Final Fantasy XIII is the only video game I have ever returned to a store. Yes, it was that bad, and I absolutely hated it. Square Enix, why are you releasing a sequel to a game that was generally resented by even Final Fantasy’s most hardcore fans? It just doesn’t make sense.
When I was younger, the release of a Final Fantasy game always seemed like a special occasion. New entries in the franchise came out every few years and gamers everywhere were certain each Final Fantasy title would offer quality, narrative driven gaming. Now it feels like a new Final Fantasy title comes out every few months and, most of the time, these new games aren’t even good.
In my mind, there always seemed to be a rivalry between the Final Fantasy and Zelda series. I’m not sure if this was a reality in the larger gaming community, but it was the case in my circle of friends. Zelda fans would scoff at Final Fantasy’s tactical turn based battles using the term ‘outdated.’ Final Fantasy fans, on the other hand, would view Zelda’s action-oriented gameplay as overly simple and state that the story line was sparse on details.
The Super Nintendo’s under-appreciated Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy III in the U.S.) remains my favourite in the franchise. It’s engrossing story, stylish graphics, and general atmosphere set the stage for Final Fantasy VII, a title many people feel is the pinacle of the series.
Although I haven’t played every game in the series (I have played most), I know that the franchise has certain elements that draw me into its colourful world. Exploration, character development, compelling story telling (although contrived and stereotypical) and beautiful graphics are what make Final Fantasy appeal to me. When it comes to more recent Final Fantasy titles, it’s sometimes hard to look past character’s androgynous designs, carefully constructed bangs, and strange clothing. But deep down, most Final Fantasy titles are genuinely enjoyable games, chock full of great experiences and entertainment. This was not the case with Final Fantasy XIII.
Final Fantasy XIII is one of the worst RPG’s I’ve ever played. The plot makes little sense and is non-existant for the majority of the game (I gave up after approximately 24 hours of playing). Also, the Paradigm battle system is ridiculous and basically fights the game’s battles for you. Half of why I enjoy Final Fantasy’s turnbased battle system is because they allow me to be extremely tactical and the Paradigm system ruined this. There are also no non-player characters (NPC’s) to interact with, no towns to explore and there is generally nothing exciting to do at all.
Final Fantasy XIII amounts to nothing more than a beautiful looking, terribly designed on-rails RPG. The game basically plays like this: you walk down a long graphically stunning coridor, fighting enemy after enemy. I know that the game’s world opened up considerably approximately 25 hours in, but there was no incentive to stick with Final Fantasy XIII for that long. Anyone I know that purchased the game gave up long before the 20 hour mark.
What Final Fantasy XIII did, was destroy everything that made the Final Fantasy franchise so appealing.
Then Square Enix released another Final Fantasy title, this time it was an MMORPG for the PC, Final Fantasy XIV. I’ve never played the game, but from what I’ve read, I gather that it’s unfinished, absolutely terrible and filled with glitches. I have heard that the game has drastically improved since its initial release, but why put out an unfinished video game in the first place?
My point is this; why should I care about a sequel to a terrible video game? Why not start over and create Final Fantasy XV? Maybe then I’d pay attention to Square’s barrage of press releases. It’s not like Final Fantasy XIII’s characters are compelling or interesting, and I don’t think there are many fans out there actually asking for a sequel.
Apparently XIII-2 features a plot that revolves around time travel and a lot of exploration, but it also brings back an overly simple battle system and unimaginitive characters. This isn’t enough to win me back. I used to be a loyal fan of the franchise, but after Final Fantasy XIII? I don’t think I can ever trust Square Enix again.
I’ll wait to see review scores.
If you like my writing, follow me on Twitter at @Patrick_ORourke. I’m always up for a good discussion on video games or my articles.