Despite Final Fantasy XIII’s worldwide retail sales numbers, reactions from the gaming community have been less than favorable. When almost four years’ events transpire between releases of a particular franchise, can the newest entry ever live up to the hype? Most would say “no”, so what would it have taken for this game to receive a perfect ’10’?
5.) Wrap up the first act of the overall arc before 25 hours. If one were to contemplate a Final Fantasy three-act narrative structure, the first third would normally consist of completing the preliminary objective in which the player discovers that there are much larger things at stake. Also included would be a non-confrontational run-in with the team’s ultimate nemesis. This must occur with a sense of urgency at or before the 10-hour mark along with a condensing of the tutorial contained therein.
4.) Give the player the opportunity to use any Summon in the party and ensure that they are not underpowered. Since Lightning is arguably the most engaging character to play, the bulk of Eidolon screen-time belongs to Odin. If any party member’s Summon was at the player’s disposal, certain elemental affinity situations could be avoided completely. And, Square- while you’re at it, could you see to it that a one-and-done Summon eats up at least one-quarter of a boss’ hit points?
3.) Leave the micromanagement where it should be. The Crystarium is an entirely adequate progression mechanic, but could it not have been taken a bit further? Several Limit Break-style abilities are unlocked later in the game, but a constant drip of four to five of these would have served to differentiate between comrades. In addition, concentrating more on character development and less on ludicrous leveling of weapons and accessories would create a need for equipment rather than the game’s current minimalist implementation. This could also narrow the focus on components for synthesis.
2.) Overworld map, anyone? Not necessarily. In a vein similar to Final Fantasy X, this game could have given an inkling of an open world simply by expanding the linear stages, thus eliminating the forced claustrophobia. Positioning the areas in a tiled fashion(creating a map of sorts) would be an added bonus as in the twelfth installment.
1.) For God’s sake, please give us the victory fanfare! Square-Enix are infinitely fortunate to retain the services of Masashi Hamauzu after the departure of his mentor, Nobuo Uematsu in 2004. Final Fantasy XIII was Hamauzu’s AAA shot at beginning the attempt of filling his predecessor’s shoes, and it just so happened that he hit the mark. This fact, though, entices one to wonder about squandered efforts, especially when considering the void left at the results screen of every battle- every one of hundreds of battles. All things aside, the fanfare would have went further toward gracing this game with a tangible feeling of Final Fantasy more so than anything listed prior.
My love for this series runs deeper than any other, so it is with much regret that this article needed to exist. If one were to, say, swap in and change out the laundry list above, what would the final product be? Another traditional entry, only on consoles with considerably more horsepower. Is that not simply what fans of the series wanted from the beginning? Halo 3 is a great example of a new installment that, matchmaking aside, only graphical improvements were enough for mass satisfaction. The first game in a franchise released on new hardware almost always gets a “pass”, correct? FFXIII could have been no different and the fifteenth game would have been the better for it. Here’s to hoping that holds true no matter what.