means you will have to sacrifice either a Synegist or Saboteur, which is highly inadvisable.

- Snow is often left out of situations he should be a part of, for no better reason than the game doesn't want to send out certain signals. When Hope is attacked by Alexander for example, Snow should be a logical choice to help, but instead, Fang helps Lightning, despite Fang having basically no lines of dialogue with Hope - the game simply doesn't want the image of Lightning and Snow as parental figures to Hope.



I'm not saying he isn't annoying at times, but I'd also say that he gets more bearable as the game goes on. Basically, I'd rather have someone like Snow than a mouthy brat like Tidus any day of the week.

3) Temples were harder back in my day...

The inside of the Vestige is good, but I think their desire to keep the pace up, leads to it being a little too quick and easy. The fact you aren't able to earn CPs at this point probably also made them speed it up.

Given the way they chose to start the game, I understand why they did this, but I think one of the big misjudgements about this game, was that the fans really didn't like playing at this kind of pace.

They really would have preferred a more considered start, building up to this properly, showing us what's going on and who's who. That way, we would arrive here better equipped in terms of knowing what's happening, to whom, and why we should care.

It would have meant playing through several hours with pre-'L'Cie characters, but I think that's something people would have been able to put up with.

4) Anima for President.

I love Anima, and it's a shame that it dies in this opening scene. The sequence where it turns the party into L'Cie and the scene where it captures Serah during her and Snow's flight from PSICOM (shown much later), are two of the best scenes in the game IMO.

It has such a creepy and evil atmosphere about it. The eerie glowing abyss when the party is turned is something we needed more of. One of the great curses of modern FF games is that they are always so bright and glossy. Let's have some proper menace!

5) Vanille's Voice acting woes.

I like Vanille. A bold statement perhaps, since most people seem to despise her. But not me, although I do understand why she could inspire such loathing - her voice acting is just appalling. Easily the worst voice acting in the game, all those grunts and squeaks frequently threaten to derail the character.

But viewed objectively, I do like the character herself, her personality and what she does. But man, they really should have found someone better to do her voice acting.

6) L'Cie or not L'Cie?

Your comments that nothing really memorable happens after the party arrive at the lake, reminded me of how strangely low key it all was. What should have been a truly bone chilling moment (they have basically just found out they are destined to become mindless creatures in eternal agony), seems like just another day for most of them.

I really like the story in this game, but it could have been told much better at times. The idea of turning into a L'Cie and how frightening that is being one point which is very badly made, when the game bothers to bring it up at all.

Yes, the brands are a useful visual reminder, but we needed some visceral reminders to really get us on board with how grave a situation the characters are in. It simply never feels like that big a deal - if anything we're happy because we're now able to earn CPs!

The characters discuss it from time to time, but the threat of PSICOM and their pursuers regularly feels more real than the impending transformation. They could have used nightmares or even had one of the characters transform midway through the game and die, to really ram it home how desperate things are.

Basically, this is another case of the game suffering from not adequately preparing us. By throwing us in before he know what all of this means, it loses its impact. By the time we understand properly, the moment has passed and we've gotten used to it by then anyway.


Well, those are my opening thoughts on what you've said and my take on the early situations. You're a brave man for attempting this sort of thing, but good luck to you I say.

There are people out there who enjoyed this game too! I may have problems with it, but I'm broadly speaking with you - it's better than people say it is.

Scryer
12-09-2010, 12:22 AM
I mean, it's just some roads over a big, big drop. Yes, it fits the name, but it does seem like a bit of a bizarre place to even exist at all. It just seems like a ridiculously dangerous set of roads that don't lead anywhere!

Instead of buying all those roads, maybe they should have bought a floor for the area...

I think that I read in the database that the Hanging Edge use to be a city before the War of Transgression severely damaged it along with Cocoon's outer shell. But I could be remembering this wrong. I will get into the whole database discussion later.



The idea is for Snow to be focused on saving Serah and if he was given too much banter with the other women, it would risk harming that (in that people might start to wish for other relationships the game has no intention of developing).

I get that. The only times where I like Snow is in Palumpolum and in the Fifth Ark because the focus is on his own character. He keeps dropping Serah's name at every chance he gets and I feel that it takes away from his character. I guess I feel that he can show his affections for Serah without saying it; that he can show his affections without taking away insight into his own character.

