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)

  • Roy Coxy  

    I think I'll be shunned for saying this, but I think 8 and X-2 are hands down the best in the series. I should also probably say I hated 7 and loved 6. And Biodome is the best movie ever, but got a zero on metacritic. Screw metacritic. And screw Robert Ebert too.

  • Aaron  

    I personnaly hate 12 it's nothing like the others and I have played every one of the final fantasys including 13 which is actually one of my favourites next to 10, 9 and 7 which i can't say which one is better because i like them all the same amount. So I don't know where you got this information from but I still think 13 is epic

  • ?  

    VI(also III if you play it on the SNES) is the best of the series.It has:excellent graphics,excellent story(overall,the story for the world of ruin was a bit below the world of balance),the combat was excellent,there is a bunch of awesome moments like the opera house and fighting a demigod, it is humorous and has (probably) the best villian in video game history.VII is horrible(especially if compared to VI.)

  • Such  

    FF7 and FF8 are the best in the series so far in my opinion - They have flawless gameplay and its a complete mystery to me why Squaresoft didn't build on the principles of the way those games were created and played - While FF13 is great in terms of graphics and battle system , its done some daring changes of losing certain series much loved elements (Shops, Inns, Towns, the mass exploration etc) and also made the game more linear which I feel was a mistake - Imagine how Final Fantasy 13 would have played out if it had the same graphics engine but with the intense, magical and amazing exploration of earlier Final Fantasy games such as Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy 8. It could have been amazing. Even though I have enjoyed Final Fantasy 13 on PS3 - I still find myself going back to playing games like Grand Theft Auto 4.

  • Keith E.  

    I still haven't opened the shrink wrap on my FFXIII game for the Xbox 360, and I bought it when it was released. Granted, I have a slew of other games that are taking my time, plus a busy schedule - gone are the days where I could just play video games for hours on end... oh how I miss those days.

    So I've been reading mixed reviews on this latest installment in the FF series, and I'm a bit discouraged. In fact, I hadn't really liked an FF game since FFX - hated FFXII, and absolutely loved FFII/III (US) when I was a kid. I don't really know the point I'm trying to make by posting this. I guess it's just that I miss those simple yet poignant storylines, rewarding gameplay (where I could control my whole party manually), with memorable characters that I actually cared about. I would welcome a next-gen FF with mind-blowing graphics that still fit the mold of the classic gameplay and epic stories that were prevailent earlier in the series. I played half-way through FFXII and felt indifferent about the experience. It was easy to forget that game. I hope that FFXIII proves to be a better experience for me. As I've getten older, I'm beginning to realize that I have a lack of patience for RPGs in general. They lack the fire that drew me in at an early age. I can remember being entranced trying to level up and progress the stories. I'd like to find that feeling again, and obviously I haven't given up hope in Square/Enix, but I don't think it will be long before they lose my trust in this series. I suppose I'll let my own impressions of FFXIII be the real test.

  • Ryan  

    I'm going to be brief here, but I got to get this out of my system somewhere and here looks like a good place to do it. This is by far the worst part of the game, as it makes the entire game tedious, boring, and annoying. Not to say there aren't other really bad things, but this one takes the cake.

    WHY do so many people rave on the battle system for this game? It's so epically terribad that if this sort of system had been released back in the golden years of Squaresoft it would have been trashed from the start.

    You can't choose what your team does. The best way to play is auto battle for 99% of the game. You LOSE If your main character dies even if you have a medic in any of your paradigms. If another character dies, and you are using a medic, you have to be darned sure that you play as the medic if you want that character to get raised without wasting a renew or summon.

    All this being said, if I want to avoid battles because they are annoying and repetitive and often not worth my time, I have to try to run around them within super tiny corridors. Sometimes, this is not so bad, but if I get caught in a battle against something I don't want to fight, there's no run away option like in previous installments. Then I'm just wasting time praying for the stagger meter to build up so I can finish the fight and trudge along. This would be easily rectified with a kill everything weaker than I am spell (like, I don't know, Ultima, or Zone?).

    I'm probably missing tons of other major points, but I think those deserve to be ragged on the most. This aside the fact that the game is not an RPG at all (even the developers said that), though that is another rant.

    For all of its flaws, its one saving grace is a story that makes sense, and along with that a final boss that makes sense (considering 8-12 did not have a final boss that made any sense whatsoever).

  • Arvin  

    Those things posted, didn't convince me, since when did Final fantasy 12 became the best? Final fantasy 12 was a game that was easily forgotten, the most famous were the ones from the past, way back Mr. Sakaguchi's game, but the Final fantasy that really captured the world's attention was Final fantasy 7, 8, 10, & 13. These were created by the team that launched Final fantasy to its success, the team composed of Mr. Yoshinori Kitase, Mr. Motomu Toriyama, Mr. Tetsuya Nomura and those in their team. So its only fitting that those Final fantasy titles were a revolution.

  • umkart  

    Final Fantasy 12 was a GREAT game! It had an awesome story and an open world to explore. After I beat the game, which I took 70 hours to do, I kept going back for more to build up all the characters and find all the secrets. For me, it's up there with Final Fantasy VII and FF II & FF III (SNES). FF XIII is good so far. About 8 hours in - but definitely linear. Enjoy it for what it is.

    PS - FF X & FF VIII were terrible installments.

  • Dave  

    The units sold chart makes me happy.

    My favorite FF's are exactly in order with units sold. I guess I'm normal!

  • Chris  

    Everywhere I've posted how bad Final Fantasy XIII is.

    I can understand making the game linear for a while, because of the story. The main characters are on the run; I get it. However the story (first 30 hours) is convoluted and it doesn't have to be. It is redundant and repetitious (too long to flesh out) and the characters are insufferable and campy.

    Plus once on Pulse the game is nothing more than a giant veldt with nothing to do but fight some more. IF the game opened up to a more familiar Final Fantasy with towns, explorations and side quests (other than fighting) it might have been a better game.

    The fighting and combat system is also way too inconsistent. Normal fights against a Flan could take up to 3 minutes if you don't have the right Paradigm. If I was able to micromanage it might have been more tolerable. In FFXII the worst character was Vaan and his main fault was going shirtless. The dialog and story (albeit not typical FF was done way better than XIII's) Gameplay wise, the 'normal' fights take 20 seconds at most, and although some boss fights may be frustrating, I know I'm able to manage my team in many different ways to defeat it; not just 3 or 4 ways.

    XIII is by far the 'worst' game given its potential.

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