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Why Final Fantasy 13 sucked - and how it might not have

Discussion in 'Gaming and PC Discussion' started by Zeelthor, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. Zeelthor

    Zeelthor Scissor Me Timbers

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    The main problem I have with 13, besides from how much money I spent on PS3 to get it - and the quality, is how much squandered potential there is. It seems to me like they had a great core idea, that of a witch hunt set in a science fiction setting.

    First I'm going to explain why it sucks - and then how it might not have sucked. (I might echo some of the stuff Spoony's brought up.)


    Story: As was discussed in IRC, we put a different value on different things. For me, the joy of Final Fantasy has always been experiencing the story. This is where 13 really, really shits the bed. You're thrown into a world and a conflict you have no understanding of - and the exposition is so damn clumsy that you never really get a clue.

    But what it boils down to is that there are these huge Gods called Fal'cie who control the world, two groups of them in fact, and they in turn curse humans to become L'cie and do their bidding. These two terms took me hours to understand and differentiate between and I had to go read stupid data logs to get there.

    So our characters get cursed, but don't really have a close understanding of what they're supposed to do, or why. In any case, going with the witch hunt metaphor, they're not pursued by the whole damn world and forced to kill their way out of several situations.

    This really would've been a good place to have a dark, serious adult story where necessary evils could've been discussed, characters developed... But no. It's never discussed if it's bad that they slaughter innocent soldiers by the truckload. They just do.

    There's so much stupid shit in this story... Like when Sazh supposedly shoots himself in the head. When I first saw it I thought "Damn, finally this game takes it's story seriously. That was dark as shit, but it sorta fit his character and his situation."

    But no... The bad guys take him in, without asking why the supposedly dead guy who shot himself in the head has no sign of injury, and it turns out he's fine... Making that scene pointless. Fuck you, Square Enix.

    I still don't get what Barthandelus wants. He has this epic speech the first time you fight him with one genuinely awesome line.

    "Your kind feared the darkness, so we gave you light. You begged us for the purge, and did it not come to pass? Now your spurn our counsel. You must learn your place."

    That's awesome shit right there. A god who suddenly has people oppose him. The main problem, as always in FF13 and indeed other games of the series, is that his motivations are so poorly explained and complicated that we never understand them properly. I think he sort of wants to die to get out of the Focus he's stuck in as Orphan... Or some shit like that.

    But why complicate it? Good villains have to be understandable and the best ones you can even sympathize with. My favourite being The Operative in Serenity. I mean, think about it. The story could JUST as easily have been written with him as the protagonist.

    ***

    World: Where Final Fantasy 9 had a great map that allowed you to see the world and gain a sense of direction, 13 has the hall-way. You never really know where you are, or where you're going. There's no exploration. Just the hall-way. WHY? I get that it's more work, but the fun of a cool fantasy world is getting to explore it.

    ***

    Battling and Levling:

    I'm not a fan of the battle system at all because it really doesn't let you have enough control of the spells. I mean, when I cast Ultima in my enemy's face and want to go through my spells, select it and then go "Hah, eat this monstery thing."

    I get what they were trying to do, adding fluidity and fights that look cool... And I applaud that. It does look pretty cool. Point is that it would've been even cooler if we'd been allowed more control and if our input mattered.

    That said, the levling is worse. Where FF10 at least allowed you freedom (if you picked the expert sphere grid), this game really, really doesn't.

    You might as well have had it automated - but if you are to have a job system, then you simply must have a lot more options. Give each character a different take on each job and for God's sake, add some cool abilities and choices. (It does this to a tiny extent, but nowhere near enough.)

    FF9 had some pretty cool passive abilities. Like, doing extra damage to special types of monsters (which is broken as shit once you know what all the enemies are) or "Protect girls" which basically means that the main character is going to jump in and take a hit for characters, BUT only if they're chicks.

    ***

    Characters: Bland, bland, bland.

    ***

    So - How would I have written the story?

