I finished playing Final Fantasy XIII a couple days ago. I put in just under 100 hours on it and honestly had a lot of fun with it. The plot was a bit overly complex and it played out the first part of the story in a series of flashbacks that was very popular 10 years ago like Lost and other shows and movies. It was done ok and the datalog had all the reference material in it to keep the story moving along without getting confusing. The game was very linear until you get to Pulse, but then the game slows to a crawl if you do all the Pulse side missions. Pulse is where the game gets more "open world exploration" and to me open world games are becoming more tedious and time consuming. I want a story not endless exploration that doesn't further a plot. I remember when this game came out alot of people hated it but I didn't know why. Lady played through it twice and loved it. Now 10 years later I finally played through it myself and had a good time. I really liked the characters, except for Hope. That guy annoyed me and once I could customize my own party I never used him again.
The character models looked great, everyone was beautiful and I loved having strong female characters. All the scenery looked amazing too. I need to set up a command chord on my xbox controller so I can take screenshots on my PC. I would have loved some screenshots at a couple different locations. It was also nice that once you could customize your party you weren't limited to having a specific team leader on at all times, you could play as any character. The combat is extremely simple at the beginning of the game. You basically "auto command" and the game basically AI controls everything, attacks, spells, etc. This seems extremely boring and simple at first, but as I progressed through the game you get paradigm shifts that change the complexity significantly. The Auto command basically helps you input the commands fast because the ATB moves so quick, especially with haste, you're much better off using the auto command to get attacks off faster and focus entirely on the paradigm shifting to change the combat roles on the fly for all the clutch moments of healing, inflicting and removing status ailments and buffs, defense, offense, etc. After a good 20 hours into the game the real combat is basically shifting paradigms all the time. What I also found interesting was the AI would auto adjust itself to the most effective means of killing an enemy based on the intel gathered from the enemy and what status effects everyone has. Using the Libra technique to get more info on enemies was vital. Overall combat was actually pretty damn fun once it got to this point. Aside from the party leader death issue.. if the party leader dies its an instant loss even if you have another character with the raise ability. I thought that was dumb, but the game does have a "retry" option for every battle that compensates for that.
There was some aggravating moments though, the mini map and main map not being locked to north was beyond annoying and enemies not dropping gil was the dumbest thing. The only way to make money in the game was to either find it in chests or sell specific premium drops from enemies, but after a while, gil was pointless as I never had to buy a single weapon since they could all be found in chests. Upgrading weapons needed a massive tutorial that was completely absent from the game and I had to find guides online. Upgrading accessories was completely pointless when better quality ones could eventually be found in chests. I really don't understand why they did the money thing in the game at all. Every other FF game lets you kill monsters, get gil... makes no sense. And there were some enemies that I came across that straight up kicked my ass out of no where. I could be owning all kinds of monsters, leveling up stronger and stronger.. hey look at that monster, I'll go kill him. *monster instant wrecks me like I'm a level 1* wtf. Moments like that were extremely aggravating and the game doesn't go out of its way to tell you some of these monsters were meant for later in the game and doubling back to kill when you are stronger. Some other bosses were strong as hell to compared to the monsters leading up to them. And near the end of the game, I pretty much had to grind up to get a bunch of leveling done.. which meant alot of pulse open world missions. Those were fun for a while especially once I got teleportation stones unlocked, that took care of an ass load of back tracking. Thankfully I did a good chunk of all those pulse missions before the last couple chapters of the game.. because once I got to the end of the game the monsters became straight up powerful as hell. I realized if I didn't do those extra 20 hours of missions and leveled up, I'd have probably rage quit at the end because of these monsters. lol. Like every monster fight of regular enemies in the last area of the game was the equivalent of mini bosses.
The ending could have been a bit better, but overall I highly enjoyed it. I started the sequel yesterday.. and it is already a very very different game. lol.