***NOTE: This was an email to my friends that I just copied and pasted to the blog so you might be confused at parts***
So now that I've sunk about 8 or so hours into this game I can pretty much give you guys the general idea of how I feel.
I love it.
The first 2 hours were strange to me because it was VERY linear, mainly because the first area is on a train track (yuck yuck). In those 2 hours it's just a bunch of hack and slash with basic attacks. I won't get into all the details about that but I will say that it will seem pretty repetitive those 2 hours because you have very limited attacks. But they do switch you around and have you play with different characters in different places. See, this is why I think they chose to go linear with this one and it's because of the story. Characters go off and do their own thing from time to time and so you end up taking control of them in different places but during the same time frame. So while Lightening and someone else are kicking ass in one area you eventually switch over to what another character is doing elsewhere and follow their part of the story. I don't want to give much away obviously but once you get used to it, it works. Plus it forces you to play as other characters which I think is pretty damn cool. It's always switching up. Once I get comfortable using Lightening I switch to another part of the story and have to control another character that I'm not used to. This throws you off a bit at first because now you have to figure out a whole new strategy in battle. It really keeps you on your toes and I dig that.
The story, so far, is fucking great. It has held my attention the entire time. Early reviews stated that it was more movie than game. I think that's probably because while there are a lot of cut scenes, they aren't particularly long. It will go battle, scene, battle, scene like that but most of them are just quick bits of story which fit in well with the flow I think. This isn't Metal Gear Solid with 40 minutes cut scenes, though every once in awhile they do have some long ones but that is expected.
And you can't enjoy the story without good voice acting and this game delivers. Everybody does an amazing job, even a lot of the supporting cast. Yes it can get melodramatic, this is a JRPG after all, but we're used to that from these games by now. Vanille is the bubbly, high voiced girl that will annoy most but at this point if you've heard Yuffie and Rikku speak in past games so you are used to this kind of character by now.
And now the battle system. Boy oh boy. Once you get passed those 2 hours or so is when shit starts opening up. As you've read about paradigms in the reviews they are extremely important and things can get pretty fucking hectic while fighting. As the only one who has played both FF X and X-2 it reminds me of a cross between those. Maybe even more so just X-2 by switching your "classes" mid battle. So while the game starts out slow it is slowly easing you into what will eventually become some awesome battles mechanics. As the game goes on you still learn even MORE shit. It just keeps on going! At 8 hours I THINK I've been taught everything by now but I can't be certain. Heh. It sucks that you can only control one character during battle but because of the paradigms it's almost like you're changing characters anyway. Oh I'm a Commando! Now I'm a Medic! Now I'm a Ravenger! Etc...
Bottom line, battle fucking rocks once it gets into the meat of it. I thought it was a bit easy at first (even after the 2 hours mark) but last night I had several fights that were driving me nuts. The beauty of playing a game like this when it first comes out is that there are no walkthroughs online. When I get frustrated with a boss or something I sometimes cave and look it up online. I don't have that option now and it's great. It really forces me to strategize and figure this out on my own.
As a hardcore Final Fantasy nut one might think I am more bias towards it since I love the franchise so much but to be honest this should have been the game that upset me. No open world? No mana? No switching characters in battle? No forming my own party? Are you cereal?! Those are some of my favorite aspects of those games! But I trusted the designers and figured whatever they threw my way would be awesome. And it is!
I'm hoping that once enough of the internet fanboys calm the fuck down and actually play they will realize that while it is different it's still a great game. But then again, internet/gaming fanboys are the some of the most hardheaded morons in world. lol
Welp, hope this helps!!