Data Tracker: How Does "Final Fantasy XIII" Compare?

A game was accidentally mis-numbered in an early paragraph; that has now been corrected. [3/10]

What part of "final" do they not understand?

Image How lucky is number 13?

Arriving in stores this week, Final Fantasy XIII (PS3: 82; 360: 83) is neither the final nor the 13th game in Square Enix's venerable franchise. In fact, dating back to the original Japanese release of Final Fantasy (for the Nintendo Entertainment System) in 1987, there have been over three dozen FF-related titles, and over 70 individual product releases, amounting to over 80 million units sold.

The new game is considered the 13th installment in the main series, and it actually follows a game widely considered one of the best (if not the best) in the series: Final Fantasy XII. FF13 also marks the arrival of the main series on the modern-generation consoles, which means that not only does it have impossibly big shoes to fill, it needs to impress visually like never before.

And how is the new game performing with critics? Well, while it is earning generally positive reviews, Final Fantasy XIII is the lowest-scoring title in the main series since at least Final Fantasy VII (the earliest installment for which we have a score). While the new game does shake up the tried-and-true RPG formula quite a bit -- and while reviewers are indeed loving the graphics -- some critics seem a bit bored with the release.

Here's a better look at how the new game matches up to the previous installment:

Comparing Reviews: Final Fantasy XIII vs. Final Fantasy XII (PS Versions)
Final Fantasy XII   Final Fantasy XIII
 
Playstation 2 (2006) Platform and Year Playstation 3 (2010)
92 Metascore 82
7.8 User Score 7.5
49 "Great" Critic Reviews 15
12 "Good" Critic Reviews 20
3 "Mixed" Critic Reviews 7
0 "Bad" Critic Reviews 0

All data is from March 9, 2010. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). User Scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). "Great" reviews have an individual grade of 90 or higher; "good" reviews have grades between 75 and 89; "mixed" represents grades between 50 and 74, and "bad" reviews have grades of 49 or lower.

But wait, there's more ... a lot more

While Final Fantasy XIII is the first release in the main series since 2006, Square Enix certainly hasn't been sitting around not releasing Final Fantasy games in the interim. In fact, the past few years have seen an explosion of FF-related releases, as you can see in the chart below:

Total Final Fantasy Releases by Year (Since 1999)

In the chart above, Green represents the number of positively-reviewed releases (Metascore of 75 or higher). Yellow represents releases receiving mixed or average reviews (50-75). Red represents negatively-reviewed releases (0-49). The chart includes all Final Fantasy-related games, including those that do not have enough reviews to qualify for a Metascore or for inclusion in high scores charts. (Such games are color-coded according to the average scores of the reviews they do have.)

What is most noticeable from the chart above is that Square Enix might be emphasizing quantity over quality; many of these additional releases are mediocre at best. How exactly have all of these FF fared with game critics, and where does the new FF13 fit in? Let's look at the scores for all Final Fantasy games in our database (note that since Metacritic wasn't around back in the 1980s and '90s, several of the earliest FF games are not included):

