Review by Nikaleides

"Final Fantasy XIII - 13 unlucky for some. Not for Square Enix!"

With the release of Final Fantasy XIII – 2 scheduled for early next year I thought it was about time to get to grips with Final Fantasy XIII. Having fond memories of losing days, weeks and months of my school career and University degree on Final Fantasy games from VII onwards, no doubt impacting on my ability to socialise outside of grand scale conspiracy, impressive summons and chocobos. Now before I begin my review I am going to steer clear of storyline. As this review is coming out years after release I imagine most fans have already played it and the storyline has been written about in other reviews. In this instance I will be concerning myself with how well the game has been built, which is fantastic!

Considering the Final Fantasy franchise and heritage there is always a great expectation on any new addition. With a very loyal customer base there is always a great expectation on the developers to make something special.

From the start it is clear that Final Fantasy XIII offers more freedom with controlling the characters and the camera than ever before. Moving the characters in the whole is no problem and there is the ability to move the camera during battles which is new.

The battles are one of the best features of the game. The battle command system in the whole is not unusual to any Final Fantasy fan, having to select commands in how to proceed in battle. However there is a new addition. The paradigm system is fantastic. Through levelling up your characters you specialise in certain areas. Medic, synergist and commando are some examples of classes you can specialise in. The paradigm shift allows you to change the team members roles during battle to change the tactics of the fight. This is a lot of fun, especially in the big battles where multiple changes are required.

The sound in the game does add to the cut scenes and can be very ambient and help with the emotion of the setting. However, during the main game play it can get a bit tedious. One main theme of music can repeat for almost a whole section of play, up to thirty minutes can become very repetitive. Apart from this the music in the game usually enhances the mood at the time.

As expected of the Final Fantasy franchise the graphics are sublime. Set pieces look fantastic as expected and showcase some of the best graphics I have seen the Playstation produce. Even during battles the summons' look fantastic and do not become tedious to watch. They look good and feel well earned when you get to use them.

As with all of the Final Fantasy games it will be easy to sink anywhere between thirty to sixty hours into it. With great linearity at the start this will help new entrants into the franchise get used to how to play the game. My one concern is that this linearity does last approximately twenty hours which may have been too long and may have caused concern for long term fans of Final Fantasy. After this however, the game does open up and offer a lot of side missions as well as progressing the main story.

Overall this is a fantastic game. As said before the linearity during the opening twenty hours may be off putting for veteran of the series but will be very welcoming for newcomers. With exceptional graphics and anywhere up to sixty hours game play this game represents great value for money. With an exciting battle system and a good storyline this is one of the best Final Fantasy's to date.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/06/11

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

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