"Square Enix really fucked up when they created a Final Fantasy game that actively tells players, "Hey guys, you need to go to this location. No sudden stops for sightseeing, okay?" But hey, at least the characters are nice to look at, right?"
Final Fantasy XIII
|Final Fantasy XIII|
"The number 13 has lots of superstitions. Considered unlucky, it has been connected to things like the death of Jesus and the Mayan doomsday, it's why Friday the 13th is a thing, it's why some hotels go from the 12th floor to the 14th. It seems that the number's unlucky nature carried over to Final Fantasy"— ClementJ642
Final Fantasy XIII is the thirteenth mainstream Final Fantasy game released in 2010 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows. Despite mixed-to-positive reviews from critics, it was heavily criticized by many Final Fantasy fans for various reasons, with some calling it one of the worst entries in the franchise.
After her sister Serah becomes a l'Cie by a fal'Cie from Pulse, Lightning and a group of companions (who are themselves also branded l'Cie) go on an adventure to save her and oppose the Cocoon government.
- It has a completely linear environment in the first half of the game (spanning roughly 20-30 hours or so), making characters simply go from point A to point B. While this has arguably been the case for previous FF titles as well (comparably Final Fantasy X), they at least gave the player some room to explore the games' environments and provide optional side content such as side quests and minigames. Aside from the post-game area Gran Pulse (which presents the player with a vast open map and gives them monster-hunting quests in the form of "Missions"), almost every single area in this game is a literal one-way path or consists of maps with little to no deviation (resulting in the fan nicknames "Final Hallway XIII" and "On Rails RPG").
- There are practically no towns throughout this game for the player to explore, and the ones that can come close to them, such as Palumpolum and Nautilus, are little more than dungeons that cannot be accessed after finishing their respective chapters. The developers' weak argument for not incorporating any is totally absurd, given the fact that developers of Lost Odyssey, a JRPG released two years prior and overseen by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, proved capable of constructing multiple varied and fascinating settlements on an HD Console in a similar development time.
- Though some would argue that this is reasonable considering that the main characters are on-the-run and that Cocoon is under siege, making places like shops and towns impractical with a high-stakes plot.
- Poor English voice direction (especially with Vanille) and no option to switch to Japanese voices except the PC version.
- The Crystarium Grid is similar to the Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X, except it's very linear and you can't access other characters' nodes to increase your power. It can also get locked when you reach the end of the grid level. In order to access it further, you need to progress through the game.
- Combat is uninspired and there is little strategy involved. The best way to defeat enemies is to keep tapping A to use the chain combo. There is also an auto-battle system included which makes things even more pointless.
- The Paradigm Shift system, the new twist on the jobs system of the games, which is actually a good feature of the game, is not fully realized to its full potential until the restrictions on the characters you can select for the party after the first twenty hours of the game are lifted. It also works better if you have a full party of three characters, but this doesn't occur in the initial few hours of the game. Until you gain access to choosing the characters in your party, the combat is boring because no experimentation can be made.
- Why does it even take that long for full control to be given? The combat is not complicated enough to warrant twenty hours of hand-holding the combat system, by slowly introducing new mechanics for the combat system.
- You can only control one character. Also, similar to Persona 3, even if you have three people in the party, if the character you control dies, it is game over. This would make sense for the Eidolon battles since it's a test of one party member's strength but it doesn't make sense in every other battle.
- Shopping is largely useless. You can't gain Gil for shopping from fighting enemies (only by selling loot and finding it in chests) and most of the time, the only thing worth buying in the shops are potions, since you can obtain most weapons and accessories on the playing field. Buying better equipment is also largely unnecessary as you can break down other bits of equipment to upgrade your own.
- If the "Plot" section isn't enough of a sign, the writing, plot, and world-building are so complex and so convoluted that nearly every single little thing in the game from plot details to lore, unnecessarily strange terminology for objects and items based on real things, character backstory and motivation etc. requires consulting a massive in-game encyclopedia and also the game dialog itself to even have the foggiest clue of what's currently happening in the game.
- The PC port is 60GB in size which is a ridiculous amount of space for a game released in 2010, when not even the Nintendo 3DS console was released, even if your hard-drive is more than 1TB in size. This is due to the game containing full audio files and cutscenes for both English and Japanese. This is made even worse by the fact that by default the game was locked at a 720p resolution with no graphics options and has consistent framerate drops.
