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)

  • Playin FF since 93  

    I'm a very old school fan of Final Fantasy. I grew up on the series. I've played every installment on every system (except X-2; I refused). They all have their moments; they all have their faults (well, maybe a couple don't). I grew up during what I consider the golden age of role playing games: a sweet spot of RPG perfection in the mid to late 90s that saw such breathtaking classics like FFVII, Xenogears, Tactics, Valkyrie Profile, and Ocarina of Time. My opinions are somewhat, well, off kilter than the usual masses, however. I genuinely enjoyed VIII and XII, yet couldn't stand X. I consider Tactics the objective greatest of all things FF, yet VII reigns supreme in my heart. However, as I've gotten older and obsessive video game playing has gradually taken a backseat in my increasingly busy life, my gaming career has boiled down to a few online FPS shooters here and there, and not much more. The elitism of old has been paved over for the simple enjoyment of video games, for better or worse. I haven't played an RPG outside of FF since Lost Odyssey, and you'd have to go back to the PS1 before that. Sadly, traditional RPGs seem to be a dying genre, and they're now taking the form of more involved, fast paced, action hybrids like Mass Effect. Despite all of this, in the end, I feel I have a very decent grasp on every FF, where the series has succeeded, and where it has failed.

    After having just beaten FFXIII no more than an hour ago, if asked to sum up the game in one word, I'd have to say "intriguing." FFXIII is not your parents' Final Fantasy, if that makes much sense. In fact, after having replayed VII only a few months ago, I can say the series has drastically changed even since then, much more so since the NES and SNES titles. Open ended exploration is replaced with often choking "point A to point B" linear dungeon crawling, however this isn't as negative as it sounds. If one can recall, the first six or seven hours of VII were incredibly linear, and are often considered the best part of the entire game, sometimes the series proper. Linearity itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, and despite FF13's refusal to break itself open until around the 25 hour mark, it doesn't hamper the gaming experience. FF13, looking back on it in its entirety, is reminding me more of VII the more I think about it. When VII was first released, it was nearly universally hated by the elitists, yet racked up the sales figures and, looking back, steered the genre in the right direction. FFVII was a revolutionary game, using revolutionary technology, and drawing a revolutionary amount of fans. Despite all the arguments thrown in either direction regarding the artistic merit of VII, none can argue its importance and impact in RPG history.

    13, again, has the same feel. I'm not quite sure what I just experienced, to be perfectly honest. I know I enjoyed it. I know there were parts that made me feel like a 7 year old once again, staying up late and playing FF until the sun came up on the weekends. However, there were things it was missing and things I could have done without.

    Moreover, XIII feels like everything X should have been. X stepped into a brave new world in 2001 on a new platform with powerful technology. Despite the things X did right (the battle system's director returned on XIII) it fell short in many ways, most notably in characterization (has there ever been a more obnoxious lead than Tidus?) and voice acting. Moreover, X didn't feel as if it pushed in boundaries like VII had. It felt very safe, very close to the chest. What resulted, for me at least, was an above average RPG. Nothing more, nothing less. XIII is pushing those boundaries. Square has perfected their voice acting cast and it shines through in XIII. Every character is alive and likeable (yes, even Snow). The story is paced well. Every character has their moment. Every character is important. This is something I felt severely lacked in X. Moreso than that, the only cliche FF love story takes somewhat of a backseat to more prevalent themes like friendship and trust, regret and sorrow. There were certain points in the story at which I simply sat back and admired how, well, grown up the whole thing felt. XIII has come a long way since Barrett called everyone "foo" and you couldn't help but laugh at Celes.

    The lack of traditional towns and shops definitely detracted from the nostalgia of FF in general, but again, I sort of get the feeling that's what the producers wanted. This is the future of traditional JRPGs. I liked it, and have the distinct feeling that, much like VII, no matter how much the elitists claim to hate it, the longer it is played and the more its impact is felt in the world of video games, the more XIII will grow in the hearts of all.

    BTW, as far as numbered FFs go, here are my personal favs, in order:


  • PCJ  

    I went out to buy Final Fantasy 13 but found that the ps3 copies were sold out (Plenty of Xbox 360 copies still sitting on the self though). So I decided to hire it from a video store and I'm glade I did. I love Final Fantasy, I even loved 12 but FF13 is without a doubt the worst in the series. Infact, It's the worst game I've played on ps3. There are probably games that are far worse but I haven't played them. I hired the game out for a week and ended up taking it back after 4 days without finishing it, which is a first for me. FF13 is the first game in a series of games but why make three games if they can't get one right. FF is one of the reasons I play games and is my favorite video game series but with 13 it felt as though Squire Enix were spitting in my face. They have treated the fans with utter contempt. The only reason that this game has sold well is because of it's reputation and some of the miss leading reviews it has gotten. All the fan reviews I have read have been negative and at first I was angry but I now understand why. I can't believe I just wrote a comment trashing a Final Fantasy game. It feels like a nightmare.

  • David  

    I have come to the conclusion that ppl on here hate XII just because the story is below par and vaan sucks as a main character.

    But games are also about GAMEPLAY, and XII has that in spades. But i guess its always happens. Alot of ff X fans hate XII and XIII. The final fantasy VII fans hate X. Fans of VIII hate IX.
    Final fantasy VIII polarizesd final fantasy fans like no other.
    Those who started with VII hate the older ones.
    Those who love IV will insist that VII is awful.

    Basically for all the fans of a particular game, ignore the haters. There will always be tons of ppl who hate awesome games, just ignore them and have fun, who cares what they think?

