Final Fantasy XIII: Initial Impressions
Even with my Final Fantasy XIII baggage I dove into the game this week. I'm playing the PC version via Steam.
My first reaction to Final Fantasy XIII was, "It's so pretty!" I forgot how beautiful this game looks. Final Fantasy developers are always trying to push the envelope in graphics and it shows the most when they jump between console generations. Final Fantasy XIII was the first Final Fantasy for Xbox 360 and PS3. It looks so much better than Final Fantasy XII did.
The only downside to the graphics is that they're locked to 720p on PC. Supposedly there is a patch coming soon to allow for higher resolutions, but it's not out yet.
Music is much improved over Final Fantasy XII. It's still no Nobuo Uematsu but it's so much better than the last game. It actually has one of my favorite battle themes in all of Final Fantasy. It gets stuck in my head and I'm totally ok with that.
It's especially amazing when the violin kicks in around the 1 minute mark
But not all the sound design is great. Lightning's footsteps are already bugging me. They are extremely loud and monotonous. I remember these footsteps being something that drove me crazy by the time I finished Final Fantasy XIII the first time.
One thing I hated about this game during my first playthrough was the linearity of it. It's basically long corridors with no exploration. Surprisingly, this time I appreciate the linearity after just finishing the open world grind fest that is Final Fantasy XII. Playing the games in order like this is giving me a fresh perspective on the series. Hopefully I can keep this new-found appreciation for the linearity throughout my entire time with Final Fantasy XIII.
I'm a few hours in and so far battles feel quick and fluid. Not much of the modified ATB system is being shown off yet, but it does look nice. But while it looks nice and is smooth, it's not challenging so far. I know that most of the battle system is still hidden behind tutorials that I haven't reached. At this point the battles are basically "hit A to win with autobattle." I'll follow up later after I actually get full access to battle options.
Along those lines, there's no progression system in sight. Again, I know this is just around the corner and I'm not there yet.
The story of Final Fantasy XIII starts mid-action. I think it works for this game. After that there is a lot of character set up mixed in with action and battle sequences. The pacing is working for me so far. From what I remember, pacing really struggles later in the game, but I have no complaints yet.
I'm actually enjoying the story more this time because I don't have to try to figure out all their stupid terms. I mostly remember it from my first playthrough of the game. They really need to do a better job explaining to new players what all the unique terms in the game mean but at least it's not an issue this time around. I do want to note that it was frustrating to no end the first time I played.
One thing I'm extremely grateful for are the plentiful checkpoints. Rarely do I have to go more than ten minutes without getting the chance to save. As I've said before, being able to save anywhere or suspend/resume a game is a huge feature for me these days. Final Fantasy XIII doesn't quite have that, but the checkpoints aren't spaced out as far as they used to be in old Final Fantasy games. I appreciate it.
Overall, I'm about 3 hours in and I'm still having fun. It's a good sign and I hope it holds true throughout the game!