    First off - some clarity on what the fuck the Fal'cie are. I would've gone with them being the ruling beings of the world, using humans as their serfs. I would've had the L'cie, those with magic, being born that way. It does err a little bit towards X-men, I know, but it's still better.

    The Fal'cie obviously recognize the threat posed by these humans who are born with powers and seek to eradicate it. As basically rule the place, spreading fear and making the humans want it should not be hard.

    Additionally, I'd like to see a lot more expansion on what the Fal'Cie are, how they work, and how they've come to rule things. We see Barthandelus change his shape to human, somehow, but questions like "HOW THE FUCK DOES HE MOVE AROUND?" are never answered.

    That brings us to our protagonist, Lightning. I'd go with her having powers, but hiding it, selling out her fellows to keep her sister safe and provided for. I don't know if later games, or indeed 13, elaborates where their parents are, but I'd go with them not being in the picture...

    Then Serah develops powers too and is caught, forcing Lightning to act. She is the impetus for the plot in 13, so why not let her feature more prominently?

    It would remind me of Firefly. The show has many good things going for it, but the one I like the most is the lengths to which Simon is willing to go to protect his little sister.

    The key would really be to remove the silly bullshit of the Focus. Just have characters with sensible god damn motivations. Lightning loves her little sister and would do anything to protect her. Done. That'd work.

    Vanille and Fang have... Something like that going too? I really dunno if the later games tell us what the heck is going on between those two. Some things seem to indicate they've got a more sisterly bond, then again, Vanille does grab Fang's boob in that one scene. ^^

    In the whole story, Fang's wish to keep Vanille safe is the only thing I ever had any emotional investment in.

    There's Hope, who would probably change the most, going from a random kid to having to fight and kill. I don't really mind him starting out as a wuss. That's fine, as long as he doesn't stay that way.

    Keeping the thing where he wants to kill Snow is fine.

    In any case, our group of heroes has more or less met up and off they go to fight the evil oppression of the Sanctum while trying not to devolve into complete monsters themselves. Seems like hell of a lot simpler and hell of a lot better than the clusterfuck we ended up getting.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  2. TMNTurtwig

    TMNTurtwig Professor

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    I don't really know too much about ffxiii, only really played a little bit of it to be honest, so I don't know too much about it's plot or characters. The things I remembered liking about those were Vanille's peppiness, Snow's idle animation where he pounds his fists together, and almost everything about Sazh except his annoying, poorly-written kid.

    That said, would you mind clarifying your dislike of the combat? To me it was the best ff combat system to date. I mean, sure it was a little bit confusing at first but once you got the hang of swapping paradigms and choosing your spells it was a thing of beauty. To clarify, I get that you probably have a legitimate reason for disliking it, but whatever that reason was it didn't come across very well.
     
  3. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Dat text wall.

    The first game wasn't a good final fantasy in comparison to almost every title that proceded it... but I wouldn't go as far as to say it was a really bad game. As jrpgs go... it's still pretty good.

    I liken the Ff13 debacle to the following:

    A child is fed the best imported belgian chocolate that money can buy every night for years on end. Then, one night, the supply of imported chocolate runs dry and he's given regular store bought chocolate instead. Having become accustomed to such fine quality chocolate, the child is disgusted by the middling-quality product that most people would be satisfied with.

    Even when the child is offered the highest quality of domestic chocolates (xiii-2 and lightning returns) which are pretty fucking delicious, he can't stand the slight of having once been fed substandard chocolate and proceeds to throw a fit, refusing to eat chocolate until he recieves his rare brand.
     
  4. Zeelthor

    Zeelthor Scissor Me Timbers

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    I didn't mind the paradigms, I minded not having any choice, or that my choice was more or less irrelevant. When I select spell X, I want that choice to matter. But the fighting system is a minor grievance by comparison.

