It's one of the most bizarre occurrences in video games: when a developer inexplicably ignores the fans and completely overhauls a new title in an established franchise. Usually, such an overhaul doesn't go over well with the fans…and duh , it's because the formula the gamers fell in love with has disappeared!

Why some designers choose to do this remains a mystery. There have been several such instances in this generation and assuredly, Final Fantasy XIII tops the list. I've said it many times and I'll say it again: the best way to explain FFXIII is to say it's a great game…it just isn't a great FF installment. I made it plain when reviewing the game that if it had been a new IP, it would've scored higher. Hell, most all critics would've scored it higher. It just abandoned much of what the fans adore. Now, one could make the argument that Final Fantasy XII featured a huge departure from past series iterations and yet, that one still worked. Ah, but the difference is that it felt exactly like an RPG; in fact, it felt like a more modern RPG with open-ended exploration and a turn-based/real-time hybrid form of combat. Every element of an RPG was still there and in some ways, each was even more prevalent.

In FFXIII, we got a confusing presentation. It felt less like an RPG and more like a flashy action/adventure that simply didn't resonate with a lot of fans. Still, it was a great game if one simply evaluates it on its merits alone. And yet, in comparison to the best of the best of the series, it falls short. Another example: Splinter Cell: Conviction . For the record, I'm a huge SC fan; the original hooked me over 8 years ago and I've played and loved every single entry since. But something happened in Conviction …something bad. The game that was purely stealth, that rewarded patience, planning and skill, had been replaced by a game that felt like a mad dash through the dark. I can't grab my enemies. I can't move bodies. I can't incapacitate; I can only kill. The new light/shadow system blows . There's little or no opportunity to hack, override cameras and other security barriers, and get the drop on unsuspecting guards.

Why? Because 90% of the time, all the guards are on alert and looking for you, and all my tools are only for combat. Where are my sticky shockers? Where's my all-purpose rifle that fires everything from sticky cameras to ring airfoil rounds? Now, I just throw a sticky camera at a wall and I've got a few mines and grenades. It feels nothing like SC. I can't imagine fans of past games enjoying this in the slightest; I for one couldn't even finish it. After coming upon yet another level where all the guards are instantly alerted from the start and remain alerted throughout, which only promotes constant firefights, I just had to quit. Hate it. Now, what prompts a developer to do this? Who stands up and says, "hey, let's change everything and see if the fans like it…" The question is- why ?! Why?

It's not a rhetorical question. I don't have an answer. Do you ?

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noodles619
noodles619
9 years ago

The one thing I truly dislike about FF13 is that every battle ends with the 'star' rating. To go into every battle with the mentality of trying to nail 5 stars becomes draining and off-putting, especially when you knew you tried your best but only get 3-4 stars. And after barely surviving a battle with a boss, for them to tell you that you deserve no stars is nausea-inducing.

Killa Tequilla
Killa Tequilla
9 years ago

You tell em' girl

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

I can't believe they give you all your HP back after the battle, what kind of RPG does that?

Kevadu
Kevadu
9 years ago

TWEWY did it and that was a bloody fantastic game.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

huh? What'd I do?

Godslim
Godslim
9 years ago

yeh i ve just started playing ff13 and i thought it was wierd giving me all my hp back after a fight :S

ZettaiSeigi
ZettaiSeigi
9 years ago

I couldn't agree more on this one. I'm playing FF XIII right now and it's so weird that most (if not all) battles end in less than a minute. That "star rating" after the battles sure are annoying!

When I played the previous FF games, I remember actually paying attention to the enemies' weaknesses after casting Libra. Now? I cast Libra, choose auto-battle, and the AI adjusts accordingly. I hardly had to think anymore! For that reason alone, FF XII is basically like a button masher. My brother was watching me play and he asked why I keep pressing the X button. And he's right, which RPG needs you to button-mash?

