I love the Final Fantasy series and credit Final Fantasy VI as the game that got me seriously into gaming. The story, the graphics, the characters; everything sucked me into the games intricately crafted world. I wish Final Fantasy XIII did the same thing, I really do. But it doesn’t; in fact it’s a down right terrible game.

Since Final Fantasy VI, I’ve played later iterations of the series, namely VII and VIII, but nothing has sucked me in like VI did. I also haven’t played a classic JRPG in years aside from Lost Odysee, a much better game than Final Fantasy XIII in my opinion. So, when I heard Final Fantasy 13 was finally being released on the Xbox 360, I was rather excited. I figured that maybe it was finally time to get back into the series.

I had this itch to return to my gaming roots, I needed some awesome turn based action all up in my Xbox 360. I went to the store, bought Final Fantasy XIII and threw the game into my Xbox’s disk tray, immediately hoping to relive my old-school JRPG days.

Let me start off by saying this is not a full fledged review, this is just my impressions on the first quarter of an expansive game that I was supremely disappointed by. I in no way played enough of the game to write a solid substantial review, but honestly, I really didn’t need to. From what I played I can easily tell you that Final Fantasy XIII game has serious flaws that cannot be over looked.

Ten hours later I can safely say that this game blows a ridiculous amount of ass. It takes everything that makes the Final Fantasy series an enjoyable experience and turns it on its head. The end result is quite possibly one of the worst and most disappointing video game experiences of my life.

I love exploration in video games and I’ve always found it to be Final Fantasy’s main draw. Square Enix decided to nix the whole exploration thing with Final Fantasy XIII. Instead it reminds me of an on-rails shooter. You find your self walking through a claustrophobic, yet beautiful environment, battling monsters every few steps. Exploration is non-existent and you’re basically walking down a beautiful pathway.

Sure, I’ve read that the game does eventually open up 20-25 hours in, but even then not to the extent of past games in the series. That’s just simply poor game design, it should not take 20-25 hours before a game actually becomes fun.

The absence of towns is another major issue. No more wandering around towns, talking to people and actually learning more about the game’s story. Instead you can buy weapons and equipment from a virtual store at save locations. This is another major flaw in the game from my perspective.

I’ve always felt the exploration of towns in Final Fantasy games added another level to story telling, the little facts you discovered, the people you’d meet, it all added to immersing you in the game’s world. You also don’t even have to talk to any NPC’s anymore, although sometimes when you run past them they’ll say something completely useless. I really do miss the good old days when I could wander around towns and learn about the games story and characters.

The games story also makes absolutely no sense what-so-ever. The opening sequence throws you head first into the action with little explanation of what is actually going on. Five hours in I still had no clue what the back story of the game really was. A simple explanation at the beginning of the game would have been extremely helpful.

I don’t mind the typical JRPG story, I actually quite enjoy me some spiky haired guys running around with impressively large weapons in a fantastically over the top story. Perhaps if I gave the game more of a chance the story would have begun to grow on me but I just could not get past its horrid battle system.

The games battle system is equally disappointing. Dubbed the paragon system, you only control one character of your three character party and have little to no control of your AI companions. You are however able to choose how you want your AI to act, altering and changing their Paradigm roles.

In the end you basically sit there and watch the battle unfold, kind of like nurturing a virtual pet. I found myself longing for the ability to have actual control over my team, the way classic games in the series worked. One good things about the battle system I actually enjoyed was that it was real time. This actually added to the sense of urgency in battles and kept the pace of the game flowing. I also was impressed with the fact that you can actually see your enemies before they attack you, Chrono Trigger style, no more random enemies seemingly appearing out of no where.

The games graphics are stunning, incredible even, regardless of whether your playing on PS3 or Xbox 360. The scenery is beautiful, the characters are carefully crafted and their hair looks just as yummy as you would expect it too in a Square Enix title.

I really wanted to like Final Fantasy XIII, believe me. I gave the game more of a chance then it deserved but I just couldn’t take it anymore, it just wasn’t fun and felt more like work than a form of entertainment. I have never returned a video game before but with Final Fantasy XIII I really felt I had to. It really was a disappointing waste of money.

I read rave reviews online for the game and slowly started to think I was insane, then I came across this review on Destructoid and realized I totally wasn’t alone in my hate for this latest iteration in the series. Hopefully the other two games in this interestingly named, ‘Fabula Nova Crystallis trilogy,’ trilogy live up to the Final Fantasy pedigree.

Please, this time, include some towns, shops and add that awesome exploration I love.

  1. Brad says:

    If this game would not have had Final Fantasy on the cover it would have failed. No one would have given it the 20+ hours you have to sink into the game to get to anything interesting. I could be wrong but in my experience most games full of whiny over dramatic characters, 30 min cut screens about fireworks after 10 mins of play, and hand holding just do not do well.

  2. steven says:

    surprisingly I liked the game although I did get bored and stopped playing on the 5th chapter and havnt touched it since.

