Analysis: The Conundrum of Final Fantasy XIII

Gamasutra features director Christian Nutt predicts Final Fantasy XIII will be one of the most polarizing game of 2010 -- in this column, he explores what's left when 'RPG elements' are removed from an RPG.

It's an established tenet of game development these days that you can add "RPG elements" to a game to bring extra depth and stickiness. In fact, you could call it a cliche.

"RPG elements" are a big part of what separated and elevated Castlevania: Symphony of the Night from its predecessors in 1997. On the other hand, cinematic presentation is what attracted a huge number of gamers to Final Fantasy VII that same year -- gamers who would never have dreamed of playing an RPG otherwise.

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GrandDragon3603d ago (Edited 3603d ago )

" user reviews on -- quickly becoming the most popular way to know what real Japanese gamers think about a title -- are more split. The game, as of this writing, has 1,392 user reviews and an aggregate score of three out of five stars. The spread is almost even -- 353 are five star reviews, 259 are one star reviews, and four, three, and two number 283, 229, and 268 respectively. "

MGS4 = 3 according to "users" in Japan

However despite that little miss hap, this an amazing and informative article. So awesome

Son_Lee3603d ago

If you look at the translated comments from all of Japan's users, you'll see the complaints are mainly linearity and less RPGness. MGS4 got a 3 general score? Probably too many cutscenes. I think MGS4 is the 2nd greatest PS3 game so far behind Uncharted 2. Guess what? Both games are highly linear to enhance story and characters. And FFXIII's cutscenes are shorter. I hate all the "fat" of an RPG, I play games now to have a thrill-ride. I could not be more excited about FFXIII and the direction Square is taking the RPG genre. It needed a revolution, maybe this is it.

hintonmj3603d ago

I'm starting to think this game will be as great as I always thought it would be. Now that I'm prepared for a mostly linear, MGS type experience, that is much much longer than MGS, I am hyped up once again.

If you think about it, a more non-linear game is still linear if you do all the side-quests as they become available. A linear game just forces you to do all of the content. I've always liked having side-quests, but I do all of them anyway, become overpowered, and breeze through the end of the game. You can overpower in FFXIII if you do all the hunts, but I also heard you can continue playing after you beat it. This time I may beat the game at a normal power and then move on to the super-bosses so I am challenged the entire time.

I think this game was so complex to make it as good as it is, that the designers decided to focus on the main story and polish it and make it as dense as possible. I would prefer 40 hours of super-dense content to 20 hours of good content and 20 hours of filler side-quests and leveling, as much as I love leveling and character growth.

I'm always nervous about a new Final Fantasy, but then I always enjoy it more than practically any other game.

Son_Lee3603d ago

I love your points. Completely agree about a super-dense 40-hour adventure as compared to 20 hours with another 20 of sidequests. What could be better than an MGS-experience that is longer but just as thrilling? No towns (or lack of interactivity in those towns) is definitely due to the story, and I'm starting to think the developers took their sweet time making this game. There are some people that love XII, but the majority hated it, so Square reassembled the team behind the two greatest FF's in my opinion (VII and X) and focused on story and characters. Plus, sidequests are still there, people just have to play the game the way the developers want you to. I love the drawn out tutorial, you learn best gradually and through trial and error and practice, so the fact it stays with you is apparent. Plus it's better to not have it all conjoined together a la FFVIII with the GF and Junction tutorials which get monotonous.

My hype for this game has reached a second universe only because everyone's complaints are my gains. RPGs needed to change, FF needed to change. FF always changes, and while worrying with each new installment is appropriate, more times than not you can tell if you'll enjoy it. I wasn't excited for XII and I hated it. I'm excited for XIII more than words can explain. That has to count for a lot in my book.

Godmars2903603d ago

Four years in, and JRPGs are still at the level of PS2 games, just better looking.

ME's "wow factor," which was actually alien boobs, hasn't really had a positive effect either.

3601d ago