I’m coming awfully close to reaching my breaking point with Final Fantasy XIII. I was holding onto the hope that things would balance out once I got to Gran Pulse where the game truly opens up. Unfortunately when you do reach Gran Pulse, the faults of the game become so glaring that it’s nearly impossible for me to look past them. Even the battle engine has gone from chaotic fun to frustratingly inadequate with the incredible leap in difficulty in chapter 11 from non-boss encounters.

You’re dropped onto Gran Pulse with little direction with a landscape littered with Behemoths and Adamantoises with only a little yellow arrow on your mini-map blindly guiding you. While individual Behemoths are not impossible to take down at this point, you will get utterly decimated by an Adamantoise. Sure they’re easy to avoid, but there are so many meandering around that you’re given the false-sense of security that you can engage them. Well, it may be possible to down one, but not without a ton of grinding for upgrade components and CP.

Grinding is nothing new for veteran FF fans like myself, but I’m not sure I have the fortitude and patience for it anymore. Between higher level crystarium nodes requiring between 4k-10k CP and the continued scarcity of gil to buy components to upgrade equipment you can waste DAYS grinding. There are (side) missions you can undertake to give some meaning to the otherwise all-out grind-fest but these aren’t fun to complete either. Usually the mission descriptions do an adequate job of telling you what you need to kill and whereabouts to find your mark, but without a map of any kind giving you an idea to where these locales are you’ll be wandering aimlessly hoping that you’re going the right way.

Considering that I’m anxious to get back to Mass Effect 2, I decided that it was in my best interest to ignore these and push on through the storyline. What a mistake. I started blindly heading in the direction of the yellow arrow and discovered that in doing so, you’ll eventually be led to packs of behemoths. Oids >.< Eventually I found a path where I could skirt around a behemoth and fenris/wolf engaged in mortal combat and ended up finding a cave leading onto the next area I was meant to go to.

While it might seem a little contradictory, I am a completionist when it comes to exploration in Final Fantasy games and when I discovered a side-path in this cave that I had to take. It led to a room where my rag-tag team of three proceeded to get utterly decimated by the Juggernaut. I’m the Juggernaut, bitch! Okay, optional boss I figured and with my tail tucked between my legs I headed down the other path straight into another brick wall.

This time the wall was a seemingly ordinary pack of mechanical enemies with a larger “commander” unit in the back which could call in reinforcements slightly faster than I could take them down and then proceed to buff them to make them dangerous. I tried a number of tactics to tackle this normal encounter but I ended up banging my head against this wall for about 20 minutes. Initially I tried burning the adds and but couldn’t keep up with the reinforcements enough to put a dent in the big guy. Then I tried buffing my team and focusing solely on the big guy but once his adds are buffed, they just tore through me.

Eventually I decided to try my luck just by focusing my attention solely on the big guy by switching to RAVx3 after getting that initial powerchain to stymie the stagger decay and fortunately that worked. Relieved I proceeded onto the next platform to be rewarded for my hard work by a pack of 5 bombs. /wrists. After several futile attempts at burning down enough of the bombs to survive the inevitable self-destructs I threw my hands up in the air and turned the system off.

Leading up to this point I had encountered a number of fail-screens mainly from boss encounters and the odd puzzle encounter, but never from a pack of normal monsters. My frustration from these encounters has only been rivaled by the Eidolons themselves (Bahamut I’m looking at you). When your team is perfectly happy standing in the middle of a pack of bombs about to self-destruct I yearn for the ability to move my team leader ala Final Fantasy XII.

So I’m at a weird cross-roads with Final Fantasy XIII. Either grind to keep progressing through the story which I’m becoming disenchanted with, or put the game down and set it next to VI and VIII as the 3rd Final Fantasy game (main series) that has pissed me off to the point where I could care less about finishing it. It is hard to find the motivation to keep going especially with Mass Effect 2 whispering sweet-nothings in my ear, but I suppose I owe it to myself as a Final Fantasy fan-boy to keep going …