I had an initial post on this game a while back, but now that I’ve gotten much farther along, I felt that an update was necessary – I’ve carried over a bit of info from the last post, so you don’t really need to read both.
First, I’m going to go through my laundry list of issues, and then I’ll get to the positives.
First off, the characters’ faces look like plastic dolls incapable of showing emotion. The characters can simply move their limbs but struggle whenever their mouths or any type of facial movement are involved. Of course, their physical movement itself looks very unnatural most of the time, with completely static hair, robotic limbs, and non-existent lip-syncing.
The game looks good sometimes, but the vast quality difference between the CG cutscenes and in-engine visuals is off-putting. The CG cutscenes look very good, as expected from Square Enix. Unfortunately, they don’t mesh well with the general visual quality. Along with this, the background art sometimes clashes with the character models, such as in Guadosaramu (I think that’s what it was called). As pretty and colorful as it is, the area art appears very much drawn/painted, and it lacks depth and 3D presence.
I’d imagine that the game looks a lot worse on PS3 though – even on Vita, besides great colors and decent effects, the game isn’t that special visually. It basically looks like an upscaled PS2 game.
Random encounters. I hate random encounters, and they irritate me to no end in this game. What better way to signal an unimportant battle than with the sudden sound of shattering glass every time. I understand why random encounters are used, as most games probably can’t handle full-scale battles on the main map, but this is just headache-inducing. The best middle ground would probably be what Persona 3/4 and Final Fantasy XIII-2 have – interacting with enemies in the main map in order to enter combat, rather than simply being tossed into it at the obnoxious toll of breaking glass.
You can’t skip cutscenes. You can’t skip cutscenes. Once I got the English version, I was going to put the Japanese one on hold and work my way up through in English, but whenever I wanted to skip a cutscene I had already seen and understood, I couldn’t. So I quickly ejected that and resumed my Japanese playthrough. With how long some cutscenes are, and since you can’t even speed through the voiced dialogue, replaying this game would merely feel like a hassle.
The game is extremely linear. I have not noticed any points where I can take a branching path or work on side missions, and I believe I am approaching the end of the story. After the first Blitzball game, you can return to play more, but I’m not too interested in doing something that irrelevant while busy with slaughtering enemies. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by other games, or maybe I’m just missing something, but it seems that there is a substantial issue here.
For some reasons, loading times seem unreasonably long and frequent (not Sonic ’06 frequent, but still pretty bad). According to some who have played both the HD remake and the original PS2 version of the game, the PS2 version had the faster load times. That seems a bit backwards.
I still really like the battle system. In particular, being able to switch party members effortlessly during battle is a great feature. On the other hand, I don’t like how a fainted character is basically just a lump in the way of everything until you revive them. Everything is also built towards making nearly every battle a chore. You can rarely get by with simply the basic attack ad infinitum. However, since save points are fairly frequent, screw-ups aren’t relentlessly punished.
I’m not positive about how much of the story I have left, but I believe I’m approaching the end. It hasn’t been anything that interesting, but I’d say it’s at least average. The focus on story progression works for me, but a lack of side material is a bit annoying.
I’m currently replaying Final Fantasy XII (the International Zodiac Job System version) on my PS2, and that game is much better in most ways. I’d love for FFXII to get an HD remake for the Vita/PS3/PS4, as it will benefit even more from improved visuals and a strengthened game engine to allow spell havoc all over the place.
Recommendation – If you already played the game on PS2, I don’t think you should really bother unless you are very keen on revisiting the story via PS3 or Vita. If you haven’t played the game, I would recommend trying it. I listed a lot of complaints here, but it has been enjoyable for the most part.
tl;dr I don’t like Big Bang Theory, but this would make it worthwhile.
Okay, maybe not.