Final Fantasy XIII: Fifteen hours in

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I was a bit wary about this game. Generally I pick these up on launch day, and I’ve played every single one of them, sans XI. However, the XIII trailers gave me the impression of a fairly daft story populated by badly acted cosplayers, accompagnied by cheesy R&B tunes. Still, I ended up getting it, albeit a couple of days after launch. So, how is it?

To be honest I I’m not exactly sure. The production values are top notch, sure. The music is pretty decent, Masashi Hamauzu is usually worth a listen (although I could have done without Leona Lewis and the aforementioned R&B; I don’t approve of clothes shop muzak in my epics). The graphics are technically excellent, but the character design leaves a bit to be desired. It’s a bit like VIII and X (and to a lesser extent VII), really, typically Nomura. Asymmetrically clothed pompous anime boys fighting sword-wielding, white-haired, holier-than-thou military leaders surrounded by incompetent stormtroopers in similarly elaborate costumes. I don’t know. Gameplay-wise, the combat mechanics are solid, but the game is absolutely horribly linear. I’ve been playing for fifteen hours now, and only a handful of times have I been able to make any sort of choice of where to go, and in those cases there were usually only the choice of going left or right, ending up in the same place anyway. No side-quests, no exploration, not even a maze, just corridor after corridor. Coming right after the impressively open XII, this is a bit of a letdown.

As for the story, so far it’s fairly silly and uninteresting. The same can be said for a few of the previous games as well; only time will tell it will turn out surprisingly deep and complex (VIII), or disappointingly meaningless (XII). For me, the highlight of the game has been this guy:

So, recommended? So far, no. Might get better, but then again: If you have to wait 15-20 hours for a game to become interesting you might as well play something else. Maybe XV will be worth a look.

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