The will likely be spoilers, but should I talk about something super new I'll warn ya. But consider this a pre-emptive warning! You're WARNED!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dear Final Fantasy XIII,

You and I, we've been through a lot together over these last few weeks, so I thought it was high time I sat down to tell you how I'm feeling about you. I know, you've been listening to what people have to say about you for a couple of years now and you're probably tired of it, but hey. I'm woefully behind the curve, and I've got the Crystal Pepsi t-shirt to prove it!

Let me say this up front: part of the reason why I'm only just getting around to you now is because of...well, because of all those things people said about you. You were all over The Internet for a while there and I couldn't avoid you. I read the reviews and the comments, and the news was...not good. "It's too linear!" they cried. "It's too easy, too dumbed-down!" Perhaps the one that cut the deepest was THIS IS NOT MY FINAL FANTASY.

It's like no one knew who you were anymore- at least, that's what they said. They said you had no towns. No towns! An RPG with no towns in which to talk with NPCs and to shop! They said you didn't allow for much exploration, that you guided players from A to B to C by the hand, taking any guesswork out of the equation...taking any freedom out of the equation. Honestly- now, this is going to hurt, Final Fantasy XIII- I don't think there are too many people out there who actually like you. Perhaps you'd be a fine game if you were called, oh I don't know, Crystal People in the Electric Hallways of Doom or something. But as a part of the venerable Final Fantasy family, word on the street is that you're a big ol' disappointment.

I listened to all of that and like I said, it kept me away. I'd see you in the store or online or whatever, and I'd quickly look away to avoid eye contact. One time, though, a used copy of you almost caught me in a Gamestop. I heard a "Hey. What's up?" as I was mindlessly browsing the shelves, and I almost took you home! But I couldn't. I couldn't willingly enter into a relationship with you after all the things people said. I mean, come on. I have a rep to protect, Final Fantasy XIII! An image and a rep!

Okay, that's not true at all. But for someone with such an odor of crappy word of mouth swirling around them, you sure had a high price; thus, on the shelf you stayed despite your pleas of "But maybe you'll like me!" I can't lay down a bunch of dough on a chance like that.

But still, that's the thought that I'd had since the first disappointing review of you rolled out: maybe I'd like you. The truth is, you never left the back of my mind! There, I said it. Sometimes, late at night after my parents had gone to bed, I'd lock my door and look you up on the internet. I wouldn't tell anyone and that time my dad surprised me and came in all "WHAT ARE YOU DOING" I was all "Errrr, homework!" and turned off my monitor so fast, hoping he hadn't caught a glance at your page on my screen.

No one should be shocked, then, that when I saw you recently at Target, all brand-new and beyond reasonably priced, I finally took you home.

Right away, I could see what people had been getting at. There's no way to say this more politely, Final Fantasy XIII, so here goes: you're really effing weird. From your run down this corridor- fight! Run further down the corridor- fight! patterns to your auto-battle system that won't allow me to control the actions of my party members to your where are the towns?-ness to your horrendous leveling up system in the Crystalnasium or whatever it's called, you're a very, very weird game. Are you some new breed of action-RPG-movie? I don't know. It took me a good long while to get used to you, however.

And then I did. I got used to your quirks, and dammit, I actually came to appreciate most of them. By the time you relaxed most of your restrictions and let me, say, choose my own goldurn party of players, I was really digging you. To be honest, I think that auto-battle is pretty good for someone like me, as I'm not a micro-manager. If I can trust my healer to do healy things all on his or her own, then I'm good, you know? I'll never ever like your weapon upgrading system and the Crystalnasium was ridiculous to the end, but most everything else I, I forgave. Exploring towns and meeting NPCs didn't jibe with your storyline and I get that, but still. Those things were missed.

Pretty soon, I realized that I was drawing sketch cards of your characters when we were apart, FFXIII (can I call you FFXIII now?), and it was then that I realized that yes, I was really really digging you.

YOU'RE SO PRETTY. You flat-out dazzled me with your beautyosity. See, I only recently upgraded to a 21st-century TV (again, umm, behind the curve) and anyway, I'm not a graphics hound when it comes to games or movies. I read complaints about certain titles and I think "Durr, it looked fine to me..."; I'm not sure if it's the crappy TV I had or the fact that I still very clearly remember that games used to consist of a bunch of moving squares, but my standards are pretty low in that regard. But oh, oh oh oh, you opened my eyes! Character hair moved around! I couldn't tell the cut scenes from the gameplay! I will admit, I'd probably like you no matter what simply because YOU'RE SO PRETTY. I'm shallow, I guess, after all.

Your plot and storylines are convoluted. There's no getting around that, and I was awfully glad that your datalog spelled it all out for me. Convoluted, but oddly engaging.

