Random Curiosity

Final Fantasy XIII: Overall Thoughts

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Introduction

Had my shipment arrived during the Christmas break like I was hoping, I would’ve probably blogged Final Fantasy XIII from start to finish like any other anime series here. I was ready to shell out $250 for an HD PVR just to do so too. Ever since the NES days, Final Fantasy has been about the story first and foremost to me, with improvements to the gameplay mechanics and graphics just adding to the overall experience. For that reason, it seems like it would’ve been a worthwhile blogging venture, especially when a lot of people imported the game with little-to-no understanding of Japanese.

When I was younger, I played a lot of Japanese games with much less understanding of the language than I have now, and found that a lot of the experience/enjoyment was simply lost in translation. As such, I thought I’d supplement what I didn’t have during the pre-Internet era, but the opportunity slipped by since I was late arriving to the FFXIII party. In lieu of chapter-by-chapter coverage, I figured some spoiler-free hands-on impressions would suffice, or at least, that’s what our resident site owner has been insisting that I do ever since I told him I preordered it.

During the past couple of weeks since I received my copy of the game, I’ve been fitting in whatever time I can find to get through it as quickly as possible. Well just the other day I finally finished the game, though I still have some side quests to get back to before I can say I’m completely done with it. Story-wise, I’ve taken everything in, and have to say it’s been more interesting than any of the anime series I’m currently following. It should go without saying that I haven’t been posting about my usual shows lately because I haven’t been watching them. =P

Anyway, for the sake of discussion, I figure a spoiler-free introduction to the story would be helpful here. I’ll keep the rest of the post along those lines, but if there’s actually interest in a full-blown discussion of the plot or gameplay mechanics, we can shift things to spoiler-tagged comments. Consider this post an introduction to the game for those who have yet to play it, along with my overall impressions of the story. (We talk plot on this site, not review games!)

I was originally writing up a full-blown in-depth discussion about all aspects of the game, from the new battle system that I really like (challenging and not mindless), the progression (linearity is not an issue), and the visuals and music (jaw-dropping 1080p gameplay and cutscenes with a beautiful score by Hamauzu Masashi), but it got incredibly long and I wasn’t convinced it was an interesting read to most, so I’ve locked those sections off in a vault somewhere for now.

 


 

Backstory

From time immemorial, gods created human life on the planet. To help guide and protect mankind, they also created powerful beings known as fal’Cie (pronounced “fal see”) before leaving the world. Some time later, the fal’Cie created a floating utopia above the planet known as Cocoon for humans to live frivolous lifestyles. There, the fal’Cie support mankind with everything from electrical power (Kjata), food (Carbuncle), and even the climate (Phoenix), but left governing society up to mankind themselves, thus leading to the creation of the holy government known as the Sanctum 「聖府」 (Seifu).

On the world below known as Pulse 「下界」 (“Lower World” in kanji), a separate group of humans and fal’Cie exists. The citizens of Cocoon are in constant fear of what lies below them due to an apocalyptic war that happened between the two worlds some hundred years ago, and are forbidden to visit it by the Sanctum. Anyone discovered to have left Cocoon is immediately exiled from the utopia.

During the apocalyptic war, both Cocoon and Pulse fal’Cie alike would select humans for a greater purpose by placing a mark on them and turning them into a l’Cie (“luu see”). Once becoming a l’Cie, one is granted magical powers to accomplish the mission given to them (“Focus” in English), which is only conveyed via vague, incoherent, dream-like thoughts. Those who fail to accomplish their mission within a certain time lose their very being and become undead-like monsters known as Shigai 「シ骸」 (“Cie’th”). However, legend states that fulfilling the task only transforms the individual into a crystal so that they “obtain eternity forever”. Because of this, coming into contact with a fal’Cie and being selected as a l’Cie is seen as a curse.

After a Pulse fal’Cie is discovered in some old ruins by the Ewleede Canyon power plant, the Sanctum orders that everyone at the nearby coastal resort Boredom be exiled from Cocoon. Both the residents and tourists are indiscriminately forced into this “Purge Plan”, regardless of whether they were actually marked as a Pulse l’Cie. The Sanctum claims that such grave measures are necessary, since Pulse l’Cie tend to be given the task of destroying Cocoon. However, what is publicly a forced relocation turns out to be an all out massacre in disguise.

 


 

Official Japanese trailer #4, featuring the theme song “Kimi ga Iru kara” by Sugawara Sayuri.

Story Impressions:

The story here follows six characters as they all get dragged into the l’Cie curse in some way or another. The 13 days leading up to their paths crossing becomes a prominent part of the story, which is slowly revealed over the course of their adventure. Naturally, nothing is quite like it initially seems — something that’s apparent right from the get-go. History always tends to be fudged when it comes to Final Fantasy and those who enforce it are usually suspect, so the journey this time involves uncovering the untold truth behind the world. However, it’s this suspicion of both the fal’Cie and Sanctum that kept me hooked the most, and what made me want to get through the game quickly to see what happens.

