Thursday, February 2, 2012

Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Autosave

I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIII-2 for the past few days, and I have really been enjoying it. However, I have a couple complaints about the game. Listen carefully as I list them off.
  1. I can’t really hold this against anybody in particular, but I’m playing the second iteration of the thirteenth entry into the main series of an extremely popular game. How ridiculous is that?
  2. The framerate isn’t as buttery-smooth as Final Fantasy XIII. Kind of a minor annoyance, but I can deal with it.
  3. The game uses an autosave system that I don’t fully understand.
Ubiquitous autosave is arguably one of the best things to come out of this generation of games. It’s really nice to be able to expect to be able to turn off your game at pretty much any point and know that you will be able to pick up right where you left off when you come back. It’s got a little ways to go before I fully trust it, though.

Different games implement it differently, depending on the configuration of the game. Games that are broken up into short levels, like the wonderful Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, usually autosave immediately after each level. Some games use a checkpointing system, so every time you make a specified amount of progress or pass a certain amount of time you get an autosave. My favorite has to be the way that Dark Souls handles it, by automatically saving whenever you do anything.

The problem that I have with the way that Final Fantasy XIII-2 does autosave is that I’m not sure how it decides to make a save. Does it do it whenever I make progress in an area? How about after each battle? Did it save my CP/Gil gained there? I leveled up, or spent some money at a shop. Did it record that? Am I safe to turn off my PS3 now? As much as I think that save points are kind of a relic of a past age, I do like that they give me the security of knowing that whatever progress I made has definitely been recorded.

I haven’t been burned by it yet on Final Fantasy XIII-2, but I’m always suspicious when I am about to quit playing. Another game that had autosave that I didn’t quite understand was inFamous. I was never quite sure what it had decided was important enough to record, but fortunately it offered an option in the menu to save manually. Final Fantasy XIII-2 also offers that in the pause menu, so that’s a relief.

Things get a little murkier when I want to save before quitting when I’m at the Historia Crux screen, which is where you end up at the end of chapters. If you hit the pause button to save there, the option is conspicuously missing, I assume that when you finish a chapter and end up there, it automatically saves, but it isn’t crystal clear to me if that’s the case. On that screen it gives the option to press square in order to save, but when I did that it prompted me to make a new save file instead of the autosave file, and then it did some sort of three-stage saving process that was kind of lengthy and didn’t inspire me with a lot of confidence.

The whole point I’m trying to make here is that if a game uses autosave, it should be absolutely clear about what the criteria are for the saving system to activate. Dark Souls did this correctly, by making it perfectly clear that absolutely everything I do goes “on the record”, no exceptions. Maybe I’m being a little too harsh on Final Fantasy XIII-2 for this, but if there’s one thing that is not acceptable, it’s me losing play data because the autosave didn’t activate. So, for now, I’ll just make sure to manually save before I quit every time, no exceptions.


  1. Doesn't it show you when it autosaves? Most games have some kind of icon.

  2. It has one of those icons, yes, but honestly the only time I ever notice it is during certain loading screens where there's literally nothing else on the screen. Dark Souls had something like that, where it had a little bubbly looking animation in the corner of the screen, but it is just going constantly, so you just get to expecting that *everything* you do gets saved instantly, forever. Here I can only think of like, three times where I remember seeing the thing.