So I got Final Fantasy XIII, much to my surprise (was a surprise gift). Have been playing for about an hour or so, so beware that this is just an initial first first impression (more like a hands-on).
In-game visuals isn't as impressive as all the hype has led me to believe. The characters are pretty darn poor, in design and their personality. The voice acting ranges from mediocre to downright cringe worthy. Gameplay wise, can't say I enjoy the separate battle screen but at least it isn't as bad as I thought it would be. It still ain't Final Fantasy XII though. Basically I can only control one party member (others are on auto, Persona 3-like) and so far all I do is press X for attack and occasionally on potions duty. I loved Persona 3, so this isn't a bad thing. It has been an easy first hour though (HP automatically refilled after every battle), such is Square Enix's desire to making it easier for the lowest common denominator.
Rather surprisingly Lightning has been the most likeable character in the game, in terms of her voice acting and character design. The rest are just so... well, unlikeable. Obviously with only one hour under my belt, I am sure that each character's back story will be examined (well, at least I hope so). I just wish their design weren't so... crappy. Sazh is one annoying guy who follows Lightning around, likely to be included as comic relief (he has a Chocobo pet). There's another typical Tetsuya Nomura playable character (called Snow - puke!) and is supported by a Blanka-like monkey, a girl who only wears underpants and is followed by a Jax-like (Naughty God) character (design wise anyway as he is a total coward). Square Enix better make Nomura take a break after this. Perhaps even swallow their pride and throw big money at Yasumi Matsuno whilst taking an ad on a big national paper apologising to the way they treated him.
I was initially reluctant to take much note the complaints regarding linearity. After all there has been plenty of A+ games in the past (Uncharted 2, God of War series, Mirror's Edge) that are linear including Final Fantasy ones. But it has just been a straight line - literally! I do hope things improve quickly, but various online reviews do indicate that I would need to play through about 20 hours of shit before hitting the good stuff. Fingers crossed they are right as I would be mighty pissed.
At any rate, after this unexpected procurement, I'll have to put on hold my plans for God of War III. Killing Zeus and sexing up Aphrodite will just have to wait for next month whilst I see what the fuss the first title in the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII world is all about.