It would be a challenge to find a gamer who legitimately hates Final Fantasy VII, however, ask nearly any fan what their opinion of the newest installments is and you’ll probably get a reaction of utter disdain. Now I have not played every single entry, but I have played most of them between IV and XIII-2, and I see people completely brush off the newest games with barely batting an eyelash because of something someone else said. Defending FFXIII is not the easiest thing in the world, but I would much rather hear complaints from a person who has actually played through the entire game.
As you might hear many people ask:
Why does Square-Enix keep making these XIII games?
I am not about to say that XIII is better than VII, because it is far from it, but it is seldom given credit where credit is due. Honestly, it is a difficult game to defend, but if I had to point out what separates it from the herd of these J-RPG titles, it’s the combat system. Say what you will about the story, the characters, whatever, but, by the time you reach the end of the game, that combat system really shines. That’s also a big flaw and why so many people got turned off by the game, because the first half of the game is more like an interactive movie, akin to Metal Gear Solid 4. However, halfway through the game, it actually shows its potential, throwing the options at you that you only wished you had since the beginning.
That was a very bad move on the creators’ part, because it’s no good making a great game if you are going to lose the player before it actually gets good, but some braved through it all and it is kind of rewarding. Also, you cannot deny that the environments and music were just absolutely gorgeous, but that comes standard with a Square-Enix game anyway. Yet, at the sum of its parts, it was not a shining example of pride for the company, but it was worth another try.
Try again they did with Final Fantasy XIII-2, which was a vastly significant improvement over its predecessor. While the story only got more convoluted, they listened to a good number of complaints, in terms of gameplay, creating a game that just sucks you in. It was the game that they should have made in the first place, but I don’t mind if it takes several tries to get there and neither do they, according to the massive sales they produced with having sold 9.6 million copies with the first two games combined by July 2012. The director of the games, Motomu Toriyama, has referred to the faults in the development process:
With a large-scale development team, we didn’t use our time well– How do you communicate to everyone in the department what the drive of the game is?
As a result, the playtesting phase took place very late in the development process, which is another reason for so many faults slipping between the cracks. Square’s intentions to fix what went wrong were not entirely for naught.
Personally, while playing through XIII, I wasn’t having a great time, but I wasn’t having an awful time either. On the other hand, there were moments throughout XIII-2 when I was legitimately enjoying myself, bringing a nostalgic sort of enjoyment from those days of playing VII. Also, the music is very bold for a Final Fantasy game, but still awesome. This is exactly why I am often disappointed by people who cannot bring it upon themselves to give this game a chance. Despite being a good game, all some people want is a remake of Final Fantasy VII and for Final Fantasy Versus XIII to come out already.
Here, I would like to clarify that XIII and XIII-2 are actually not the reasonVersus XIII has been delayed for over 4 years now. The misconception is that Square-Enix is not the gargantuan company that it is and that there is just one team working on everything, when in actuality, there are two entirely different development teams working on both series, only under the same name and mythology. Also, I don’t think I need to tell you how unconventionally expensive a full current or next gen remake of VII would be, which can read all about in one of our previous features here. If you’re still throwing those two complaints out there, reconsider them.
If you have always been a fan of Final Fantasy games and have not tried XIII and/or XIII-2 because of what other people say on the internet, you’re depriving yourself of something for the wrong reasons. Let it amount to your own preference instead of the opinions of a stranger with a keyboard. It’s always nice to keep an open mind as well. Video games are about having a good time, so why not let yourself have a good time? If you don’t like them after playing them, at least you will know why. You don’t have anything to lose in taking a chance on any video game, regardless of the series. Just close your eyes and jump in. Isn’t that the reason we love video games so much in the first place?
For more on recent Final Fantasy sales figures, click here.
For more information on the development of Final Fantasy XIII, click here.
For examples of the fans I am referring to, check out the comment section here and pretty much any other article on the internet about Final Fantasy.