    If you think it is a thing of beauty, that's on you. It's not the worst system I've experienced (that being the drawing shit in 8.) but I did not like it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  5. Ryuugi Shi

    Ryuugi Shi Hierarch

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    Personally, my feelings on FFXIII are...a little complicated. I freely acknowledge it's flaws, both in gameplay* and story-wise**, but still found it enjoyable. I liked the sequel better, of course, but I still had fun playing through the first one. I found the character interactions and growth the most interesting part of the game--which was good, because that's what got the most screen time. I think that as a group, it possessed the strongest, most fleshed out cast of the FF line up, to the extent that when the character growth pretty much eclipsed the main storyline, I honestly didn't mind a whole lot.

    I very much liked that the group was torn apart by differences and issues at first and had to grow past them to come together, too. Each had their problems, issues, obsessions, and drives, and though I liked some more then others--especially in gameplay--I tended to enjoy the plots of all of them.

    *Pretty much running down corridors until you hit Gran Pulse at which point it hits you in the balls with the learning curve and you have to grind until you can survive. Side quests that, though having very interesting flavor text especially with every 'quest giver' having failed, being really shoved in. Etc.

    **Fair number of weakish villains, fair few things with limited screen time, stuff that would have benefited from being allowed to explore.
     
  6. Zeelthor

    Zeelthor Scissor Me Timbers

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    I feel like the last few games have been okay to play through... If you don't think at all.

    But if you begin to ask questions, shit just falls apart.

    Like, tell me. Who are these characters really? What drives them specifically? How do they change from point A to point B. Who are our villains? What motivates them?

    These questions aren't always answered and when they are, not to a satisfactory level.

    In 9 you've got awesome mini-villains like The Queen, or Beatrix. You learn pretty much everything you want to about the characters and their background, all the way down to their childhood.

    I mean... Once we hit Gran Pulse, I expected to learn.. Fucking something about Vanille and Fang, or the life they lived there, but there was barely anything.


    Oh and the voice acting:

    1. Vanille sounds like a chick in a hentai and I hear that's apparently on purpose. Who the fuck thought that was a good idea? I literally could not have her in my party cos I was playing the game at home.

    2. All the reaction noises. I get that people do that to some extent, but it just feels so off and there's just waaaay too much of it.

    I'm not sure if that's down to the quality of the voice acting, the way it's cut together, or if it's just me. I tend to be annoyed by it in anime, too, the complete inability to have some things subtle.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  7. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Really? Did you just skip through cutscenes or play to 70% completion or something? Char development was so prominent in that first game it was almost painful. Sure, I didn't really give a shit about any of them in the first save for Sazh and Fang... but yeah. It was a nonstop 'let's share feelings' fest.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  8. Zeelthor

    Zeelthor Scissor Me Timbers

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    Oh, I know they talked a lot, whined a lot and discussed, but if that actually led to any change in any of the characters, I can't recall it or point it out. If you can, I'd like to see it. Sure, they got along better in the end, but that was because they'd found a common enemy.

    In my opinion, there was very little substance in the interaction.

    No, I did not skip through cutscenes. I'm the kinda crazy person who listens to all the talk in Diablo games. Hell, I usually even go and talk to the NPC's about non-quest stuff, just for the lore.
     
  9. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Now, don't get me wrong - I'm a FF fanboy, through and through. Since FFIV - but you should all watch Spoony's reviews re: Final Fantasy VIII onwards.

    I loved VIII and X, but Spoony nails exactly why they failed.

    He annihilates XIII. There is no recovery from XIII.

    http://spoonyexperiment.com/game-reviews/final-fantasy-series/

    You can love and hate Spoony at the same time, but goddamn does he give an honest, funny review.
     
  10. Zeelthor

    Zeelthor Scissor Me Timbers

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    Yupp. Whether you love or hate the games, Spoony's videos are a must-see.

    Anyways, let's face it. There's a big difference between LIKING a game or movie and saying it's good. I liked X when I first played it. I really liked Vampire Academy. But neither are good. xD
     
  11. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Lets see.

    Hope slowly gets over his grief and forgives Snow for his mother's death. That was a huge part of the story.

