Eske Esquire wrote:
Wow. I don't know what to tell you. If the FFXIII characters are realistic to you, then I have to wonder what your life is like.
The character development is ham-fisted. It lacks any realistic subtlety. Their personalities are all drawn from traditional anime cliches. They practically announce their character flaws with every sentence ("I HAVE TO BE THE HERO!!"). They start at such a low place, that all the game's work that's done to show them evolving only brings them back to near-neutral. They grapple with their personality flaws with all the tact of young high-schoolers (perhaps that's fine for Hope, but it sure isn't for anyone else), and the majority of the game is spent watching the clock, wondering when they'll have the revelatory moment that most people of reasonable intelligence would have reached much, much earlier. For most of the game, they are whiny, abrasive, or arbitrarily mean-spirited. It's painfully forced and unrealistic.
I really think that your standards are too low. I believe that video game characterization should be held to the same standard of film. Games like Mass Effect may succeed when compared to other games, but in truth, there's a lot of work still to be done. At the very least, we should have a realistic understanding of where the industry needs to develop (with the level of a good film being the goal). I look at a movie like, say, Doubt, and think that the industry has a long way to go before I consider anything to be a truly great characterization. But FFXIII doesn't just fall short compared to film, it falls short compared to the gaming industry.
It seems to me like you are determined to hate the game. The fact that the characters weren't really original has nothing to do with character development, so why are you offering that as a rebuttle?
SOME of their character development is done in the way you describe, but the vaaaast majority of it isn't. For instance, at the start of the game, Hope almost always stays silent in group conversations until he ends up blowing up, because they all seem to him to be forgetting the fact that they are l'cie (which of course isn't true, but he's determined to be displeased). By the end of the game, he's often taking part in the discussions, sometimes playing the referee, sometimes offering encouragement, and often giving his real opinion of the situation. That character growth is slow and subtle, but it's there and it's extremely
If you are just going to ignore the way the characters actually behave, fine. But don't just point to the breaking point events and use them to pretend like that's all the character development you get. Because it really, really isn't.
Does some character development happen from those? Of course. But it's easily the smallest portion, if you actually pay attention. Most characters have one or two of those events in the whole story. But throughout, they change WAY more than that allows for. For Hope, it's attacking Snow/seeing his father and confronting Alexander. But you see quite a bit of character development between/before/after those events that aren't directly linked to them (and are probably not actually discussed
at all). It's slow, but if you are paying attention and not actively ignoring it, it's easily apparent.
Not to mention the way they interacted with each other was extremely well done.
Frankly, I feel like I saw more character development in the main cast than you could possibly see in a film. It was more like a novel, honestly.
No one ever said the characters were unique. But they were undoubtedly well done. If you don't like them or their archetypes, fine. I don't like some of them as well. But to deny the fact that they are well done by focusing only on a small aspect of their stories is ridiculous.