March 19, 2010
What I'm playing this week: "Final Fantasy XIII"
Full disclosure...I've only played a couple other previous "Final Fantasy" games, both for the PSP: "Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII" and "Dissidia: Final Fantasy," so I came to "XIII" with little or no preconceptions to how the game would actually play.
Early reviews have slammed the new "Fantasy" for being too "linear"—just one "room" after another of monsters to slay, over and over, with no chance to wander through towns, chat with party members, or alter the plot in any meaningful way. And indeed, after grinding through about 25 hours of FFXIII, I can attest that all those criticisms are spot-on. Unlike the open worlds of "Dragon Age: Origins," "Mass Effect," "Fallout 3," and previous "Final Fantasies" (or so I understand, anyway), "Final Fantasy XIII" is pretty much an "on rails" experience (or at least it is in the early going).
The plot of Final Fantasy XIII is...well, pretty nuts, and I'm only managing to follow it about 50 percent of the time. (Mild spoilers ahead, so beware.) Something about a war between Cocoon and Pulse, with the inhabitants of Cocoon being deathly afraid of beings called the Pulse l'Cie (who are from Pulse, natch), and that fear leads to the Purge, a "relocation" of Cocoonites that turns into something akin to a slaughter. Our heroes—the gruff, determined Lightning, the blond, muscled Snow, the wise-cracking Sazr, the naive Hope, and the relentlessly chipper Vanille—start the game trying to defend Cocoon from the Purge, but then they all become l'Cie (I'm not entirely clear on how that happens) and end up being hunted themselves.
So yes..."Final Fantasy XIII" can (at least in the first 20-or-so hours) be accurately described as an RPG-on-rails, but if you ask me, this is one exhilarating roller-coaster ride. My understanding is that the game does open up about 25 hours in, and that's about where I am in the game now, so I'll have more thoughts on that soon.
Anyone else playing "Final Fantasy XIII"? Love it, hate or, or "meh"? And what are you playing this weekend?