Let’s talk about the ending…

Its safe to say Nick and I enjoyed playing through FFXIII. Maybe we didn’t love it. It probably won’t replace our favorite RPG’s, but its a good game and its one we enjoyed. It has its imperfections and we are not so blind as fans that we are unable to admit to them ( I’ve expressed a lot of my thoughts on twitter and Nick wrote his review of the Japanese release last year).

It’s funny; while Nick actually thought the story was perfect and the gameplay was the games weakest aspect, I thought the exact opposite. To me, while FFXIII’s story is enjoyable, its one that lacks exposition. Its one that very arbitrarily requires the player to read a bunch of Codex entries to really get a handle on the games world, characters, and the drama they all deal with before becoming L’Cie. Thats a real shame too, especially considering many non-FF fans believe we all prioritize pretty graphics all else. The truth however, is that the scenario, the plot is whats really important to most of us. Its what makes all that sexy CGI necessary to begin with.

Forgive me. I digress. This is not a review of Final Fantasy XIII from any perspective. The point I was trying to make earlier (and obviously lost sight of) is that FFXIII is a flawed game. A good flawed game, but flawed none the less. What is it that good flawed games deserve folks? Why sequels of course. Thats why I’m here writing this on a Sunday afternoon. I want to talk about FFXIII’s ending. How it made me feel and all the possibilities it sets up for the inevitable (in my opinion anyway) Final Fantasy XIII-2 (SPOILERS obviously)

So you did it. You beat Orphan and saved Serah, Dajh and the people of Cocoon. We may be missing Fang and Vanille, but I wouldn’t count them out just yet.

On various forums the past few weeks I’ve read talk of the idea that once Fang and Vanille became crystallized, the became part of the pillar that formed from a collapsing Cocoon (the cradle fell indeed). If that pillar became un-crystillized, they’d be free, but Cocoon would come crashing down on Pulse most certainly creating the big bang of video games. Some think the companions petrification is separate though. Some say it doesn’t matter either way because the two are seemingly trapped inside a crystillized cocoon anyway.

I say forget all that. I’m not going to waste my time being all hung up on the demise of two likable characters that SE will ultimately reverse do to fan requests anyway. I want to know how the world is going to develop.

Now everyone lives on Pulse. That means a lot. Maybe you didn’t notice, but Light and gang never really opposed any Pulse Fal’Cie. Their all still alive from the ultimately harmless (and helpful) Atomos, to the towering Titan. What about the monsters and all those Adamantaimai running around?

The people of Cocoon are lucky they survived FFXIII’s ending. This is the world they’ve been given in exchange and its up to them to make it their own. This my friends is what I believe will be the underlying focus of Final Fantasy XIII-2. Underlying of course, because it seems prior to the final bout with Orphan, the gang was given a new focus. One that included an un-crystallized Fang and Vanille. You can bet, someone in the party is going to want to pursue that.

If you think I’m vibing off the plot flow of FFX into X-2 and/or are getting the same feelings yourself, its because I am. Here’s why:

  • War of Transgression = Machina War
  • Defeat of Yu Yevon = Defeat of Orphan
  • Sacrifice of Tidus = Sacrifice of Fang/Vanille
  • Dawning of a new age in Spira = Dawning of a new age on Pulse

As you can see its all fundamentally very similar. Even while FFXIII tells its tale with various short flashbacks told by Vanille, forty of FFX’s fifty hours are actually a hindsight look at Tidus’ journey up until Zanarkand. This two is a possible key clue: while Tidus’ narrative ends definitively, Vanilles doesn’t.

It’s worth mentioning that while Motomu Toriyama directed FFX-2 and FFXIII, he also directed FFX’s cutscenes. so he had a hand in how that game told its story.

Thats my speal anyway. I think FFXIII-2’s most intriguing facet will be how it develops the relationship between Pulse and its new residents. Maybe its because I feel the original didn’t do enough to establish its world outside of the Datalog. Maybe its because I think Motomu Toriyamas direction is susceptible to trends. Maybe I’m just grasping at whats familiar to me.

Regardless, these are only my theories. I’m going with what I know. You should do the same.

So, what do you guys think?

I agree with Ronald,  the story wasn’t perfect but I think it was partially due to the “too anime” English translation and the lack of clarification in cutscenes (You’d have to read the Datalog).

