Review: Final Fantasy XIII

DO YOU HAVE THE COURAGE TO FACE YOUR DESTINY?

Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Role Playing Game
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: March 9, 2010
Compatability (PS3): 3156KB Mininum Space | DUALSHOCK 3 Vibration Function | HD 720p / 1080i / 1080p
Compatability (Xbox 360): 4MB Mininum Space | HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p
Rating: 9.0

“A prayer for redemption. A wish to protect the world. A promise to challenge destiny. After thirteen days of fates intertwined, the battle begins.” Final Fantasy XIII makes its first appearance on the PlayStation 3 and also debuts for the first time on the Xbox 360 console. And it doesn’t disappoint. Just like most of the Final Fantasy games, the latest from the franchise has a solid and breathtaking story which unfolds with every battle you fight. Visually outstanding and fascinating, Final Fantasy XIII brings home an amazing game which will lie among one of the favorites of all RPG fans.

This time around our heroes live in Cocoon, a world which floats above the surface of Pulse, a very perilous place. Gods in Final Fantasy XIII are called fal’Cie and these choose a number of individuals to complete what is called a Focus. These marked individuals are called l’Cie and if the Focus is not achieved within a certain amount of time, the individual turns to a monster called Cie’th. On the other hand if the Focus is completed, the l’Cie is turned to crystal for eternity. Not something which anyone would hope for. The cast is leaded by the mysterious Lightning, a young girl of few words. While she fights her way against PSICOM soldiers, Lightning is joined by a number of protagonists which are all marked as l’Cie.

One of the best visuals of all time. Remarkable.

These exiles have different abilities and powers and you will be able to choose your party any time you want. From the chosen characters, you only directly control one, the party leader. The others act depending on the role you give them. These roles are specified in what are called Paradigms. In total there are six roles and all six protagonists are proficient in three of them. Preparing the Paradigms is a vital attribute in Final Fantasy XIII since you have to choose the right persons and the right abilities in certain fights, especially in boss battles. Changing Paradigms in the middle of battle is essential. For example a Ravager is a role which concentrates on magic attacks, a Sentinel provokes and catches the enemies’ attention, and a Commando physically attacks with weapons. There is also the Medic, the Saboteur and the Synergist.

The Paradigms are a massive positive in the game’s battle system. This consists of the Active Time Battle (ATB) gauge which fills up with time. Once this is filled up you execute the commands you chose, depending what role the characters has. So the latest battle system is much more intuitive and engaging than in previous Final Fantasy games. Also every enemy has a chain gauge in which the more you hit the target the more this gauge fills up. Once this is totally filled up, the enemy goes staggered and this very important against certain enemies since sometimes this is the only way you can beat them. Once staggered, the enemy takes more damage than normal. At the end of each fight you earn a rating, spoils and technical points. The latter is used to execute special abilities like for example summoning Eidolons, which are guardian forces helping you beat your foes. In Final Fantasy XIII, experience points are used to level up your characters. This is done through the Crystarium which is a simple grid where you have to follow it to choose what abilities and skills your characters learn.

Summoning an Eidolon adds to the massively satisfying battle system.

When a Final Fantasy game comes out, everyone looks out for the amazing visuals that the franchise is popular of having. Even if you’re not a fan of the series (or even RPGs), you must admit that the graphics are outstanding especially in certain cut-scenes. These are without a doubt the best visuals available on console games. These jaw-dropping textures are also complemented with a very good soundtrack and voice acting. I believe that some of the previous Final Fantasy titles had better soundtracks but this one is pretty remarkable. On the other hand Final Fantasy XIII has also its negatives in which some of them may be striking for veterans of the series. The game doesn’t have any villages or cities to visit and even the usual communicating with NPCs has been decreased a lot. The path you need to follow is pretty linear and you won’t need to worry of losing your way since the open world feature has been removed here. Forests, cities and caverns have a single path apart from just a few side-paths which give you a treasure chest. This doesn’t count for Chapter 11 which has a massive environment ready to be explored and side-quests to complete.

Typical of RPGs, you will spend between 45 to 60 hours to complete Final Fantasy XIII and even though you may not like the linearity of the game, you will enjoy a lot the new battle system and the solid story with a very good cast of characters that every Final Fantasy game is famous for. Final Fantasy XIII shouldn’t be missed by JRPG fans and this may also be the case for newcomers of the series.

Reviewed by Barber – April 24, 2010

Graphics
Cut-scenes boast the best looking visuals available. The beautiful environments will make you stare in awe. Exceptional.
 
Sound
The soundtrack may not be as perfect as previous titles but it is good enough. Voice acting is top notch.
 
Fun
Although linearity may not appeal to everyone, the engaging battle system and breathtaking story makes this game a massive one to enjoy.
 
Final Score

 

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