Review by MJZuproc

"Another Final Fantasy, Another Huge Hit"

When something like 'Final Fantasy' comes up with some key words and phrases like 'new release' 'coming soon' 'footage', etc., you know you have something big. Final Fantasy games completely overwhelm sales, even if they're no better than the previous title. Final Fantasy is a huge franchise, and something not easy to live up to. However, when Final Fantasy XIII is involved, it makes the cut.

Gameplay : 10/10
Another "big thing" with Final Fantasy games, is innovation. Even if it's a simple tweaking of the battle system, level/experience system or some new customization system, Final Fantasy games are known to change what you liked about the previous games, and most of the time, it's a desperate hit-and-miss play. Fans become so deeply rooted into the game, especially the battle system, they believe it to be the perfect system. However , when Final Fantasy is involved, the battle systems just seem to improve within the next three games, if not the next or the attempt afterwards. Whether its the classic turn-based or the ATB, Final Fantasy's battle systems are well-known and renowned.

Here is where Final Fantasy XIII's battle system fits into the mix: downright epic . I am not even kidding. Combined with the stunning graphics, the battle systems are an amazing spectacle to behold, and to play. Basically, you have the standard menu with options like: Attack, Magic, Item, etc. that you place into your action bar. Once you complete this, you are free to activate these qued actions at any time during the battle, then reload your bar once more. It's fun, it's innovative, and it's truly a classic.

Now, to the rest of the gameplay aspects of Final Fantasy XIII. While the game is very linear, the unique and fun battle system makes up for it. Linearity really isn't that much of a problem to anyone, especially those who love Final Fantasy games, as Final Fantasy X was a bit linear. Outside of battle, there are your basic things to do, such as watch brilliant cutscenes, explore the maps, and use the new Crystarium system, which is much like the Sphere Grid and Liscense Board, though very fitting with the world and graphical style.

Overall, if you're looking for a fun game, Final Fantasy XIII is a surefire way to get there.

Story and Characters : 8/10
In Final Fantasy, story and characters are very important aspects, and are sometimes thought of as just as important as the battle system. Stories that could blow your mind, and trap you in the game's world were usually accompanied by a group of heroes that the player could relate to, or at least admire or enjoy. Even though the stories have the cliched "save the world" theme, they are executed in ways that are truly amazing, and the ways the villains try to take over/destroy the worlds are phenomenal and diabolical.

Final Fantasy XIII's story, unfortunately, isn't as great as it should have been. Many times, you may be confused as to what's going on, and other times, you might wonder if this is relevant to the story at all. While the storyline in this game is not so great, the characters almost make up for it. The keyword here is almost. You have six party members: Lightning, Snow, Hope, Vanille, Sazh and Fang. Usually, six party members will do fine in any game. Here, it is also true. You have Lightning, a battle-hardened female soldier who seems a bit cold; Snow, a cocky man who thinks himself a hero; Hope, a teenage boy who is often depressed from his mother's death; Vanille, the cheery girl who either boosts everyone's morale or pisses them off; Sazh, an "old" black guy with a chocobo in his afro; and Fang, a woman who seems to personify a good guardian, like in Final Fnatasy X.

The characters are interesting, but development is a bit slow. This, however, has to do with the story, and how it plays out. So, don't expect the next heart-breaking, breath-taking story, but do expect some fun party members.

Graphics : 10/10
In the age of the NES, SNES, PlayStation, etc. graphics weren't the big things with games. Final Fantasy actually had some great graphics with every new title, even on those systems. People can remember a game with great graphics, if not only for the graphics. Every Final Fantasy title has to have better graphics than the last, and Square Enix always delivers.

Here, in Final Fantasy XIII, they absolutely blow Final Fantasy XII out of the water. This game has some of the best graphics you will ever see in a video game within the next 10 years at least. Some of the face models looked so real, I almost couldn't believe it to be a game. The environments are stunning, and the effects are breathtaking.

If you like a shiny game with pretty graphics, this is definetely your game.

Sound : 9/10
Everyone who loves RPGs can remember the best soundtracks they've listened to. In fact, an RPG is almost nothing without it's music, and Final Fantasy is no different. I have played many Final Fantasy games, and I absolutely love the soundtrack of Final Fantasy X. It is amazing, and I will remember it always.

Final Fantasy XIII's soundtrack can't defeat Final Fantasy X in terms of music, however. The music has some good moments, but if you abolsutely must listen to the music repeatedly, prepare to be a bit disappointed. Final Fantasy XIII's music isn't the best Final Fantasy has to offer, but it's still good nonetheless. The sound effects, they are awesome. In battle, you can really get into it when you hear your sword strike an enemy, or your spell strike some enemies. In cutscenes, a dynamic juggernaut in Final Fantasy games, the sound effects are great, and work really well. The voice acting is also very good in this game, which may or may not be news to you, depending on if you liked the other voice acting in Final Fantasy or any RPG.

The music is good, not excellent, however, the sound effects and voice acting are amazing, and hard to compete with on any market.

Play Time and Replayability : 9/10
RPGs usually give you a good 30 hours at the minimum, but Final Fantasy games totally destroy that. Some people can have a hard time beating some of these games, and end up with 70, 80, or even 100 hours of play time! The thing is, they're long games, and that's no lie. However, when you defeat a game like Final Fantasy, you're usually to beat to try it again right away. However, most people love to come back and try it again sometime, and I am no exception.

In terms of play time, Final Fantasy XIII will give you some good hours. It's hard to put an approximate estimate (for me, anyways) since I beat it in 40-something hours, and my friend in 50, some guys in 70. Anyway, it's a long game, and even longer if you try to do everything you can, and whether or not you have a good grasp on the battle system. Once you beat it, playing it again is a bit tempting, but to me, I let it sit, mostly because I have so many other RPGs that I need to play. However, I'm pretty sure that if you like this game, at least a little bit, you'll come back for more.

If you just bought a PS3 and Final Fantasy XIII, and are out of cash or something, this game will keep you going for a while, and replaying it is a good choice too, when you've got nothing else to play.

Final Recommendation : Buy
Who in their right mind simply rents a Final Fantasy game? Do they expect to finish it in a week or something? While I'm sure the guys who can afford to sit and play for a whole week straight may be able to, I sure am not! Also, when you rent a Final Fantasy game, you simply have to buy it, and Final Fantasy XIII is no exception, either.

Total Score: 46/50
Average: 9.2/10
Percentage: 92%

Final Rating: 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/26/10

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

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