A lovable set of characters is bogged down by developers who wont let you advance and grinding that'll put you to sleep.

User Rating: 6 | Final Fantasy XIII PS3
Final Fantasy, I hear these words and my mind is filled with epic stories, side quests that flesh out the characters and create the sense that the particular world setting is vast and evolving. In short, when Final Fantasy XIII came out, I was in line waiting to get my pre-ordered copy.

So I put the game in and was greeted with the beginning of an epic story. I can't bring myself to be spoilerish here so if anyone is hoping for a gist of the tale I ain't giving it up. However if you are looking for something with the depth and character development of Final Fantasy XII don't hold your breath here. The story kicks off in a fantastic fashion and early on you find that your team really doesn't stick together. All the characters follow their own paths and end up together after some powerful bonding takes place between many of them. Aside from the graphics, the characters are probably the best part of the game. You get to see them at their best and their worst, but most of their back stories or the true nitty gritty of their hearts and souls is never told in the main story. You have to read entries in your log about different characters to understand some of the motivations and personalities of some of your non-playable, but certainly there, characters. Like two of the folks who get in your way. They have no personalities unless you read there background info. What happened to giving your adversaries some character, like Siefer, or Sepheroth (heck, he even got his own theme music!).

The story is watered down with no real chance to make it deeper than what is handed to you on a silver platter. This is a main gripe for me, cause the best part about side-quests for me wasn't just the great (though sometimes useless) rewards. NO, it was the fact that they tied could plug into the story and give you more character development. They made evolved each character's own story, and by doing them you made an even more epic story than if you had just done the main quest.

The side-quests in this game do none of that, and for the most part they are hunts that you can't even do until you've already completed the game! Well. . . unless you grind your brains out collecting, then selling items until you can buy a massively overpriced item to upgrade your weapons to ultimate level (another problem I have with the game).

Back to story. In true FF fashion the story is epic, the story has great twists and very powerful scenes. However the story is pretty short for a FF game. At some points it feels rushed and sometimes it seems like one or two of the characters that are most important to the story are not really necessary for your party.

The gameplay is very cool in my opinion. The paradigm shifting allows your characters to change up their abilities mid fight and can be helpful if a creature needs to take a quick pounding at the right moment but you needed two medics to get through the first half of the fight. I loved the fast paced fights that kept me on my toes trying to keep myself out of danger while taking down the baddie. Fun battle system ( a little disappointed in the fact that they brought back the gunblade, but didn't give you the ability to use your R trigger to deal a little bonus damage if pressed at the right time like in FFVIII. I got real good at that.)

Next is the character upgrading system. The crystarium similar to the one used in FFX makes a come back with an okay form of boosting stats but has some major flaws. It takes a lot of grinding to get the Crysarium points (CP) to upgrade your characters abilities and stats. This is to be expected and not a bad thing. I do however warn that it isn't even really worth it as the game developers won't allow you to be at your most powerful by the end of the game, because you won't even be allowed to bring your crystarium to full strength by the time you fight the "big bad" at the end. Nope, some of it is only unlocked after you beat the game. Congratulations, the one carrot that keeps a player level grinding was just taken away! OH, but wait! Maybe you love to get the Ultimate weapons! I know I do. I love doing massive amounts of damage and beating the living snot out of creatures, even the ones that look like living snot!
This game uses a system of fusing materials to your weapons to level them up then uses catalysts to change them into new weapons that then you must level them up until you can make the ultimate weapon from the weapon and an item you can only get two ways. Those ways are 1- Buy it for 2million gil. (not easy to get money in this game) or 2- kill an adamantoise and pray he drops the thing. (this is extremely hard even when using the trick on youtube which I could only get to work 2 percent of the time, to kill the beast and even less of a chance to actually get the item even with all the characters crystariums at max after the final battle) So basically you gotta grind, grind, grind and grind some more, even after you have already won the game. You have to do extra work for a reward you can only use to do more extra work after you have already beat the boss. Oh and make sure you are near something comfortable, cause the grinding will put you to sleep after the third hour or so. Ah, and lastly a horrible thing about the weapon leveling system is that you have to watch what weapons you are upgrading. You can potentially make eight ultimate weapons for you characters. All with the same name but depending on what weapons they evolved from, they have different stats and effects. Some of them are down right bad.

The fact of the matter is that the developers got so wrapped up in making the player play the game after they have finished the game, that they completely forgot that the rewards for doing all that extra grinding are useless if you have already beat the game. So maybe next time they will take a hint from previous FF games and let us beat the final boss like he owes us money we need to start our very own chocobo farm run by moogles (Tell me you don't want one). If they wanted to keep a person playing they could have easily made it so that maybe you would get certain achievements or in game bonuses ( like maybe character outfits or special trophies), by completing challenges that turn fights you can easily win with force into skill puzzles. Maybe have challenge arena that pits you against challenging foes without time to rest.

Final Fantasy games are not games that people play for open world stupidity like grand theft auto. They don't need the after credits play to be good, or replayable. I still go back to the old PS and PS2 Final Fantasy games.
Well this monkey is tired of ranting and I'm pretty sure your tired of hearing it rant. So Play the game and make up your own mind about it.