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View Full Version : Review: Fabula Nova Crystallis - Final Fantasy XIII Trilogy



Sephiroth
08-29-2014, 11:03 PM
Fabula Nova Crystallis
Final Fantasy XIII Saga


http://www11.pic-upload.de/29.08.14/4s1wk38xblvw.jpg


Story (Spoiler Alert):


0.
Final Fantasy XIII Episode Zero starts with a very sweet, not really complicated story thatt introduces the characters in a more human way. Lightning, concerned about Snow and Serah's relationship and how she feels about it, is explained, how both sisters lost their mother six years before and therefore how the main protagonist, Eclair/Claire, had to become stroner for both her sister and herself.
Thus Lightning was born.
The novel is a longer and if you ask me nicer version of the flashbacks in Final Fantasy XIII. And even more than that. It goes more indepth story- and character-wise, nice little moments about Snow and Serah buying Lightning's birthday knife after laughing about how she would probably look like sleeping with plush Carbuncle in her hands instead. The two necklaces being bought for the proposal by Snow are a part of that.
We get to know more about Sazh and how he and Dahj met Jihl, how Cid confronted Lightning for the first time and we also get to know more about Serah's view after she accidentally entered the Pulseian thing Fal'Cie=Anima lives in. The relationship between Hope and his motheralso is brought to a nice level that makes you feel even more sorry for both of them, probably.
And that is just a bit of what it is about.

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I.
As Lightning wants to save her sister she decides to join the purge, a program initiated by the government to „transport“ certain people to Pulse, the world below the artificially made planet Cocoon where they live on. As Pulse, Terra Incognita, is nothing but a wild planet anymore the purge means nothing but death. From nothing but the „knowledge“ people got as far as the Fal'Cie, bionic creatures with certain powers they helped everyone with to actually just let them live an illusionary live as their „pets“, Pulse was known pretty much as hell. Despite it being dangerous for people with all those monsters around, no one actually what Pulse really was like and how certain civilizations from Pulse probably were not as bad as said „just because they camer from Pulse“.
Lightning simply crashes the Purge with Sazh joining her and the two of them as well as Snow try to reach Serah. One of the consequences of them opposing the goverment is Hope's mother, Nora, dying with the young Hope growing a deep grudge for Snow who is to be blamed for that in his eyes. With the intention to follow him and confront Snow, he goes with Vanille, who is later revealed as a Pulseian and the three groups/solo teams eventually find Serah who falls into crystal stasis. Right before she tells them to save Cocoon which is reason enough for Snow to try and fulfill her last will. Altogether they are also turned into L'Cie, beings chosen Fal'Cie such as Serah was a L'Cie and exactly as her they together pondered what their reason for being chosen actually was.
Trying to find out what their Focus, the task given by the Fal'Cie is, the group eventually splits up to reunite later again, settle their own things like Hope finally confronting and forgiving Snow as well as forgiving his own father, Snow and Lightning trying everything to somehow save Serah, them realizing how their connection to the Fal'Cie was all the time and that they were nothing but pets from the very beginning they changed their minds of fulfilling their Focus to opposing the one responsible for all that until they eventually stood before Barthandelus, a Fal'Cie and leader of Cocoon's Sanctum government.
A long way is gone from Cocoon and even Pulse which is found out to not be as they all thought as well as the role of Vanille and her best friend Fang in the past who also joined them but eventually, after being used again and again by Barthandelus, they ultimately face him to just experience their existence as L'Cie and everything they did was exactly what he wanted as he longed for something he could not achieve on his own. During the battle with him and his fusion of Orphan, the source of Cocoon they suceed in surpassing him and Cocoon's fall is stopped by the united power of Vanille and Fang.

