Review by MisterMarioMan

"A big departure from the series, but a great game nonetheless."

Final Fantasy XIII was perhaps one of the most anticipated games in video game history. Having been in development for at least five years, many gamers wondered with excitement what this new title could bring. While it may not be the most incredible game ever, as it was hyped up to be, it is still an excellent game and deserves a lot of praise.

The biggest change to the game from the rest of the series, is, surprisingly, the linearity. Almost every Final Fantasy before this has had many different dungeons to explore as opposed to just the ones in the main story. However, FFXIII makes a huge change by having the game be virtually one straight path from start to finish. Towns, a staple of the series, have been abolished to help with the linearity. There are no townsfolk or other NPC's to talk to; the only interaction your characters will have is during cutscenes. Shops are accessible at save points, but the way the game is designed shops are almost unnecessary. This big departure from the Final Fantasy norm is quite strange at first, and may make the game seem foreign.

Barring that, the game controls excellent. The best feature is perhaps it's battle system, which takes the focus away from individual character actions, instead choosing to focus more on deciding which team will perform best (for example, two soldiers and a wizard may work well when you need to deal damage, but a soldier and two medics will be necessary when it's time to heal.) Much of the decision making in-battle involves switching each characters role, through the use of player-built role charts, or Paradigms. The system is quite strange at first, but eventually becomes quite interesting as it provides a new way to battle. By the end of the game, the battle system became one of my favorites in the Final Fantasy series.

A new menu system, called the Crystarium, is used. Controlling like a strange mixture of the job system from FFIII and FFV and the sphere grid from FFX, it fails to live up to it's potential. The path's are much to linear, and you really won't build up your characters any differently then anyone else might. The worst part is that the full Crystarium unlocks itself piece by piece- the entire thing isn't even available until you complete the game.

It's story is where it lives up to the Final Fantasy name. Excellent story telling centered around the lives of six characters help make the game much more interesting. Though the characters are never given very much depth, enough is definitely there to make the player feel something when an emotional scene occurs. The voice acting on the main six is excellent- every character sounds exactly as they should. On everyone else, however, including the last boss, the voice acting falters, and become annoying.

Though it may not be the most traditional of the Final Fantasy series, FFXIII is still an excellent game and deserves the full praise of the other games. Many look down upon this title due to it's departure from the other games, but if you can look past that, you can see the game for what it really is: a fun title with an interesting storyline. If you enjoy the Final Fantasy series, then you should totally look into this series.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/03/10

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

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