For me there are three key factors in a game, characters, plot, and world. Any one of these by itself can grab my interest and pull me along. Gameplay is there in the background, and sometimes it even prevents me from finishing (yes, I'm looking at YOU, Magna Carta: Tears of Blood!!), but it is not my thing. I need an interesting plot that I can get involved with and want to learn more about (is Ultimecia REALLY future-Rinoa?). Or a beautiful and complex world, full of life and history. Or, and this is the clincher, characters that I care about. I draw them, I chibify them, I ship them, I write myself into the plot. Yes, I will do anything to finish a game for characters that I love (FF II, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XII, Xenogears, Disgaea 2, Legend of Dragoon, &c...yes there have been a few^^).
Final Fantasy XIII had me interested from the time that the trailers started appearing at Japanese game shows. The world looked future-y but not too outer-spacey (that's where Xenosaga lost me). I began to look for character designs online, recognizing as I did some familiar FF archetypes. And at last the days were accomplished when the game was delivered unto me. Hmmm, ok, here we go!! Yes, well the screen type is so small. Should I buy that 64" plasma screen TV that I have been reinforcing my wall for? No, not yet. *sigh* I can squint. And my son is having the same problem with Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland. Ok here we go again! Right onandonandon through a cattle chute. My, but this game is LINEAR! Will I ever get to wander anywhere except back and forth (without hair whips, TG). Anyway, the landscape is detailed, but does not seem alive. I have escaped the crystal lake, but a glance ahead in the guidebook shows me nothing but more cattle chutes!!
I am getting a grasp on the gameplay, so I don't think that will be too much of a problem. As long as there is a way for me to get super strong at some point, I will be ok. And, i do find that I am starting to care about the characters. All of them except for Snow. Mr. I'm-a-hero can take a hike, as far as I'm concerned. And, he's like 2 feet taller than anyone else on the planet. Light, Sazh, and Vanille are going to carry this game for me, I think. Light is the Cloud, the Squall of this game, the troubled loner driven by an inner code too strict for any person to live up to. Vanille is the Selphie/Rikku, the cheerful wanderer, full of life and enthusiasm. Sazh (Szah?) is my favorite; he is capable and kind, adapting quickly and willing to help others, as long as they do the minimum of acknowledging his existence. These three are the ones I am counting on to pull me through this game. I understand the plot a little better now, but it is probably best not to go into that, unless you want to play the game. All I can hope for now, is that the world gets a little more beautiful. And I am already shipping Sazh x Light.