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Biggest Disappointment of 2010

December 23, 2010Written by Anthony Severino

Loser: Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy is known for its beautiful graphics, deep strategy, vast exploration through unknown worlds, often riddled with interesting characters, numerous side quests, and enthralling story lines. Instead FFXIII lacked almost every single one of these characteristics. Beautiful and boring, its only redeeming quality is the incredible graphics while its greatest downfall is the complete lack of strategy within combat. The automated battle system includes many classic commands and magical abilities from the series, but most of time you would barely know it beyond the graphical representation on screen. FFXIII takes care of any potential for making any real decisions beyond alternating between attacking, healing, and buffing and pressing X to do so an enormous amount of times. The ability is available to select your own commands rather than use auto-battle, which would be great, but is ruined thanks to a chaining system requiring a constant barrage of attacks in order to defeat an enemy. The time taken to navigate the menu is actually more detrimental than any possible benefits from choosing a command. Stack on top of that the fact that selecting commands only controls one of the three characters in your party and the level of control is left as extremely limited, at best. The result is incredibly shallow battles that boil down to pressing X into never ending redundancy. It can not be stressed enough how repetitively boring this is. A better name for the game would have been FFXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. The entirety of FFXIII is one gigantic, sloth-like grind.

Besides that, the game is made even more boring by turning progression through 80% of it completely linear, rather than an exploratory experience like every other iteration in the series was loved for. As a result almost the entire game consists of running down a long, gorgeous tunnel cleverly disguised as an environment. There are no towns to explore. There are almost no characters outside your party to talk to, and on the rare occasion there is, there’s really no reason to bother. Instead almost all character interaction is between the uninteresting and overly emotional members of your party, during super dramatic and confusing cut scenes. The story line is absolutely baffling for a majority of the game, and even when it isn’t, the music accompanying the scenes doesn’t match the emotion or situation for the majority of the game. In fact, being repetitive is one of the few things this game does well, since by the end of it Leona Lewis’ theme song will have played so many times that popping your own ear drums would sound like a reasonable proposition. Clarification of the story line does nothing to improve things, since any potential for intrigue is ruined by being overly complicated and told out of order. Upon reaching the dim light at the end of the tunnel and the game appears to get interesting, all hope will be squashed upon realizing you’re running back and forth over the same area to do incredibly monotonous battle in a very small “open world”. There are no real options for character progression, although the game presents the illusion that there is. In reality you simply add more abilities to be used by auto-battle, where each one is acquired through a very linear progression tree. The enemies, some of which do look cool, simply become increasingly resistant to the all mighty “Auto Battle”. For well over 2 decades the Final Fantasy franchise has been synonymous with epic RPG, but this automaton doesn’t deserve to share the brand name. Bashing a Final Fantasy game this much should be like sacrilege to a lifelong RPG fan, but unfortunately every word of it is true.

Runners Up:

  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
  • Medal of Honor
  • Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days
  • Gran Turismo 5

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