Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary: The Worst of Final Fantasy - Part 5: FFXIII, XIII-2, LRFFXIII

By Gabriel Jones 28.12.2017 2

By this point, I'm utterly perplexed by what direction Square Enix is taking one of their most popular franchises. Final Fantasy XV has become something of a "Games as a Service" product, with its numerous updates, added modes, and DLC stories. At this rate, the game is expected to leave Early Access sometime in 2018. Then there's the remake of part VII, which…exists. However, the chances of it being released this century are pretty slim. Perhaps my age is showing, and all I've become capable of doing is wistfully looking back at the simpler times. Ah yes, the days when RPGs weren't bloated over budget abominations.

I'm just going to go ahead and ruin the joke right here and now: This article is a look back at the worst of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. Admittedly, the Lightning Saga isn't all that bad, but seeing as how I've made some attempt at skewering almost every other game in the series, I can't very well leave these entries alone. Oh, and yes, there will be spoilers.

Final Fantasy XIII

Ooh, boy. Where do I even begin with this monstrosity? First off, I'll go ahead and point out that Final Fantasy XIII isn't all bad. It's a beautiful-looking game with an immaculate soundtrack. The battle system is a lot of fun, and… that's about it for the positives. Okay, Sazh is pretty cool, especially since he's the only relatable character in the entire game. Fang's alright, as well. Secondly, I think the "It gets good after 12-15 hours" statement is overblown. Though Gran Pulse gets a few points for giving the player some agency, there's nothing to do aside from hunt monsters and grind. A better-paced RPG would've allowed players to pursue side-quests throughout the adventure, rather than just towards the end.

Seriously, if this game's worst qualities were just its uneven pacing and linearity, it'd still be pretty good. Unfortunately, Lightning's first outing gets dragged to the abyss by a triple whammy of horrible characters, a nonsensical story, and worst of all, completely worthless villains. It's hard to screw up a villain. All that's needed is a reason for a player to hate them. Final Fantasy II, for all its faults, had a convincing villain. The Emperor did more than just taunt the heroes. He destroyed entire cities with his airship, and then obliterated the remains with a massive tornado. Then, of course, there are the more popular antagonists such as Kefka, Seymour, Sephiroth, and so on. This franchise is no stranger to memorable villains, which makes it all the more bizarre that this entry fails in so spectacular a fashion.

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As far as villains go, Galenth Dysley, AKA "Space Pope," looks the part, but fails to do anything noteworthy. After a certain point, he reveals himself to be the fal'Cie Barthandelus, then goes on to claim that he's been manipulating the heroes every step of the way. Wait… That's it? That's not impressive at all. He's just another garden variety god-like being. They're a dime a dozen, and I'm not being facetious. It'd be interesting if Galenth was just a man. Over the course of the story, he somehow becomes Barthandelus, then attempts to destroy the world, or whatever it was he was trying to do. Bart's motivation is never exactly clear, and a villain without tangible goals is hard to take seriously.

On the flipside, there's Jihl Nabaat. Here's a villain who actually has goals, commits evil acts, and enjoys destroying innocents lives. It's only natural that her horrendous actions would eventually lead to a climatic boss battle… Right? Oh, no. She's immediately discarded just so Barthandelus can make his big entrance. Usually, villains such as Jihl would at least get into one or two fights with the heroes. After being defeated, the main villain would say something to the effect of "You have failed me for the last time!" and then kill her off. What a disappointing end to an extremely promising character.

The least Final Fantasy XIII could have done is had a villain that the players wanted to see destroyed. Instead, we were treated to a sea of nonsense, with maybe an inkling of (wasted) potential. It probably doesn't help that the heroes get along like peanut butter and gasoline. Who wins in this battle between good and evil? It's definitely not the audience.

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Final Fantasy XIII-2

The successor to Final Fantasy XIII does a lot of things right. Final Fantasy XIII-2 has a great cast, a compelling plot, and various gameplay refinements. It does a fine job of correcting the previous game's mistakes, while not introducing a bunch of new ones. There are some annoying aspects, such as the obtuse levelling system, but they don't weigh the game down too much.

My biggest problem with this otherwise great RPG is Mog. Ever since I was subjected to this annoying little twerp, I've developed an intense and possibly irrational hatred of moogles. I mean, who came up with this creepy catastrophe? His antics aren't charming, and his contributions to the gameplay aren't at all welcome. Did there really need to be points where Serah hurls Mog into faraway locations for essential items? These stupid pet tricks are a waste of space.

Yeah, I'm going to say it right now: Mog and the rest of his winged cretins drive me crazy, kupo. Imagine you're having a conversation with someone, kupo. The subject is deadly serious, like climate change or best Final Fantasy game, kupo. However, this jerk keeps tacking "kupo" to the end of his every response, kupo. Eventually, kupo, it gets to the point when all you hear is "kupo, kupo, kupo, KUPO!"

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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

In the final days of the world, only a goddess can lead the wayward souls to a new beginning. Lightning Returns marks a radical departure for the series, and concludes the divisive trilogy in a satisfying manner. The story isn't anything special, but that's no big deal. Most of the game is spent tying up loose ends and bidding fond farewells. This journey is a pleasant one, aside from the whole "end of the world" thing. An awesome soundtrack and excellent battle system help to round out this unique RPG.

Unfortunately, this is another one of those Square Enix games that practically demands a guide. Running out of time isn't going to be the player's biggest worry. Thanks to abilities like Chronostasis, they're able to do most everything in only a handful of days. It's the real world time wasting that is problematic. Basically, if the player doesn't know exactly where to go and who to talk to, they're going to spend a long time just wandering around. That's a lot of unnecessary tedium. Speaking of tedium, eliminating every last foe gets to be very mind-numbing, especially since there are no stat gains for winning battles. Tying a few side-quests to the literal extinction of monsters everywhere wasn't the greatest idea.

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Comments

There was a video that essentially retold this story but used SNES graphics, universally the comments were that THAT game looked better/funner than the real one.

I hated the colour of the Last Ones and the weapons you get from them. Having those bright pink swords on Lightning's back looked ridiculous lol.

I really want to replay this trilogy at some point, but I'm thinking to just wait for the remasters...which will surely come at some point.

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