Final Fantasy XIII was too linear and didn't present players with enough opportunities to explore the world, producer Yoshinori Kitase has told VideoGamer.com.
"Obviously it was the first Final Fantasy numbered titled for current-gen, high definition consoles, so we found it very challenging," said Kitase. "When it comes to graphical standard, game volume and [creating a] big story, we were quite satisfied. I think we did a good job. However, when it comes to gameplay there were some issues."
He added: "Because the game was very story-driven, I think the problem was that it was quite linear. There could have been more opportunities for world exploration."
While accepting criticisms that the game was too linear, Kitase feels the reaction in North America and Europe was made worse by preconceptions built from the earlier Japanese release.
"The game came out in Japan, and even in Japan lots of gamers thought it was a bit too linear. The nature of the internet age means that in the country the game is released in first, if anyone has an opinion that will be worldwide the day after - obviously through blogs and forums. So gamers outside of Japan, who hadn't played the game yet, might have had some kind of preconceptions which might have led to a bit of overreaction, possibly," he explained. "Having said that, the criticism of the game being too linear was sort of true, as well."
The linearity of the first game is being remedied in XIII-2 partly through the introduction of the time-travelling Historia Crux system.
"We took those criticisms fully on board. We wanted to enable each player to have a pro-active attitude in terms of creating their own story, if you like, rather than just accepting whatever's given to you, passively," Kitase explained. "That's not what I wanted. I wanted to depart from the passive story appreciation to something more active.
"The main focus for this particular change is a new system called Historia Crux, for the time-travelling elements of the game. Basically the player can choose his or her own time or location that they want to play. So you could jump 200 or 300 years later, even 500 years later. You can choose where you want to warp to, and things will subsequently branch out; you can take different routes before you come to the ending."
Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be released February 3 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.