I definitely agree that the game doesn't want to show us certain characters being together for too long. I just wonder why they didn't give Fang and Hope some one-on-one time.

For the record I view that Snow and Tidus are bascially the same character. And personally, a lovesick Tidus is worse than a Tidus lol. But that's just me.



3) Temples were harder back in my day...

The inside of the Vestige is good, but I think their desire to keep the pace up, leads to it being a little too quick and easy. The fact you aren't able to earn CPs at this point probably also made them speed it up.

It would have meant playing through several hours with pre-'L'Cie characters, but I think that's something people would have been able to put up with.

Yeah, temples were MUCH harder back in my day (Ocarina of Time comes to mind)... Even FFX's temples could pose a challenge to first-time players.

I definitely agree... I would have preferred having some pre-L'Cie character grind time (say that ten times fast!) even though the game started off with a bang. And that's where they fail in Cocoon. Personally I love stories that don't start in the very beginning because it does add that little element of mystery as to how pieces of the story fall into place. So this beginning in the game is no problem for me lol. But that's me.

The TV's in Anima's background (when you first meet him) are very creepy. He's a favourite of mine too, especially in FFX. Are you sure that it's dead though?


her voice acting is just appalling. Easily the worst voice acting in the game, all those grunts and squeaks frequently threaten to derail the character

I'm going to do another brave thing and... come to defence to Vanille's voice acting. I doubt that the voice actor originally plugged in a wave of orgasmic noises when she originally recorded the script. I would blame the director in this case because if the director of the english script didn't want orgasms inbetween lines, he would've said so. Now we are left with a stereotypical character called Vanille... She will orgasm if you look at her funny.

When it comes to the voice itself, I am okay with it as long as it doesn't include any sex. My big thing with Vanille is that at the end of the game, I wanted to see more of that dark side to her.



The characters discuss it from time to time, but the threat of PSICOM and their pursuers regularly feels more real than the impending transformation. They could have used nightmares or even had one of the characters transform midway through the game and die, to really ram it home how desperate things are.

Basically, this is another case of the game suffering from not adequately preparing us. By throwing us in before he know what all of this means, it loses its impact. By the time we understand properly, the moment has passed and we've gotten used to it by then anyway.

I kind of agree with you.

One big theme that the game carries on is the theme of distraction. Infact it is distraction to the point where none of the main characters face their situations to be honest. Lightning distracts herself by fighting the army; Hope distracts himself by comming up with a revenge murder-plot; Sazh distracts himself by worrying about Dajh's fate; Vanille puts on a cheery act to distract herself; Snow distracts himself by worrying about Serah; Fang distracts herself by trying to find Vanille; Coccoon distracts itself by worrying about L'Cie instead of its own Fal'Cie; etc. In Lake Bresha I feel that the main characters are distracting themselves by worrying about Psicom so that they don't have to face the severity of their situations. Except Snow..

They kind of prepare us by telling us the fate of a L'Cie in Anima's temple and Day 11. But I definitely agree that it isn't enough. Back in the temple, Hope should have been shitting his boomerang-filled pants. We should have been prepared a little more in regards to the severity of being a L'Cie.

One thing that I did want from Lake Bresha was a bigger reaction from Snow before he faces Shiva. At that point, I feel that the players could have definitely learned a thing or two when it comes to the severity of the situation because Snow has the opportunity to reflect and face his own feelings about the situation.

Don't get me wrong. I do love the game but there are problems to it.

Vrykolas
12-09-2010, 07:42 PM
Yo.

I just want to be clear that I don't actually have much of a problem with the start of the game, story wise or even character wise. I just make the point that I can see what people are saying when they complain about it.

Like I was saying, the biggest drawbacks of the quick start are that they have several quite important and intimate moments that we simply aren't ready or equipped to appreciate yet (Serah's transformation, the whole L'Cie thing etc etc).

The Hanging Edge is as you say. My point was simply that it doesn't look like a ruined place - it just looks like a big pit with some strangely untouched roads! It wasn't a big deal really, but I didn't get the sense of scale; it didn't feel to me like a big conflict was raging all around me.

