Ok. This has come up a few times now in various threads and I keep giving only vague reasons why this game sucks. Here I intend to explain in detail why the game is a festering pile of shit and hopefully you'll get some enjoyment out of watching me tear it a new arsehole. If however you're one of the people who likes this game, you're welcome to try to defend it...
This game is my most hated game of all time, (though granted that's because I've never played FFXIII-2, I'm just not that much of a masocist), the reasons span gameplay, story, and more so I'l going to first cover story. There will be massive spoilers obviously, but I'm spoiling a turd so don't panic, you have better things to do with 100+ hours of your life. If you've already played this game.... I'm sorry. So here's my list of reasons FFXIII sucks.
1. The Story Makes No Sense.
This is the basic plot of the game. Barthandelus is a powerful creature called a fal'Cie, he controls Cocoon, a dysonsphere thing floating in the sky where all the people live. The fal'Cie want to talk to God, for reasons never explained, they believe that killing everyone (including themselves) will make God appear because... again never explained, so they have decided to destroy Cocoon. The fal'Cie cannot destroy Cocoon themseves because of.... reasons.... so they force humans to do stuff for them by cursing them. The curse gives people a "focus" which is a task they must complete or they become cyborg zombie things. The task can be literally anything, the time limit is never expressly given, and the reward for completing this "focus" is being turned into a massive rock. Because fal'Cie however are so alien and highly evolved they can only communicate the "focus" to their slaves called l'Cie by giving them a vague psychic vision, making it hard for l'Cie to know what their focus actually is. This however is completely forgotten about half way though the game when Barthandelus has conversations with the main characters in human form and fal'Cie form.
So how do our main characters fit into this. Well, the main characters mill about for a bit, use high tech extremely useful gravity control gadgets that five hours into the game they all forget they own, they fall off of high things and wake up miraculously uninjured for no real reason, a woman dies falling off something... despite our main character not even being bruised falling off the same thing. They all eventually become l'Cie because... plot convenience. They then fuck about some more and argue about what their focus might be. They do this for about 20 hours of gameplay... yes, we're 20 hours in and fuck all has happened. Eventually they decide to make arses of themselves in full public view so the police will turn up and attack them. You see l'Cie are feared because they can use magic, (though Snow and Lightning, great names by the way Squeenix, where able to destroy mechs the size of semi-trucks with nothing more than their bare hands and a small sword before having magic so who cares). This means they're all branded as terrorists and hunted by the police, not unjustly as they have a tendency to walk into crowded streets shouting "I'm here to kill you all", even when they haven't and have no intentions even remotely close to that. In short the main characters are morons and pricks. After killing what must be the entire population of the Cocoon police department in "self defence", they eventually end up finally getting in the way of Barthandelus who's killing people with monsters and such and they find out what their focus is; to destroy Cocoon by killing another fal'Cie called Orphan who's apparently responsible for keeping the thing afloat, or killing him as he "holds it together". They then proceeed to ruin Barts plans by not killing him and generally get in his way, which considering they weren't involved in the plan until he made them l'Cie, and didn't know what was going on until he told them, this makes Bart here the biggest goddamn moron in this game. Oh wait, this doesn't happen quite yet though, oh no, first you have to go to "training grounds for l'Cie" where you literally grind for levels in character for hours, they may as well just say, "this next area would be a great place to just run around for three hours and level up". In fact they practically do say this...
Throughout this story you meet multiple other l'Cie who turn into crystal in front of you by completing their focus, which included Sazh's kid who's focus is find Sazh... even though Sazh was there when he became a l'Cie so should have completed his focus instantly, unless his focus was find Sazh once he becomes a l'Cie, something that at the time hadn't happened, which means the fal'Cie that made the kid couldn't possibly have know it was going to happen... aaagggghhh!!! The plot holes here are just fucking stupid! Another guy Cid Raines turns to crystal after trying to kill you because he's on your side... he's not really clear about it; after having his arse kicked, and talking about fate and how you have to "do what's right" he then turns... so what the hell was his focus? "Be a pointless waste of time", "Quote bullshit philosophy at people".
So after pissing Bart off and seriously considering "do nothing" and blowing your brains out (both in character and out in my case) as a plan, you go to "Gran Pulse" which is basically just the planets surface, and... do nothing. You wander about for literally 10+ hours of game time waiting for something to happen. Eventually Bart turns up threatens everyone, get's his arse kicked, and insists that they destroy Cocoon... because, apparently him chuckling to himself is suddenly really convincing. He gives the party a rocket ship to chase him after taunting them, because despite wanting to die, he won't stay put. The party, who again could foil the bad guys plot by doing nothing... follow him back to Cocoon like morons. They then have fights on a racetrack for some reason, follow the bad guys every request whilst acting like they're not. They they kill Bart, attack Orphan, and doom the fucking world. Or at least they would if the time limit on their l'Cie curse didn't run out.
