Review by GunbladerSeif

"Move Over Nostalgia: Final Fantasy XIII Is Here!"

Final Fantasy XIII - Some hate it, some love it. It seems to be that the primary selection of the former group have not played far enough into the game to experience all the wonderment there is to grasp. I, however, have finished the entirety of this game and am here to give my opinion.

Story 10/10 - The story, like most JRPGs, pits you and your group of characters against the tyranny of an all-powerful being to prevent the end of the world. You've seen it, I've seen it, it's happened before. Despite the very obvious cliche, Final Fantasy XIII has thrown in just enough emotion to make this task even more enjoyable. There's just enough sadness to make you sympathize with the characters, and they grow even more likable when it's overcome.

My only problem with the story lies in the very first chapter, where you're playing split stories with different characters. While it all makes sense later in the game, it can be very confusing if you aren't paying absolute attention to the dialogue.

Graphics 10/10 - Let's be honest, these graphics (especially with the HDMI hookup) practically engulf your gameplay in CG format. If I could pause my PS3 without shadowing the screen, I think I could count the curls on Sazh's Chocofro. Near perfect dubbing with the lip movements and a seemingly complete lack of random black spots where the mouth appears to be moving (Kingdom Hearts is a good example) have made the time I spent on this game quite enjoyable.

Gameplay 9.5/10 - Let's start out with the deduction: The camera. Whether it be chocobo riding or trying to navigate a curvy path, the camera just seems to get in the way. More specifically, it isn't centered. With chocobo riding as an example, your character will be on either the left of the right of the screen, and turning will automatically cut the camera and force you to the opposite end. This can make streamlined movement quite irritating, but nothing that isn't tolerable in the end.

The exploration is particularly linear (Chapter 11 aside), but this does not take away from the game, for me. I could always go back down paths to grind or hunt for missing items. With the Crystarium (A large-scale Sphere Grid) always enhancing, and me being a perfectionist, I spent a lot of time grinding mobs with the intent of building up enough points to fully deck out my characters.

Other than the camera, the gameplay is amazing. The battles, like most games I've played, do start relatively simple. However, upon unlocking your Paradigms, things take a step up in difficulty. Even if I had my Crystarium maxed for that portion of the game, there were points that had me going over my character and class selections to find a suitable method of victory. I find that the battle system incorporates just enough strategy to the game to not make someone want to rip their hair out and keep it fun and invigorating.

Music 10/10 - Every Final Fantasy game I've played has had better OST after better OST, and XIII does not fall short. The battle music can get me pumped, and the field music is rather fitting based on the environment given. Even the remade vocalization of the Chocobo Theme has me wanting to dance.

Final Fantasy XIII has been a refreshing new take on the series, and I can only wait for more. With a very lengthy story (Around 70-80 hours) and added monster hunting missions adding even more content, this game is definitely a buy. I give this game a solid 10/10, with the camera my one and only complaint.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/22/10

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

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