Director Toriyama Motomu said in the Square Enix announcement trailer that the story in FFXIII is focused primarily on the character development, and I definitely agree with that sentiment having played through it. A lot of attention was on each of the characters’ subplots, resolve, and emotions over the course of the story, so much that the ending itself only focused on them while glossing over the state of the world going forward. While the ending was left a bit too open to interpretation, I could appreciate a lot of the build-up in characters such as Hope Estheim (Kaji Yuuki, Hiizumi Akina in Yozakura Quartet), Sazh Katzroy (Ebara Masashi, Maito Guy in Naruto), and Oerba Dia Vanille (Fukui Yukari, Sara Adiemas in School Rumble). In particular, the scenes between Sazh and Vanille in chapters 6 and 8, and Hope and Snow at Palumpolum in chapter 7.

On the other hand, heroine Lightning (Sakamoto Maaya) and self-proclaimed hero Snow Villiers’ (Ono Daisuke) own stories felt much weaker. In Snow’s case, this meant that the love portion of the story involving Lightning’s younger sister Serah Farron (Kotobuki Minako, Mugi in K-ON!) wasn’t as prominent as it could’ve been, much like its counterpart in Final Fantasy XII. Unlike XII though, they were really trying to make it a cornerstone of the emotions in the story here, but the delivery just didn’t have that much impact on me. A bit of a shame to say the least, as I was actually looking forward to scenes that would tug on some emotional strings. As for Lightning, I actually found one part of her character development really jarring in chapter 7. It just didn’t sit right with me given the personality they established for her leading up to that point.

Lastly there’s Oerba Yun Fang (Andou Mabuki), who probably had the least amount of development because it was saved for the latter portions of the story. Fang was presented as an easygoing yet mysterious character who lost her memories surrounding a part of her past, which offset the need for continual development. In fact, I found her personality was a breath of fresh air in the group, more so than Snow’s, even though his self-admitted “stupid persistence” was probably supposed to be just that. While brief, some good subplot also came from some of the non-playable characters (NPCs) featured in the game, such as Cid Raines (Nakamura Yuuichi), commander of the elite air force of the Sanctum Guardian Corps, the Kiheitai 「騎兵隊」 (a.k.a. the Cavalry). It’s unwritten Final Fantasy tradition to have a Cid in every iteration, and interesting enough, he was played by Macross Frontier’s Saotome Alto this time around. =)

Overall, I found the story was fairly simple in retrospect, but a satisfying experience regardless. If I had to make a minor complaint, it would be that it was a bit too predictable. Yes there was a twist, but it came somewhat early and left me anticipating another one near the end that never came. However, I find that a lot of the Final Fantasy games post-Nintendo era tend to be quite brief if you want to summarize the general plot, but still require you to invest a fair bit of time to get through it due to the emphasis on character interactions. It’s sort of a trade-off I guess. You spend more time getting the emotional aspects of the story via all those scenes, rather than a lengthier story itself like Final Fantasy 4 and 6 (or the NES ones for that matter). This isn’t really surprising given the trend as of late, with video games becoming a medium for creative expression rather than just a game to play and kill time with. They really are movies that we play through now and I don’t mind one bit.

 


 

International Version (03.09.2010)

With the NA/EU release due out in about a month’s time, I’ll admit that I felt using British X-Factor winner Leona Lewis‘ “My Hands” as the theme song would be out of place. The song wasn’t written specifically for the game like Sugawara Sayuri‘s was, so the lyrics don’t really fit the story too well. However, after seeing the international trailer for the game, the song actually brings about a very different, almost westernized feel to the game, which is probably better considering the larger audience (myself not included among it). The dub itself isn’t too bad either, but Square Enix did a pretty good job in FFXII as well with the archaic English dialogue. Granted, I still preferred the Japanese one with Sonozaki Mie as Ashe, who’s back in FFXIII as Sanctum military prodigy student turned Lieutenant Colonel, Jihl Nabaat.

I still wonder what they plan to do with all of the background tracks that have Japanese vocals though, only one of which was actually in English and reusable (Serah’s Theme). There was no song announced as a replacement to Sayuri’s “Eternal Love”, plus there’s a version of the Chocobo Theme with vocals to take into consideration. Perhaps they’ll just strip out all the Japanese vocals or simply leave them as-is, but I figure they must have something planned when they went to all the trouble of redoing all the lip-synching to match the English dialogue (cutscenes too it seems). I’m quite impressed that they actually went the extra mile for the localization this time around, which you can see in the official English trailer below. Pay close attention to their lips as they speak.

For a trailer, “My Hands” is pretty good, but I still question if it fits the game’s ending scene, when the song will ultimately be heard.

 

Official international trailer, featuring the theme song “My Hands” by Leona Lewis.
 