So how does it end... well, theres a montage, the party who are not cyborg zombies get better though the power of fucking friendship (seriously!), so now, no longer curse, with free will and faced with Orphan demanding we kill him because of... reasons... we can now walk away, think of a way to seal him so Cocoon doesn't die. Or not, no the party kill Orphan anyway causing Cocoon to fall to Earth killing everyone exactly like the bad guys wanted and exactly how they expressly said it would multiple fucking times. Well actually no, while they're all falling to their deaths two of the girls decide to jump into a volcano to make a massive crystal catch Cocoon, which they knew would happen because.... who cares, it's finally over
So yeah, that's the story and if you honestly can't see why it's batshit stupid and completely awful I honestly worry for you...
2. The Gameplay
This game plays itself. Let's look at just mechanics for a while.
2a. Level Design.
Pretty much every room is as liner as they can get. Seriously just look at these level maps.
These aren't linear, they're straight fucking lines. Crash Bandicoot had less linear levels than this for fuck sake and that was a platformer designed to have you running in straight lines. This is what every single room is like in this game. Sure Final Fantasy X was linear in plot direction and even design to an extent, but there was still some exploration, towns, etc. This has nothing.
There's no respite either, no towns to break up the monotony. No, they instead have the save point act as everything. Shops, Save, Upgrades etc. it's all done from one place, which despite making no sense from a character point of view, means there's no NPCs, no side quests, no talking... nothing but 100 hours of walking in a straight fucking line.
2b. Upgrading Weapons
While we're here, let's look at the upgrade system. You see when you're walking around you'll pick up various sample of worm mucous, monkey spunk and various other unpleasant liquids which you basically rub on your weapons to upgrade them. Nowhere in the entire game does it explain this, different items upgrade different weapons by a different amount, and apply a multiplier on the next item used for upgrading, which changes depending on how many you use, when, on what, in what order, and according to what you had for breakfast that morning... there's no decernable pattern, and no explaination of whether you'll need that beatle slime later on for different weapons, which are confusingly dropped thoughout the game. So you can spend all these random blobs of crap upgrading your weapon only to get a new, in theory better weapon later... so why would you use the new weapon when you've spent ages upgrading the old one, should you have saved all your random tubes of cat urine to upgrade a later weapon? Honestly, it doesn't matter because combat is a joke.
2c. Combat Is A Joke
You don't do combat. You just watch. There's a simple system where you give commands which effectively boil down to MMO tropes of DPS, Tank, and Healer, and then you set up "Paradigms". You'll quickly work out that there's three you need, a basic middle road where you aim to stagger the opponent, an all out attack mode for once he's staggered, and a turtle mode so you can tank and heal up when he's hitting back hard. This is how you beat every single battle in this game, and you don't even need to try. Your characters pick the best spells and do them automatically, status effects are sorted out automatically, healing is done automatically. Hell, if you max out Lightnings combat abilities, by a little over half-way into the game you can use the ability "Army Of One" which is basically the "I Win" button. It deals massive damage to everyone and combined with Haste you can chew threw the last third of the game without even looking at the fucking screen... including the final boss which is apparently "really hard", (hint: it's not). Fair warning though, either find the mute button or get used to hearing Lightning say "I'm no-one's slave", repeatedly because she says it every time you use the ability. Surely there's some customisation though right... right...
2d. The Crystarium
This is the worst illusion of choice ever. This is basically the sphere grid from FFX if none of the paths crossed each other. It's articificially held back for the first 25 hours, and by the time it opens up completely, you could have characters divert off and become something different but why would you when you already have at least two people who've already maxed out those jobs. No, the Crystarium is nothing more than the level design issue, it looks like twist and spirals but look at it, there's no branches at all throughout the entire thing, there may be a one or two node off-shoot but nothing more than that. It's a straight line. Linear progression in exactly the way the game has planned... you may as well not be there...
2e. Enemy Placement
In FF13 you can see the enemies you'll be fighting on the main screen. This is bad, it means that every play through is the same, meticulously planned out. There's nothing random about it. The game designers know exactly what abilities you'll have and exactly what level you'll be because they've given you a completely linear power progression, a completely linear level to traverse, with completely predictable monster encounters to give you the exact amount of experience points they want you to have at any given moment... it's insulting. I'm fairly sure I could program a laughably simple piece of software that could complete this game.
2f. Pacing & Padding
This game should be so well paced it flows like water then right... if the designers know literally to the last number how many encounters, how much experience etc. you should have they can plan great set-peices surely. You'd think that but no. On multiple occations you'll find yourself running around aimlessly with no clear character motivation or story progression moving from fight to fight, each of them playing themselves. Often this is the case for hours on end.
I've nothing against linear games. Hell, I defend FFX all the time because it's got a decent combat system, at least some likable characters, and a story that isn't completely nuts. It's a poor example of a Final Fantasy game, but it's got it's charms non-the-less. Final Fantasy XIII lacks even that. Such a linear, poorly paced game would be embarrassing for a platformer or an action game, for an RPG it's outright ridiculous.
So, with that I'm going to stop. I could go further and explain in more detail, but if you've read this far I'll be shocked. I can't honestly see how anyone can like this game. It's pap, and lowest common denominator pap at that. It assumes you're stupid and plays the game for you, with a storyline that only serves to confirm that first assumption. Please, anyone tell me I'm wrong, I'd love to hear a defense for this game.