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 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:

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)

  • Andrew Mahaney  

    As soon as FFXII comes to the 360, I will be set for another 107+ hours of my life. and if it ever comes to the PS3 and not the 360? well, despite being a 360 fanboy, I'll sell my 360 and get a PS3, that is how much I love that game!

  • Kieran  

    I'm 25 hours into XIII and its not so linear anymore. Its quite good but i really need to judge it on a second play through. Generally on the first play through of any RPG you are trying to push hard to get to the end quickly to see the story, and in this games case i was pushing to get to the non-linear section. Therefore parts of the linear part did become a bit boring, but only because I was wanting to be further on in the game. On a second play through i can see myself leveling up better and taking my time throughout the game making it more enjoyable because i'm not in a hurry to complete the game. For that reason i find final fantasys are much better when played a second time, but unfortunately because of the severe linearity ffxiii suffers worse than most other ff titles. In terms of my favourite title, ffx and ffvii are my favourites but I really enjoyed ffxii, to the extent as soon as i finished it, i restarted a new game. FFVIII was also rather epic, but what i have noted is that no two final fantasys are the same therefore each brings a different piece to the table so depending what i am after i will load up a different game. BTW FFXIII's battle system is actually quite fun. I have a question, does anyone else think that soundtrack matters more than graphics for a final fantasy because whenever i think of the theme or mood of a FF game, i think of its music. Like the world map music for FFVII, liberi fatali, the space music, and the music in the windhill town for FFVIII, a fleeting dream and the ending music for FFX. FFXIII is pretty good too, but i must admit that FFXII did struggle in that department, all i remember is the rabanastre music.

  • Jedi Prince  

    Actually it makes me wonder if the article and the research done is actually accurate, considering the multiple discrepancies that affect the 360 version compared to the PS3 one.

    The definitive version is the PS3 one, why? Because it was made originally on it and ported to the 360. What happened was the exact same thing that has happened on multiconsole releases, where the 360 version gets ported to the PS3 and it suffers for it.

    The PS3 version is much more cleaner, vivid and has higher quality in portions of the game where the 360 version falls short and suffers from occasional slowdowns.

    And I agree with most here, Final Fantasy XII was only acclaimed by the critics but the fans absolutely hated it, the gambit system was a mess and in my honest opinion it made the gamer's interaction with that happened on screen much more limited. At least in older games YOU controlled the outcome and all that happened on screen. On FFXII it was just a big mess, not to mention it felt like it dragged on forever. FFXIII may not be a perfect game and the story progression as well as character development might seem linear but then what game today is not linear? Only sandbox games offer diversity nowadays and even those seem to drag on eternally. I'm playing FFXIII and so far it's a visually stunning ride, and the combat system while limited in a way feels much more organic and fast paced.

  • Ape  

    I cannot believe that alot of people think that FFXII is the best in the series. That game didn't feel like Final Fantasy at all, more like Star Wars. Taking away the random battles and also introducing that horrible gambit idea was almost as stupid as making FFX-2. After thinking about it, FFVI is the best in the series, followed by the epic masterpiece that FFIX is, at least in my opinion. After all FFIX was the last true FF there is. As far as I know Sakaguchi himself said that the 9th installment is a tribute to the series. But seems like most don't give a **** about that, since there is no emo protagonist. When I got holidays, I will try FFXIII and I truly hope that it is more than just graphics.

  • Isack  

    My favorites are V and VI, love the story and the characters of those games, as of course the gameplay.
    I've basically played every game except VIII ,IX and XI; and I have enjoyed them all, however there's something on the new one that simply dont catch my attention so I think I'll try it until a few more months.

  • Steve  

    Who thinks 12 is good? Everyone I know hates 12! This article keeps saying its regarded as fan favorite, yet my favorite is actually 9. 12 can suck it!

  • Kun  

    Final Fantasy VI (III on SNES) was and still is the best game in the series for sure. I would say that FF IV (II on SNES) is the second best. The older FF's don't get the respect they deserve because many people didn't even know what Final Fantasy was until Final Fantasy VII came out and went all mainstream and started focusing more on graphics. I don't think I've ever been as hyped about a videogame release as I was for FF VII and maybe it was that hype that ruined the game for me but FF hasn't ever been the same for me since the SNES days.

  • Andre  

    I have to go with VI as my favorite. In the tier just below VI are IV, VII, and IX.

    I tend to think of the Final Fantasys in groups of 3. And with each group of three the middle game is always the one that's just different (and usually isn't quite up to the standard of the first and third game, at least to me)

    NES: 1, 2, 3
    SNES: 4, 5, 6
    PSX: 7, 8, 9
    PS2: 10, 11, 12
    PS3/360: 13, 14

    Just look at the middle games, pretty much none of them are considered the best in the series. I could see 14 following this trend and 15 being more familiar to vets of the series. This of course isn't taking versus into account.

  • T  

    While FF VII had what i think to be the best story I think 10 was the most fun to play. But I need to add I just bought my son ffVII for his psp and i down loaded it to the PS3 and I have to say its nothing like i remembered it to be. I wish these "review" sights would go back and play these games. While 10 years ago they were great it was a huge disappointment and did not give me the same feelings as I had when i played it so many years ago. FFX is still fun to play but the graphics just cant hold anymore. With that said. I love FFXIII, IT is BEAUTIFUL to view, the new combat system is a blast and the voice acting is some of the best in any game on the PS3, Now the only issue i have is that if you die then its game over, But you just restart before the fight you had. which is ok. I am 15 hours in FFXIII and I think it is a must have game.

  • myeerah  

    I'd like to add a lone voice of dissent here: I liked FFXII. Yes, half the characters were pointless (Vaan, Penelo, and Fran, I'm looking at you), but I enjoyed the political storyline and the lack of shoehorned romance that other FFs have been guilty of. I also really liked the gambit system, as it made buff spells worthwhile and gave me the option to engage in random battles or not, as I chose. The only thing I would have changed about the game (aside from the casting priorities) is the executive meddling that put Vaan in the picture at all. Basch should have remained the main character.

    Squeenix, have some faith in your fans. We don't require androgynous pretty boys to like your games, and painting terrifying abs on them doesn't help matters.

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