My Final Fantasy XIII thoughts... this isnt a review because I'm not quite done yet.
I've been playing this game since release and I'm finally up to Pulse. Yes, I dont get a lot of time to play.
What amazes me is how much fun I've had so far and this is supposed to be the part where things get GOOD. Apparently everything I've been through so far has been complete shit. I have to say this is not the case, this has been one of the most enjoyable FF's for me (I've played all of them).
For one thing I like the datalog and I like that when you load the game it explains where you are and what you're doing (perfect for me since I have to take long breaks between sessions). I actually KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON in a FF game... in the first playthrough!
The simple dungeon layout complaints are a complete mystery to me. Yes they started out simple but they did get more complex eventually. They never turned into a goddamn MAZE or anything but I felt they were varied enough. I've had to poke around more than a few times for treasure chests that werent obvious. The last FF's I played through before this was FF7 (for the 3rd time) and X. XIII is no less complex dungeon-wise than those games. The last game I remember playing with truly confusing dungeons is probably Dragon Quest V and that was even pretty mild compared to old-school shit like Ultima IV where there are false walls through 99% of the game that are clearly marked then on the last dungeon it decides not to mark them anymore.
I mean I've played shit like Bard's Tale, Wizardry and Might & Magic, kids. Now let me bold this: ANY FF game looks like baby's first RPG if you are just looking at the dungeon "complexity". Complaining about lack of complexity in FF dungeons is like complaining about the levelling scheme in Oblivion. You're missing the point, you're wanting the game to be something different, hell you're wanting it to be a different SERIES altogether.
One thing that sticks out for me is that in FF VII the environmental decisions you make can change the environment so that you actually miss chests. XIII's is very straightforward in that sense, I dont think it's possible to miss a chest unless you merely overlook it. XIII certainly could have used some more "puzzles" but I didnt miss them THAT much.
The combat started out simple the way it does with every FF game. It has a more gradual ramp-up of abilities and complexity than most of the FF's, if not all (although I'd compare it to XII). I never thought "OH MY GOD THIS IS SO BORING PRESSING X X X X ". If that were the case I'd never have gotten more than 3 hours into ANY FF.
Each increment of the combat system was exciting. Every combination of characters it threw at me provided new ways to play with the paradigms. Now that I have full control over party mekeup after so long it's like... WOW! It has a totally different impact than if it just dropped all this shit on me at once. Maybe it's a little TOO gradual for some people but eh, it felt good to me.
One more thing while I'm blathering on and on... the NO TOWNS bullshit. What the fuck? There have been TWO towns so far and one has been pretty huge. There's also been environments with no monsters and only NPC's, maybe they're not towns in the traditional sense, but it hasnt been dungeon after dungeon after dungeon. I've talked with a ton of NPC's so far. I admit this is not a lot of towns in a traditional sense but all the complaints and reviews specifically said there were NO towns in this game. It's a flat out lie. The only thing I havent done is poke around in people's bedrooms for shitty items and you know what? I'm not missing it THAT much and wouldnt it have felt a tad out of place to have something so anachronistic in this game? I'm sure the next Dragon Quest game will have plenty of it and it will feel more natural there.