Final Fantasy XIII-2, Star Wars, and a Lack of Vision

My excellent friend, former coworker, and former roommate Gamasutra Christian Nutt wrote this phenomenal article about the Final Fantasy XIII series. He compares the criticism of XIII and XIII-2 to Harry Plinkett’s criticism of the Star Wars prequels. It’s seriously one of the best videogame articles I’ve read in months and I strongly urge you to check it out. Here’s a taste:

The Star Wars prequels are full of things we recognize from the original trilogy, but divorced from any dramatic intent. For example, Plinkett astutely points out that light sabers are incredibly overused in the newer films, so much so that fights lose their uniqueness and tension — the constant battles becoming simple, garish light shows. Moments from the original trilogy are deliberately referred to, but without any parallel in meaning, just in form.

So, too, is Final Fantasy XIII filled with Final Fantasy Stuff — most notably and stupidly, crystals — and it’s clear that all of that junk is there because the developers assume that it has to be there, not because it enriches the world or the game’s play experience.

“The new films just borrow and recycle from the original ideas, as if there’s no way to create anything new,” says Plinkett. And that’s what hamstrings Final Fantasy XIII, too.

Again, this is an outstanding article and you should read it when you have a chance. Keep in mind that I’m saying this as someone that likes FFXIII and the Star Wars prequels a little bit more than most people. While I don’t agree with all of Christian’s criticisms — or at least the degree of which they’re issues — I was just floored by the thoughtful and intelligent writing. After you’ve digested the article, please let me know what you thought of it.


Author: RPadTV


  • I probably shouldn't have read that before popping the disc in for myself. While I picked it up yesterday, I ended up playing a bunch of NHL 12 and SoulCalibur V instead last night. So I can't comment on what FFXIII-2 does as of yet.

    I can see the parallels that Christian is trying to make, and in some cases, they make sense. FFXIII is pretty poorly conceived from a story perspective. I certainly am no fan of the battle system either, and my impression as I've seen the announcements of the changes to the battle system shown off leading up to the release have been akin to "That looks like it's just putting a band-aid on a pretty sizable flesh wound." Again though, I haven't had a chance to play it yet and see how it actually feels compared to the original.

    With regards to Star Wars, I tend to be a bigger fan of Episodes I-III than a lot of people I know, and have more anger directed at Lucas for changing key elements of Episodes IV-VI than most anything in the prequels….except possibly the whole Jar-Jar fiasco (horribly forcing the humor makes it a lot less funny) They're meant to be somewhat pulpy. Expecting masterpiece theater when it's not supposed to be there is the first mistake a jaded fanbase can make.

    I wouldn't say the prequels "didn't make sense," because I "got" it. There's this fantastic moment in Episode III where Anakin's fall to the dark side actually happens. It's not when he chops off Mace Windu's hand and betrays the Jedi, it's actually right before that when he says "I need him." At that moment he's putting his own needs above that of the Jedi Order, and everything else he believes in. His fear is now ruling him. Everything that happens after that is showing how far down in his fall he's willing to go for his own selfish fears.

    But the love story just wasn't well conceived or believable. There's something far more real about the way Han & Leia fall in love, fighting like rancors the whole way because they're both passionate people. By comparison, I'm fairly certain that my wife would leave me if I slaughtered an entire village of Sand People.

  • Smartguy

    I think the comparison is poor by both parties in the article. Star Wars' "vision" was already apparent in episodes 4-6. My only 2 complaints about the prequels were of course JarJar and the love story dialogue in Episode 2. The rest was fine and what I expected. There weren't many twists Lucas could have put in. Granted I had some crazy ideas like "I bet Obi Wan is a clone since R2D2 didn't notice him in Ep.4!" but alas no. That didn't make them bad though.

    FF on the other hand can be criticized for lack of vision for being a marginal improvement or obvious cash grab as the author puts it. There is no other mythology for it to tie into necessarily.

    The big problem with FF is that Square Enix tries to push out some blockbuster production and unfortunately the dev cycle is too long and expensive. They focus way too much on visuals lately instead of the battle system and characters which in my opinion are the core of a JRPG. It doesn't help that their latest iterations have featured leading ladyboys. A western audience is less tolerant of that. I couldn't bring myself to play 12 for that reason.

  • Can't believe both of you weren't bothered enough by "midichlorians" to mention it. That was a big WTF for me.

    • I blocked that midichlorian shit out, dude.

    • Smartguy

      Each episode had that one thing that made you cringe I agree. In Episode 3 it was Yoda giving cameo credit with "Goodbye…..Chewbacca"

  • bsukenyan

    I felt they were just conveniently there as a metric of proof that Anakin was the chosen one from the prophecy. JarJar was more of a problem throughout the movies for me, as was the flashy action scenes that felt too over the top compared to the original trilogy. It's not so much that I don't like action scenes, but the section in the article about the overuse of lightsabers sums up my thoughts fairly well. Other than stiff dialogue, some forced plot points, and JarJar I enjoyed the prequel trilogy a lot. If the sequel trilogy were to be made though I would expect more subtlety, character development, and story than before. Somehow I feel none of that will happen at all though.

    • tokz21

      How can u say the lightsaber battles are overused. This is supposed to be the height and fall of the Jedi. Do u expect to see no lightsaber battles? There are thousands ( just an estimation) in the Jedi order, they are leading the republic armies and are basically used for black op missions too. If they only had 1 lightsaber battle in the beginning and another close to the end; I think you would've been disappointed and be like wtf? Jedi's are supposed to be badasses why are there so little battles shown etc etc.

  • Lunias

    Oh man, I can see it now…

    "Qwi-Gon, what's Anakin's midi-chlorian count?"
    "It's… it's… IT'S OVER 9000!"
    "What?! Really?!?!"
    "Yeah, it's like, 3 times more than that!"
    "NO WAY!"
    "We gotta take this kid back to council with us!"
    "But isn't starting at an older age supposed to be bad?"
    "Who cares? I'm sure nothing bad will happen!"

    And then everybody dies.

    • Lunias

      PS: According to the "official" list, Chewbacca's midichlorian count is high enough for him to be considered for Jedi training.

      • That's my favorite factoid of 2012 so far. Thanks for that!

      • Lunias

        You're welcome! Maybe I'll make that a "thing". Call it "Factoid of the Week" or something. Could be interesting…

      • Lunias

        Besides, who could resist the thought of Wookie Jedi after that? The image that conjures up is pretty funny! Imagine, Chewie wearing a Jedi cloak, wielding a lightsaber and with his hair tied ba-

        On second thought, that's kinda odd. What's under all the hair, anyway? Does he have hypertrichosis or something?

      • I've played a Wookie Jedi in the RCR rules for the Star Wars tabletop game. You get to keep your Wookie Rage. It is teh awesome.

      • Lunias

        …Really? Huh. I've never heard of Wookie Jedi, and I read pretty much every book spanning from when Obi-Wan started Jedi training to the third prequel movie.