Getting Back To It – Final Fantasy XIII

Image By Flickr User: RoninKengo (cc)

Happy Easter everyone! It’s hard to believe that we’ve already departed March and made it to April, but it’s happened and with a new month comes a new report back from memory lane. For March I decided to return to Final Fantasy XIII, and it actually held up surprisingly pretty well!

At the time of its release, Final Fantasy XIII was only the second Final Fantasy game I had ever played, so I was largely able to approach it without the expectations of Final Fantasy tradition. I enjoyed the visuals, loved the music, and even got into the Paradigm battle system. Still like many fans and non-fans of Final Fantasy, I inevitably  developed a distaste for the game and eventually wound up just trying to get to the end rather than enjoying the journey like before. I had made a mistake you see; the mistake of trying to get invested in the characters.

I went into the game expecting interesting characters and a decent story, but that’s not what I got. Something about Lightning and co. just made it impossible to get invested in the story. Maybe it was because Lightning was a robot. Maybe it was because Hope always sounded like a whiny little kid. Maybe it was because everything Snow said made me want to punch him right in his stupid face. Maybe it was all of the above. Whatever the cause, adventuring with them wasn’t fun and it needed to end. So I took steps to make sure it did.

I needed to return to Final Fantasy XIII because I have unfinished business with it. You see, thanks to a little tool called “Gibbed Save Editor” I was able to finish the game. Just add some resources here, some extra gil there, and BOOM! You too can finish Final Fantasy XIII (well, that and perhaps several hundred tons of CP)! It was more than just a little shortcut, but hey the game was done, right? There’s no way it would come back to haunt me…right?

Well…I don’t mean to encourage cheating or anything, but I think it’s actually wound up working out better this way than if I had beaten it legitimately back then. I came back Final Fantasy XIII with nothing more than a simple desire to beat it. I haven’t managed that yet, but to my mild surprise I actually enjoyed the time I spent with it last month. It’s a little shocking actually.

The main cast is still annoying but not insufferably so, and I’ve found myself appreciating the impressive amount of lore that the world of Final Fantasy XIII is built upon. The games visual presentation isn’t near as ground-breaking as it was back in 2009, but I still couldn’t help but enjoy each environment I traversed. It’s the same story music; some of the ‘wow!’ factor has been lost, but it all still sounds great (the battle theme especially)! However, the visuals and music still just as much window dressing now as they were the first time through. The real meat is, and always has been, the game’s “Paradigm” battle system.

For those unfamiliar with it, the “Paradigm” system is a departure from the ATB system used in all previous entries in the Final Fantasy series. Instead of directly controlling each character and choosing exactly what attacks, items, or abilities they use, you instead only have direct control over one and influence the other characters by choosing the role they fill. A set of roles (one for each character) is called a “Paradigm”, and you proceed through your battles by defining these “paradigms” and using the right ones when the situation calls for it. At its core, the system isn’t too different from how Final Fantasy battling usually works: attack when opportunity presents itself, weaken your enemies, buff your allies, heal when needed. It’s just a macro approach (directing the encounter), instead of the traditional micro approach (directing each character individually. The flow is the same, as is the result.

I rather liked this system when I first played the game; it was something novel that I hadn’t seen before. It’s not new anymore, but I think I actually like even more now then I did back then. I used to get annoyed at the bigger enemies since they took so much to bring down, but now the longer battles are where I think this kind of battle system shines most! I’ve found that being freed from having to choose each character’s actions each turn has allowed me to spend more time planning out the battle rather than being forced to focus on what’s immediately in front of me. It’s the difference between being in command of the encounter rather than simply reacting to the enemy, and I love it!

Even though March has come and gone, my return to Final Fantasy XIII has made for a great deal of fun, so I plan on following through and finishing it. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be a new game for April though. Indeed, the challenge continues and, having been inspired by a recent post, I’ve decided to return to Fable II! It’s a game I remember enjoying back when it came out in 2008, but I can’t for the life of me remember why. Hopefully it’ll work just as well as Final Fantasy XIII did! If not, well I suppose there’s always next month…

Have you ever had a game you wound up liking more the second time? What was it and what do you think  it was that changed your mind?

4 thoughts on “Getting Back To It – Final Fantasy XIII”

  1. I wrote a post about this game a while back. I agree with you on the characters, they can get very annoying but the story is very unique in the way it’s told. I can’t agree with you more about the paradigm system too! This has made me want to go back and play it!!

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    1. It doesn’t take much to get back into that battle system, that’s for sure. The old criticism of the game not taking off until chapter 11 still holds true I think. Until then though, I like how you can’t navigate most battles on auto-pilot, even the common ones! Getting too careless will get you wiped out, and that’s awesome!

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  2. While I enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII, it might be hard to return to it because it took so long. I think it took me over 100 hours to beat it. And that scares me.

    Anyway, yes, I have indeed played a game that was better on the second try, and that was Zelda: Twilight Princess. The game looked really awesome (I was mainly basing this off the graphics), and so I had unrealistically high expectations for it. Looking back on it, I don’t even know what I expected from the game, but since I didn’t get whatever it was I was expecting, I didn’t end up liking it. I then decided to give the game another chance, and after dialing down by expectations, I really loved it. Once I got past the beginning section, where they kept trying to make me care about the kids. I never did. And I never will.

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    1. That beginning section really was a problem wasn’t it? I’ve played through Twilight Princess a few times, and every time that stupid segment annoys me to no end. Zelda is about dungeon crawling, not getting to know the neighbors. Just let me get on with the game!

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