As we speak, I am playing through Final Fantasy XIII. That’s right, even as I type this, my mind, through its innate telepathic abilities, is actively working to master the game’s many intricacies — from the semi-complicated real-time battle system to the borderline ridiculous plot. I never leave it, and it never leaves me. We are one.
Since the game and I have formed a sort of symbiotic bond, I might as well talk about it somewhat. This would be the first game in the Final Fantasy series I’ve played since No. X way back in the Playstation 2 days. Since I later sold my PS2 to my sister (that’s right, I’m a conniving bastard), I was not able to enjoy XI or XII, or the ridiculously-named X-2. Back in the SNES days, I thoroughly enjoyed III, which is actually VI, in its native Japan, and VII and VIII were both totally awesome, though I never really got in to IX, so being able to play through XIII is like a nice little homecoming for me, which I’m sure you can fully understand.
The new battle system is especially wonderful. Square Enix has deemed us all unworthy of selecting the basic attack options for its characters, regulating us instead to selecting an “auto-do whatever” option for most scenarios, but also balancing the game’s job system mid-battle. Watch a Youtube video of it in action, it’ll make little sense; but, start playing and the strategy needed to win even some of the minor fights because wonderfully addictive, like crack covered in powdered sugar.
The game is both awesome and preposterous, just as a Japanese developed game should be. I’m about 12 hours inside what is promised to be a 40-plus hour experience, so though I have yet to dig down to the furthest depths of the game’s characters, I have broken ground and feel I can comment on them. I will do so now.
Here are cosplay versions of the cast of Final Fantasy XIII:
So far, Lightning is probably my favorite character; she’s cool-looking, tough, and completely one-tracked on kicking ass. Downsides, she treats Hope, another character, like a human being, which he totally isn’t. Hope is a small machine designed to annoy any who cross his path. It’s his greatest weapon, dealing copious amounts of damage even early on in the game. Speaking of which, here you go:
Hope is a self-centered, whining little nuisance. Some claim he’s the most well-written character in the game, which may be true; but, it’s hard to appreciate good character development when the character you’re developing is completely and utterly unlikable in the first place. And I’m not talking about that kind of despicable unlikability that you actually kind of like; I’m talking about his mouth opens and your mouth vomits.
Sazh is arguably the most likable character in the game. First off, he looks like a black dude from the 70s, which is badass. Secondly, he’s by far the most sympathetic, empathetic and downright likable member of the bunch. Of, and he shoots shit and talks to his little puffy, hair-chicken. He also hangs out with this chick a lot:
Vanille is supposed to be this perky little girl with a dark past. She’s also following closely behind Hope in the Land of Annoying, not quite keeping pace but almost. It’s her voice, mainly, which is slightly off. Not poorly acted, mind you, just…off somehow. You’ll just have to hear it for yourself.
Here’s Snow, the braggart of the group:
I like Snow. He’s full of shit.
Finally, there’s this chick, whose identity I have yet to discover. Wikipedia says her name’s Fang:
Altogether, these people form the backbone of Final Fantasy XIII. Most are fairly interesting because, by and large, you don’t get to pick who’s in your party. I understand the ability to do so opens late in the game, but mostly the game has a story to tell that requires you relinquish a little bit of your personal freedom. It works for me, though the plot line is a tad complex, bordering on nonsensical. Just a taste of the game’s setting from Wikipedia:
The plot of Final Fantasy XIII takes place in a world known as Pulse and revolves around the story of the fal’Cie (ファルシ farushi ) (pronounced /ˈfælsiː “fal see”/), mechanical beings with godlike power created by a being called the Maker. Each fal’Cie has crystals residing inside them. People who are marked by the fal’Cie are called l’Cie (ルシ rushi ). Each l’Cie has a Focus, a goal the fal’Cie wants him or her to fulfill within a certain amount of time; however, the fal’Cie do not explicitly say what the goal is: l’Cie learn what their Focus is by interpreting visions that are given to them. L’Cie may also gain the ability to summon an Eidolon, monsters who fight with the l’Cie. However, if a l’Cie dies before completing his or her Focus, fails to tame his or her Eidolon, or fails to complete his or her Focus within a set period of time, he or she becomes a monster known as a Cie’th (シ骸 shigai , Cie Corpse in the Japanese version). If a l’Cie does complete his or her Focus, the reward is not much better: permanent transformation into a crystal. For this reason, being chosen as a l’Cie is seen as a curse.
Yup, fal’Cie and l’Cie and Cie’th. Much like Sauron controlled Saruman in The Lord of the Rings, the fal’Cie are in control of the l’Cie, and since both of these made-up words sound very similar, things get confusing fast — like as soon as you select “New Game.”
Still, it’s fun. That’s about all one needs out of a game, right? Right.