All Final Fantasy-Related Titles in Metacritic's Database, From Best to Worst
  Game Year Platform Genre Metascore
1Final Fantasy IX 2000 PlaystationRPG94
2 Final Fantasy XII 2006 PS2 RPG 92
It may not have the highest score, but FF12 tops many fans' lists of favorites in the series
3Final Fantasy X 2001 PS2RPG92
4Final Fantasy VII 1997 PlaystationRPG92
FF7 remains the best-selling title in the entire Final Fantasy franchise
5Final Fantasy VI Advance 2007 GBARPG92
6Final Fantasy VIII 1999 PlaystationRPG90
7Final Fantasy Chronicles 2001 PlaystationRPG89
8Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of The Lions 2007 PSPStrategy-RPG 88
9Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2003 GBARPG87
10Kingdom Hearts II 2006 PS2Action-RPG 87
The Kingdom Hearts series mixes Final Fantasy characters with those from Disney films
11Final Fantasy X-2 2003 PS2RPG85
12Kingdom Hearts 2002 PS2RPG 85
13Final Fantasy IV Advance 2005 GBARPG85
14Final Fantasy XI 2004 PS2MMORPG85
Also released for PC and the 360, this online multiplayer installment is still actively used
15Final Fantasy IV 2008 DSRPG85
16Final Fantasy XI 2003 PCMMORPG85
17Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan 2006 PCMMORPG83
18Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII 2008 PSPAction-RPG 83
19Final Fantasy XIII 2010 360RPG83
20Final Fantasy V Advance 2006 GBARPG83
21Final Fantasy Tactics 1997 PlaystationStrategy-RPG 83
22 Final Fantasy XIII 2010 PS3 RPG 82
23Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings 2007 DSAction-RPG 81
24Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift 2008 DSStrategy-RPG 80
25Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles 2004 GameCubeAction-RPG 80
26Final Fantasy Anthology 1999 PlaystationRPG80
27Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King 2008 WiiSim/Adventure 80
28Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls 2004 GBARPG79
29Final Fantasy Origins 2003 PlaystationRPG 79
30Dissidia Final Fantasy 2009 PSPAction-RPG/Fighting 79
31Final Fantasy III 2006 DSRPG77
32Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promathia 2004 PS2MMORPG 77
33Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates 2008 DSAction-RPG 77
34Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon 2008 WiiAction-RPG 76
35Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories 2004 GBAAction-RPG 76
36Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days 2009 DSAction-RPG 75
37Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales 2007 DSAdventure-RPG 75
38Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time 2009 DSAction-RPG 75
39Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promathia 2004 PCMMORPG73
40Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A Dark Lord 2009 WiiSim/Adventure 73
41Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories 2008 PS2RPG 69
42Final Fantasy IV: The After Years 2009 WiiRPG69
43Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition 2007 PSPRPG67
44Final Fantasy XI 2006 360MMORPG66
45Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers 2009 WiiAction-Adventure 66
46Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time 2009 WiiAction-RPG 64
47Final Fantasy II Anniversary Edition 2007 PSPRPG63
48Crystal Defenders R1 2009 WiiSimulation62
49Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII 2006 PS2Action-Adventure 57
50Crystal Defenders 2009 360 Strategy/Action52
This poorly-received tower defense game is based on the Final Fantasy Tactics series
The following games do not have the minimum 7 reviews needed to qualify for the above list:
 Crystal Defenders 2009 PS3 Puzzle  
 Crystal Defenders R2 2009 Wii Simulation  
 Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Portable 2006 PSP Board Games  
 Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children 2006 PSPUMD Movie 
 Final Fantasy XI: A Crystalline Prophecy 2009 PCMMORPG 
 Final Fantasy XI: A Crystalline Prophecy 2009 360MMORPG 
 Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan 2006 PS2MMORPG 
 Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the Goddess 2007 360MMORPG 
 Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the Goddess 2007 PCMMORPG 

Games are ranked by Metascore prior to rounding. The above table lists all Final Fantasy games in Metacritic's database, including all direct sequels and spinoffs, as well as games utilizing the same worlds or characters (such as the Kingdom Hearts franchise and the Crystal Defenders series). Some releases dating back to 1980s and 1990s are not listed because they do not appear in Metacritic's database, since they predate our site. Games with fewer than 7 reviews are not included in lists that sort by score.

Over the past 23 years, Final Fantasy titles have appeared on virtually every available platform. Here are the best releases for each one (again, only including those games that are in Metacritic's database -- so no Nintendo or Super Nintendo releases here).

Best Final Fantasy Titles by Platform
Platform Game Year Genre Metascore
Game Boy Advance Final Fantasy VI Advance 2007 RPG 92
GameCube Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles 2004 Action-RPG 80
Nintendo DS Final Fantasy IV 2008 RPG 85
PC Final Fantasy XI 2003 MMORPG 85
Playstation Final Fantasy IX 2000 RPG 94
Playstation 2 Final Fantasy XII 2006 RPG 92
Playstation 3 Final Fantasy XIII 2010 RPG 82
Sony PSP Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of The Lions 2007 Strategy-RPG 88
Wii Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King 2008 Sim/Adventure 80
Xbox 360 Final Fantasy XIII 2010 RPG 83

Our next list looks at the top FF titles in a number of different categories and genres.

