Final Fantasy XIII Hate Unfounded?
March 9 marks the US release of Final Fantasy XIII, which remains one of the most anticipated games of the generation...despite the dislike that's starting to accumulate.
But being an ardent fan of the series, I've been interested to find the source of this vexing suspicion and even hatred. As it turns out, if I'm to understand all the combined negativity, these bad vibes are coming from a linear adventure, "too much cinema" (gee, haven't heard that before in regards to a FF title), and a "step backwards" by reimplementing the separate battle screens. On that same note, the linear aspect is also considered to be a "backward step" by all those progressive, "I can't sit still for two seconds to learn about a story" twitch gamers who require constant movement. Essentially, it seems that people are complaining that FFXIII is more like FFX than FFXII, which is downright absurd.
I haven't played the game, so I don't know how it will turn out. I definitely can't defend something I haven't played; I've never done that and I won't start now. But the rising dislike for the game seems to stem from the aforementioned "issues" and I really despise such a standpoint. First of all, regarding the cinema aspect and idiots who say, "I don't want to play a movie," that has never even been remotely close to accurate in describing any Final Fantasy. All of them, dating from FFVII, are at least 25 - 40 hours in length and none of them feature more than a few hours of combined cinema; the ratio becomes even more ridiculous if you opt to do the optional stuff. It's far more accurate to say franchises like MGS are "playing a movie" but the ratio of gameplay to non-interactive cut-scenes in those games makes one thing plain: you're playing a game.
So forget the idea that you'll be watching more than playing in FFXIII. Seriously, just toss it out of your head. It's too stupid to consider. As for the linear aspect, I understand the complaint if you really liked FFXII and the inherent exploration involved, but in case anyone is forgetting, nothing was stopping you from going back through every area in FFX. Granted, you couldn't really wander off the path much - except maybe in the Calm Lands - but you could always go forward and backward, as you would along any path. Yes, I know people don't want a "path" these days but the linear aspect doesn't really impact the gameplay. The gameplay centers on the combat, as it always has and from everything I've read, the combat is just plain bad-ass. How is that getting glossed over?
Look, like it or not, FF has always been about the story. It's what we remember most from all of them. If you have no interest in story, if you're one of those twitch gamers who require constant action and movement, fine. Don't play it. FFXIII has a story and a story has a fixed progression. Essentially, as far as I can tell, the major complainers want FF to become Fallout while the true fans are glancing about going, "...wait, what?" Are we actually berating FFXIII for being Final Fantasy? Have we become so caught up in the flow of online multiplayer and "exploration and customization is everything" that we can't even appreciate a different type of game, anymore? A game that just might feature something besides wandering around and attacking things?
Hey, I loved FFXII. Dumped 110 hours into it, beat Yiazmat, etc. I love almost all the FFs. But I can tell you that FFXII, despite its excellence, has not become branded on my memory like other FFs before it. Why? I just wasn't as involved in the storyline. If Square-Enix wants to put a larger emphasis on story and less emphasis on kind of wandering aimlessly around larger environments, I'm not about to complain. If you want something like Fallout go freakin' play it. Stop believing that one type is somehow superior or "more advanced" than the other. And above all else, stop believing that everybody wants the same thing! Thank you.
1/22/2010 Ben Dutka