http://www11.pic-upload.de/29.08.14/va5jdyvbwof.jpg

II.
Most of the Cocoonians travel down to Cocoon and the heroes are united, also with Serah and Sazh's son, Dahj. Vanille and Fang stay in crystal stasis inside of Cocoon.
A distortion of time rewrites the past events with Lightning and the others so Lghtning falls into a rift and is chosen to be Etro's champion. Serah with the powers of a seeress is the only one who remembers what happened after the fall of Cocoon and knows something is wrong. The others cannot remember but Snow believes her so he leaves her for a while and seeks for a Fal'Cie to become a L'Cie again and travels through time to find Lightning.
Meanwhile in Walhalla the Unseen World and Beyond for the Dead Lightning fights Caius, a former L'Cie who is the cause of all this mess. As guardian of the seeress Yeul he grew feelings for her. The soul of Yeul is born anew as a new Seeress Yeul, never being the same person with the same consciousness but nevertheless always a girl with a great affection for her guardian Caius. As fated as their bond, is tragic their story together is, as Caius, immortal through his guardian power and Etro's heart inside of him, is destined to witness her death everytime. He wishes nothing but to end the dying of Yeul and his own suffering from watching it over and over again and challenges Noel, the last living person in a future dying world to finally kill him. Noel who was good friends with Caius and the last incarnation of Yeul who also also had romantic feelings for him instead of Caius as well as Noel has for her, does not want to accept Caius challenge to kill him and become the next guardian so Caius forces Serah and Noel to fight him by messing with time through the paradoxes and after fighting Lightning in Walhalla. As Caius reveals his plan is actually just the salvation of Yeul's soul and his own and wants to achieve that through his own „death“ by killing Etro inside of his heart he fights Serah and Noel for one last time and forces Noel to „kill“ him, causing Etro's death and destroying the very fabric of time which ripped the rift between the living and dying world wider open through a greater amount of souls at once streaming trough and the world fused with Walhalla to one world in which time did not flow, the souls are doomed and every live suffer from stagnation, causing them to not age, really grow or die from high age.
This is the very essence of the world Nova Crysalia.
Serah with her last vision seen, „dies“ just as the Yeuls did all the time. She is not really dead like other though and leaves a message inside of a fragment in which she says she is in a dark place and does not know what exactly it is.
Lightning, with the intention to save Serah's soul, put herself into crystal stasis and with Caius still existing through the Yeul paradox of one soul in many incarnations having different feelings has finally achieved what he wanted.
500 years pass.

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III.
Lightning wakes up 500 years later after Caius destroyed time and is chosen by Bhunivelze, the creator god of Light who is claimed to be „omnipotent“ and „omniscient“, to be his Salvator of souls. Bhunivelze plans to recreate life in 2 weeks so she is destined to act as his herald and save the souls. Meanwhile Lightning more and more distanced from her being as human ascends to a form similiar to divinity. Nontheless the very reason for her to do all this is her main reason to live: The life of her sister Serah. With Serah dying or whatever state she was in in the end so her soul wondered about where she actually was herself, Lightning fulfills her duty as salvator. Once she meets Caius again his existence bound to the Yeul paradox is revealed as well as Yeul's paradox causing the Chaos that engulfes souls. As a matter of fact he is shown pretty tragic again. Lumina who is revealed to be a self-aware, personified part of Lightnings heart that she locked away for such a long time tries to warn Lightning from Bhunivelze. Exactly like the others who just used them, he just fools Lightning, even transcends into Hope and uses him as a puppet. As a matter of fact he wants to destroy the entire existence of conscious individuals by just reincarnating cleansed souls that are not tainted so he can transcend into their bodies which is not only equal to the destruction of individual people who are allowed to make their own mistakes but also the destruction of the consciousness and existence of people itself as they would only function as vessels and marionettes for what is perfect in his eyes. Lightning choses to confront him and when she finally accepts her whole being, she is reunited with Lumina again. She calls out for her friends and together they defeat Bhunivelze who was not almighty or omniscient at all. Caius and all Yeul incarnations except the one with feelings for Noel stay to guide the souls equal to the god of Death and the other Yeul together with Noel and the heroes witness the shattering of the crystal of the Fabula Nova Crystallis. The souls of the dead gather into a lifestream-like mass and floww together to a new world. Lightning and the others say goodbye to the companions they have gotten like their Espers and Mog and then join the lifestream.
Soon after Lightning in the new world exists a train and continues her journey to find her friends and Serah again.


Characters:

