First of all a disclaimer; I am one of those Final Fantasy fans that is also a vocal critic of Final Fantasy XIII.
How can you dislike a game but at the same time eagerly await its sequel?
The latest iteration of the Final Fantasy franchise was a singularly disappointing experience for me: being a decent game simply wasn't enough when you happen to be a mainline Final Fantasy, my expectation was sky high, and in this instance, not met. For all it's grandeur, Final Fantasy XIII simply did not invoke in me the same sense of awe and reverence that past iteration of the franchise once brought forth.
There are many reasons for this, but the one I'm focusing on today -the main culprit for me- is the lacklustre story and weak characterisation; a vital component in any RPG that simply failed to catch my interest this time around, and went so far as to caused me to actively dislike characters that I was meant to sympathise with. A deathblow!
But despite this antagonism, I feel that the game deserves, nay positively DEMANDS sequels and even prequels; because for all my lambasting of the games poorly conceived plot and horribly stilted dialogue that killed characterisation, I couldn't help but admire the huge amount of work that went into the world of Final Fantasy XIII.
All the background information, the mythology and lore, the stunning visuals of an entirely alien world; gorgeous scenery that seems to write their out story; all these amazing assets were barely explored much less interacted with because Final Fantasy XIII was such a on-rail experience. The world is just screaming to be used in better ways. The game world is so luscious and rich that it rightfully deserves to be its own franchise.
In contrast, the actual plot of the game felt like a half baked caked that came out of the oven too early. Despite more than five years in the making, the story was a poor and misshapen aberration that become more nonsensical and incoherent the further you progress.
With a source, as deep and rich as the one Square-Enix has created for Final Fantasy XIII, one has to wonder how such a creation could have been left unchecked and allowed to grow into fruition.
Thus, playing Final Fantasy XIII was equal part pleasure and pain. It felt like I was playing a game of Dungeon & Dragon in the most epic setting ever... only... the DM is an ape. And no matter how awesome the scenario and setting is, it does not stop the game from sucking because the DM is an ape!
The story and characterisation of Final Fantasy XIII was that ape. It was always there, getting in my way of appreciating the world Square-Enix had masterfully crafted.
It is for this reason that I feel the world of Final Fantasy XIII deserves another chance and then another and then another after that; and while I hold no great expectation for the plot of Final Fantasy XIII-2, I cannot help but give it a chance. Because as much as I hate the story of Final Fantasy XIII, I love the world that gave it birth.
A dichotomy and one I am content to let lie.