I've been having incredible chills all day today, though I don't seem to be running a fever. My sinuses also tried to overthrow my face. My back aches oh so very greatly.
My brother and I have been plugging away at Final Fantasy XIII. It's funnish and reminds me greatly of FFX. SO LINEAR. Like, agonizingly so. They even put a SEVERE cap on how much you can advance your character, which completely blows all my usual efforts at mass leveling along the way out of the water. There's no actual levels, you see, but a Crystal type advancement which functions somewhat like the grid thingie in FFX. Where you could completely advance your characters in whatever way you wanted in that game, however, specific characters get specific rolls in XIII and you can only advance them a specific (and short) distance until you beat the next boss.
The storyline seems much more advanced than in XII, though my brother and I had to compare what we knew of everything to get even a slight clue as to WTF is going on. There are extremely frequent cut scenes, somewhat like in Xenosaga. Fight a teensy bit and move forward five feet? Cutscene. Step to the left? Cutscene. Burp? Cutscene. I also like that the story has a female lead for the very first time, and has not one, but two VERY strong female characters (Lightning and Fang - Vanille is.... she reminds me of what would happen if Selphie and Penelo had a love child.) I can see Sazh either going over with the crowds greatly or becoming the JarJar of Final Fantasy. Fang would be the love child of Pain from X-2 and Jo from The Facts of Life.
I've heard there's like 160 hours of gameplay in it, and I'm still under 20 (just started Chapter 8). I hear after about hour 20 or so, the linear-ness goes away. Peeking ahead into the book, however, every single map is a very long line with zero capability of veering off. (Though peeking into the side quests, I saw more open zones, which makes me hopeful.)
One thing that drives me freaking BATTY, though, is the whole romance thing between Snow and Lightning's sister. Could they have possibly made her look a SMIDGE older than, like, TEN? SRSLY. Love scenes look like he's kissing his daughter, not fiancee. Granted, the Japanese also wrote Sailor Moon as a 14 year old girl dating a guy in college, so.... *shrug*
For the combat aspect of the game, it relies heavily on AI, somewhat like the gambit aspect of XII. Between this and the lack of being able to advance my characters early and often, I started to become extremely irritated, thinking I would be spending hours just going through the motions with zero thought process from me. However, if you do not pay attention 100% of the time (and I'm not even kidding on this) and make slight adjustments, YOU WILL DIE.
Overall, it's still holding my interest, though. I'm interested in seeing how it advances much further on. It also makes me want to finish playing XII (in hopes that my brother won't save over my almost completed game - AGAIN) and get me some dreamy Balthier-ness.