I think those articles just highlight the disconnect between eastern writing styles & the average western fantasy fans level of comprehension. 13-2's story is far more intensive than 99% of western fantasy tales (including many western fantasy novels) & while XIII-2's story is at a quite standard level of complexity & 'quirkiness' for an eastern tale, it attracts tags like 'convoluted' or 'unfathomable' ot 'too vague/subtle' in the western worlds perception (just like X, XII & XIII did also). The FF series storytelling is maturing. X, X-2 XIII and the XIII's are far more intensive story & lore wise than earlier FF's like VII (which is basically just a modified space marine (or any genetically enhanced super soldier) story & very western styled overall) VI's (I love VI by the way so not hating on the game at all, but the story is not at the same level of intracacy as modern FF's) or IX (basically a disney level of storytelling & again quite western styled). Sakaguchi, while a great developer, made games with stories aimed at a far less mature portion of the eastern gaming market (and consequently greater accessability to those not used to that style of tale worldwide) than the current FF writers are aiming for. This is obviously just my perception of what is happening but having lived in Japan and having (Japanese) friends over there, this is what I personally have seen. Closing thoughts, I'd recommend playing XIII-2 for yourself & see what you think. I Imported it from Japan AND bought the English language version & don't regret either purchase (though I am yet to begin the english version)
I apologise for the delayed response. with repect to The Fury's post as well, but in particular coming back to your point on how the stories in the FF series are maturing. i find this somewhat debatable.
If we bring this back a moment to FF4 (we could go to FF2). i actully found that story was very well written. in the sense of the underlying tones. there were was a deep story driven with believable characters. Rydia comes to mind based on the loss of her mother, as does Edge, for the loss of his parents. (there are many more things we could go into). pehaps the most interesting was Kain, his personal jounery of friendship, lonelyness and eventual redemption is a major driver for the games events. thats why i thought he was featured on the box art rather than the main character Cecil. the story was coherent and did deliver a statisfying fantasy tale with some great plot devices and unexpected plot twists.
we could go much further into FF5, 6, 7, maybe 8, 9 etc. i'm not going to go into FF7. my point is the deep storytelling has always been there, but what has improved with each installment is the presentation levels of that story. so 3D models, to eventual voice acting and full body and facial motion capture. so in that respect i agree the presentation of the story is becoming more and more sophisticated, FF12's writing and translation is proof of that.
Zen has actully taken a very critical look at the presentation of the story in FF13/FF13-2. so voice acting and writen dialogue are some of the things he criticised. i'm not sure why there are lines like 'hold on baby your hero's on the way'. its not fair to look at the SNES games, or FF7, as the levels of detail in the dialogue are no where near the level of FF13. so the sophistication in something like "what number am i dr Hojo" is somewhat misleading because we dont know if it was meant to have that type of physcological undertone when it was originally written.
what is near that level is FF8 and FF9, which contain huge amounts of character dialogue. but looking at FF9, the characters fit into certain charachers, but the dialogue never becomes silly in that respect. Zell can say things like that, maybe even other characters in FF8 can say things like that, which is why i can see how that team without Sakaguchi came from FF8, to FF10, FF10-2, Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, The 3rd Birthday and FF13. in this respect i find that the sophistication of spoken dialogue in the FF series appears to be diminising. barring of course FF12, for obvious reasons.
looking at FF13, the inital FNC concept is very interesting. the Fal'cie, L'cie etc. but was it necessary for Toriyama, Wantabe, Kitase to leave that concept unexplored. in 6 hours of cutscenes (FF13) a lot of the plot points are repeated unecessarily. i mean how many times do we hear "its our Focus, Serach said so". is it necessary for the main objective of the game to be this? for this plot point to be repeated more than once during 6 hours of cutscenes leaving the FNC concept is largely unexplored.
i wanted to give FF13 a chance when it came out, i tried to love it. but i think on a written level Toriyama et al. are not compitient storytellers, not without Sakaguhci anyway. a game like this needs to be balanced, we cant have 6 hours of cutscenes dealing with character emotions, rather than focusing on a coherent story. for example. the party decide to go to Gran Pulse to get rid of their brands (or whatever). in that whole time on Gran Pulse, nothing is explained, the purpose of the brand, the Fal'cie and L'cie are all left unexplained. we are left with our brands intact. was it really necessary for Toriyama et al. to force us to going to Gran Pulse for 10/15/20 hours to learn barely any new information, only to return to Cocoon again.
i dont think this is sophisticated storytelling to be honest. and this thing with FF13-2, where time travel dosent follow a rubrick of some sort. why? we cant have a wishy washy rulebook to storytelling we need rules to create the illusion of believability. if we dont ground our story in sometype of believabilty, it dosent feel coherent, it dosent feel like a well writen story in my personal opinion. this is why i think some reviews are slating the hell out of the story.
so i'm not criticising you at all, i havent played FF13-2. but i really think that the storytelling needs to improve on a written level to be honest. other seems to think it also needs to improve on a presentation level which could be a key point of concern as well. i cant overlook this, because of this team just came out of The 3rd Birthday, which has equally been slated the hell out of. its not a coincidence in my opinion.