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)

  • Jeremy  

    Im a little over half way through XIII, and I'm loving it.

    It starts incredibly slow...and takes hours upon hours to actually get going. But I'm so relieved that it finally has, that I'm able to enjoy it more than I might have originally.

    I'd give it a score of around 8.8, after 30 hours. It's not top-tier Final Fantasy quality, but it's a worthy addition to the series.

  • Matt  

    Why does everyone think reviews matter that much? It's like movies, SALES matter, not the reviews. I loved FFXII and hated Crystal Chronicles. Does anyone really care what scores I gave them? People who care about review scores and who think this article means anything is a moron. Play the game for the game. Don't play it because it scored high.

  • Final Fantasy  

    I think people need to recall that Metacritic is getting together several critical scores and ranking them. It isn't as though Metacritic said, "Let's give Final Fantasy XII a 9.2." No, that's the critic average score.

    As for Final Fantasy in and of itself, there are two things which disturb me about Final Fantasy fans. The fact that many of them want the series to stay the same with it's old school turn based mechanics AND that they want the game to be progressive at the same time. It's a little disturbing. I enjoy the old school Final Fantasy titles a great deal. With VI, IV, VII, VIII and X being among my favorites in the series (Final Fantasy VI being my number one favorite Final Fantasy) but I am not opposed to Final Fantasy changing. In the first place, the original creator of Final Fantasy hasn't exactly been making the Final Fantasy games for several years now. In fact the last one he had any real attachment to was Final Fantasy X. After that Final Fantasy was handled by a different team of people. Final Fantasy XI I'm not too sure on, but the team that made Final Fantasy XII worked on Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (along with A2). This isn't new history, it's only to say that those expecting the next few Final Fantasy titles to be around the same glamor and prestige as the original I think are setting themselves up for a disappointment. You want to enjoy that old school Final Fantasy feel then go out and buy Lost Odyssey or Blue Dragon or something of that sort as the original guys behind Final Fantasy are now working at Mistwalker studios and made those very games.

    On the other hand, while I understand a lot of people hate Final Fantasy XII, I actually rather liked it. It would probably never make my all time favorite games--r even all time favorite Final Fantasy games, for that matter--but it was hardly a terrible games. Most fans just hate it because they wanted something other than what it was they received. They bit into an apple and then were upset it didn't taste like an orange. It was stupid of fans to even think Final Fantasy XII was going to have any sort of semblance of the original games to begin with. If they were led to believe this they were probably not doing their homework or reading up on any of it. In short, many of them should've known what they were getting before they actually got it.

    If there was any well deserved criticism of Final Fantasy XII it would be that the game just wasn't memorable in the sense of its story. It was a fine game in terms of aesthetics. It had beautiful graphics and art direction, a pretty good music score (that most fans dislike more so because it wasn't Nobuo Uematsu rather than because they actually think it's bad... which is also stupid because these same people will praise Valkyria Chronicles and the Final Fantasy Tactics soundtrack... even though they share the same characteristics) and Final Fantasy XII ran rather well. It was a well put together game. The problem with Final Fantasy XII was really the meat... not exactly the bones. What you got from Final Fantasy XII was certainly a game worth checking out, but one can't deny that there just wasn't much in terms of the fun factor. Final Fantasy XII had you roaming around merely standing around and waiting for your characters to attack. About the most control you had in Final Fantasy XII was actually just moving around the left Analog stick. You didn't feel much like you were participating. It sounds strange, but scrolling through menus and selecting to make your characters attack is probably a lot better than actually watching as they attack. The gambit system had promise but it stripped away the feeling of actually playing a game and instead gave you a feeling that you were just moving things along. Couple that up with Final Fantasy XII's tendency to ignore it's story and what you had was mostly a shell of a game. I rather enjoyed, but it's a game that was only enjoyable for so long. It had a well written script, beautiful graphics, good voice acting and even a good soundtrack... but in the end the gameplay and story--two of the most critical aspects of a game--really needed to have more attention put there.

    On the other hand, Final Fantasy going back to being entirely old school wouldn't help. One of the reasons Final Fantasy has progressed as it has is because you need to find a way to reach out to other gamers and get them involved. The old traditional stylings of the JRPG might appeal to some but that "some" is incredibly low compared to the direction that gaming is headed. The reason games like Final Fantasy IV, Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VII thrived and continue to do so is because they were the state of the art at that time. You wouldn't, for example, want to try and get people to play a game like the very first Final Fantasy where the story is non-existent, slow paced and the game is so brutally hard that most people wouldn't even care to finish it. There's a reason Final Fantasy moved from being THAT. More so, there's a reason why Final Fantasy keeps changing and evolving. It's to keep the series from being dated. The aspects of say... Final Fantasy IV will always be remembered, but what I can't stand is this idea that because newer games don't utilize it... they're bad. It works for old school gamers who like that sort of thing. And I admit, I like it a lot, but Final Fantasy IV is an example of a game that we will always love, but not one we'd soon like to see the exact same mechanics repeated in this day and age (a remake is fine, but building a new game from the ground up? People would probably be annoyed at the repetition, the overt difficulty etc. etc.) Gaming, like anything else, is an art that is always changing, and sometimes it is for good reason. When I get my hands on Final Fantasy XIII I hope to see what has changed from XII to this. On the other hand, as far as "roots" are concerned, Final Fantasy was always changing its roots (except for when they went back to them briefly with Final Fantasy IX). Each Final Fantasy has almost always tried to do something new and different. The only thing which remained constant for the longest time was the turn based battle system. But from the job system, to espers to materia, to junctioning, Final Fantasy has always been morphing and changing with each new installment.

