I suppose I should probably put this out there. I enjoyed FF13. I am kind of a pseudo older player since I started my FF career at 7. I've played every game at one point or another. I never really saw what the big hype was about 6. I never will understand. I liked 5 better...... With that said, yes 13 is linear and some characters just grind my last nerve, but I still think its the 3rd best of all the FF's behind 7 and the original tactics.
The old **** in me wants to say that there are two types of FF players... There are the ones who started on NES/SNES, and there are the ones who started on PS1/PS2. There is an unexplainable rift between the gap where Squaresoft went from Nintendo to Sony. There's just something about it that those of us who started before there feel like the people who started after it "just don't get it", but I really can't describe it in words effectively...
Perhaps it comes from growing up on RPGs that were story-driven, not graphics-driven. In the NES and more notably SNES days, the graphics weren't there so RPGs became more of an elaborate storytelling platform than a "game" in the traditional sense. You were playing the game, but you were experiencing the story. Conversely, to "oldschool" RPGers like myself, the PS1 and beyond era feels more like developers are trying to push "graphics, graphics, graphics (oh, and also story)
". Games are less about getting to know the characters' thoughts, feelings, and world and more about showing off what can be done with the current technology in terms of rendering and FMVs. Characters became more one-dimensional, stories became unnecessarily elaborate and overcomplicated...
With all due respect to you, I mean no personal offense, but I've always had issue when someone makes the statement that "FF7 was my favorite" when FF7 was their first. It was a good game, but it was immensely overrated. Much to the chagrin of fanboys everywhere, I have yet to see a "most overrated games of all time" list that -doesn't- include 7. Again, I'm not calling it a bad game, but for the newcomers to the franchise who started on 7, there came a common thread; the lack of realization of the FF history. Specifically, the fact that [nearly] every FF game is COMPLETELY different. There have been exceptions (Tactics series, X-2, XIV) but for the most part, this is the case.
The result was that VIII bombed because many people for whom their first FF was 7 wondered where all of the "FF staples" were. The things that make a FF game a FF game. Like materia. And Cloud. And Midgar. And Sephiroth. The same thought process lead to rather disappointing reviews for Spirits within as well, as many critics griped that the movie "had nothing to do with the game"; again, COMPLETELY missing the concept. I can all but guarantee that were the words "Final Fantasy" not in the title, the movie would have received immensely higher reviews. It wasn't a bad movie, it just wasn't what people were expecting (see: Advent Children).
FF9 flew under the radar and managed to hammer the point home that the games had very few common factors (Chocobos and Airships and crystals and Cid, mostly) and it wasn't until X when the massive swarm of FF7 fanboys could finally calm down and accept a FF game for what it was; something that was new and unique with each installment.
On top of this, you have the mentality of the gamers who started gaming in the PS1/N64 era; the concept that anything that isn't fully 3D is terribad horrible; the notion that 2D, or even 2 1/2 D (or heaven forbid top-down RPGs) need to be burned in fire because of the "old graphics". FF6 or Chrono Trigger or Lufia or Earthbound or Secret of Mana; ****, even Super Mario RPG... every time I hear someone tell me they couldn't get into one of them because "the graphics suck", it makes me want to cry. Or punch the nearest person. Depends on my mood.
There are so many old classics that today's generation and from here on will likely never get to truly enjoy because they can't get past the fact that "the graphics suck" to enjoy the story and the characters. That's part of the reason that 13 ****** me off so much; I've finally come across an FF game in which I -can't- enjoy the story or characters because the game has made itself unplayable to me (except instead of graphics, it's battle system and linearity).
Forgive the rant. :)
Mikhalia - You liked X-2? You are one of the very few.
I know I'm one of the few that liked X-2. I blame three things for X-2's critical failure:
1) No male protagonists. Sure, most guys don't mind staring at a female, but few are willing to play as three of them for 60 hours. Given the frequency at which male players who play female characters in MMORPGs are referred to by terms that bring their sexual preferences into question, is it any surprise that these people would not want to play as -three- of them? I didn't care personally, but many did.
2) Yuna's personality had done a 180, and Rikku's already excitable personality had gone past light speed and all the way into plaid. It's no secret that most gamers are statistically male. The only way to ruin the idea of staring at three women for your average guy is to make them REALLY, REALLY annoying. IMO, Paine's counterbalance was the only thing that kept the game somewhat balanced, but she just had to be way too moody and ***** at all times to counterbalance the other two.
3) Three words: Moon Prism Power! Between a garment grid and dresspheres, the game felt like pretty princess dressup to the max. As if it wasn't bad enough that the three female protagonists have ****** over-the-edge personalities at all times, you get to play with barbies too. If you haven't decided against X-2 by this point, this is pretty much the dealbreaker.
This is another one of those things where a few minor changes could have made all the difference. Leave Yuna's personality the way it was (or retire her). Add two male protagonists and one non human protagonist (See: Red XIII, Khimari, Quina) and let the player pick their own party of three. Rename dressphere to "Job Sphere" and "germent grid" to "Sphere Grid"
Voila. FF X-2 actually sells copies now.
It had a decent story, it was just overshadowed by the fact that it felt like a Powerpuff Girls dress-up RPG.
If you only made it 5 hours in, you really didn't make it far enough to notice that each character has his/her strong and weak paradigm. Snow was hands down the best sentinal. A person you never met was hands down the best commando. It all just depends on the character. Hope was the best healer. It's not something you'd notice until after 20 hours. The enemies get much harder as the game goes on. After the 20hour mark, you'll feel like your running to Jeuno as a lvl 1. Everything may not 1 shot you, but it will be a very strategic battle. It's all about strategy after that point. There are bosses in the game that you absolutely cannot kill unless you break them. It's unfortunate that you couldn't stand it after only 5 hours. If I find a way to give you a save game after the 20 hour mark, I'll see to it that you get a copy of it. Although, you may not have the game anymore....
I know that Snow is the best sentinel, Hope is the best healer, etc; not only did I buy the strategy guide, I bought the collector's edition strategy guide. I had my paradigms done pretty well, I just got sick of the fact that the battles required you to constantly change back and forth. You had one paradigm for breaking enemies, one for defensive mode if you took too much damage, one for this, one for that... I just prefer my characters to have access to their abilities and be able to use them at leisure. 13 felt a lot like X-2 in the sense of the whole "pretty princess dressup job change" except that there was no dress up, all three people change at once, and you HAD to spam it constantly. I hated that.
I wanted to let my characters be what I wanted them to be. If I want Vanille to be a Ravager and Lightning to be a Commando and Hope to be my Medic and that be it, then so be it. Unlike X-2, where you -could- change job mid battle, in XIII, you -have- to change job mid-battle. Constantly. You say that after the initial 15-20 hours of monotony, it opens up into a larger world, but you mention that "It's all about strategy". If this strategy involves more paradigm shift spamming (be honest with me here, does it?) then I probably would continue to dislike the game.
Is there a point in the game where I can pick one paradigm, three characters, stick with that, NOT have to change, and still be effective? If yes, how far in is it before I'm at that point? If no, I'll probably never like the game. Which is a shame, because I'd really like to play it.
And yeah, I still do "have" the game, it's just indefinitely on loan to someone who also isn't playing it. It's still mine, I'm just in no rush to get it back since I've been playing Dragon Age and now I've gotten back into Minecraft again.