That said, does anyone actually want to hear me go on about all aspects of the gameplay, in regards to linearity not being an issue and the battle system being very engaging? I’ve taken out over 2,600 words from this post because as you can see, it’s already too long. I’m never short of things to say it would seem. -_-;

 

* If anyone’s played the game and wants/needs clarification on any part of the story, feel to ask in a spoiler tag. Questions/comments about gameplay mechanics should be fine without, but please use some discretion for those who haven’t played it.
* The official soundtrack was recently released (01.27.2010) and it’s all I’ve been listening to for the past while.
* Added 720p screencaps and a video of the first in-game cutscene, where Cocoon citizens are being taken to Hanged Edge to be exiled.

February 2, 2010 at 3:39 pm
88 comments »
  • February 2, 2010 at 3:44 pmsyu

    NICE!!! will you be posting screenshots and pictures?

    <3 divine

  • February 2, 2010 at 3:48 pmtatsuki

    Oh man! Yu cannot belive how envious I’m of you..
    I still have to wait till march *crying*
    But when I read your post and the others over the web, I’m sure it’s worth the time waiting.
    I wish you very much fun playing the game!

  • February 2, 2010 at 3:55 pmAien

    If you have a Wii, can you also blog Tales of Graces? I heard that its probably one of the best Tales of games ever and as you know Tales is on par with final fantasy in terms of story and graphics while in my opinion excelling at the battle system.

  • February 2, 2010 at 3:57 pmpachi

    Gracias por subir la informacion tremendo !!!!

  • February 2, 2010 at 3:59 pmAnonymous

    I’d be interested in hearing about all aspects of the gameplay :)

  • February 2, 2010 at 4:04 pmGil

    Just those 2 trailers alone set Japanese and “International” far apart from each other….

    Japanese one’s better, obviously.

  • February 2, 2010 at 4:12 pmFeik

    I’m really hoping (but sadly doubtful) that they will have a japanese audio / english subtitle mode. Hell, if it weren’t for all the kanji I would have bought the Japanese version.

  • February 2, 2010 at 4:17 pmzzeroparticle

    I’m interested in hearing about the music, but that’s because I have a huge man crush on Hamauzu’s compositions. :3

  • February 2, 2010 at 4:19 pmdivine

    Feik:
    It’s pretty much confirmed that it won’t be dual-audio, so that’s why I didn’t hesitate to import even though games in Japan are somewhat pricey, not being normalized and all.

    The game was 9,250 yen before any discounts, ~$90 USD.

    zzeroparticle:
    Some tracks are a lot more memorable than others, but everything set a really good ambiance for the story. Off the top of my head, I’d say the individual character themes were really good, such as Lightning’s, Snow’s, Fang’s, and of course Serah’s. I really like the pumped up battle music as well, “Senkou” and “Blaze Edge”, and the “Ending Roll” theme played during the credits is a really nice outro to the game.

    Sayuri’s songs “Eternal Love” and “Kimi ga Iru kara” are really easy on the ears, plus there’s the “Sunleth Suigou” track from chapter 6 that has some vocals as well. Great, great, music. I didn’t miss Uematsu Nobuo one bit.

  • February 2, 2010 at 4:31 pmSilivious

    Awesome, thanks. :D

  • February 2, 2010 at 4:44 pmSilverspot

    Well that sure was unexpected.
    I wish I knew enough Japanese to be able to play the original version. I hope some day Square Enix decides to start adding English subtitles to their games.

  • February 2, 2010 at 4:52 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    “Yes there was a twist, but it came somewhat early and left me anticipating another one near the end that never came.”…ooooh I HATE that feeling! thanks fo the info pimping!, you put in some work!

  • February 2, 2010 at 4:52 pmDeezanimenutz

    Lol @ the token black guy.

  • February 2, 2010 at 5:03 pmzeropi

    i kinda new that the story would not be all that great and stuff, i really do hope that versus XIII will be a lot better

  • February 2, 2010 at 5:04 pmdamian

    I’d be pysched about this game if it weren’t for all the teen angst aimed at 14 year olds. I miss my political crisis from FF12 (and Tactics ^_^)!

  • February 2, 2010 at 5:15 pmSinax

    I’d be willing to read an in-depth review from you.

  • February 2, 2010 at 5:17 pmdivine

    zeropi:
    I felt it was still pretty good, so I hope I didn’t come off negatively about it. I would say it wasn’t as captivating as X’s though. I really liked the plot twists there and how they turned everything upside-down on us.

    damian:
    I have to agree that Ivalice Alliance games had really good war-related, religious, political stories. Tactics was a lot of fun, as was XII.

    There wasn’t too much angst in XIII except from Hope’s story, but he’s actually 14 years old so it’s somewhat befitting. I actually enjoyed his subplot a lot as it was one of the better ones.

