"Hard" seems to be a difficult-to-define term. FF13 being hard is like Metal Gear Solid being hard... you die a lot, but dieing isn't a particularly big setback, as you just start back at the beginning of the battle (in MGS you start at the beginning of the room). Yes, I died more in FF13 than any other game in the series, but if you add up all the time lost due to dieing, other games are A LOT harder. Back in FF4, dieing was a big deal because it meant that you lost a whole 30 minutes of gameplay. By FF6-X, it was more like 10 minutes. FF12 seemed to dial it up again, as areas were significantly larger and save areas much more sparce, more like 15-20 minutes. But FF13 dials it back to a loss of 1 minute for normal battles, maybe 5 for bosses.
I'm in the Brescha ruins now. Glad we actually find out who that Alyssa character was! That was one thing about the demo that was bizzare. You see a cutscene with Alyssa standing around in the beginning... then for no apparent reason, 20 minutes later she's talking to you over a walky-talky without any explanation. They cut out one 3 minute section that introduces her.
Damn I'm loving this game though. I stopped last night to ask myself, "am I enjoying this?" and I realized that I really was, I was really feeling happy and excited. I can't say I felt the same while playing FF13. Oh, and Noel is a GREAT character! I really like the dialog they wrote for him. For once, he seems very realistic and down to earth. If you ask him something, he gives you a straight-up answer instead of some bullshit, "oh, it's nothing" kind of response that we're used to getting in jRPGs. I finally feel like S-E has flushed out a world of characters who actually have lives, instead of being props for a story. Everyone has a profession, interests, and unique personality traits. The whole thing with Serah dealing with the children was really a new direction, something we commonly miss in RPGs.
So far, I'm kinda bewildered as to the low review scores. People said it started off bad, but honestly, I LOVE this kind of openning. FF13 started too fast. I never got a chance to get my berrings, learn who the people were before they were faced with life-changing events. I like intros like FF8, FF9, and FF12 that ease into the whole plot business. FF13-2 is a little faster then that, but even after the plot starts, things aren't so screwed up that you can't get your berrings. FFX and FFXIII start off so abruptly that you don't get to know anything. FFVII rectifies this by slowing the pace down after 10 minutes and giving you your berings later.
Going to have to disagree there. Older FFs, despite shuffling the combat mechanics around, were still RPGs at their core. FF XIII messed around with genre conventions beyond combat such as linearity and grinding/scoring systems/growth caps/combat balance, which is mainly what set fans off against the game.
I agree, but from that standpoint, FFX really was the biggest departure. After an extremely open world like FF9, FFX went down to being complete tunnel vision. FFXIII was maybe more (slightly), but by then we were used to it. I blame FFX for the linearity trend. In some ways, FFX is more linear, at least FFXIII doesn't play like a giant progress bar! But the new low that FFXIII was the absense of NPC communication and non-hostile areas.