Coming off of the huge success that was Tales of Xillia, there were a lot of high expectations for the sequel, and Bandai Namco's hype machine certainly didn't help things. With trailers and screenshots suggesting a darker, edgier version of the Tales series than what we're used to, there was a lot of great potential. Unfortunately, the hype betrayed the actual state of the game. With a weak, contradictory story, an awful mission structure, and an absolutely pitiful amount of actual new content to explore, Tales of Xillia 2 turned out to be little more than a cheap, quick cash-in about a character who had none. Because of that, it is RPGamer's biggest letdown of 2014.
Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is a textbook example of one aspect of a game dragging the rest down with it. In this case it is the downright atrocious localization. Spelling mistakes and awful grammar are all over this thing, and even serve to make certain side parts of the game nigh incomprehensible. Considering the popularity of the anime series that inspired the title, even in the West, it's shocking that such a lackluster effort was given over to the game. Perhaps it was just unlucky enough to be considered a licenced cash grab by the powers that be. Admittedly, the overall plot never seems like a stunner, but for a game with such a big reliance on character interactions there's no excuse for how things are handled. There is actually a very good game beneath the frequently impossible to understand text, and it looks like the series will still have the fanbase to warrant further games coming out in English. However, it's so hard to look back at this title without being disappointed in how it turned out and thinking how much better it could've been if just some effort was given to its localization.
There are moments where we think we may have been a bit too hard on Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Looking back, the few things that stick out most to us about the experience are the positives, namely the excellent battle system and thorough degree of customization. Those two elements were enough to keep us invested until the game was completed, but not enough to make us satisfied. This wasn't just an opportunity to close out the Lightning Saga — it was an opportunity to right the wrongs of the game's predecessors. The original Final Fantasy XIII is not a bad game, but it suffers from issues in its narrative execution and character development. Instead of rectifying those issues, Final Fantasy XIII-2 further complicates the narrative and its mythos. Worse, the characters that are so in need of further development are either shoved to the background or packaged as DLC. Lightning Returns was a perfect venue to clear the air, give all primary characters their due, and close out this ill-fated trilogy on good terms. Unfortunately, Lightning's final outing doesn't rise to that challenge.
by Adriaan den Ouden, Alex Fuller, Trent Seely