    I did like it but I think its the fact that final fantasy 6-10 were fantasic, I loved those games and they took everything that was awesome about the franchise and threw it away and then started with all of these stupid ideas.

    No towns, No actual shops, no exploration, Its the fact that this franchise was so good which is why when it took a turn for the worse, it got backlash.

    Its not even an RPG, you dont get to choose anything, your character speaks for themselves, chooses whatever they want and your even stuck on a straight road and told “GO”

  3. Alright people here are my replies to your comments –

    Here is a general statement – This is not a review, that is why I did not finish the game. This is simply an “opinion piece.” I justify my opinion with elements of the game design that I did not enjoy. Opinions do not always need outside sources and references to back them up because they are the writers own feelings about a particular topic

    hahaha “Sweet name by the way” – This “opinion piece” was actually published shortly after the games release. Welcome to Game Judgment 2 months ago.

    markysjazz – If a game does not catch my attention in the first 10 hours or so there is something fundamentally flawed in it’s design. There is absolutely no denying that factor. Sure, jrpgs start slow and I accept that, but 20 hours until a game becomes enjoyable? No thanks.

    Andrew – I think my comas are placed pretty awesomely but feel free to let me know where you need to take a breath and include them. Maybe I am a moron and maybe the 100,000’s of people who also think that the story makes absolutely no sense are to. Regardless of how many times it is recapped, it seriously still makes little sense. I should not have to “try” to understand the story of a game. As with movies that is simply the sign of a poorly constructed tale.

    Jared – I didn’t get to the point where the game opens up, I have just read and heard that it does. Perhaps that was a mistake on my part and I should have given it much more of a chance. Thanks for the heads up on the paragon paradigm mistake.

  4. Jared says:

    I have a few bones to pick with this article. And although they are somewhat minor, I feel like it questions the integrity of your article. First off..the behavior swapping technique is referred to as a “paradigm” or “paradigm shift”..not a paragon. Secondly, you said you played through the first quarter of the game. Yet you explain how the game opens up. When I played through the didnt open up until Ch.11 (Sorry for the spoilers folks) which is… well in terms of chapters 11/13s of the game.. which is definitely not a quarter’s time. Case in point here is that EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES.. yes, its true. Don’t get me wrong I’m not sticking up for FFXIII, because in all honesty…it is definitely low on the list of favorites. But from your article it sounds you haven’t played an FF game since FFVIII..which was 2 generations ago… and 5 actual FF titles ago. I was a little disappointed that you only control one character during battle while micromanaging your teammates…but if you’ve played ANY of Squares last DECENT or ON PAR RPGs (Kingdom Hearts I & II, and FFXII) you you would realize that this isnt the first time they’ve used this technique.

  5. Daz says:

    Great article I 100% agree FF13 is just terrible

  6. Rudy says:

    I felt the same way about Sonic Unleashed

  7. Andrew says:

    Hi, I’m a “journalist” who writes reviews of a game months after it’s out as if it’s a cutting-edge review, who doesn’t use commas correctly and hates a game because it deviates from the norm.

    You’ll probably moderate this comment, but seriously dude, if you can’t figure out what the backstory is when it gives you a friggin’ recap every single time you pass a section of a chapter, then you’re just an absolute moron.


    • JoeyBright says:

      Bad or good, comments will always be accepted and viewed on the site as long as they are not complete gibberish.

  8. landon says:

    what are you talking about? this is an amazing story told in an amazing way. I don’t understand why everyone is so quick to criticize FFXIII, the people I know who’ve played it, as well as myself, really like the game.

  9. Joey says:


  10. charlie says:

    so you didn’t like it, it’s still a great game, that’s why it gets mostly good scores. I personally loved it, it didn’t have the same feel as other FF games, but it was great in it’s own way.

  11. markysjazz says:

    you actually cited a review by Jim “I don’t actually finish games i review” Sterling?

    Just when you think game journalism can’t get any worse, please for the betterment of humanity never publish anything again

  12. Vortex3D says:

    I’m one of the few who like FF XIII style. I never completed any of the previous FF series on PS1 and PS2 because I always got lost exploring. FF XIII focus on a linear path is the only reason I enjoy and completed the game.

    I never found towns added much to the game in the previous FF. Sure it’s nice to be able wonder around in the town but there aren’t many people you talked to really that have much conversation other than they said something.

    I like the Paradigm battle system. It’s very fast to do the battle. Really, if FF XIII allows controlling all the 3 fighters in the party, the battle system has to be much slower or there isn’t much time for the player to make good decisions since it’s moving so quickly. It also makes the turn based more like realtime because one or two fighters are always attacking.

  13. hahaha says:

    your article sounds like the 80 other bitch fits articles

    welcome to 2 months ago

  14. hook says:

    all u said it’s true ff13 disappointing, i can’t believe this game take 4 yeas to design it, i hope ffversus13 and ageto13 will be as traditional FF (no more technologic environment)

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