Editor’s note: Ryan Smith is a longtime gamer and freelance writer who lives in Raleigh, NC. A graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in business and marketing, he has written in the past for WRAL Tech Wire and GameArgus.com. He currently plays Xbox 360 and PC as well as Nintendo DS. For story ideas, tips and feedback, he can be reached via e-mail (ryannicksmith@gmail.com)

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Final Fantasy XIII came out in March 2010 and I still haven’t beaten it. I remember being excited about the game originally because I read some articles that stated it was a “westernized” and “non-linear” role playing game coming out of Japan and the fact that it is a Final Fantasy, a series of which I am a huge fan. It happens to be the world’s top-selling RPG.

However once I finally got my hands on it, the first experience, although very pretty, was extremely boring. Your only battle commands available are “attack” and “potion” for the first couple hours of gameplay, not to mention the fact you can only control one character in battle. That wouldn’t be a big deal if there were other things to do, or even an immersive story, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

The only thing to do is fight continuously towards a goal that made very little sense and doing it with characters I could barely stand, all this coming from someone who adores Final Fantasy 1-10.

Maybe it is because I was misinformed about how it was a nonlinear game, or that it would feature western RPG staples such as immersive character development or highly involved story, that I found it so tedious. But, even if I was expecting a normal Final Fantasy formula, they have never been so linear.

Final Fantasy X has a very similar style to FFXIII and set the new standard in Final Fantasies of not being able to get an air ship or world map until the last part of the game, but during the game you can at least visit towns, talk to NPC’s and even explore the areas a bit. Not to mention the characters, plenty of people disliked the main character Tidus, but I felt he wasn’t that bad and I enjoyed the voice acting and the rest of the cast. FFXIII doesn’t really feature a main character as it forces you to constantly shift between characters, all of which I found annoying at least to some degree.

Eventually I got used to the innovated combat system in FFXIII and was able to put 30-40 hours in before I finally got burnt out on the battle system and complete lack of emotion I got from the story. I still plan on going back to finish it, as I am towards the end and at least want to see how things wrap up. What I will say for the game is this:

It is visually stunning.

The battle system, once you get used to it, is fairly entertaining and overall with that many hours invested maybe the ending will make me feel more strongly about the game.

However Final Fantasy developer Square-Enix has been hard at work developing a sequel, that’s right it is FFXIII-2. The two in my opinion weakest games in the series, X and XIII, have been the ones to get sequels (FFX got FFX-2, a game I liked about 5 percent as much as it’s prequel). Recently FFXIII-2 has been boosted with two new trailers that feature a couple new characters and the return of a few as well.

Watch the Promise Trailer.

Watch the Despair Trailer.

Overall it looks like more of the same, with some combat system improvements. The levels and scenery are breathtaking once again and the characters are visually stunning, despite their sometimes silly outfits. As far as story goes, it looks just as inane as FFXIII was, but I was laughing when I saw they incorporated time travel, if FFXIII made little sense, adding in the complexity of time travel and paradoxes is just plain silly. I will still probably play FFXIII-2, but it will be with a lot less expectation than I had for FFXIII.

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