    Aside from that, the political struggles are really prominent here, mainly because of the Sanctum and everything they represent. The fal’Cie also made up the religious portion in a sense.

  • February 2, 2010 at 5:19 pmSatoida

    ahhh… so gorgeous~ I want it now~

  • February 2, 2010 at 5:26 pmMSP

    So Divine, what’s your opinion on the overall “longevity” of this game? From what I know, the only side quests are just mob hunts, maxing out the crystarium (which you can’t even customize) and weapons. Do you feel satisfied that you got your money’s worth for this game? In other words, would you ever want to play this game again?

  • February 2, 2010 at 5:44 pmlilakou

    woow it’s really cooooooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll
    i really want to play it <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
    but infortunely i only have this f***** pc
    so i must wait another 10 yeas or more to play it

  • February 2, 2010 at 5:46 pmAwaken

    That “My Hands” song is beautiful. That song alone makes me want to play this game and I don’t even know if that song is really going to be in the game!

    I can already tell from the trailers that the story is going to be brilliant by any stretch of the imagination but the visuals, combat, and this being my 2nd final fantasy experience will probably make up for that.

  • February 2, 2010 at 5:48 pmRaso

    very interested in a gameplay discription, like I have heard that there is no difference in characters and the game is straight even more linear then FFX with 0 side quests and single direction dungeons

  • February 2, 2010 at 5:59 pmdivine

    MSP:
    It’s the same with most Final Fantasy games — I get my 100+ hours worth of playtime if I do all the optional content, removing the need for a second playthrough unless I really wanted to give the story another go. As with most RPGs, even without a second playthrough, I’ve probably invested more time in the first one here than I would have with multiple ones of another genre. Because of that, I feel like I got my money’s worth yes.

    That’s all I really ask for, as providing multiple routes and forcing me to start a new game just to see everything isn’t what I consider adding replay value to an RPG. (e.g. I didn’t like what they forced me to do in FFX-2 to get the best ending and I rushed through the New Game+ just to see it.) If an RPG wants to extend how much time I spend playing it, they can just provide me with more optional content.

    I find the Mission style hunts are sufficient for that and because the new battle system requires a lot of attention to succeed, it adds a nice degree of difficulty as well. It’s fun because it’s actually challenging without boss fights being very custom-tailored to kill you a certain way (and forcing you to equip the right weapons/accessories just for that fight). Think of Ruby Weapon in FF7 where you had to go into the fight with a party member dead. That was just about knowing what to do rather than adapting to the combat situation. Instead, you now have to do things like tank enemies with Defenders to succeed and know when to switch out for offense. Tanking in Final Fantasy! Finally!

    Unlike FFXII, I’ve actually thought about giving XIII another go through for the story again, mainly because it never felt like a grind. (I never want to farm for Loot and unlock everything in the FFXII Bazaar again.) It’s a fun game to play and they’ve added a lot conveniences to make the experience as painless as possible. There’s no need to max out all your CP to finish the game, plus the Restart option just eases any potential “griefing” since you can die pretty easily to random encounters now. You don’t have to deal with the chore of healing yourself after every fight, plus MP no longer exists as a consumable resource. The multi-level ATB bar handles all of that nicely and adds a new style of gameplay strategy-wise.

    Endgame, yes the Crystarium is fixed, but during your actual progression where you won’t be maxing it out, it’s completely up to you on the paths you focus on first and the roles you make use of most. There are a lot of playstyle options there. My party from chapters 11-13 was Lightning, Fang, and Hope because I felt it was the most effective group based on their stats and abilties. I was hitting 99,999 on the last boss with no weapon/accessory upgrades nor a maxed out Crystarium. That was just me making good use of buff/debuff abilities and the Break System. On another playthrough, I’d definitely try using another group to add a different dimension to the game, likely not using Lightning at all.

  • February 2, 2010 at 6:00 pmDmonHiro

    Can someone please tell me one thing? Does the English version for the PS3 include the Japanese voices along side the English ones? This is a deal breaker for me.

  • February 2, 2010 at 6:06 pmdefenestrator

    Wow, it sounds great! And if you could do another post on the gameplay and battle system, that’d be awesome! :D

  • February 2, 2010 at 6:14 pmDmonHiro

    Ya know….on second thought…the English voices are quite good. They actually fit. The don’t have the same emotion…but it’s more then decent.

    There’s no way they’d have the Jap voices. Lip sincronization….

  • February 2, 2010 at 6:28 pmmutio

    Well I’m definitelly no fan of them changing the soundtrack. I’d just want to keep the original or at least have it as option. Another option I really want is Japanese with English subtitles. If they don’t include that it’d be very disappointing.

  • February 2, 2010 at 6:30 pmGekokujou

    Hi Divine, I’ve finished the game as well, but there was one part of the game that I had trouble understanding and need a couple of clarification in if you can.

