Review by megasean3000

"An amazing experience. A huge jump from 12."

When I heard that there was going to be a Final Fantasy XIII, I nearly punched something. A year or two beforehand, I had played FF12 and (If you've read my review about it) it was the biggest disappointment to the Final Fantasy series I've ever played. From that point on, I was prejudiced towards all future Final Fantasies, believing they are doomed to fail. But, my curiosity peaked and peaked, I wanted to play it. So, I set myself the goal of acting as Devil's advocate, and play as a neutral. It only took me 20 minutes into the story to become fully engrossed. It was a vast change from number 12, I loved the characters, I loved the story, I detested the bad guys like I always have, a little surprised that there's no airship controls and no world map, and overall, very impressed with the changes. Now I'll go into much more detail.

Story: 8/10. Final Fantasy XIII is the story of six people: Claire (Nicknamed Lightning), Snow, Hope, Vanille, Sazh and Fang, as they become intertwined with each other as they share one common trait: they are all branded "L'Cie", who are deemed by their world as dangerous and must be eliminated to preserve peace. Aside from that, being a L'Cie means they have to carry out the task of the one who cursed them, a Pulse Fal'cie, a beast with superior power. And that task is to destroy the world they live in; and if they do not, they become Cie'th, mindless zombie-like creatures. The story is one in which I am always curious as to what happens next. There are twists and turns every where. I will admit, however, that there are some flaws in the story that I feel need to be improved upon, if I am totally critical. The story between chapters 3-6 are incredibly slow, between that time, Hope aims to kill Snow for revenge against his dead mother. But the thing is, there is nothing but difficult fights in between, and I feel there was hardly any plot between this time. It heats up at Chapter 7, but I think before that it could be better. Another bad thing about the storyline is the "Datalog" system, where your events are recorded into a journal; the issue I have here is: they give way too much information than what the game does. If I hadn't read the datalog about what happens to the Calvary guys near the end, I wouldn't have figured out where they went. I feel that square-Enix should have imbedded the plot a little more into the gameplay itself, rather than making the audience second-guess until they read. Aside from that, once the plot heats up, it gets far more interesting.

Characters 9/10. The main characters are the L'Cie who opt to change their fate as servants of the Fal'cie. Each have their own story. Lightning is so wrapped up in revenge for half the game for the people who took her sister away. Snow wants to carry on Lightning's sister's dream (who is his fiancee), of protecting their world. Hope, for half the game, sought vengeance against Snow for being involved in his mother's death in Chapter 1. Sazh wants to help his son, who's also a L'Cie. Vanille and Fang I find most interesting though; Vanille is a cheery, easy-go girl, and Fang is a tough femme fatale, yet despite their mask of a personality, they hold really deep stuff that shows up half way through the game. The character development in all six is what I like most in this game. I like the cognitive shift in Lightning as Snow's easy-go personality melts her icy persona. I like Hope's gradual change from child to man; but can't help but feel his constant hesitance to kill Snow was a bit unneeded. Sazh's somewhat uselessness at the start really becomes more deeper with his son. As I mentioned, Vanille and Fang have the most chemistry, being former comrades, and showing a deep love of companionship for one another. The bad guy is the "Head of state" Dysley, who is actually a Fal'cie. For his character, I can see he is quite fitting as the main enemy, but I just can't compare him to other Final Fantasy bad guys. Sephiroth was evil incarnate, Kuja was pure evil, Exdeath too, but I can't see Dysley being any more evil than any of them. But aside from that, I can really hate him as much.

Gameplay 8/10. The gameplay involves two stages, much like all the other Final Fantasies: Battle and Exploration. Battle involves fighting a bunch of monsters or any other enemies, while exploration sets you on a sort of narrow corridor-type field to get to battles. I enjoyed the fighting stages of it, but can't help but feel the enemies are a little too hard. I mean I'm all for challenging enemies, but enemies at 3,000,000 HP? I know your main party's attacks equate to equal out this score, but when I first seen that I had to fight enemies that were on par to the final bosses of other Final Fantasies, I nearly fainted. Plus I have to admit, the minions are much harder than the bosses. Bosses are one-time onlys, the minions you had to fight six or seven times, with back-up. Exploration-wise, I thought it could use a little work too: the "narrow corridors" are way too long, many times I felt like sleeping as I walk across them. Every Final Fantasy has a method of allowing party members to get stronger with magic or weapons. This Final Fantasy adopted both equipment style and FFX's Grid system (Which I loved, to make Tidus use Cure and Yuna use Attack) to give party members the edge they need. Plus I love strategically plotting out party member attacks, to effectively defeat my opponent; isn't that what Final Fantasy's are all about? One minor side note, I feel they should have added way more mini-games; doing missions with Cie'th stones endgame are fun, but drag on after a while. I missed mini-games where it wasn't always about battle, and you can use even more strategy to win for self-satisfaction. Apart from the negatives I mentioned, I loved the new Final Fantasy's method of gameplay.

Graphics: 10/10. I loved it. End of story. I work in the same field as what the animators of the gameplay do, and the animation, rendering techniques and modelling techniques are all simply flawless; a giant leap from the traditional 16-bit graphics of FF1. The scene I loved the most in terms of beautiful animations was both the flashback scene with Snow and his fiancee, and the scene in Chapter 12 where the party members go wild with their summons. So give yourself a big pat on the back Square-Enix animators, you did good.

Overall: 9/10. Final Fantasy XIII is a major success, and easily compensates for 12's mock-ups and errors. I find the characters lovable and enjoyable to watch in their adventures (Especially Vanille and Hope, they're cute), I love the story, and above all, I have now regained my faith in Final Fantasy and it's future works.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/15/11

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

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