There are things that FF XIII did great, with graphics being the most obvious one. I also like the story and most of the characters. However, the battle system was such a letdown. I can't even appreciate how awesome the spells and summons look when I use them, as my eyes are constantly watching the various bars/gauges!

AnonWTF
AnonWTF
9 years ago

You guys definitely haven't played not one of the saga series by square enix. Romancing Saga anyone?

Zorigo
Zorigo
9 years ago

saw ff for the first time in my life today. it wasn't fighting. it was just clicking through a menu! my mate had to press 3 menu selections in a boss battle and the rest of the battle was done for him… he did NOTHING.
seriously, we made a god damn smoothie and came back and the game itself defeated the boss for us.
!!

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

Not sure bout that Zorigo, you still have to be on top of the battles every time it's your turn. If you just let them stand there they will die.

manofchao5
manofchao5
9 years ago

lol splinter cell went to being exclusive for that one for 360, final fantasy went to being multi plat for 360

i think some developers believe 360 users will buy anything lol
and cod kind of proves that

LittleBigMidget
LittleBigMidget
9 years ago

Final Fantasy 13. garbage. That is all.

telly
telly
9 years ago

FF XIII was garbage, and it would have been garbage no matter what it was called or who released it. I'm impressed by the number of people here who actually ENJOYED that game in the slightest. Hopelessly broken combat, moronic story, nonsensical presentation, and on and on and on. The first 20 hours of the game were a friggin' tutorial! Everything that is WRONG with JRPGs was included. And nearly everything I love about a great JRPG was taken out.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

I have the answer as to why. It's called Call of Duty. As soon as publishers of games that used to require thought and patience saw those numbers, they decided they had to change their game into something more twitchy. SE even admitted to trying to get an FPS feel out of FFXIII.

It's all a numbers game, and RPG or Stealth fans be damned as long as there is a possibility the publisher will pick up new, different, mainstream fans that have the buying power that COD commands.

This was done to Resident Evil too. It's a damn shame too. A damn shame when the pinnacle series in each genre gets dumbed down. Metal Gear Solid is next.

Dancemachine55
Dancemachine55
9 years ago

So Square Enix achieve this by dropping the millions of fans who love their winning formula and go after a crowd who probably never even heard of Final Fantasy, let alone ever wanna play it.

Only 1 game will outsell Call of Duty, and that's the 2011 Call of Duty release in November. Other developers whould realise this and make their game different to sell to the other crowd, the non-CoD crowd.

PorkChopGamer
PorkChopGamer
9 years ago

Resident Evil 5 always felt like the natural evolution of Resident Evil 4 to me. I'm not mad at Capcom, especially since the first attempt at the sequel ended up being the Devil May Cry series because it was such a departure. MGS4 was a huge departure from it's previous iterations, IMO. Still enjoyable, though.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

I wouldn't say the natural evolution of a survival horror game is an action game. If it is then Dead Space 2 is in trouble.

PorkChopGamer
PorkChopGamer
9 years ago

It's just that Resident Evil 4 did away with the slow lumbering zombie for more intense action and Resident Evil 5 seemed to go along those lines. Resident Evil 4 even had a quick time knife fight. Definitely not your standard survival horror fare. But everyone says it's the best. I just don't get the Resident Evil 4 love, but 5 hate.

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

Resident Evil 4 still oozed survival horror and cheap scares. Resident Evil 5…not so much.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
9 years ago

RE4 was not scary, it was creepy with the village in the beginning, and the Laboratory part… i'll give you that, that was the game at its peak. but then you got that silly castle area, which was just beyond daft.

RE5, i started playing but i then played RE3 and realised it was so much better so i returned i the next day without any will to play it. My flatmate has it now so i might actually get around to it as i have no games to play at the moment. But the only feature which stands out to me is that it is set in africa, such an interesting setting for such a game.

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

That's why I said "cheap scares". 😉

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
9 years ago

Oh please no… Please leave the Metal Gear Solid series as is.

