It isn’t unfair to say that a lot of us were really burned by Final Fantasy XIII. The game had cool characters, a cool battle system (albeit with some areas that could have been better), and a story that wasn’t totally bad, but then having a completely linear gameplay which didn’t allow us any exploration at all of the really cool places that they had created for us. It’s something that a lot of games are suffering these days – the lack of exploration. Final Fantasy games in-particular. Of course, with games like FFX, you were more forgiving of this, because the story was really engaging, and there were some fun side-quests that kept your interest.
The story of this game wasn’t half bad, with Lightning having been taken to a place called Valhalla, and defending the Goddess Etro from a man named Caius, who is looking to destroy her. There are problems with space and time in this universe, which lends itself to some cool ideas, but none of them are particularly flushed out. Like most time-paradox games, if one doesn’t pay pretty close attention, it is easy to get lost.
The battle system gets a bit of an overhaul, which is good. The unbelievably difficult to level up Crystarium is made easier, but one could argue that they made it WAY too easy to level up now. They do make strategy in combat much more of an issue in this game, which is cool.
The settings of this game can be very cool. It is divided into different zones, and each one has a different time. There are also usually very different kinds of monsters at each place, which can be pretty cool too.
The characters are also back, but the pace of this game is so fast and so unconnected that you hardly ever get to really know any of them. I think this game hinged on most people not needing to get a new connection, but that hints even more at the greatest problem with this game.
The biggest problem with this game is that it really wasn’t needed, and it really shows how much they threw this together very quickly. Every single element feels rushed. The settings can be kind of cool, but there is so little space in some of them that you don’t really care after a while.
There is also the problem of the worlds being almost all the same. While they are divided into different time-zones, the fact is that the worlds of this game are simply different versions of the same places, which gets really old, really fast. When I first heard that this game went all over time, I thought that maybe the idea was to recapture some of the cool places from the original game. Alas, such was not to be. Everything was down-scaled and fit in very quickly.
If there had to be a word for this game, it is – rushed. Not one element feels like it was explored. This game seemed like it wanted to make up for as bad as XIII burned the fans of the Final Fantasy genre. It had a lot going for it, but it under-delivered. Why did Square Enix feel the need to make this game? It really does feel like this was something made to save face. As nice as it was to see Lightning again, this wasn’t needed.
Instead, Square Enix could have been working on something more interesting, like the game that those of us who actually are die-hard Final Fantasy fans are all waiting for – Final Fantasy Versus XIII. There is talk around the water-cooler that they are giving up on that game. If so, then a lot of people are going to be very pissed.
In summary, this was a lack-luster game. It very quickly over-promised and very quickly under-delivered. A shame too, because with the effort put into this game, they could have had Versus XIII done by now.