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The characters get much attention in this trilogy of Final Fantasy., Lightning as a main character is convincing in her reasonable role as pretty cold and careful woman that only laughs or smiles for people that really are important for her. She is the kind of character who does not care about what happens with herself or probably partly even other as long as she helps the one she wants to help. That makes her similiar to Caius, Nier from Nier Gestalt and Replicant or Joel from The Last of Us. It is necessary to point out here though that all of the last three can be at least somehow more destructive than Lightning herself as they really do not care about other people than Yeul, Yonah or Ellie while Lightning would not totally oppose everyone that easy and very well tries to help people like Snow as well. When it comes to the core of things she is very similiar to the others though as her main focus still is to to everything possible for the one she loves (or in Joel's case his new kind of daughter after he lost his biological one). The others also have enough screentime which makes Snow and Caius very likable to me. Snow really is a hero. He might anny many people just as Lightning or Hope or Vanille do but as much as Lightning thinks he is just talk and no action he really proves to have good heart and is as determined as her when it comes to love. Caius is one of those villains who is well written. You can sympathize with him because he is actually shown with human emotions and the motive that comes from them. His feelings or even love for Yeul are something he just cannot deal with anymore as he cannot both let her suffer and see her suffer which includes his own pain. Nevertheless, as much as he does not just want to destroy things, he is still evil as he does not care about what happens to people who did not do anything to the world when he succeeds, just as Shuyin's vengeful spirit, full of despair because of his loss of Lenne did not care about thousands of innocent people just going away because of what he planned.
Serah surely should have been more defined for me. She was locked down in two installments but she was a protagonist in one and had her role in the novel and appeared in flashbacks in XIII-1. You get to know her nice character and it is not like she does not have her defining moments but I personally cannot feel the same way about her than about Lightning or Snow though Lightning is the main character anyway so that is no wonder. Maybe it is just a feeling for me and others have no problem with that as Serah indeed is shown what she is like as character, but it just felt so normal and undefined to me – except of of what she was chosen for. Noel and Caius and the Yeul relationship was very sweet in my opinion.


Graphics:

http://www11.pic-upload.de/29.08.14/r4j5qjd4fkqb.jpg


The graphics are top notch, without any doubt, in our time. Square always convinces with the highest standards and Lightning has a face to fall in love with. The others look good as well, uhum.


Music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxSXm8qGjS8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDRaeJg7pz8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVciipYkkQs

I am a fan of Nobuo Uematsu of course but just as Masashi Hamauzu's tracks, I aso do not like every single theme he ever made. There are some chosen ones and some that are good or not interesting for me. Masashi Hamauzu very much convinces me as musician as well. The Main Theme „Promise“ with its different versions, „Blinded by Light“, „The Last Hunter“ and especially „Kimi ga iru kara“ gave me a beautiful accustic impression of Final Fantasy XIII.


Variety:


One of the great reasons to disappoint and it did not totally pass me by.


Final Fantasy XIII-1 is very restrictive. That is not necessarily bad as you can focus more on what is supposed to be more important but a bit more freedom and options are just something desired by many people, me as well. I do not think it is that bad, in fact the last time I started it anew the main points did not feel so great as a disadvantage to me but it is just very unfortunate. The main thing I would have done different: Use spawning or random battles. Do not let them block very linear paths. That just destroys the illusion of freedom even more. I also do not want to fight every enemy in my way. Star Ocean for example did this very good even with visible enemies.
Also the sidequests are just too much of one thing. Doing a chocobo thing or fighting enemies is okay, absolutely but why not doing a cave that is a sidequest itself like the Omega Ruins or actual gathering sidequests or anything. A few different things and everything is fine. Also the lack of living shops and really good ways to get Gil is not desirable. I do not want to fight turtles again and again. Also Final Fantasy is full of useless items but getting so much upgrading material made it seem very useless in a very special way to me, not that upgrading is no reason but many of them most of the time like not necessary at all.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 did it better but very much of it was just „find the box or treasure chest or person. Getting Gil was okay and Chocolina was a bit more okay than the save shops in my opinion.
Lightning Returns did it way better if you ask me. Sure many of it was also just „beat enemy x“ or „get me item x“ but many of them felt more unique. The problem about the sidequests is, that they are hardly optional as you have to do a great amount of them for thefinal battle and canonical ending. Still, it felt way better the way it was developed. It even got its bonus dungeon, though probably next time a real dungeon to explore is featured and not just ruins with teleporters to the next enemy.


Art/World/Atmosphere:


The whole world fits together in a very convincing way. Granted I am not a fan of so many mechanical or bionic creatures but those are things to be accepted fairly easy in my eyes. Beaufiful characters like Lightning or Serah, cool looking characters like Snow or Cid and beautiful areas like Sunleth and the emotional world of the characters leading me into this really living world together with very convincing music (though the metal music in XIII-2 was not really great for me) give me a great feeling about its atmosphere.


Battle:

The battle system is made to be very dynamic and full of action. I like that very much but I rather want my normal turn or Final Fantasy X-turn like battles and also be able to control the characters better and not just through Optima Shift or Serah/Noel getting KO'd.