High-Scoring Final Fantasy Titles by Category
Category Game Year Platform Metascore
Main Series Title Final Fantasy IX 2000 Playstation 94
Sequel or Spinoff Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of The Lions 2007 PSP 88
Compilation Final Fantasy Chronicles 2001 Playstation 89
RPG Final Fantasy IX 2000 Playstation 94
MMORPG Final Fantasy XI 2004 PS2 85
Action Game Kingdom Hearts II 2006 PS2 87
Simulation Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King 2008 Wii 80
Strategy Game Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of The Lions 2007 PSP 88
Multiplayer Final Fantasy Chronicles 2001 Playstation 89
Handheld Final Fantasy VI Advance 2007 GBA 92

Finally, here is a look at the individual releases in the main series -- Final Fantasies 1 through 14.

Comparison of All Final Fantasy Main Series Titles
Game First Release Units Sold (mil) NES SNES GBA DS PC PSX PS2 PS3 PSP 360
Final Fantasy 1987 (US:1990) n/a xx         79     67  
Final Fantasy II 1988 n/a xx         79     63  
Final Fantasy III 1990 3.72 xx     77            
Final Fantasy IV * 1991 3.32   xx 85 85   xx        
Final Fantasy V 1992 2.87   xx 83     xx        
Final Fantasy VI * 1994 3.50   xx       xx        
Final Fantasy VII 1997 9.72         xx 92        
Final Fantasy VIII 1999 7.86         xx 90        
Final Fantasy IX 2000 5.30           94        
Final Fantasy X 2001 7.95             92      
Final Fantasy XI ** 2002 (US: 2003) n/a (online game)         85   85     66
Final Fantasy XII 2006 5.60             92      
Final Fantasy XIII 2010                 82   83
Final Fantasy XIV Coming later in 2010

* Confusingly, the original SNES version of "Final Fantasy IV" was first released as "Final Fantasy II" in the United States, while "Final Fantasy VI" was first released as "Final Fantasy III".
** Also known as "Final Fantasy XI Online"
Games with an "xx" score are not available in Metacritic's database. The PSP scores for "Final Fantasy" and "Final Fantasy II" are for the "Anniversary Edition" releases in 2007. The Playstation scores for the first two Final Fantasy titles is from the 2003 compilation "Final Fantasy Origins" which includes both games. The DS scores for "Final Fantasy III" and "Final Fantasy IV" are from completely remade versions released in 2006 and 2008, respectively. The scores for the GBA versions of the fourth, fifth and sixth games are for the "Advance" versions, released in 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively. Units sold figures show combined worldwide sales (in millions) for that title across all console and handheld platforms (PC sales excluded). Source for sales data: VGChartz.com

That 14th installment, by the way, is an MMORPG scheduled for release later in 2010. Although FF11 was also an MMORPG (and one that is still active), FF14 is not considered a sequel to that game.

The final word: Yours

What do you think of the new Final Fantasy XIII? What is your favorite FF game? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (147)

  • Mitch Sloan  

    I'll always consider FF VII the best game in the series. Not wild about what I read of the new game. Nice survey....

  • Joe  

    Personally, out of all the FF I have played, I have liked 12 the least. It was actually the only one I never played through until the end because I just got bored with it. Nothing really hooked me about it. I even made it through X-2 so that really tells you what I thought of 12. Don't see where you got the idea that 12 is considered the fan favorite. That would definitely fall to 7, I believe. 10 is my personal favorite. 7 through 9 are all incredible gaming experiences as well, in my opinion.