I like Snow better than Tidus, simply because he seems less self absorped. He's being a hero because people need one, not because of some 'I want to be better than my Dad' nonsense.

You make a fair point about Vanille's voice acting, but it doesn't make it any less irritating. Plus the simple fact is (for me at least) that out of all the characters, Vanille is the still the character with the least accomplished acting.

Let's be fair though, because she's in fairly strong company. Troy Baker (Snow) was very well received as Yuri Lowel in 'Tales of Vesperia' and Ally Hillis won much favour as Liara T'Soni in 'Mass Effect', so the cast has some pretty good credentials.

Plus she is giving voice to a character not dissimiliar to Rikku, for whom Tara Strong very deservedly won an award for her acting.


And God... how dare you bring up the Temples from Zelda!

The water temple... arrgh!


But yeah, I do actually quite like the opening sections, certainly more than most seem to. And I certainly think that Anima was far too good to be killed off so soon. (The datafile claims Anima dies when the lake turns to crystal, and whilst I'm talking about that, even the little picture that goes along with its datafile is creepy as hell!)

Dragoncurry
12-13-2010, 08:03 AM
Throughout most of your first part of the review, you said things like "X character was gimmicky, the lines were cheesy, or not memorable" about the characters and what they said. Granted you had moments where you liked Sahz and Lightning, most of the time you seemed to find issues with Snow, Vanille, Hope and eventually the Snow/Lightning conversations. You attributed this mainly to Snow. Stop me if I am wrong so far.

Now with that in mind, how do you reach the conclusion in you last sentence, where you said that most of the characters are pretty solid? The entire role Snow played in the intro threw off all of the characters except obviously in the scenes where he was not there. It seems Snow is the opposite of a solid hero/warrior personality and social failure (from Vrykolas' Snow defense) doesn't seem to be enough of a reason to let that pass. In the beginning of the game, the entire Snow interaction threw off the game's mood, and direction. The serious, dark nature of the L'Cie phenomenon was improperly counterbalanced with Snow's "odd" optimism. Snow did not even play a cheerleader role (which would have been fine), he played a broken taperecorder role (I am the hero hello we get it). At the early stage of the game, nearly everyone is confused (which is natural), but they are lead by this "odd" optimism that doesn't make sense.

Thoughts?

topopoz
12-13-2010, 08:56 AM
Thoughts?

1- Epileptic Mind Screw Writing...

or

2- Lazy Writing, the writer forgotted what were the characters in the 1st place.

Scryer
12-13-2010, 02:07 PM
Now with that in mind, how do you reach the conclusion in you last sentence, where you said that most of the characters are pretty solid?

This needs explaining...

Yes, I found most of the lines gimicky. But that doesn't cover the fact that the game hides the character's personality behind the cheesier lines. I don't know about you but I was able to quickly identify which character was which by the end of the third chapter. For example, I knew that Vanille would be this "Rikku" character, that Sazh was going to be the "voice of reason" in many ways, etc. Yeah the lines were cheesy but I still got to know the main characters; in my opinion, that makes them pretty solid. FFXIII is a game that requires the player to learn who the main characters pretty fast. I felt that the game did that.

I am not going to continue on with the discussion with Snow at the moment because I do see where you guys are comming from and I want to see how my own opinion develops in the next part. Anyways, I think that the bottom-line with Snow in the beginning is that he sticks out like a sore thumb and that screws around with our expectations of the characters' reactions to being made L'Cie.

Dragoncurry
12-19-2010, 09:37 AM
No, you don't need to continue with Snow. I was just curious what you were getting at. Thanks for clearing that up =D.

Scryer
01-23-2011, 09:20 PM
Part 2 (Chapter 4 – Chapter 5):

It's been a while. But I've been switching schools and cities (and loving the new ones) in real life so it's time well spent. I pussied out of going to the end of chapter 6 because there is a lot of content to cover in chapter 6 and 7, and I'd rather do those chapters together.

So we start off chapter 4 with the defeat of Shiva and the introduction of my favourite character in this game, Fang. The very cool Fang has her words with Snow, knocks him out like all women do, and he finds himself captured by the Guardian Corps.

