Final Fantasy XIII and the problem with video game reviews

Canadian Business writes: "I had a video game dilemma this weekend. It wasn’t that I was stuck on a certain part, but rather that I didn’t know how to review the latest Final Fantasy game, Lightning Returns. The problem was that, despite having received the game with plenty of lead time, I had played only about a fifth of it and my review had to be in on Monday.

Final Fantasy games – and role-playing games in general – are notoriously long, with this installment apparently taking about 50 hours to complete. The thing is, 10 hours was about all I could stomach, so there arose the dilemma. I spent the weekend struggling with the question of whether I should review the game negatively based on my partial experience of it, or whether I should soldier on through the whole thing and then write a review, possibly weeks later. Neither option seemed good; a partial review was unfair to both the game makers and readers (you wouldn’t review a movie or book after the half-way point, right?), while a delayed review would ultimately be read by no one.

It’s a dilemma that every reviewer has probably experienced at one time or another, and it’s something of an overall problem because it may be contributing to higher game review scores.

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MrSwankSinatra1614d ago

people should give lightning returns at least a rent the combat is really enjoyable.

deadleaf981613d ago

Yeah,the combat is a blast.

sealava1613d ago

and yet I read it's pointless , as there is no XP from it !?

rextraordinaire1613d ago (Edited 1613d ago )

Not quite. Drops from monsters are used for Canvas of Prayers sidequests, which all give some small stat increases. It's not exp as we know it, but it's stats grinding.

Also, monsters drop skills with passive stat boosts on them, that you can then level at sorcery shops. And really, leveling skills helps a lot in getting stronger, and you can only get good ones from monster drops.

It works this way : You can fuse a fire skill with another fire skill, increasing it's damage output. One you've done that a few times, you can take your fire lv1 skill to fire lv2 and keep on fusing it. And since you can hold as many fire skills as you need in your inventory, you can pretty much grind a specific type of monsters to raise a specific skill.

Battles also drop gil and EP (Kind of meta MP for big time altering skills).

All in all, battles are made for grinding and getting stronger, just the same as in any RPG, just under disguise.

rainslacker1613d ago (Edited 1613d ago )

I agree. At first I found the combat frustrating just because I ran through my ATB so fast while spamming attacks. After the first day though, I started taking a bit more time and after "leveling" up a bit I got more into the stagger system and trying to play the way the developer probably intended.

The story so far is OK, but seems to be trying to tie up loose ends that didn't exist in the first place. Basically making new ones for the sake of the premise of the game. It really seems like they just scrapped everything from the first two games and tied it all loosely together to create a new mythos.

About the only thing I really dislike about the game is the time constraints. I thought it was an interesting take on a pseudo action-RPG game, but after playing it, I don't like the feeling of having to rush through to get stuff done, or doing side quests just to extend that time and pad out the game.

On a side note, I really like the actress who plays lumina. She does a great job at the character. Antagonistic without being annoying, and able to play more sensitive scenes sounding like a real person might. Unfortunately she is still limited to the story, which is rather weak overall. Maybe it'll get better. Just got to the wild lands after the first couple main quests.


There is a kind of leveling system. It isn't in levels though. You get boosts to your stats through the completion of quests both main and side, and all your equipment, spells, and attacks have their own upgrades that you can synthesize on your own. It's just a different way of leveling. It may be necessitated by the fact that the time system makes it so it's hard to just grind out levels like in regular RPG games.

dericb111613d ago

Reviewers should have their Trophy/Achievement verified before accepting the reviews. I would go so far as the included specific goals for them to complete per game to ensure they did play it enough for a more complete review.

-Gespenst-1613d ago

To me, that's almost like the only real point of a trophy system - to make sure a person really played the game such that they're entitled to an opinion of it.

contradictory1613d ago

i think it'd be fair if every review would state the time spent and whether or not they have actually completed the game or not

if not then just call it first impressions

-Gespenst-1613d ago (Edited 1613d ago )

Just review based on your limited experience with it and continually acknowledge that throughout the review, always allowing for the possibility that your opinion mightn't be the best to go by, and that others might have a better time if they give the game more time. Don't just pretend you've played it, and certainly don't talk shit about it if you've only played a third of it - if you do that it's just guesswork at best. Sometimes you'll be right in presuming that the rest of the game will suck based on the first third, or even on the first hour, but it's best to give it a full chance anyway, despite your suspicions.

rainslacker1613d ago

Generally if the first 1/3 of a game isn't enjoyable it's probably not worth buying. RPG's are a special case sometimes, as it can take a lot of time to develop the battle systems as new things are opened up for the player to do. Ni No Kuni is a good example as new things opened up throughout the whole game, although it was a bit much after a while.

-Gespenst-1613d ago

I think that's a bit presumptuous. If the first third seems "bad," it could well be intentional and part of the entire vision of the game, and the whole point of it might only make sense once the whole game is completed. In fact, what seems bad in the beginning might turn out to be good in retrospect.

rainslacker1613d ago (Edited 1613d ago )

When it comes to story I can agree. Sometimes confusing weird stories early on become brilliant in retrospect.

But from a game play perspective, I have to respectfully disagree. Early on, when not much is available, maybe a few spells, and you have to work a bit harder to kill things that aren't fodder, that's one thing. But if a game is 50 hours, and you spend the first 15 playing bad frustrating or broken game play, no amount of quality game play later on can fix the fact that the game play was weak or bad early on.

I was also speaking in general. It's hard to persevere through an exceedingly long dull section of a game just to get to the good part. There are a few exceptions, like Xenosaga part 1, or some of the FF games, but overall, if it's broken early, it's usually broken through the whole thing. It's a hard choice to make. Make a review without a full view, or persevere through to see if it makes it worth it later on. So in this I do agree, full disclosure is important if a reviewer doesn't actually finish the game. Review the part you did play, and acknowledge that the potential was/wasn't there for it to get better.

1613d ago
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