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • February 2, 2010 at 7:01 pmdivine

    Gekokujou:
    Show Spoiler ▼

  • February 2, 2010 at 7:05 pmAshan

    Thank you Divine for the write up, now at the very least I understand the premise of the story. I was pretty much lost, I’ve read information on Wiki’s and game sites and always went away bewildered and confused.

    I haven’t played it yet as I don’t really know Japanese all that well and the majority of it would be lost in translation. I’m waiting and hoping that the PS3 copy of the game will come with Japanese VA’s and Subtitles, as Lost Odyssey did on the X360. If it doesn’t I doubt I’ll play it in a rush, from the trailer the English VA put me off quite a bit

  • February 2, 2010 at 7:20 pmSetokun

    ara2….
    sure worth to buy…
    Oh man. which one should i choose ~~
    PS3 or new Gaming Notebook
    if PS3 i could play all the game i want, espesially FFXIII
    but if Gaming notebook i could play game online that i like (such like Emil chronicle)

  • February 2, 2010 at 7:26 pmRockmanshii

    Too bad you couldn’t do a summary for each chapter of the game like with anime, but thanks anyway, I was completly clueless about the story of this game.I only watched people playing it on the net.

  • February 2, 2010 at 7:38 pmdivine

    Rockmanshii:
    That was the original plan like I mentioned above, along with my own HD PVR screencaps & videos. I thought it would’ve been a pretty epic blogging project. I had free time to work on it over the Christmas break, but I didn’t have the game in my hands because of delayed shipping. :\

  • February 2, 2010 at 7:42 pmtouhou

    the north american release better have a limited edition if not ill just dl my own copy.

    when i like i game i buy the limited edition if there isnt companies better prepare to get their game bootleg. they should really make games like 40 bucks cmon most expensive budget of a game development would be 60mil: thats gta 4
    5-20 mil budget to make games like sports games that have the same glitches from the previous years

    awesome divine i hope u add more games to blog or give some walkthroughs also.

  • February 2, 2010 at 8:08 pmKey

    I don’t have a PS3 so I have to buy it for my 360. I just hope that the graphics aren’t too different playing on the xbox than it is on the ps3.

  • February 2, 2010 at 8:09 pmSettsuo

    This site just got 100% more better.

  • February 2, 2010 at 8:20 pmRockmanshii

    Divine:OK I see sorry I didn’t read the whole thing.

  • February 2, 2010 at 8:22 pmMike

    Not to be picky, but I think Cocoon was not created by the Gods, but was made from Gran Pulse itself by a fal’Cie.

  • February 2, 2010 at 8:32 pmyukina

    As much as I like Leona Lewis, ‘My Hands’ is such a random choice. Why don’t they make an English version of the original theme song (like they did with FFXII)? Or have something written specifically for the story (like ‘I See You’ for AVATAR)?

  • February 2, 2010 at 9:02 pmJ

    Im just happy i finally got to read a positive review from someone who actaully owns and can understand the game. instead of the guys who read reviews become haters ad spam more hate

  • February 2, 2010 at 9:04 pmdivine

    Mike:
    I believe the prologue in the manual says the gods created it, but I’ll double-check that when I get home and make corrections if needed. Thanks for the heads-up.

    I know the Auto Clips mention Cocoon gathering resources from Gran Pulse to create structures in the past (hence how a Pulse fal’Cie was discovered in the ruins near Ewleede Canyon), as well as a period of time before the apocalyptic war when the two worlds weren’t at odds with one another.

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • February 2, 2010 at 9:06 pmP0

    I’ve heard most of the music and i must say its one of my top five favorite ff OSTs
    as for the game i havnt played it yet but im hearing tis VERY linear which is a lil negative for me … but ill save any gripes to after it comes out here and i play it

  • February 2, 2010 at 9:07 pmPikapu

    damn, i friggin hope that they include a japanese voice setting when they release the game here… or im going to kill someone. maybe.

    and the soundtrack is simply amazing. Serah’s theme is so pretty… and of course it’s nice to actually have Senkou since it’s the one song that played in most of the first trailers…

  • February 2, 2010 at 9:11 pmsabin

    @Pikapu: They Lip-Synched everything in the English version, therefore it’s impossible to add a japanese track, it wouldn’t make sense.

  • February 2, 2010 at 9:50 pmAndy

    you should blog but i don’t want to get spoiled !

  • February 2, 2010 at 9:57 pmFreya

    Oh and for people….neither the 360 or PS3 version will have Japanese original sound.

  • February 2, 2010 at 10:13 pmDmysta3000

    The English voices sound pretty good so i don’t get why people are complaining. I’m so pumped for this game!

  • February 2, 2010 at 10:21 pmdivine

    Mike:
    Hmm, I just checked the manual and it looks like I was thinking of something else. You’re right though and I remembered incorrectly, as the Auto Clips say it was the fal’Cie who gathered resources from Pulse to create Cocoon, plus used their raw materials to repair the damage from the apocalyptic war.