  • Daniel  

    Its interesting what ppl say about ffXII but i will come to that shortly.

    Just finished final fantasy XIII (main game) and i would say it is a very good game, but by final fantasy standards it falls short for me.

    This is my overall final fantasy ranking from best to worst...

    VII, XII, VI, X, IX, IV, V, VIII, XIII, I, III, X-2, XI, II

    I dont think XIII had a great story, worse then XII in fact and had characters as uninteresting as VIII, Snow was by far the best character ( which says alot as he is not all that great) and vanille and hope make want to tear my eyeballs out they are so annoying.

    The exterme linarity of the first 3 quarters, small amount of side quests and extreme control of your development also really hurt the game. The battles were epic and the last quarter of the game have the final fantasy magic, though still not enough of it.

    So in essence it cannot even come close to my top level favs of IV, VI, VII, IX, X and XII, or even the second level of V and VIII. It is on the 3rd level with I and III.

    Also about XII. I LOVE XII. Yes the story is weak but balthier and Basch are awesome characters, its not like han solo and star wars etc And the gameplay is tremendous!!! Believe me it takes alot to surpass X and VI, I LOVE VI , but XII did it, wow what a game

    Pity XIII cannot even come close to the majesty of XII

  • john  

    The best for me will always be FFX. The story was so amazing and I go back to it whenever i get bored. I have put in over 500 hours to that game and still love it.

  • Simon  

    To be honest, I played FFXIII, liked the graphics at first but was apalled by the combat system. What were they thinking giving the player only 2 techniques for about 10 hours or so??? And what about the fact that you always use the auto function? Try to choose a technique and you end up dead. And what about the game over when the leader of the group dies? How lame is that? Moreover, the fact that the characters are so stereotypical makes it even worse. A weak kid, a dominatrix, a blond surfer that plays the tough guy, the female clone of Cloud, an annoying and stupid girl so high-pitched it's impossible to play with the sound after 20 minutes...
    I think this eye candy doesn't even deserve the name Final Fantasy. So many good games are coming out that it would just be a shame to play this title.
    And please, pretty please, get rid of Nomura and the zippers... We had enough.
    Oh, I almost forgot, the music is pretty bad too, especially the chocobo theme... Never heard anything so annoying in a big franchise, as if everything was a joke for Square... Or maybe they just don't know what people want.

  • X  

    FFXII is easily the greatest installment in the franchise, closely followed by IX and VI. The complaints about XII's story hold absolutely no water in my books. In any case, GAMEplay is what matters most for, y'know, GAMEs and XII delivers quality gameplay in spades. I'm with the critical consensus on this one. X-2 is also a great game unfairly maligned. What is it about the FF fanbase and blindly **** about awesome games?

    XIII is shaping up pretty well in my books, but a XII-killer it ain't.

  • Kareem  

    FF XII is not one of the best titles, in fact i find it the worst final fantasy every released
    on the other hand, FF VII, VIII, IX, X are the best ever there is !!!

  • Shidoh  

    Like many comments have stated, FF 12 is possibly the worst Final Fantasy ever made, I'm still wondering how it topped the charts, it was just boring and uninspired in every possible way.
    Talking about FFXIII, I finished it yesterday at about 40 hours (just the storyline, still have plenty of things to do) and I really liked it: the story was good and the ending was great, the combat is complex and funny enough to keep you enterteined even through the longest fights in the last chapters and the mission system seems good enough to keep the player interested until the end.
    In my personal preference, its place is right after X and VII.

  • Lleiwynn  

    My first brush with the Final Fantasy series (indeed, my first encounter with RPGs at all) was watching a girlfriend's older brother getting stomped to death by Emerald WEAPON in FFVII and thinking "I can do better than this idiot." Went out the next day, picked it up ("Oh my God, 3 discs?!?", and my video gaming life was changed forever. Needless to say, FFVII sits upon an insurmountable pedestal in my list of favorites, Final Fantasy's and otherwise. I mean, my phone's text tone is the FFVII victory jingle composed by Nobuo Uematsu for cryin' out loud.
    Since starting with FFVII (which I realize makes me a noob to be forever looked down upon by the "hardcore gamers" whose only real claim to being "hardcore" is that they were born before I was), I have played nearly every Final Fantasy in the main series, along with a few of the rather unfortunate spin-offs. I've only missed FFXI and FFX-2 simply because I had no interest in MMOs or playing dress-up, respectively. While I won't argue FFXII's merits, I can't believe that any cross-section of FF fans (hardcore or otherwise) would reveal that it is a fan-favorite. I'd have to say that one of FFIV, FFVI, or FFVII (or possibly the outside chance of FFX) would be considered an accurate fan-favorite. Nor would I agree that FFIX is the best that the FF series has to offer, despite what the metascore charts above point out. A 94? Come on. Nice job with the statistic manipulation, by the way: really goes to show you that math and graphs really can be used for evil.
    As far as some other FF titles I enjoyed? I really liked playing FF Tactics Advanced and FF Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift. FFX will always be on my list for being the main series' introduction to the PS2, and the same holds true for FFXIII's leap into HD on the PS3/XBox360. It looks simply gorgeous and the battle system is some of the most fun I've had in an RPG in years. However, I do agree that the story is pretty limited (half of it is told through text-only datalog entries) and that the movement to an almost completely linear play-through, while opening the FF world to a more casual audience and keeping it exciting for today's fast-paced gaming generation, is a pretty severe shock to my FF senses. But come on people, this is the first FF of the PS3/XBox360 generation; it can only get better from here.

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