Snicket
Snicket
9 years ago

When will the FF13 articles end?

*Not being a hater, just asking.

Also, Ben any chance that users could submit well written editorials to be put on the site?

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
9 years ago

There were a couple of reader editorials in the middle of last year I think… Not sure what happened to the idea.
Peace.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

Ben was pretty busy, it was a thing in the forums but shriveled up.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

We might do it again but in reality, there were only a few people who wanted to do it…and even fewer who COULD do it, in all honesty.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

I might try something some time. We'll see, I'm gonna be super busy soon and might not be able to contribute as much as I have been.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
9 years ago

I'd gladly try… Just point me where to go.

Snicket
Snicket
9 years ago

Well I would love to give it a go, I was watching the VGA awards and was embarrassed to be a gamer after that fiasco, I would love to write about it. mostly just for kicks. Where would I submit such a thing?

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
9 years ago

I agree with Snicket, when will these subtle attacks on FFXIII end, XIII didnt change half as much in comparison to XII, yet people can actually praise that bore.

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

I question you're tastes sometimes considering FFXIII is a hand holding borefest and XII was actually an RPG.

The attacks will never end. FFXIII is utter crap.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
9 years ago

I beg to differ 🙂

FFXIII had what XII lacked, a story, characters with actual personality (Minus Blathier the best thing to come from XII). A plot with structure, frequent events happening unlike XII where you would troll through new enviroments with no sense of progression or personality.

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

I don't know meng, it's almost as if we played a different game. I got all I wanted out of FFXII. It didn't feel like the previous games but it still felt like an RPG. I thought the story and characters were great(minus Vaan).

I don't mean to harp on you. I just don't understand where you're coming from on this. You seem to appreciate fine films and games for the most part, FFXIII seems odd.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
9 years ago

Well it just comes down to personal preference i guess. If its any consolation i can at least understand the dissapointment FFXIII is for you through mine with XII. FFVII-X are my favourite games of all time. So when it came to my disspointment with XII it was soul crushing.

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

I do remember having a "what the hell is this?" moment when I first started playing FFXII. But in the end, I actually finished the game and found it enjoyable enough to put over 180 hours into it.

Now that I think about it I can see how people would be put off by the story/plot etc. Seems a little too Starwarsish.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
9 years ago

Star Wars had charisma though. Other than Balthier, the rest of the cast were lacking big time. B,althier was also very well developed with his backstory. Basch was the typical plain soldier, Penelo the livewire, but she had nothing to do with the game like Vaan. Fran had her hometown, but nothing really came out of that. As for Ashe other than rebelling she was really not memorable either.

Something XII and XIII have in common is the lack of a proper Villian Vaine and Yaag were hardly effcient. Though XII did have the strong present of the Judges, I did enjoy the atmosphere around them.

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

The judges were my favorite aspect of the game's story.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

The only issues I had with XII was the on field battle system (those should be for Western RPGs only) and the grinding across stupid huge environments.

It is weird how they went from gigantic meandering explorable levels to kill tubes.

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm did the same thing when it too went multiplatform. What a coincidence.

Taha1
Taha1
9 years ago

I absolutely hate what conviction did to splinter cell.

GuernicaReborn
GuernicaReborn
9 years ago

I was so pumped for SC:C, then when I read the reviews and comments on it I never even tried it, and I don't want to. I don't want to play it, it would probably ruin the series for me.

Dancemachine55
Dancemachine55
9 years ago

Ben, I believe developers are trying to cater or tap into the Call of Duty generation of gamers.

This generation of gamers seem to enjoy these few things in gaming:

1. Online play
2. Cooperative / Versus split screen or online
3. Short campaigns
4. Quick kill systems

Unfortunately, being the older generation of gamers in our 20's or 30's, we grew up with great RPG's from Squaresoft in the 90's. This created a generation of thinkers, gamers who enjoy planning, strategising and creating scenarios that cater to your advantage depending on how intelligent your plan was.

