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Most of my FF experience has been with the XIII series (this is the third in that series). I loved the previous two, even with the over-the-top writing and really hard to follow storyline.
This is my least favorite of the three. The game is nothing but fetch missions. "Go here and collect this and bring it back". "Find X number of these things". "Find this person and report back to me". That's the entire game. No defined leveling system at all. No defined progression of abilities (you earn and find abilities throughout the game, but can earn the same one multiple times). Confusing item management. Restrictive use of certain abilities (limited "RP" used for certain abilities, like healing). No party system at all, minus a few short times where you have a chocobo or Fang as an ally. No buffing abilities at all. Opressive time restraints for missions. Ridiculous difficulty curve near the end. All with a combat system that is too fast-paced (no time to strategize or plan), that basically reduces down to button mashing. These are the main problems I had with the game.
What happened to the party? What happened to the paradigms? The ability to choose the speed of combat? The ability to EXPLORE and GRIND if you want to level up before difficult battles? LEVELING UP?! It's like they threw away everything that was good and tried to rebuild it with the scraps left behind.
It gets a 5 from me. The story was probably the most followable in the series, even if the game treats you like an idiot through most of it...constantly repeating points like you need to be spoon-fed everything. The cinematics are great, as always. The voice acting is very good (it's the writing that is bad, not the voice acting). The worlds are varied enough to not be the same scenery all the time. It also does a good job of wrapping up the story from the FFXIII series. So, for all of that it gets a 5. The bad stuff is just overpowering.
This by far is the worst FF I have played. And it definitely shouldn't hold a classification as an RPG. Removing the ability to level up makes this game a straight fighting adventure. And a time deadline to finish the game is nonsense. Completely removes the thrill of exploring the world and taking your time to complete every side quest. They really force your hand to do the minimum and not enjoy anything. Bosses are even worst then before. To beat most you have to do very specific things with precise timing otherwise your wasting your time. No multiple outlets for fighting or leveling up yourself to make yourself stronger. Also playing this ruined the story line from XII-1/2 as well.
In a time where sequels are carbon copies of there predecessors, (CoD, and most FPS come to mind) the FF13 trilogy is a breath of fresh air. All three games have a different take on a battle system that can be both easy, and incredibly complex. I was skeptical about the timer when I first read about this game using one but you have ways of stopping it to explore, it does keep you on your toes and reminds you that you have a job to do, and I have come to love that aspect of the game. It is hard to get every side quest done in the time you have but it ads to the games replay ability, I know I will play through again to get the quests I missed. If you are a fan of final fantasy games the music, voice acting, and open world environment are all done beautifully. Most people might not give it the 10 I did but if you are a fan of the other two FF13 games you will enjoy this one.