Review by Rishxab0b
"A beautifully developed, sadly misunderstood game...well worth the wait, and definitely a treasure for the 360"
I'm only writing this review because I'm sick and tired of people saying how this game isn't a final fantasy game and how it sucks so much that they'd rather watch paint dry on a wall than play this game. IT ISN'T BAD. In fact, it's quite enjoyable, and I will prove this to the best of my abilities through comprehensive descriptions of each of the game's criteria. Keep in mind, that in the end it all comes down to one's personal opinion of how the game plays out it to one's expectations, so the best thing to do is to buy the game and try it out. If you hate it, trade it in, but trust me most of you won't.
If you have ever played a final fantasy game before, you've probably realized that this series forte lies in story, and battle system is overlooked to the extent that some battles tend to get boring and repetitive. In fact most rpg's are filled with long dungeons that promote repetitive battles against the same enemies with a final boss at the end. What completely shocked me was that this game had amazing quick-action-yet-strategy involved battle system completely revamped from FF12. If you've ever played the tales series (if you haven't, I strongly suggest so), you are probably familiar with a quick-actioned battle system that allows you to think on your feet and make decisions before your enemies pulverize you. In the same sense, FF13 creates an amazing system known as the paradigm system that involves strategy but also forces the player to quickly react to dangerous enemies or be punished accordingly.
In detail, the paradigm system is unique and difficult to grasp, making battles extremely difficult but at the same time ridiculously well thought-out and entertaining. NO MORE can you button-mash your way into victory, like the tales series, when playing a quick-time rpg battle system like this one (Well actually you can and I'll talk about it later) In Basically there are 6 roles available to each character, ravanger, synergist, commando, saboteur, medic, and sentinel, each with a plethora of common final fantasy magic and moves like slowga, cura, firega, etc. A party is composed of 3 people at a time, and each character can be a certain role. For example, you can have a team of commando, medic, and ravanger. While in role, a character can only perform moves limited to that class, so for instance, as a ravanger, Hope can only use magic, and as a medic, he can only heal. However, it isn't as limiting as it seems because at anytime in the battle, a player can switch roles using a paradigm shift. Different battle require different paradigms (a combination of roles), and every role is useful in a certain condition. For example, I might have a team of 2 commandos and a ravanger, and then when someone's health is extremely low, I switch my paradigm to one that includes a medic. With this system in mind, the final fantasy game programmers made the game tediously difficult; even common enemies are ridiculously hard to beat, and bosses are hard too, increasing the fun factor of this game by a ton-load.
The actually battling is similar to that of FF12. For those of you not familiar with this system, there's an atb bar that fills up whenever a character isn't doing anything. Whenever the character has enough atb-units to attack or perform a move, you can prompt that character to do so, and then the atb bar has to charge once again before you can attack. You line up commands, choosing actions, and when the bar is fully charged you can enleash. If you truly are incompetent at RPG's or a battle is getting really hard, you can switch to the auto-battle function in which the computer chooses the best sets of moves to use on a certain enemy, and all the player needs to do is press the a button to unleash this predetermined combo. I try to limit the use of auto-battle because I find it much more intriguing to choose your own commands than letting the computer do the work. It requires fast, calculated strategies, as enemies do not wait for you to attack. There's no magic bar, or mp, so anyone can attack or use magic an infinite amount of times, which can be bad or good depending on your outtake. After each battle, your party's health recovers. Overall this atb system gives me a feeling that the game is a nice combination of turn-based and quick-actioned strategy. Still, you can only establish an acurate feeling for this game's battle system by viewing a youtube video or actually playing the game.
I completely adore this system, but I do need to be objective and address the blatant faults. First of all, this game is extreeeemely linear, which isn't bad, but I would have preferred an open world consistently throughout the game. The producers also found it necessary to chose who your party leader is during most parts of the game. Oh yeah, by the way, you can only control your party leader during a battle, which kind of sucks. And guess what they decided to make it so that if your party leader dies, its game over. Your other party members can't phoenix down you or anything, you're dead. I can't tell you how many times in the game I've been assigned to be Hope, and kept on dying because he's so weak. This is probably the one area of the game where I actually agreed on why people hated it, but at points, I guess the game is structured this way to propel this story and develop characters. I guess being Hope, makes me think like Hope and understand Hope .
You can't level up in this game. Well you can, but not really. The crystalrium system is a rip off of final fantasy 10, bringing no significant changes, except that it looks cooler. You get points every time you win a battle, and you use those points to unlock new techniques and status boosts. For example if you earn 200 cp(crystalrium points), you can use those points to learn the next node in the crystalrium graph; it could be the new spell fira, or a strength +4 node. It's nothing too special, but it isn't too fun. I like the incentives that leveling up provides for a game, and this game fails to do so.