    I updated my post slightly and the comment above to reflect that.

  • February 2, 2010 at 10:22 pmbigdeath

    Please post the rest of your review. We’d love to read it.

  • February 2, 2010 at 10:33 pmTre

    I had a feeling from the beginning that Versus XIII would be the game watch for.

  • February 2, 2010 at 10:51 pmYams

    Even though it’s not right at launch, I know I certainly wouldn’t mind a walkthrough. Especially with some HD clips of the game. That alone would be incredible to see. There have definitely been some cut scenes that I’ve seen during my playthroughs that have made me look into getting an HD PVR…

  • February 2, 2010 at 11:08 pmcmac

    just beat Mass Effect 2. you should try it divine, if you like rpgs (although this one is more of a shooter). one of the best ever made, hands down, especially in story, even more so if you port a character from the first, i’ve never felt so involved in a game.

  • February 2, 2010 at 11:10 pmphil

    do you think they will let us toggle the japanese/english music and dialogue? So if we prefer japanese, we can choose japanese and subtitles rather than listen to english.

  • February 2, 2010 at 11:22 pmSetsuken

    I personally would love for you to talk about the Gameplay as well, as… even though I pre-ordered the game, I still want to know if the game can hold a candle to the likes of Final Fantasies VII, VIII and IX, both in terms of story and gameplay XD

  • February 2, 2010 at 11:32 pmLightning XIII

    lol, I’ve been listening to the battle themes non-stop, and it’s incredible how subtle and complex the compositions are.

    Lucky Divine! The release of FFXIII here in Sydney will coincide with the start of the Autumn semester for uni, which kind of sucks considering I’m going to be tempted to skip my lectures and classes. =p

  • February 3, 2010 at 12:01 amemessen

    having just read the backstory portion of the thoughts, i have to say its an awful lot like Battle Angel

  • February 2, 2010 at 9:03 pmMei

    EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE *PANT PANT PANT* EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

  • February 3, 2010 at 1:05 amSlade

    Just finished it last week… doing the missions… the story had me hooked wanting to know more as I played. Seeing how my understanding of japanese is fairly decent, I was able to work out a lot of the major plots and sub plots and it had me drawn in for all of it… can’t wait for my music discs to come in…

  • February 3, 2010 at 1:19 amdivine

    I added 720p screencaps from the first cutscene in the game along with a video of it. The original footage is in 1080p though, so neither these nor the low quality streams really do it any justice.

    For everyone that’s interested in reading more about the game, I’m considering salvaging the rest of my original write-up for another post or two. We’ll see. =)

  • February 3, 2010 at 1:35 amSpec

    wow jap to eng version even the lip movement is changed thats cool :D

  • February 3, 2010 at 3:02 amEnya

    Is it true you can’t escape from battles?

  • February 3, 2010 at 4:11 amfullmetalQAF

    God this looks amazing. I need a PS3 now…*Sigh*

  • February 3, 2010 at 4:40 am7

    I’m buying a 360 and an 32″HDTV just to play this game. fuck you square lol.

  • February 3, 2010 at 5:11 amGekokujou

    Thanks a lot for answering my questions Divine (in a lot more detail than I hoped for) *performs the dogeza*. That clears up a lot of what I didn’t get.

  • February 3, 2010 at 5:12 amHitsugaya_10

    Loved the post. Thanks a lot, Divine.

    Cant wait for the Us version. Hopefully it has the original Japanese voices. That would be perfect.

  • February 3, 2010 at 5:22 amGekokujou

    Unfortunately Hitsugaya_10, neither the 360 or the PS3 will have the original Japanese voicesT.T I know it sucks.

  • February 3, 2010 at 6:09 amSomeKindaNick

    “If you have a Wii, can you also blog Tales of Graces? I heard that its probably one of the best Tales of games ever and as you know Tales is on par with final fantasy in terms of story and graphics while in my opinion excelling at the battle system.”

    On par?

    Dude, have you played lets say Tales of the Abyss??
    Horrible horrible graphics!!!

    And about the story…. It’s nice of you don’t mind everyone being a ham and over-dramaric.

  • February 3, 2010 at 3:52 amdivine

    Enya:
    Yes that’s true. You can no longer run from battles because the actual running happens on the field (i.e. map). You simply avoid the enemies you don’t want to fight since they’re visible on the field.

    However, if that means you run into an enemy and die because it was stronger than you anticipated, you’re given the option to Retry, taking you back to the field just before you ran into that enemy. You get any items you used in that fight back and there’s no penalty for retrying (PSN trophies or otherwise). It’s just to save you from losing all the items and Crystal Points (the EXP here) you obtained since your last save and forcing you to go back to it, because even random encounters are somewhat challenging in this game. The risk of dying is more prevalent than any other Final Fantasy, so they didn’t want to make it a frustrating experience just because the fights are harder.

