OK, it’s “how the sausage is made”/dirty little secret time here on GameWit. I’ve got a confession to make: I didn’t finish “Final Fantasy XIII” before reviewing it.

Now before you get out your pitchforks, torches, tar and feathers and, erm, rail, hear me out. I almost finished “Final Fantasy XIII.” I ground through the game’s 13 chapters, but I got tripped up by the final boss. After smashing my head against the wall four or five times and going down in spectacular defeat, I decided that what I really need to do was backtrack and spend three or four hours leveling up my characters and upgrading their weapons and accessories. The problem? I had a deadline to meet and a review to write.

So I wrote my review on a Wednesday morning and finished the game that Friday. When I wrote my review, I was pretty confident “Final Fantasy XIII’s” endgame boss and closing cinematic weren’t going to radically alter the impressions of the game I’d built up by the more than 50 hours I spent playing it, and I was right. But in reviewing the game unfinished, I deviated from my general practice of seeing the end credits to their completion before posting my review. (And let’s be realistic about this. I’d be run out of town on the aforementioned rail for discussing an end boss or closing cinematic in a review, anyway.)

But my failing to finish “FFXIII” in time stuck with me, and got me thinking about what a jarring disconnect the game’s final boss was from nearly all of what came before it. For the most part, “Final Fantasy XIII,” with its lack of exploration, helpful maps and waypoints, and automatic generation of battle commands, goes out of its way to welcome n00bs to the series. With the exception of the freewheelin’ “Final Fantasy” throwback that is Chapter 11, I didn’t once wander into a fight woefully underprepared, like I did in previous “Final Fantasy” games. Consequently, I didn’t find myself once thinking, “I need to go run around in that field out there for an hour, fight off some beasts and level up before I tackle that boss.” At least, I didn’t think that until the game’s final fight.

It doesn’t seem right that a game generally free of grinding should encourage it sometime around its 50th hour. That’s not to say I’m some weakling gamer who doesn’t like challenge, or wants everything handed to me on a platter. I love a good, old-fashioned grind. Just don’t throw it at me after 50 hours of gameplay when you can easily save it for those postgame, nonessential missions in Gran Pulse.

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  1. Miles Greb

    If you don’t know the end of the narrative, you can’t accurately comment on it. So you can’t review the game – an RPG’s story is central to the quality of the game. You can not separate it as much as you could in a FPS or Hack n slash.
    Also, your comments about when you should grind are odd. In most RPG’s you can mange threw the boss fights without spendings much or any time grinding. But at the end, you need to start collecting the best weps, and getting XP.

    May 11th, 2010 8:39 am

  2. GameWit

    I don’t know, if after finishing the game, I looked at my review and said, “I don’t want to change anything,” I think it’s safe to say my review was accurate. That said, I mostly agree with you about finishing games before reviewing them. In the case of Final Fantasy XIII, I knew what I wanted to criticize by, oh, Chapter 12 or so. At that point in the game, I’d already played through the opened up Chapter 11, and knew I wanted to talk about the decision to make the game linear and control the narrative, as well as being frustrated that the battle system’s design didn’t encourage freewheeling and exploration. A couple of short battles and a 10-minute endgame movie weren’t going to shake up the review.

    As for my criticism of the endgame boss, I stand by my comments. The last level/boss in a game shouldn’t require something the rest of the game doesn’t. It was silly when they made the last level of “Halo: Combat Evolved” a timed driving level, and it was silly when, 50+ hours into “Final Fantasy XIII,” I found myself grind-leveling my character for the first time.

    May 11th, 2010 1:05 pm

  3. therry

    I finished the game several times now without grinding, and each time once the crystarium lvled up I had stacked enough cp to get prob half way through the next stages. Till about the 8-9th

    In my opinion grinding does not belong in a fantasygame, nor do I believe that any gamecreator intends you to do so (mmoworlds not included) it belongs in the past where studios didnt pay much attention to the continuity of their work.

    Ff13 has a nice pase, Several years before everyone 1 know that played the series had complaints about the FF series was that it was to slow, now they changed that.

    Not many final fantasy games had an open field… sure there was a world screen (FF 1-9) but they always followed a set order with only a few small sidemissions

    For the 3 end battles.. My weapons were lvl 1 tier prob around half way upgraded. Lightning had 3 +str items which i bought. Sasz had 3+magic items, hope too.. i started with a synergist and 2 medics and switched between diversity, relentless and tridisaster. Used dispelga to clear the field of buffs once the enemy had some.. the last one took me a few times because i didnt have any deathward items with me.. it was a rather intense fight, but less complex then some of the previous bosses. So i really dont get it.

    May 27th, 2014 12:45 pm

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