Square Enix wins with FF13
Square Enix has accomplished something significant with Final Fantasy XIII. They have made a game that is fun and accessible in a way that is unique to role-playing video games. They have also created a story of a quality that I have not seen in video games.
I have found the combat in many role-playing games to be slow, uninteresting and confusing. Final Fantasy XIII has solved this problem in ingenious ways. In this game, the combat feels very natural. In battle, you have one playable character and two to three non-playable characters.
Your goal is to create the biggest attack combination with your party. You assign different roles to your characters that affect the types of attacks they do. You directly control the attacks of your playable character, while your non-playable characters attack automatically according to their roles.
In other games, such battle systems are either overwhelming or feel like you aren’t controlling the action. Final Fantasy XIII uses the Paradigm System to solve this. This system allows you to switch the roles quickly and rack up your combinations in a way that feels very satisfying. I feel that it strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and variety of action.
For the first time in a role-playing game, I did not get frustrated when I got to an enemy that I could not beat. I had fun figuring out the proper roles and combinations I needed to do. A big reason for this is when you fail a battle, it lets you attempt the battle again. Another thing that helps is the many tutorials that teach you the battle system. These tutorials prevent the game from feeling overwhelming.
The storytelling is very effective in Final Fantasy XIII.
The first thing you’ll notice playing the game is the beautiful visuals. Square Enix took the care and attention to make the graphics really pop and shine. These fantastic graphics are served by clever uses of camera work.
They used all the tricks that give cinema its visual impact. The pans and wide shots that you are used to seeing in film are used here, and it makes a real difference. The story is greatly helped by this quality visual presentation.
The story is one Final Fantasy fans are very familiar with. It’s a story set in the future with mythical powers. There are the spunky women and brooding men, and then there is a big government figure that you must take down. Yet this well-worn story is told in a way that gives it an emotional impact that is innovative for the medium of video games. All of the dialogue is voiced very well. It makes the story more enthralling to hear the story as opposed to just reading the text.
I found the interaction of the characters to be very interesting. You follow certain characters at different times. The way the character’s emotions play off each other was great. I also liked how the story shows the same event from different points of view. I found the relationships between characters to be dramatically effective, something rare for a video game. This is possible because the story is focused on the characters and is fairly straightforward.
The game uses flashbacks and time jumbling well. It gives the story interest by revealing different parts of the story. That also helps to give the story its emotional impact.
The storytelling was not perfect. The story was often confusing, as they revealed certain elements of the story without explanation. I felt they were going for a feeling of mystery, but it didn’t work for me. Some of the writing is pretty cheesy, but quality vocal acting makes it not so bad.
Aside from a few story problems, I found Final Fantasy XIII to be a high quality, innovated experience. I especially enjoyed the battle system. I could not recommend the game more.