After seeing the pros and cons of the gameplay, I decided that the challenging battle system and the strategy involved in it outweighs the linearity of the story and the lack of a level up system. It's frustratingly difficult, but this allows the game to be even more fun to play. Each battle is interesting, and they don't get boring and repetitive like other rpg's. The system leaves you feeling satisfied and accomplished when you beat bosses and normal enemies with every single battle.
No comment, just look at a trailer or something. YOU WILL BE SHOCKED. I really can't say anything about the graphics, cause if I did, I would be disgracing the sheer awesomeness of it. I would give this category a 100/10 if I could.
All final fantasy music is supposedly amazing, but this one is not as memorable. Yeah, some of the songs are good, but a lot of the battle mixes seem a little bit out of place. Something sad happens in the story, and then all of sudden, you're thrust in a battle with techno music. It totally ruins the mood.
Voice acting is properly done, but I for instance get annoyed with a couple of the character's voices. Vanille, for instance, (oh by god you're gonna hate her), has this weird british accent, and .whatever I don't care. This really doesn't bring the game down too heavily, but yes it can affect the game, depending on how forgiving you are of the game directors.
When I bought this game, I was expecting to be fully blown out of the air by an amazing storyline told by one of the greatest story-telling franchises in history. Instead, I was a bit disappointed. However, I have thrown away my expectations, and looked at the critical aspect and it is actually really good. Don't believe what other people say, try it out yourself.
I will not give a full synoposis of the story, for I know many of you want to finish the game *spoiler-free*. Assuming that you're deciding whether or not too buy this game, I will give you an introduction. Humans live on Coccoon, a much safer place then the world underneath, Gran Pulse. Pulse is considered evil, and the people believe that anyone tainted with Pulse stuff is evil. Pulse Fal-Cie (Beings from Pulse) found in Cocoon are immediately destroyed, but whoever comes in contact or is near it is detained and exiled to Pulse. In a train headed to a detaination center, we find our main character Lightning, a cold hearted machine desperately trying to accomplish her goals. Others join, and they undergo on an epic tale that addresses love, maturation, xenophobia, death, life, etc An epic tale indeed.
The story prompts the gameplay to be linear; in fact as you play, you'll find that it is necessary to do so, otherwise the game would be flawed to a certain extent. Parties are forced in the beginning because they have to be that way, you'll understand once you play. Party leaders are chosen because it helps develop the character's which this game does perfectly. If Hope is experiencing an emotional stage, than being Hope will hopefully (hahaha stop) allow you to experience his anger.
Character development is nice. Although at times, a bit unrealistic, I never felt cheesiness when a character matured (That's a lie, but no game eliminates it) There are barely any cliches. While some of this game's dialogues are stupid, most are deep and emotional. And the characters are fun to delve into and understand their situations. I will not talk about the specifics of each character because I feel like that may include spoilers that you do not want to hear.
Nevertheless, it felt much different than other final fantasies, but wait a minute, most of them are never related to each other anyways. So no biggie. It's a great story and enjoy if you play.
You will enjoy this game as you play it. It's too short in my opinion as I enjoy long RPG's (this one's about 40 hours) but nevertheless it maintains attention and is fun. As you run through a linear level, sit back and enjoy the scenery of each location. You can avoid enemy battles if you'd like, but most likely you won't because there fun. You also want to level-up your characters as much as possible so battles are necessary in a way.
The game runs like a movie, you play a little, than there's a cut scene, then another section of play. For some this could be annoying, but I feel thoroughly pleased every time the beautiful, astounding graphics are displayed to their greatest extent, and this is through cut scenes. The cut scenes are amazing and never feel out of place, so don't worry about getting bored, they only add to the fun factor of the game. And this is what also prompts me to give this category a 10/10; you never feel bored when playing this game.
Sadly, there is not much to do after beating the game. I mean, there is some side-questing, but when I beat a RPG, I usually don't repeat it. And playing the first 10 chapters again would definitely be pointless since the plot twists won't be as interesting anymore, and the linearity would really bring the game down at that point.
Overall Recommendation (GET IT, RENT IT, DON'T MISS IT)
When are you ever again see a final fantasy game on the xbox-360? Never. Do you know why? Many people are not buying this game for the 360 because they are too scared that it won't meet their expectations. My suggestion is as follows; watch the game played out on youtube or watch a friend play, or get a hands on trial of the game. Either way rent slash buy the game; if you don't like it, sell it. But I can promise that most people won't. And also, allow the game to reach to chapter 3 because that is when the real story, the real fighting, and the real character development starts. Anyways if you do decide to buy, enjoy one of the most graphically flawless, terrific journeys in video game history.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 05/10/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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