Final Fantasy Frustration: A Casual Fan’s Sudden Reaction To a Third Installment of Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy - Lightning

I feel like I missed the boat on this a long time ago… I mean I only just a few months ago dove into Final Fantasy XIII-2. But do we really need a third installment to the Lightning saga? Let me at least paint the scene for you…

After picking up XIII-2 with a gift card earlier this year, I had spent some time trying to find a new game on the internet to play. Picking up Sid Meyer’s Civilization Revolution seems far away from this franchise, but getting an email reminding me of the existence of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII-3 sparked a fire in my brain. To say that the 13th, er, chapter of the Final Fantasy series has been a bit frustrating would be an understatement. For someone that has been playing through the classic RPG series since the Final Fantasy VI, my re-introduction to the franchise came with the polarizing Xbox 360/Playstation 3 title Final Fantasy XIII.

Final Fantasy - LightningComing back from a hiatus following my play-time in Final Fantasy X, the story of Lightning, Serah and the l’Cie was engaging enough from front to back despite some hiccups in the actual playthrough of the game both from the playability standpoint and my inability to properly prepare for certain portions of the game. At the end of the day though, I was pretty satisfied with the forty or fifty hours of saved game time I sunk into this saga, knowing very well at the eventual completion of the game that a second chapter awaited me. I was never really sold on FFX’s extended story arc if only from the old-school mindset of the finality of things coming at the end of each portion of the saga. But as today’s culture allows, nothing ever stays to the same medium or original canvas in which it started – just look at the creation of Halo novels and Resident Evil movies.

Final Fantasy - Lightning ReturnsBut after some time, I caved to the appeal of possibly seeing the XIII story going forward in some way, shape or form that I hadn’t really considered – so I bit on XIII-2. However, my anticipation for something as enjoyable and challenging as the previous installment ended fairly quickly into my adventures [SPOILER ALERT] as the now un-crystalized Serah in an attempt to save Lightning with the help of a time-traveling portal system and a dude named Noel. It just felt so tacked together. It felt so much of an afterthought, more of an attempt to pick up the shortcomings of XIII to the tune of a wishy-washy story and a bottlenecked game experience. Outside of a bad story, XIII-2 seemed to mirror all of the successes of its predecessor – visually pleasing with a push towards the unfamiliar in a new combat system that challenged you to micro-manage and adjust on the fly.

But it was there were the ball continued to be dropped. Between poor execution and just seemingly no meat to dig into, the story of XIII’s saga just hasn’t resonated with me in the way that numerous other games, Final Fantasy or not, have. And in a time where some iffy gameplay can be spared for an truly thrilling story, the opposite just can’t keep me going. I played, no trudged, through Resident Evil 6 with the hope of some delayed understanding at the end of what is a very tangled storyline – and likewise, neither portion of the Final Fantasy XIII saga has really delivered in that department.

The point is this – Final Fantasy has been a huge part of the RPG movement for the past two decades, whether you or I have enjoyed them or not. At this point, the series needs a spark – a spark that probably won’t come from the finalization of Lightning’s story arc. Call me overly negative, but I probably won’t be playing FF13-3 any time within probably a year of its release. But I feel my let downs by the previous installments warrant such a feeling – just because this is a fabled franchise, doesn’t mean we should let such a thing pass without airing our frustrations.

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Author: Jason Gardner View all posts by

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