Review by daveyman23
"Final Fantasy has yet again created a master piece."
Final Fantasy XIII, the birth child of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series that Square Enix has been hard at work, has finally arrived in America. And with it comes a game that is in many aspects unique and others cliched. However, cliches do not necessarily mean they are bad. In fact, FFXIII uses them so well, the game may as well set the standards for current gen JRPGs. But enough about that. Final Fantasy XIII is a beautiful game that every RPG fan should experience.
Final Fantasy XIII takes place in a world called Cocoon, where citizens live in bliss due to their demigod-life savers, the fal'Cie. The fal'Cie are capable of many things that humans rely on to survive: food, shelter, travel, and other commodities. Also within their powers is the ability to create l'Cie. L'Cie are humans granted magical powers, in exchange for fulfilling a focus. Their focus usually has something to do with protecting the fal'Cie, and preserving its life. Unfortunately, citizens are scared to death by l'Cie, which causes very many problems throughout the game. The protagonist, Lightning Farron, is a battle hardened soldier with a craving for revenge against the fal'Cie. In her pursuit to save her sister, Serah, from becoming one of the fal'Cie's tools, she encounters five memorable characters, all of which are turned into l'Cie, that are thrown into a world of rebellion along with her. Sazh Katzroy, an airship pilot that lives for the happiness of his son. Snow Villiers, Serah's fiancée and hero. His goal in life is help others, and create an amiable life with Serah. Hope Estheim, a confused, young boy who looses his mother, and has an absent father. In addition to Cocoon, there is a planet named Pulse, hated by all on Cocoon and known as hell Two characters hail from there, named Vanille and Fang.
The story of Final Fantasy XIII is at times slow. I found a bigger part of the game to be the characterization that happens during the course of the game. Most of the characters have very blunt attitudes toward issues early in the game, and as you play, you see them learn more about the world and how it truly works. It is great to see a bunch of strangers come together because of their unfortunate fates. The story doesn't pick up for a while, but the characters and their personalities more than make up for it.
In the past, Final Fantasy had always done battles through random encounters, where the player will be walking and at any given moment, a battle can ensue just by moving. In Final Fantasy XII, that was done away with by engaging enemies head on when seen in the field. Once again it has been refined in XIII, where players will see the enemy on the field, and if engaged the players and enemies will go to a battle screen to fight as opposed to the field. This has probably been my favorite battle system, just behind that of XII's.
The game starts off slow game-play wise. Throughout the entire game, the play controls one character, and any other characters that are present in a party are controlled by the game itself. In the beginning, players start off with very few abilities and cannot change classes. However, as the game progresses, the ability to Paradigm Shift becomes essential. What this means is that at any given moment in battle, players can change their parties to fit whatever role they may need. Players set their paradigms before battle, with the option of making the character fit six different classes: Commando, Ravager, Medic, Sentinel, Saboteur, and Synergist. Some deal damage, others soak it, some cast magic and spells and others heal. Each are completely different and to be effective in battle, players must utilize each correctly.
The game moves extremely fast and in order to cope with different situations, players must paradigm shift to fit their needs. The gameplay in XIII is extremely well done and balanced, and until the later levels of the game do ultimate attacks come into play. Each character learns different spells at different times from their own paradigms, so players will have plenty of choices to make in choosing a party they would like to stick with. The battle system has kept me occupied for hours, seeking out new and more difficult enemies to test my skills on.
Final Fantasy XIII has been a great experience for me in terms of a current generation JRPG. I thought the story was put together, implementing government hierarchy and the power of the people. It really reflected a lot of issues that are present within today's society. As for the characters, they are top notch. Each has very real personalities, almost like people you might meet in real life. As for the graphics, I could not have been more awestruck. I have the displeasure of playing on an old TV, but when I saw the game on an HDTV, I was blown away. Each movement is detailed, every hair is blown in the wind, the clothes form naturally to a body. It is truly amazing to compare video games today to the ones of ten, even five years ago. So much progress has been made graphically, and Final Fantasy continues to push the limits. The sound track is beautiful, with a great mix or orchestrated and vocal songs implemented within the game. The best part of the game, without question, is the gameplay. Fighting and defeating enemies, be they fodder or boss battles, makes you feel like you are accomplishing something grand. The game is FUN!
Sadly, the beginning of the game is the weakest part of the entire package. Those who prefer to rent games before purchasing will be disappointed, unless of course they play a good amount and learn how fun and in depth the game can get. The selling point for me was the battle system, and the beginning is a poor representation of it. I would have to say that this game should be a purchase, especially if you are a fan of Final Fantasy or RPGs in general. The graphics, music, story, characters, and gameplay are great. Players just need to give the game a chance. That being said, go out and buy Final Fantasy XIII! It is a beautiful game that everyone should have the chance to experience.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/23/10, Updated 03/25/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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