  • bunk  

    the original final fantasy tactics is and will always be the best

  • Joe  

    In spite of what was stated in the first table, FF XII is definitely not one of the favourites of long time fans. It was as polarizing among fans as FF XIII promises to be. The last main FF game to be well received by the majority of fans was X, which many thought was nevertheless inferior to the seemingly unmatchable PS1 classics of VII, VIII and IX (which together have the highest combined scores of any FFs for any platform).

  • SuperGenius777  

    "The new game is considered the 13th installment in the main series, and it actually follows a game widely considered one of the best (if not the best) in the series: Final Fantasy VII."

    FALSE! Final Fantasy XIII does not follow VII in any way. It doesn't even take place in the same world, rather a new world called Pulse. You would think an article about Final Fantasy (or Fainaru Fantaj? as it's known in its native land) would get some basic facts right.

  • Ilja Naumov  

    It is possible that the expectations laid upon Final Fantasy XIII were heavier due to the franchise losing a measure of exclusivity in the fans' eyes. The Xbox360 edition was only released in the United States, however, so the game was primarily developed for the Playstation 3 (making the marginally lower score for the platform all the more interesting)

    The landmark titles cited by fans thus far have most frequently been FFVII (original Playstation) and FFX (Playstation 2 debut). However, ratings show that FFIX and FFXII are also held in very high regard. This may be because while the stories of the former are dear to fans' hearts, the execution of the latter titles came later in the consoles' lifespan, meaning Square Enix had much greater freedom in creating a more complete game experience.

    Of course, preference is always arguable.

    Still, with FFXIII, Square chose to create a tightly-controlled graphical powerhouse at the expense of genre staples of the 'open world' illusion for much of the game. The presentation is top notch, indeed, and I personally favor the new gameplay mechanics, recognizing them as streamlined versions of principles I grew to expect in JRPG's (such as turn-based combat, progressive equipment availability in shops, dungeons, boss fights, etc.)

    While the transition to this new format may feel lean and jarring, FFXII faced similar criticism with its MMO-esque combat system and vastly different skill progression scheme. Despite the nay-saying, it seems to have grown on the users...

    Thus, with a broader audience to appeal to, it is to be expected that FFXIII will suffer more scrutiny and greater criticism, at least initially. Its success or failings need to be measured down the line as well, compared to a successor (or parallel titles, if the rumors about the six-game cycle are true...).

    Regardless of my own bias in enjoying this new chapter of the series, an 82/83 score is still hardly worth complaining about.

  • Aaron James  

    FF6 is the best overall game in the series from essentially every standpoint. Of course 7 is the popular choice and I will not deny how obsessed I was with it for quite some time. 8-10 were all steps forward in different ways and what I love about Final Fantasy (the main series, at least) is that it's always been a good bet I'd be seeing some top-notch gaming and design. FF13 is here and I've had it for almost 24 hours. The fact that my playtime counter isn't even half that pretty much makes my point. This newest edition doesn't keep up. The visuals of course are terrific but the luster of storytelling has gone. I barely care what happens next right now for the first time in this series since I started playing FF1 almost 20 years ago. If this game had any other name on the cover I'd have quit already, but I'm going to see it through hoping it snaps into gear.

  • Kain Highwind  

    I think it's funny how all the good Final Fantasy games (the old ones, from 1-6) receive lower scores because the noob generation of FF gamers (anyone that started with FF7 onwards, and yes, you'll always be a noob) think they have bad graphics and won't play them.

    FF7 was hardly the best. It had a terrible story and the characters were barely developed.

  • Jon  

    I was the biggest fan of Final Fantasy IV. I got a Nintendo Power around the age of 10 and saw this in there and got it as a present. That RPG offically got me hooked on ALL RPGs growing up. Final Fantasy VI was good, but IV will always have a place in my heart.
    I LOVED Final Fantasy X, but absolutely despised XII, I couldn't even finish it. Most Final Fantasies have a love/hate crowd for each one. So don't plan on being impressed with all of them across the board, it usually won't happen.

  • anon  

    Final Fantasy VI is the best Final Fantasy in the series, period. It's not an opinion, it's a fact. If you don't agree, you're just wrong.

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