Even after reading the Datalog and the strategy guide’s Story recap/Speculation I have a lot of questions. Mainly, Why?  Why does the Maker depart the world and shape Cocoon, Pulse,  Fal’Cie and l’Cie only to ultimately destroy them? Why and with what power do Fang and Vanille save Cocoon? Are all citizens alive after Cocoon got surrounded by flames? Why did the cavalry think they would stop the Pulse monsters from invading Eden by destroying Orphan? Why did Fang turn into a mini-Ragnarok at the end? (Why weren’t there any mini-games in Nautilus?  ^^)

I agree the story wasn’t easy to understand but I think that’s the strongest part of the game.  There were some … Marlboro’s * who gave FFXIII’s story a 5, 6 or even 4 saying it was an ordinary or even bad RPG story. I don’t think so.  Similar to FFX, Final Fantasy XIII has a huge backstory behind it. The War of Transgression, the Analects, The Arks,… all of these things shape an interesting, yet mysterious world and I also think they leave enough space for a worthy sequel/prequel. (Not that FFX-2 wasn’t worthy J )

* People on blogs/GameFaqs or small sites who didn’t even bother to complete the game, giving it a 6/10 saying that the story sucks and that there aren’t “many things to do”.

If you consider the l’Cie and Fal’Cie lore to be only a fraction of Fabula Nova Crystallis, I think we can expect great things about the other FFXIII games. Yes, l’Cie are both in Versus and Agito.

— Nick

  1. #1 by Crystal on 20/04/2010 - 03:09

    Datalogs isn’t entirely a bad thing. It’d be really odd if Vanille or other characters keep explaining every single detail about the world that they live in. Some things are just meant to be read. That’s sad because most players do not bother to read the datalog. With that said, it is still feasible to grasp the plot/storyline if players paid attention to conversations during cutscenes.

    A XIII-2 would be great. Despite the amount of haters, I am sure that those who enjoyed XIII are really craving for a sequel. Many things can be done with a sequel. It’d be utterly sad if they just drop this game but please, don’t make it something like X-2. Personally, I find that game disastrous, I didn’t bother finishing it. Was too turned off, lol.

    • #2 by Ronald Taylor on 20/04/2010 - 03:33

      That’s just it though. Saying some things are “just meant to be read” is a very arbitrary statement. I enjoy reading. I’m reading a book right now! I don’t play games to read.

      I agree the Datalog is nice. Its great to have all that info at your fingertips. Its a very western feature of role-playing games and I’m glad SE picked up on it.

      You say it would be wierd if the cast kept explaining things, and it would. That brings us back to my criticism of the plot as a whole.

      Exposition does not (nor should it) be blatant. The worst thing a developer can do is make you feel like your in a history class. The lore should be written into the story.

      If you’ve played FFX, you know that early on Tidus asks lots of questions about the world. This doesn’t (or at least it shouldn’t) bother us as the player because, we know just as little about Spira as Tidus does. He’s asking the questions we more than likely want to know.

      The core problem is that FFXIII doesn’t give its plot time to breath, to develop. The developers were so focused on recreating not just the battles, but the pacing of Advent Children, they through the exposition out the window.

      Its been said that FFXIII was largely inspired by Uncharted; it supposed to provide a film like experience. Thats fine. Its okay that the developers wanted players to have a certain type of experience but its a design choice that comes at a cost:

      There so focused on us experiencing the game a certain way, the title loses it malleability. Its becomes unable to adopt to the different tastes of players at large.

      Don’t tell me you want to experience your game like a movie and them tell me I have to read the novel first so it’ll all make sense.

  2. #3 by Ed on 21/04/2010 - 03:05

    I was going to say something but after reading the comment of Taylor and with my lack of english I feel intimidated…

    • #4 by Nick on 21/04/2010 - 13:26

      English isn’t my native language either. You don’t have to be intimidated, your English is fine.

  3. #5 by searingscarlet on 28/04/2010 - 10:49

    As much I enjoyed XIII, I really don’t want to see a sequel personally on the basis that unplanned sequels rarely makes a series better. What were used to close plot holes tend to rip a few new ones in, while creating havoc on an otherwise well thought out story.

    Then again, I can’t say I’m a screaming fan of the ending of XIII. Pity as I loved rest of the game.

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