    Also, if you run into a group of enemies and know you don’t want to fight them, or you just want to go for a Preemptive Strike by sneaking up behind them, you can Retry at anytime by pausing the game with Start, pressing Select, and picking Retry. The result is the same as if you died and retried.

    Some people may say the Retry option makes the game easier or that it’s for casual players, which is true to an extent, but I don’t see why difficulty in games has to translate to “annoying consequences if you fail”. Retrying lets you challenge yourself against tougher enemies, without frustrating you with the risk of losing all the progress since your last save. I can’t really see anyone saying, “I want to lose a lot of the time I invested for dying!”, unless they’re a masochist of sorts. It’s really no different than how games give you infinite continues nowadays, whereas before you’d have limited ones and be forced to start at the very beginning when you’re out. That’s what reloading your last save in an RPG is pretty much equivalent to, so I only see this as a change for the better.

    There’s some “good” abuse with the new Smoke items in the game to avoid encounters completely with the Retry system, but that’s merely an exploit I won’t get into unless someone’s interested.

    (Oh hey, this could be the part of my post on the Retry System!)

  • February 3, 2010 at 7:02 amanon

    “especially when a lot of people imported the game with little-to-no understanding of Japanese”

    noticed that too eh?
    its unfortunate that a game that’s actually one of the better (though admittedly not the best, if that’s all that matters to you. there are some people who have this odd notion that if it can’t claim to be THE BEST, its a failure) Final Fantasy games has had so much BS thrown at it on sites like Sankaku by people who =

    A) like you said, imported but didn’t actually understand anything
    B) played 5-10 hours (you can tell by “game facts” they present that are only really true for the first few hours of the game) but believe thats enough to make a review.
    C) while you’ll never prove it (since they’ll just read some stuff online and recite that as “evidence”), i suspect there’s a lot of people just flat out lying about playing it.
    D) seriously believe just repeating what other people say online about the game qualifies you to claim to know anything about the game.

    FFXIII wasn’t perfect and there was certainly stuff they could have done better (which game doesn’t), but it does a lot of things right.
    far more things right than wrong at the end of the day.

  • February 3, 2010 at 7:40 amhirou

    Please-please-please do a detailed post. And series-like blogging from start to finish would be appreciated.

  • February 3, 2010 at 7:47 amXgen

    ive seen the trailers so many times in japanese now that any dubbing will seem off, i wonder if there is an option to use the original japanese soundtrack? if not i will mute the voices, still heres hoping.

    btw has anyone heard any new info on versus?

  • February 3, 2010 at 10:53 amNellie

    @anon The haters on Sankaku are no different than fanboys. They are both the same, just opposite extremes. I also don’t think a person has to play the game for more than 10 hours to say they don’t like it. Games for me are entertaining, if I’m not having fun 10 hours into the game then something is wrong. I do agree the haters go too far, though.

    I was on the fence about getting this game because of the haters. A lot of the positive reviews were done by professional reviewers, which I don’t trust, or weren’t in depth about the game. I’m really grateful you did this Divine. Now I know I won’t be getting this one. I don’t think it sounds like a bad game, just doesn’t sound like it caters to my tastes in an FF game. It took me 60 hours of FFXII for me to realize the same thing about that one.

  • February 3, 2010 at 11:04 amSamurai Pumpkin

    Thank you for doing this Divine. Much appreciated.

  • February 3, 2010 at 11:23 amEnya

    Thanks for the reply.

  • February 3, 2010 at 12:26 pmAznSoulBoy

    Hi Divine,
    I was just wondering which FF did u like the best?
    Also, thank you for the blog, really appreciate it.

  • February 3, 2010 at 1:27 pmIchigoMaru

    It’s a movie or a game? Just kidding ;P
    Actually it can easily pass as a movie
    I’m waiting for this ;D

  • February 3, 2010 at 4:39 pmNoOne

    I enjoyed playing FF7 a lot, FF8 was good too. FF9 went back with the idea to the older FF games and it was good, I bought a PS to play the game. FF7 Crisis Core is more like a interactive movie than the RPG. I didn’t like it at first because of the battle system but it wasn’t so bad and I ended enjoying the game. Graphics was great, Crisis Core squeezed the PSP hardware to the fullest. I finished all of them at least two times.

    I barely played FF X, I’m not into online gaming so FF11 is out of question. I disliked FF12 after few hours. I’m disappointed with FF13 and I won’t bother with it. Thank you DIVINE, your review is great. FF14 online again?

    I hope Square will not screw up FF15 and it should be released for PC as well.

    OK, I have a few games to enjoy b4 they release FF15 like Disgaea 2 [PSP] or Fallout 3, DIRT 2 and Burnout Paradise [PC]. decent games are rare these days.

  • February 3, 2010 at 7:39 pmark noir

    all i need to ask if that ’2 frame animated cactuar’ is in the game? it was great with its 1000 needles!