- The main characters, with some exceptions (mainly Fang and Sazh), initially start out as very unlikable, especially the main protagonist Lightning. Though, over time, you'd start to learn more about their background and motivations as they eventually start to become much more tolerable.
- Despite the poor reaction Final Fantasy XIII received from fans, Square Enix had the audacity to produce two unnecessary sequels to the game in the shape of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII. While these two games did fix the "hallway" and combat issues, many fans thought they were either subpar at best or a waste of money and time that should have have gone into producing a new game. To make matters worse, a player called NeithOF disclosed that Square Enix was constantly pulling staff from Final Fantasy Versus XIII (which would later become Final Fantasy XV) to work on them, contributing to Versus XIII's continuous delays and ultimately its cancellation and rebranding in 2012.
- The game was planned to be a PS3 exclusive, but due to the popularity of the Xbox 360 in the West, it was added to that system midway through development. The game was dramatically compressed into the mess we know today due to the Xbox 360's hardware/disc space limitations, presenting a clear illustration of how being transferred to less competent platforms midway through production may limit a game's full potential.
- Speaking of the Xbox 360 port, the initial physical release came packaged on three DVD discs to accommodate for its size, but played at a resolution barely above Standard Definition. On top of this, it lacked numerous graphical effects, had notably decreased FMV quality, and was prone to texture pop-ins and noticeably longer loading times. The 360 ports of XIII-2 and Lightning Returns, on the other hand, were nearly on par with the PS3 versions in terms of graphics quality (with only the FMV quality issues remaining, which were unavoidable due to the 360 using DVDs rather than Blu-Ray discs), fueling fans' suspicions that FFXIII's Xbox 360 version was rushed. It took Microsoft nearly ten years before they were able re-render the FMVs and other game data in high definition, bringing the game's visual quality up to line with the PS3 version.
- This is one of the only three mainline Final Fantasy games to not have the franchise's theme song, the other two are Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy X.
- Tetsuya Nomura, the artist behind famous Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts characters, created the character designs.
- The soundtrack is fantastic, especially the battle theme "Blinded By Light."
- The vast majority of players agreed that the game's finest feature is its stunning visuals, which have aged wonderfully.
- Backwards compatibility allows the Xbox One and its successors to play this game at significantly higher graphical quality than that of the PS3 and PC versions. Even better, in 2018, Microsoft introduced an update for the Xbox One X that allowed the game to render in native 4K resolution with auto-HDR at a constant 30fps. After more than three years, Microsoft issued another update to enable the game to play at a fixed 60fps for Xbox Series S/Series X.
- It implements elements from Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Another Story, like post-battle HP refills, the Paradigm Shift system (where you can change the position of characters, allowing a character to take on a tank role, then change to having an attack role when wanted, for example), the pre-attack textboxes being next of the attacker, and story recaps.
- As previously stated, the combat improves once you can swap your party members and completely customize your Paradigms (even if it comes nearly 20-30 hours into the game's story).
- While the English voice direction is poor in some characters, there are some great performances from characters such as Fang, Sazh Katzroy, Jihl Nabaat, and Galenth Dylsey.
- Fang and Sazh are considered the most interesting and well-liked characters out of the cast.
- There are still many iconic moments throughout the Chapters with the most notable ones being in Chapters 1, 7, 8, 12 & 13.
- Some of the environments are very creative, such as Orphan's Cradle.
- Certain boss fights require plenty of strategies and provide a good challenge.
- Despite the PC port's problems, it has a few advantages over its console counterparts. These include: An option to switch to Japanese voices, supporting 60fps (a feature that Microsoft wouldn't implement until 2021 to provide on Xbox Series S/X), and even includes the Japanese-exclusive Easy Mode Option which makes battles and grinding much more tolerable, at the expense of a reduced item drop rate.
Final Fantasy XIII was a commercial success both in Japan and international regions. It sold one million copies on the first day of its release in Japan, and 1.7 million copies by the end of 2009. The game sold more than one million copies in North America in its release month. In March 2010, Square Enix stated that Final Fantasy XIII was the fastest-selling title in the franchise's history. In September 2014, Square Enix announced the Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels have been widely successful and have shipped over 11 million copies worldwide.
While it received overwhelming acclaim for its stunning visuals, high production values, and fast-paced battle system, it was almost universally panned for its excessive linearity, illogical storyline, dull gameplay, and uninspired characters.