LttP: Final Fantasy XIII- The First 10 Hours (of tutorials)
I’ve been kind of putting this game off for a while. A combination of bad press, middling impressions from friends, and a general annoyance at the development cycle of the game kind of left me kind of apathetic towards the game and the Square side of SquareEnix in general. I pretty much swore to hold off on the game until it dropped in price enough to hit that sweet spot to where I’d really not feel any buyer’s remorse no matter how bad the game turned out.
Whelp….the game is now getting to that spot, so I guess it was time for me to actually follow up on my promise and give the game a chance. Was it worth it? I still don’t know. The game certainly isn’t helping in that regard. I’m apparently still working through the “tutorial” phase of the game, and I’m already ten hours into the game. It took an hour for the game to start leveling my team up. I don’t mean grinding, either. I mean the party’s stats did not change, aside from a couple changes of equipment, until an hour into the game. Only Dragon Quest 7 could claim to be slower.
Two hours into the game was I able to start buying equipment. Ten hours in, and the game has yet to start providing me with a way to actually build up my funds, unless it expects me to throw the same items I’m supposed to be using for upgrading my weapons to the seller. It’s been telling me how to do everything else, so I’m expecting it to start saying “hey, this is how you earn money”. That point has yet to come.
Ten hours into the game, and I still can’t select my own party whenever there are more than three characters present (granted, this hasn’t happened for a while). I have also been yet to allow to even select who I control in battle. That decision is still being held from me.
Ten hours into the game, and I’m still walking down a long corridor. It’s a pretty corridor and it occasionally branches off and changes scenery, but it is still a corridor.
Ten hours into the game and I’m still forced to pay more attention to the annoying antics of local Aussie mystery girl Vanille than I’d like, while the game only occasionally allows a glimpse at the character I really want to play as.
Ten hours into the game and I’m still putting up with this shit because the rest of the game is just somehow so enjoyable. Despite using auto-attack more frequently than I’d like, combat is amazingly fun. The music proves that Masashi Hamauzu is among the best musicians in the industry. Everybody not named Vanille is suprisingly bearable. Even Hope, who I was fully expecting to be the game’s Shinji Ikari, has been strangely not annoying. Though the start was rocky, the plot is growing ever more interesting. It even somehow manages to feel somewhat fresh, even though it really never hides the fact that it is borrowing queues and themes from VII and X.
Actually, that’s a wart that needs to be addressed. Within the first five minutes of the game, the game makes it very obvious that it wants to be FFVII. The order of events may be different and there is a slew of contextual differences in everything going on, but I could not help but find the game screaming “REMEMBER FFVII? I AM JUST LIKE THAT ONE!” when I saw the camera panning over a high-tech city cast in a greenish light, while the main character sits aboard a train that runs through a red security scan field, following which our ex-soldier swordswoman jumps out of the train, dispatches some guards, and is then commented to by a comical black man who keeps yapping about her status as a soldier.
At least this time they made the black guy Richard Pryor instead of Mr. T.
I’ve been growing increasingly jaded with JRPGs. Lately, I’ve found a few that have renewed my interest in the genre. This isn’t one of them, but, in all honesty, I’m kind of amazed that I’m enjoying this game as much as I am. Ten hours of tutorials and Vanille squealing should have been enough to scare me off, but I feel no difficulty pressing on. No obligation to make sure I get my money’s worth. I legitimately want to find out what happens next, and I am enjoying the ride to that point. I guess this is the power of lowered expectations.