Review by Gamegeek123

"Excellent Installment, Yet Different"

For being a Final Fantasy game, there obviously are extremely high expectations so it will uphold the quality of previous Final Fantasy games. This game is NOT for everyone. This installment is EXTREMELY different from its predecessors. If you love the traditional JRPG structure and format, rent the game. If you want something new, buy this game. FFXIII has departed so far away from its JRPG format we all know and love. BUT, FFXIII fulfills the "guidelines" for an Final Fantasy game; it is outstanding and a must-try. Why would I enjoy this game, you ask? It's the first ever single-player game that my cousins would sit next to me and enjoy every second without being bored at all. This game, is one of the few games for me that is excellent to play with friends/family.

Story (9.5/10):
The story is mystical and you will like it. It captures the mysterious and unique thteme FF games usually portray. You will be immersed in the world and the story. Otherwise, the story is a hit and miss for some people, even though it is an excellent story.

Gameplay: (9.5/10)
A traditional FF style game has "illusions" of linearity, routes that distract you from the main storyline, such as towns, or secret dungeons and areas. FF13, however, follows an entirely linear path, with forced character teams, mainly to drive the plot and story. The linearity is no problem, as the battle system is fun and innovative, the graphics are a mega plus, and the story yields the substance and gives you the incentive to press forward. After 20 or so hours, you will reach EXCELLENT gameplay, when the world opens up to you, and hunting missions, upgrading, shopping, etc. Summons are back, called Eidolons, and each character gets one that corresponds to their character, and their animations are fantastic and brilliant. You purchase items at online shopping at a save point, which looks cool and futuristic, plus the shops have their own background and slogan, some very enjoyable You upgrade weapons via the save point also, and it follows the traditional leveling system of RPGs, going from level 1 to level max, with different stages. The upgrading is super fun, and satisfying. The leveling system is based on Crystarium, or (CP), where players use their Crystogen Points to purchase stats and move up the sphere grid (similar to FFX). Each character has their pros and cons within their roles. There are 6 roles in the game: Commando/Ravager/Sentinel/Medic/Saboteur/Synergist, and the basic stats for each character are: Strength, HP, & Magic. Each character gets their individual crystarium and unlike FFX it is not connected to other members. It is still satisfying to perform crystogenesis because of that fun sound effect when you move across the grid, getting higher-pitched the longer you move.

Battle System: (10/10)
One of the BEST aspects of the game. The battle system gameplay is essential to any FF, and this is where the game shines brilliantly. Command Synergy Battle (CSB) is fast-paced, tactical, and keeps you on your toes throughout battle. You only control the leader of the party (other members are AI-controlled). A turn is split into segments where you select actions/skills/spells that fill up the gauge and then execute it. There is an auto-battle feature that automatically inputs commands for you, but DO NOT USE IT, as it takes away the fun of manually inputing commands. The roles you have set for each character can be changed in a new feature called Paradigm shifts, where your party can change roles on the fly in battle, to adapt to ever-changing situations in battle.There is a stagger gauge, where chaining combos will increase the gauge and eventually break it to stagger the opponent (opponent becomes susceptible to A LOT more damage and abilities). Each role is completely different from one another; The Commando (COM) deals the main damage and slows the stagger bar, the Ravager (RAV) increases it fast, the Sentinel (SEN) shields other party members from the opponents, the Medic (MED) heals your members, the Saboteur (SAB) debuffs the enemies and help the chain gauge, and the Synergist (SYN) buffs your own party members. I tip my hat to SquareEnix for turning the traditional ATB system, into a completely new form that has no Wait mode. You will ALWAYS be doing something every second.

Graphics/Sound: (10/10)
One of the BEST aspects of the game. This is the BEST looking game ever made on the new gen. The cutscenes in HD are fantastic, and the eidolon attack animations look stunning. The environment is breathtaking and wonderfully crafted, and artistic. There is no doubt the graphics are FF13's best features. The music fits the environment well so I can't really say anything about it, it did its job, and gave many memorable tunes. The Title theme and game logo is unique, brilliant, fits the game's environment well, and corresponds to the story, as expected of a Final Fantasy logo.

Play Time:
The main storyline is 40 hours, and maxing out everything post-game can go over 100+ hours. This game is a massive time consumer, and the trophies in the game make you want to play till you get everything in the game. There is replayability as some people have played it twice or more.

Fun Factor:

Overall: This game is excellent, and as fun as you can make out of it. Of course, there are haters, and if you think you won't like this game, rent it first to see if it suits your tastes. Some people have taken the haters' advice yet loved the game when they bought it. This game is excellent and underrated, ranked top #1 in my list of top FFs. Not even the flaws can outweigh the massive Pros this game has.

+ Fascinating and story-driven
+ Lovable characters and good character development
+ Superb Voice Acting
+ Fast-paced and strategic Battle System
+ Best Graphics to date.
+ Beautiful Soundtrack as expected from FF games.
+ 1-Player game you can pick up easily with other people.
+ Very long main-game, long post-game too.

Linear Progression, but for me it doesn't hurt me at all.
Capped Crystarium, but grinding is still available since you can farm items to upgrade weapons to improve your stats.

Buy? Rent?
If you are scared of Change and want a traditional JRPG, rent this game. You can still enjoy it.
If you are a casual gamer or an open-minded FF veteran, buy this game.

Final Fantasy XIII really did it for me, and I'd say it is the funnest FF I ever played.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 06/01/10, Updated 08/17/10

Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)

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