  • February 3, 2010 at 7:39 pmark noir

    all i need to ask if that ’2 frame animated cactuar’ from ff7 is in the game? it was great with its 1000 needles!

  • February 3, 2010 at 7:56 pmDragonite88

    I have to say the games are truely coming to life. The detail in FF is getting better and better. I love this and ordered it for ps3

  • February 3, 2010 at 8:59 pmhaitechan

    Woah, thanks for the nice review, Divine! I hope the Xbox 360 version won’t have a lower quality. My poor Xbox only has one RPG (Tales of Vesperia) and I guess it’s time to get more XD. I hope both VS XIII and Agito are on the same quality!

  • February 3, 2010 at 9:23 pmdivine

    AznSoulBoy:
    I don’t really keep a personal ranking for them, but the ones I’ve played a lot of are FFIV and VI, which will always have a special place in my childhood.

    FFVII, X, and XII, I had a lot of fun with, and X-2 was decent as well, though I was more into it for the follow-up story of X. I admittedly didn’t play through VIII and IX myself, because my brother got dibs on those titles when they first came out. I meant to go back and play them but never did.

    ark noir:
    Not only is Cactaur back and running around the entire Gran Pulse, there’s a huge version of him that has 10,000 needles. Your characters will be in the 18,000 to 30,000 HP range if you max out the Crystarium so it’s possible to survive it.

  • February 3, 2010 at 11:42 pmAAARARGH

    CURSE THE HEAVENS!! *shakes fist* WHY did it have to be console-only ;_; OH GOD WHY!!!

  • February 3, 2010 at 11:46 pmSentinel

    @ Divine:

    Wow, you’re the first reviewer I’ve come across who didn’t complain about the game’s linearity, and the lack of any tangible towns (I’m not too sure what this really means since I haven’t played it yet). Almost every other review I’ve come across has a BIG bone to pick with these two issues. One of them even went as far as to call the game a “battle tunnel.”

    What’s your take on this? I guess it mustn’t be nearly as bad as these guys are trying to make it sound, since I can tell you really enjoyed the game :)

  • February 4, 2010 at 12:16 amdivine

    Sentinel:
    Watch the main page in the next few. =)

  • February 4, 2010 at 6:28 pmDelwack

    Divine:

    Thanks for the comments. I definitely agree that the recent FFs are all about the characters, but I tend to thing that the journey was more important than the destination. I can’t wait till the NA release.

    And yes, a discussion of game play and other mechanics would be nice I think, I’d like your take on it since your opinions probably match mine better than all the ‘review’ sites out there combined. That said, knowing you thought it was engaging is good enough for me. I take it from your last post that it’s already coming, but I felt I’d add my 2 cents anyway.

  • February 7, 2010 at 8:32 amNinjikiran

    Haven’t been to excited to play a localized version. I feel kind of jipped when they localize a game in such a way even though it probably cost them more.

    This might unfortunately be a rental from gamefly for me if that. Unless an international version is eventually announced without the localization only subs. Besides all the features that make it feel less like a true Final Fantasy which have been turning me off.
    I have never been a hardcore FF fan so I feel they probably loss more than a few people like me, not like it really matters to them though the game will sell like crazy.(and although I am not excited for it, it still looks like a solid game)

    Ar Tonelico 3 has my attention at this point and time.

  • March 13, 2010 at 5:42 pmImNotaHaterJustTellingTheTruth

    Just recently arrived at the 12th chapter and it seems almost trivial to continue playing(unfortunately I am an achievement whore)when all I am doing is running through a series of tubes after tubes that are connected to more tubes(unfortunately I am an achievement whore). The maps aside from the entrance to Gran Pulse are intensely boring, almost as if the game is playing itself. They could of used a little more discretion in hiding the items..seriously though, the first 10 chapters are practically walking in a straight line the whole time while occasionally diverting to dead ends to grab items. Some of the changes are nice as well as audio/graphics/cutscenes, but overall it seems SS has overdone simplifying the game and took out the major aspects that make the FF series what it is.
    (e.g: Towns, customization, NPC interaction, tons of side quests/optional content)

    What I also find funny is they tried to give it a FF feel by putting in shops to compensate not having towns. Being that there are 13 chapters and I haven’t used the shops/upgrades once because the game is so unremarkably easy makes it disappointing.
    The upgrade system is very unimpressive being that they would make it practially only beneficial after you beat the main story and have acquired the bulk of required components. Seems as if another popular series is being mooched off of for its name, where is the quality dammit. SS better come out with decent DLC on the 360.

    P.S.
    If the secrets section to a FF game guide is only a page long, then there is seriously something wrong…especially when the secrets are completely useless. Such as the game having its own alphabet for each planet (Pulse/Cacoon) and showing the translations.

    BTW the blog was nice Divine.