With the release now only weeks away, reviews of Final Fantasy XIII are trickling onto the net but it looks like us westerners aren’t as mouth-foamingly hyped for the game as our Japanese counterparts. Gaming mag GamesMaster scored a decent 81% whereas PSM3 felt 70% was more appropriate. The Official PlayStation Magazine trumped them both giving it 9/10 and were suitably pleased with all it had to offer. Yoshinor Kitase produced the game and had a few words to say about the varied scores:
“We try not to listen to the critics too much. Most of the criticisms have come because the first half of the game is very linear. But we’ve got a story to tell, and it’s important the player can engage with the characters and the world they inhabit before letting them loose…” he said to Xbox World 360.
Linearity in a game is not always a bad thing if it’s used properly. Director Motomu Toriyama supported Kitase’s comments saying: “We think many reviewers are looking at Final Fantasy XIII from a western point of view. When you look at most Western RPGs, they just dump you in a big open world [ooh bitchy!], and let you do whatever you like… [It] becomes very difficult to tell a compelling story when you’re given that much freedom.”
Um really? I’m sure BioWare would have a few things to say about such a generalising comment. Both Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age were driven by a deep and compelling story and allowed the gamer to approach the situation however they saw fit. I’ve had numerous conversations with a friend about how our experiences with ME2 differed dramatically yet resulted in a similar conclusion. In fact, the last Final Fantasy XIII trailer on Xbox Live actually dampened my excitement for the game as the anime cliches and over-acting became all the more apparent after spending so much time with BioWare’s way of story telling. It begs the question of whether Japanese RPGs have become a parody of themselves after all these years.