    Sazh gets hella mad at Vanille for being the cause of Dajh's predicament, but eventually comes to forgive her. Perhaps the only really emotional cutscene in the whole game is when he's got his gun leveled at that annoying trollop's head.

    Light doesnt change for the most part. Her initial drive is saving Serah and that's still her sole drive at the climax. She exists primarily as a blank audience substitute. All of her char progression is based on becoming comfortable with the group.

    Fang goes from being the mysteriously aggressive lesbian who really only cares about vanille to the soft-on-the-inside lesbian who cares about a few more people than just vanille.

    Vanille is just a waste of space.

    Snow is the typical jrpg tough guy who becomes a good man due to the power and tribulations of love, and by the end is doing everything he can to prove that to Light. Why he felt it necessary to do so, I dont really know.

    Also, every summon battle cutscene was typically associated with a char discovering his or her will to survive/fight.

    I dont blame you for forgetting or suppressing such things. None of the storylines were very memorable... but I'd be hesistant to say there wasn't progression.

    Edit: Is there as much as IV? No. Is there as much as VII or VIII or X? Not even close. But there was certainly more than what you'd get in a standard 'Tales of' jrpg.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  12. Gengar

    Gengar Polymagus ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I've gone back several times to older FF games I remember loving and coming out of them feeling sour.

    I notice the same thing with anime I remember loving though.

    In general, I just don't think I like how the Japanese handle drama and characterisation in most of their fiction- especially when you get kids and young adults becoming mature and experienced philosophers for the sake of monologuing...

    There ARE exceptions. I adored Persona 4 and most of FFIX.

    Having said all that, I base my feelings on JRPGs now on how fun they are to play more than anything else, and laugh at people who miss poorly rendered, empty overworld maps and the 'freedom' they provided.

    I really enjoyed all iterations of XIII because I loved the paradigm system. I felt like such a badass when I first staggered and mauled an Adamantoise, even moreso the second time.

    The story was expectantly forgettable, but I really liked Lightning.

    I've always thought the game's biggest enemy is its name though. It's pointless and only damages them by creating an expectation for a style that they clearly don't want to adhere to game after game.
     
  13. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I doubt Squenix could survive without the name brand loyalty though. Even though I got bored of it and stopped paying/playing fairly quickly, I wouldn't have bothered with Realm Reborn at all if it didn't have that big ol FF14 next to it.

    No matter how awful the games get, I will probably still continue to buy and try all the major FF titles.
     
  14. Gengar

    Gengar Polymagus ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I dunno dude. If their modus operandi is going to be big budget rpgs, people will play them regardless.

    If they want to make more bravely defaults though, keeping the name will probably be best.
     
  15. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage ~ Prestige ~

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    Haven't played the games, only watched Spoony's reviews and loved them but weirdly enough, they made me seek out fanfiction about FFXIII and I have gotten quite fond of the world and characters.

    If I had a PS3, would probably get the games, despite their obvious flaws.
     
  16. Robo Jesus

    Robo Jesus High Inquisitor

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    I think the big problem with the Final Fantasy games is they're catering more to their local markets (Japan) than their global ones, and as Hugplx points out, the way Japan handles drama and characterization most of the time tends to be off-putting and confusing for those not from Japan. They rely too heavily on cultural assumptions that just don't exist outside of Japan, and it seriously affects their products. As that in turn tends to hurt over-seas sales, they then in turn focus more on their local markets, which further hurts their products for the global markets. Most of this however is likely going to change in the next few decades, but Japan's population crisis (along with their cultural reactions towards immigration and the birth decline issue) is likely going to mean that by the time a new generation of CEO's and Managers can take control of the reigns and steer things in other directions, most of the population will be dealing with internal issues and pressures and the changing face of Japan as a whole, which means their works will be reflecting those issues majorly, meaning we'd still likely be stuck with works focused on their own markets while trying to address and answer the questions and issues facing their nation.
     
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