Your characters...hmm. Some of them are so irritating, there was never a moment I wanted them NOT to die. (SNOW. I hate him with the hateful hate of a thousand...umm, haters.) Some of them I loved right away (Lightning, and FANG. Why did they wait so long to introduce Fang? She now rules my world!), and some of them actually grew on me (Vanille was, surprisingly, perhaps the most well-rounded character in the game). I found myself pretty invested in them and those convoluted storylines of theirs. And please, FFXIII, don't even try to deny the it's so barely subtext that if there were really any sexuality at all in Final Fantasy games it would totally be text between Fang and Vanille. Come on, we all know what's up, and it's cool.

Again, now that you're all said and done, I just wanted to tell you how I feel. Look, you were right: I like you, okay? I think the stuff that people said about you was all rather true, but then I rather don't care. I like you for what you are, rather than hate you for what you're not- a simple enough concept that I struggle with often. What you are is pretty fun and pretty pretty. You were right, and I'm glad I finally took a chance on you. I won't wait so long on Final Fantasy XIII-2, I promise. In fact, I kind of can't wait for it. To hell with my rep and yours- let's hold hands!

Love (that's right, I said it),

PS- I don't actually live with my parents still, but then you know that because you live with me.


Dominant5th said...

I agree. This game gets a lot of crap it doesn't deserve. "Wah, wah! It's a hallway where you press "A" at the end!" Whatever. I just finished my second play-through and I love this game. Can't wait for XIII-2.

Also, my hatred for Snow burns with the power of 1,000 suns.

Sean Belcher said...

LOL. I just got a 40" 1080p after years of living w/ a...smaller television. I hadn't played this game since I bought it used at Blockbuster last year, but on a lark I popped it in to give the new set a test. I mean, it's a game made in 1080p so it's gotta look good, right? Sweet Christmas, this game made my eyes turn into warm puddles of melted strawberry ice cream. So.Pretty.
I think I'll give this a play through now that I've drained the life blood from Dragon Age II.

Stacie Ponder said...

I'll definitely be giving this a second run at some point- I didn't bother to read the manual so it took me a really long time to catch on to some things. I really enjoyed it! With the exception of Snow, of course. :D And I'm super pumped for the sequel.

I had a cruddy 19" SDTV and it died, so I was playing on an even cruddier 15" for a while...then I upgraded! I'm still not quite at 1080, but oh lord...the first game I popped in after getting it was Mass Effect 2 and as many times as I've played it, it was like a brand new game. I could NOT get over it. I'm so glad I waited on FFXIII. It's insanely beautiful! The most gorgeous-est I've seen. Maybe this is how PC players feel. :D

Sean Belcher said...

I put in DA:O last night to see how the Casteless origin goes (what can I see, I like humans and elves better) and good golly, you hit the nail on the head - "a whole new game" is right. It made me realize how much care and attention BioWare put into the first game versus the second. Granted, it's entirely a time issue - they simply didn't have years to develop Hawke's world, but still it's pretty stunning how visually rich and 'deep' DA:O is when you can actually make out the details. :)

Upgrayedd said...

I thought FF13 looked great and I think Lighting is the best carachter in series. But the problem I had with the game, was if your party went down it was game over. Regardless if other party members had revivial capabilities. Total deal breaker for me. I am not sure if you are aware Stacie, but Lightning appears in the psp title Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy. I havent played it myself, but I would leap on it like a beast if it was offered on the consoles. I will probably give the game another go, and hopefully FF13 2 doesnt have what I consider a flaw, shared with FF13. It would be great to be reunited with Lightning's greatness, under what I consider more favorable terms.

Stacie Ponder said...

Upgrayedd, I totally agree with you about the party leader dies-they all die issue. It was irritating. One thing that was...well, I don't know if I liked it or not, but once you could choose your team, it REALLY had an effect on battles. I couldn't just take who I liked...although I guess that didn't really have an effect on cut scenes or what have you. But, like, I was stuck on the end boss battle and getting really angry about it. I switched to a different team and approach and had zero problems. Maybe this is strategizing? I don't know.

I looked into Dissidia a bit. The website is calling in an "action RPG", but every screenshot makes it look like a fighter. Do you know what's what?

Sean, I've yet to try DA:O on the big screen, but now I think I must! :D I've gotten to Ostagar with the two dwarven origins, but I've yet to play one all the way through. I think noble origin might be the better of the two.

When I saw Mass Effect 2 blew me away on the new TV, I'm not exaggerating at all. There were lights on things! And text everywhere! And freckles! It's amazing. My jaw was on the floor the whole time. :D

Sounds to me like a good excuse to crank through DA:O again...

Upgrayedd said...

I looked into Dissidia 012 too, and IGN gave it a great review. They said it lasts 70 hours and has other classic FF carachters. I would buy it for sure if I had not misplaced my PSP.

Goombardy said...

Dissidia is a fighting game series using Final Fantasy characters. Think Smash. Bros, only angsty. It also has light (very light) RPG elements.

If you like action-RPGs where you program your allies, you should try the Tales series. It's my favorite RPG series.

Grey said...

I confess. I googled "Crystal People in the Electric Hallways of Doom".