Consistency:

Probably the greatest minus point for me. Final Fantasy XIII-1 is pretty consistent but with the second installment it gets very inconsistent. I know this is a fictional world but it does not matter. Even a fictional world cannot make causality paradoxes occur and trying to logically explain them works less because it will not happen. This is no cartoon were a piano is drawn out of someone's pants for no reason, this is an RPG which focuses on its story and that can't be. Paradoxes and Plotholes are ignored because it is fiction but if something cannot happen in the first place it should not be brought, especially not intentional. Also calling something a paradox that is not a paradox or explaining it when it is not possible will not really help the story. This is not Schrödinger's Cat. This is no co-existence of two opposing states in one relation causing a theoretical paradox because the true state is not perceived and rated by someone to know what is actually the case; those are meant to be actual paradoxes and they cannot be. Interestingly enough there still is a cart enemy in Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns with its paradox theme that is called „Schrödinger“ in Japanese. Also some explanations for the paradoxes would not even mean a paradox so this is something for me to look at with a great amount of tolerance and enjoying the rest of its beauty instead. It is also better to call most of thm just anomalies. That is more appropriate.


Conclusion:

I must admit, there are some flaws for me, many things that somehow in some way were disappointing or a bit disappointing for me. However, Final Fantasy is full of mistakes and things that are not really my thing and the overal, feeling I get from Final Fantasy XIII is „it is a Final Fantasy“ which makes it great in my eyes. There are other no-gos in stories or the overall presentation that are way more significant for me to call something bad. It also has the best ending of the entire franchise for me and has a well-deserved second rank in my list.

fat_moogle
08-30-2014, 02:31 AM
For me Fabula Nova Crystallis, as a concept, feels very confused.

First of all the "Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy XIII" was announced. That consisted of three games: Final Fantasy XIII, Versus XIII and Agito XIII. Three different games but based on the same mythos. Happy days!

But that didn't go to plan, did it? What once was "Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy XIII" dropped the XIII tag and just become Fabula Nova Crystallis. Square Enix felt Agito XIII didn't have enough in common with XIII apart from the mythos, which I thought was supposed to be the case anyway. That of course led to speculation about whether Versus XIII would distance itself from XIII...of course none of us expected XV.

Of course now we've had "The Lightning Saga" within the "Fabula Nova Crystallis". So what was to be three games now consists of:

Final Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy XIII-2
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy Type-0
Final Fantasy XV

In my opinion XV should have stayed Versus XIII, the same goes for Type-0 and Agito XIII because then they could have got away with being linked by l'Cie, fal'Cie, Etro etc. Now it just seems all too spread out, and XIII and XV will now both have l'Cie, Etro etc. I know most FF share the crystal theme, but two main numbered FF games with this much of a connection is weird.

Fabula Nova Crystallis definitely needs to die before FFXVI. This isn't to say I'm not looking forward to both Type-0 HD and XV! But we need a totally FRESH start.

Sephiroth
08-30-2014, 02:35 AM
In my opinion XV should have stayed Versus XIII, the same goes for Type-0 and Agito XIII because then they could have got away with being linked by l'Cie, fal'Cie, Etro etc. Now it just seems all too spread out, and XIII and XV will now both have l'Cie, Etro etc. I know most FF share the crystal theme, but two main numbered FF games with this much of a connection is weird.


Many Final Fantasys have a somehow explained connection. Not too long ago the one between Final Fantasy XIII and XV was also spoken about again. I have no problem with that. Especially when other Final Fantasy also already speak about other connections. Those things are no problem for me, I like these things, the things that I mentioned bother me more but even that is acceptable.

Karifean
08-31-2014, 02:52 AM
Nice review, and while I've only played the first two games in the series, I agree with most of your views. I actually really enjoyed the exploration in XIII-2 after how little was overall present in XIII.

I could never really empathize with the hate for Snow. I respect him for trying to be helpful and someone for others to rely on, even if it doesn't always work out. Overall I liked the cast of the games, even if I prefer the majority of other FF casts.

And really, the series is visually and acoustically beautiful. Just, beautiful.

Dat Matt
08-31-2014, 12:31 PM
I could never really empathize with the hate for Snow. I respect him for trying to be helpful and someone for others to rely on, even if it doesn't always work out.

Snow tries to be a bigshot, run in guns blazing asks questions later. At the same time he expects people to rely on him while doing it when it almost never works out for him. For me, I disliked him when he is confronted by Hope about Nora. His macho facade is entirely broken after that and he no longer sticks to his character when he is confronted about it. Only thing that redeems him is he protects Hope when the fall off the buidling, explaining that that is his character deep down.