Only game I'm playing right now that does this well is Dragon Age Origins. It does strategy very well.

Metal Gear Solid required some intense thinking to progress, not about how to kill an enemy fast, or find the bigger weapon, but how to avoid combat, or kill without being noticed, manipulating the environment or enemy positions to gain the advantage.

Sadly, very few games these days implement this. As I said, we are living in the Call of Duty age of gaming, where strategy hardly exists and the players who do well either cheat or train hard to get one shot head shots that requires accuracy and speed, not planning.

While I enjoyed Splinter Cell Conviction, I found it a little less deep than the last entry I played, Chaos Theory. The controls are much more "pickup and play" friendly for newcomers, like friends who come over to play some Conviction co-op. But another friend of mine and I enjoyed Chaos Theory far more because of the large number of gadgets at your disposal and the difficulty of Chaos Theory was far higher than that of Conviction, but it never seemed impossible. Chaos Theory only encouraged us to try different methods of getting to point B without being detected. It was far more clever than Conviction's multiplayer.

Again, Conviction and even FF XIII caters to CoD crowds, while we older gamers are simply left in the dark. I wouldn't say Conviction is a bad game, but I am not a big fan and hardly played the older Splinter Cell games, so I found it easier to pick up and play than previous SC titles. I agree with your FF XIII statement, too far departed from previous entries but still very much a pretty game.

FF XII felt to me like a mixture of FF X and World of Warcraft, and I loved it!!! I found the political plot was very good too, much more mature than at first glance, but did get a little confusing in places.

Only thing I'm looking forward to now is the steady drop in Call of Duty popularity once gamers realise that it's the same game as before and that 60 bucks is too much to drop every year on the same freakin' game!!!! It happened to Guitar Hero (sadly, but thank God for Rock Band) and now I'm hoping Activision kills CoD as well.

Also Ben or Highlander, do you know who it was that said Call of Duty has become the Coca Cola of video games? Very true as it's all everyone at work talks about. Most who don't game regularly only have a CoD game in their collections, or Halo, and that's it!!! Very sad.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
9 years ago

Actually I don't think the popularity of CoD will wane anytime soon. Case in point: A girl I know asked what the hell it was, and one of the guys jumped in to say that it was the reason that girls would be single for the next year. He then went on to say that he refused to buy more than four games a year, and CoD would always be one of them. People are strange.
Peace.

sirbob6
sirbob6
9 years ago

The fact that CoD prevents them from having a mate is a plus as they won't be able to breed and in a generation the twitch gamer will die out

Kevin555
Kevin555
9 years ago

It's becoming a habit in games today with popular series going down the fail pipe. Resident Evil 5, Splinter Cell Conviction, Silent Hill Homecoming & soon, DmC. All doomed imo.

I particularly hate what became of the Silent Hill franchise. That one stings me the most.

I can't wait to hear the inevitable sh!t storm that is going to rise when Ninja Theory give us more indepth info on DmC.

GuyverLT
GuyverLT
9 years ago

I know I probably shouldn't but I'm one of the few who still has hope for that game to be good.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
9 years ago

Same here, I still havent completed homecoming, The next one is apparently sticking to the roots of SH2; my favourite entry. But loking at what i have see nso far, i'm not holding hope for it.

Dancemachine55
Dancemachine55
9 years ago

Thank God for Bioware!!!

Bioware has become the Squaresoft of the 2000's. Where Square dropped the reigns, Bioware picked it up. Sure, it might not be turn based combat like FF, but Bioware still makes a quality RPG.

Bioware and Level 5 and Atlus. I seriously think Sony should acquire Atlus, and I'm not the only one who thinks this.


Last edited by Dancemachine55 on 1/2/2011 10:44:29 PM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

I like Bioware too, but we still need a rock solid JRPG maker. One that can put out more than a single game every few years too.

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

Level 5 is the new Squaresoft. Not Bioware.