Then we're back to a very action-packed FMV of Hope, Sazh, Light, and Vanille escaping lake Bresha. Once again the art is amazing and it is very fun to watch but the cutscene that happens after the FMV also informs the players of what is going on with the world of Cocoon and their opinions on the Purge. We are also introduced to Galenth Dysley (complete with theme song) who obviously asserts himself as a villain. Like I mentioned before in part 1, because the story starts out in the middle, the player needs to learn details of the story very quickly. From chapters 1 – 3 we learned about the basics for each character and in chapters 4 and 5 we learn who the villains are and what the initial goals are going to be.

The Vile Peaks are okay. Like Lake Bresha, The Hanging Edge, and the Pulse Vestige the zone is basically a straight line. Which is... annoying. This game is linear when it comes to the gameplay... a lot of zones are linear which isn't a surprise to me since FFX. But if that is the case (which is for XIII's zones in Cocoon) then the designers should have taken away the mini map in order to create a false sense of a large world. Although that wouldn't solve any problems, it would would have given the players less pressure to just head to the next goal right away.

It is interesting that SE has the team split up right away in the Vile Peaks. For my first time, I am playing a game where each character has their own agenda and has the balls to follow-through with it. Lightning splits because she wants to fight the Sanctum and get the focus over with, Hope follows her just because he wants to get tougher (and I'll argue that he doesn't want to do nothing with his focus). Meanwhile Vanille and Sazh stay together just because they don't want to destroy Cocoon for moral reasons. And I definitely respect the game for doing that; it's hard to pull it off and I felt that FFXIII successfully pulled off a game that has more than one story going on.

The battle system is interesting... It's better than FFX but it's worse than FFXII. All I have to say right now is that the “auto-battle” button for both the characters and their Eidolons was a bad choice because it gets rid of the interactive part of playing an RPG. I'll get into more details in my final review.

Hope and Lightning are one of my favourite pairs. It's just really cool to play as them through the Vile Peaks into the Gapra Whitewood because Hope is just moving forward by making goals (which happen to be sinister) and Lightning is doing the opposite by reflecting on the choices that she made. Also the setting with Hope and Lightning is really intense. Especially in comparison to what Sazh and Vanille face... The intensity is kind of crazy to be honest, I mean you eventually run into the army in the Gapra Whitewood and everything happens really fast. And they both plan on hijacking a train in Palumpolum to Eden, so that's pretty hardcore.

Sazh and Vanille end up being in a setting that is stress free. You eventually learn about Sazh's son in the Sunleth Waterscape which are some really deep details that play a huge role in chapter 7. But unfortunately in this part there is a flashback to Day 4 (I think) which shows the Euride Gorge plant incident and that shows who attacked the plant. I wish that the players didn't know who attacked the plant until Sazh found out because it would have amplified the effects that chapter 7 has on the players. It would've guranteed an emotional response IF that happened IMO.

Snow and Fang do have their cutscenes inbetween the switch from Hope/Light to Sazh/Vanille. The cutscenes are okay, you do learn a bit from them and you do meet Cid Raines, which (I guess) is a plus. At this point the less I see of Snow, the better because once again he drops Serah's name like punctuation.

I've also noticed that the database also contains some spoilers. I recall reading that Vanille was from Pulse before Fang mentions it in Chapter 6. There are also other various spoilers as well that you find out later on. The database, itself, is a bit of a failure. Not only does it sometimes give out spoilers when its not needed, but it also has a lot of information that the players should be picking up during their playthrough. If anything, it should have been a detailed journal like the one in FFXII. I'll come back to this later; these are just some premature final thoughts unfortunately.

In the end, Chapters 4 and 5 are really setting up some big things to happen. You have Hope ready to avenge his Mom's death on Snow; you have Lightning second guessing herself; you have Vanille connecting with Sazh when she was the one responsible for getting Dajh turned into a L'Cie; and you have Snow and Fang hunting the others. If this didn't sound dysfunctional, then you need therapy. But oh my god, these two chapters are REALLY setting us up to watch shit go down.

I'm giving it a 9/10 for these chapters just because there is some hardcore rising action going on and that I'm not hearing a lot of cheesy lines anymore.