    The difference is that your "art" is just simply now in the hands of someone else. It was never destined to say the same. And why should it? We're in 2010 now. Not 1991 (for those who began with FFIV) or 1994 (FFVI) or 1997 (FFVII). It's always amazing how gamers want something to change AND stay the same all at once. You want change, but when you get it you **** about getting it. If you enjoy those old school Final Fantasy games, that's fine, but the new stuff isn't bad because it isn't the old. They just don't thrive on their own merits such as how Final Fantasy XII just didn't really make great use of gameplay and story. If Final Fantasy XII had been done like a "traditional" Final Fantasy title... the gameplay might have been more engaging, but I have my doubts that the story would been more rewarding.

  • Steph  

    I'm very disappointed with FF 13. How about for next time, a little more player involvement, not so linear. Not everyone wants some silly fighting game with a million storyline scenes.

  • Seth  

    Having played all of the main Final Fantasy games, I must say I can't think of a better game to resume what a Final Fanatsy game should be than IX.
    It brought back the classic middle age feeling from the series roots, but without leaving behind the high-tech path the series took in VII & VIII. It also brought back the 4 member party formation and blue mages. The game also makes several references to other FF games - references only true fans of the series would tell. It is also Sakaguchi's favorite Final Fantasy.

    Off the main series, Final Fantasy Tactics took us for the first time, to the world of Ivalice, a world that in the future would be deeply explored in FFTA2, FFXII and even Vagrant's Story - the latter not being a FF game at all. The Ogre Tactics' battle system allied with FFV's job system and one of the best and most complex plots in the entire series made this game one of the best FF games. Being released just a while after FFVII, the game ended up overlooked by Cloud Strife and his friends.

  • SAmmoT  

    Having played most of the final fantasy series since the PS1versions started, I think that overall the quality ebbs and flows. FF VII will always be a defining game for me because it was the first game I completed and the story was amazing, but there have been other moments with VIII and X. I don't think that XIII will be as good as some previous installments, but that still won't mean that I won't enjoy the journey. Its one of those games that fans will appreciate even if we know that the best FF on these consoles may well be yet to come.

  • Shiyera  

    well my name is shiyera and i just want to say that people really need to stop being so judgemental because. all the people who work for square enix and the square enix company, really did a fantastic job on the new release title Final Fantasy XIII. I know alot of people out there are saying alot of harsh things about final fantasy XIII but come on no one can deny that it's really a great game. people need to really stop judging a game by it facts if your going to say alot of harsh words about a game then maybe you should just make your on game and get a life. some of the most greatest games in the franchise is put down because of people alway's judging them. if people keep judging great games and downgrading them all the time then other people would think that the game is just not worth buying. just because the game didnt appeal to you dosent mean other people might not like it either everybody has there likes and dislikes. Im just so upset with all these critics lowering a game that alot of people worked so hard to make and put their hearts into making the game.

  • Andrew  

    I have played and beat every single FF "main" game along with several of the spin offs, and personally I did like 12 the best. I had the original NES cart of the First Final Fantasy so I have been playing them for a very long time. I have always enjoyed FF, but I tend to get annoyed with the random battles after a while, especially when I am trying to explore or go back and complete side quests. Nothing is more annoying then going back to some of the early areas of a game with enemies that cant every remotely stand a chance against you, and constantly getting into battles. Even more so annoying if as soon as you get into a battle the enemies just run away. FF12 really helped to resolve that problem while keeping every thing else that I love about the series in tact. So far I am around 10 hours into 13 and I enjoy it so far, although I do feel they over simplified a few things, and I would have preferred the battle system from 12 to have been continued.

  • Mono  

    FF6 is indeed the best FF game by far. 12 is easily the worst. What a pile. The first FF that I couldn't finish once let alone play through multiple times like I did with every other FF game. It's also killed my interest in the series. Sorry Square but while you were designing crummy MMO's or speedsheet macro fighting systems Bioware was making GOOD RPGs. My RPG heart is now dedicated to KOTOR, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect. My interest in FF13? Non-existent.

  • VideoGameFan  

    As was stated, no idea where you're getting the idea that FF12 was the most popular of the series...fans pretty much hated it. Go to Gamefaqs.com and check out fan reviews for all of them and FF12 is easily the lowest-scoring one, it was very polarizing. For some reason critics didn't dig FF13 as much as the others but critics and FF fans aren't always on the same page. FF12 got excellent reviews but fans didn't like it, which is why the producers decided to switch it up so much with FF13.

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