Review by Vincentsdream
Final Fantasy XIII a good step back!
I've been playing Final Fantasy for years, in fact a more than a decade. That's right, I joined when Final Fantasy VII was released for the playstation, but I am proud to say I've played every single Final Fantasy released. What I'm not so proud to admit is that since the dreaded release of FFXI I've been ashamed of the works done in the Final Fantasy series. If you're like me you've been wanting a good Final Fantasy game since 2002, and when FFXII was announced you were so excited...only to have your hopes crushed by the drastic changes made by SqaureEnix. Luckily the release of Final Fantasy XIII has brought life back into the series by showing that it is possible to evolve Final Fantasy into our "action" oriented age of gaming and still keep it feeling like one of the old games.
The Break Down.
Graphics - 10
I'm not going to lie, this game is amazing visually. The entire game is a beautiful piece of work from the actual gameplay footage to the CG scenes. I think more impressive than the CG is the attention to detail for the in-game graphics, the entire world is detailed I couldn't find one bad image, no jagged lines nothing left out it is one of the most visually entertaining games I've played to date and I'm playing it on a 360 which (unlike the PS3 version) is only 720p instead of 1080p. The fluid nature of the character movement is also something to be praised, clothing moving with the character, hair and such. It's all rather beautiful. The backgrounds, unlike some recent Xbox games, are also very detailed and keep with the realism of the setting. I have to say, other than story; the graphics are the best part of this game.
Sound/Music - 7
I'm making Sound and Music separate from the Voice acting because my opinions of the two are drastic. Music has always been a passion in my life, so Final Fantasy music in particular as always been something I've enjoyed. Now, I'm not saying this is a bad soundtrack it does its job well, it is great background music and some of the songs are even good on their own. But it's not like the old music, I always loved Nobuo Uematsu's works and the title without him is lacking in that department. But, again it's not a bad soundtrack it's just not as good. I do admit some bias to this. On top of that, the actual sound effects seem lacking at some points, for instance when "changing" your Eidolon into its Gestalt form certain sound effects seem to be missing, and it's a bit of a turn off. That being said for the majority the music and sound is okay.
Voice Acting/Dubbing - 9
I have to personally say the voice acting in this game is excellent. Ever since X I've been pro everyone is vocal, it adds a nice movie/novel feel to it and I'm all in favor for it. Now, aside from the excellent choice of Voice Actors, and yes I do like Vanille too, there is one "minor" issue. With the ever increasing technology allowing game makers to make the lip movements of the characters match the dialogue being spoken it provides one small issue, when a game is originally made in a different language...it can get messy at times. That being said, I'm very impressed and they did a pretty good job adapting the English, but when it doesn't work those few times...its very noticeable.
Game Play - 8
Now the tricky part with rating Game Play is some part of me always wants to compare this to previous Final Fantasy games, but I do realize that can never be. A sad fact is that for some reason new gamers, or gamers in general, tend to want more action in their games these days. The ever increasing first person shooter genre, and the ever decreasing RPG genre, or the blend of these two, is proof enough that. So what did square try to do with XII? Make it feel less turn based and more like you have control. They failed. However in this game they've more than succeeded, it has the visual appearance of an action battle system but the very roots and still Turn based in a sense. I have to say I was very impressed and find the combat system to be one of the better recent Final Fantasy Combat systems. However, like allot of people say the intro to this game is very linear, not a big deal though as Final Fantasy X was linear and still a great game.
That being said there are some annoyances to the Gameplay, you can only control one character. The reason for this is very obvious, the Battle system just could not accommodate you playing as your entire party it is too fast passed and you'd die by the time you decided what everyone does. This doesn't mean you can't order them around, by introducing the paradigm system you can choose what "style" or to be more specific "class" you want your character to act as, they have Medic (White mage) Commando (Fighter), Ravager (Black Mage), Saboteur (A Time Mage meets Debuff magic), Sentinel (Knight), and Synergist (A Buff magic class). The Paradigm system allows you to choose which character is in which class mode, and mid combat you can change it very easily. Great system but it can take some getting used to.
Plot - 10
Yes, like every important Final Fantasy out there, no matter how bad anything is it really all comes down to plot and I must say this one delivers very much. Like the good old days of Final Fantasy you are thrown into the game as if the world had already existed before you put the disc in. The opening is exiting to say the least, but can drag for the first couple of hours after the very intro. Not a big deal, from there on the story gets deeper and deeper and just keeps pulling you in. I won't detail what happens in the game as that's no fun. Needless to say, this game has just as great of a story as 6-10. In fact the story progresses very much like a novel would transitioning from points of perspective as the main cast of the game is all over the place and do not unite until half through the game. In my opinion, its genius, I felt like I was playing one of my favorite Fantasy/Sci Fi novels where the heroes are all over the place doing separate things but essentially for the same goal.
Replay Value - 7
Most Final Fantasy games have very little immediate replay value; they are epic adventures that take upwards to 40 hours to complete and leave the player satisfied...but tired. Hover I am not saying there is no replay value; this will be a game you pick up at least once a year and explore it again. Heck I still do that with 7 and 8.
Overall - 8
Overall the game is great, I give it an 8 because it is fun to play, and it is a great game, but to not admit there are flaws in it...would be pretty foolish. However if you were a fan of Final Fantasy IV, VIII, or X you have nothing to worry about this game, as at times it seems it is those three games put together. I must truly say that this game has convinced me that in the age of "Action" gaming a classic JRPG like Final Fantasy can still flourish and beat any other RPG series out there.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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