Review by Lvl99cloud

"Final Fantasy XIII renewed my faith in the series."

When Final Fantasy XIII was announced in 2006 I didn't really care. I didn't own a PS3 at the time and Final Fantasy XII wasn't even out yet. After playing FFXII I cared even less because I was severely underwhelmed by it. Eventually information started to come out about the game and it caught my interest. The premise of two worlds was neat and I loved Lightning's character design so slowly but surely I started getting excited. I imported the demo that came with Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete and from then on I had a feeling that this would be the game that finally made me love it again.

Fast-forward to December 2009: Japanese players and importers started pointing out the linearity of the game and the lack of towns. I vehemently supported the game and pushed on past the complaints on this board due to the fact most people complaining hadn't played the game. I won't lie though, the news that I heard was very disappointing to me. Then March came and the game was released and all my fears were put aside.

A group of l'cie are chosen by the Pulse Fal'cie to bring about the destruction of Cocoon. The story was very well done. You felt like you were on the run from the Sanctum almost the entire time. This is where the no explorable towns thing was both a blessing and a curse. I missed getting a chance to relax and walk through the towns but it also put me in the position of these characters. You're well known as people who are going to bring about the destruction of the world. It makes sense not to stop and dilly dally in towns. It doesn't break down revolutionary walls for storytelling but it was still a fantastic story and a great journey. The ending could have had just a little more to it but it didn't really take it down any more.

This is one of the areas the game shined the most for me. I didn't have a character in this game I didn't love.

Lightning: I loved Lightning. She had a no-nonsense attitude with a very caring interior. Whether it was punching Snow out due to feeling like he failed to protect someone, or becoming a sort of motherly role for Hope and toughening him up, I was always happy when she spoke up. You also felt a lot of sympathy for the regret she seemed to have for treating her sister the way that she did so soon before fate took her away.

Snow: He was a lovable oaf. I don't get where the hate for him comes from. Yeah he calls himself the hero and is a bunch of talk, but its really to hide the fact that deep down he might not be the hero he often claims to be. I really hoped things ended up working out for him in the end.

Vanille: Vanille got on my nerves at first. Her overly cheerful demeanor and run animation grated on me. It was around learning that she had a dark secret she was hiding beneath her cheerful exterior that I really started to like her. Her and Sazh spent so much of the game together you really got a sense of closeness between them.

Hope: I loved Hope. He was one of my favorites. He started the game off a whiny, annoying character and throughout the events in the game transitioned into being not only strong, but he showed that he was very educated about the world they lived in. He was often the one citing history and myths. Even when he was whiny at the start though I loved his interactions with Snow.

Sazh: Sazh was a candidate for my favorite character in the game. He was the comic relief but he was also so much more. He was the moral backbone of the group. He was the voice of age and wisdom. He was the parental figure. He was very warm and welcoming and was always great to have in any story cut scene.

Fang: I liked her because she brought the other side of the coin to the group. While the rest of the group wanted nothing else but to fight their fate and not destroy Cocoon, she was ready to destroy it as long as it meant protecting those close to her. The fact that she was insanely overpowered during post-game also didn't hurt.

Masashi Hamauzu proved that there can be great soundtracks in Final Fantasy without Nobuo Uematsu. I'm not taking anything away from Uematsu either. He's still probably the greatest video-game music composer of all time. Hamauzu definitely produced something on par with his work though. The regular battle theme was probably my favorite battle theme in the entire series. The boss theme was also spectacular. The Pulse de Chocobo theme was very jazzy and very catchy as well. I wish he'd have thrown a couple more classic themes in like the Final Fantasy theme, prelude, or fanfare but it didn't really take away from an amazing soundtrack.

The visuals are top notch. The CG is among the best CG you'll find in any game. The character models blow almost any other game's character models out of the water. The environments are gorgeous and the game has a level of polish that has not been present in almost any JRPG to date this generation. Easily among the best looking games ever.

The battle system was the other place this game shines. It's frantic and fast paced and just fun. I played 95 hours of it and never got sick of it. The linearity works for the game although I do hope future Final Fantasies go back to at least have more classic towns. But again, for this game it works and I don't fault this game for it. Post-game was kind of a monotonous grind but at least you had a beautiful environment, great music, and a fun battle system to last you during it. The first time you see an Adamantoise you sit there wondering how you'll ever beat one of those. Eventually, after downing over 100 of them it loses its magic but it still doesn't hurt the experience.

After getting the Platinum Trophy all I wanted to do is find more things to do because I wasn't ready to be done with this game. I loved everything about it and I honestly went into it very skeptical and very worried. I think the negativity was unjustified and think that if people went into it and weren't already looking for reasons to hate it they would have really had a fantastic game to enjoy. I hope that eventually when the hype and hate dies down that people can eventually learn to love this game for what it is, and that is the best Final Fantasy since Final Fantasy IX. I hope that we get a direct sequel to this game as part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis compilation because I fell in love with the world and characters.

Overall: 9.75/10 but since GameFAQs doesn't work like that it gets
A PERFECT 10/10!

(I beat the game in 50 hours and got the platinum trophy at 95 hours)

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/05/10

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

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