Review by PhelixFanel

"Square Enix know how to please."

Well, this is it, Final Fantasy XIII. Square Enix have done it again, they've gone and released another work of art. My review will be on Graphics, Story, Sound, Combat, Characters, and Non-Combat.

Graphics: 10/10
Granted I haven't seen the PS3 graphics, but XII on the 360 in HD, beautiful, absolutely remarkable. When I got home, and put that disc in my 360, I was awestruck. I have played recent releases in HD, but Final Fantasy XII blew me away. Rotation of the camera is a bit limited, for obvious reasons, but what you can see, is something else. Without spoiling it for the people who have yet to play through to disc 2 or 3, the so-called "World-Map" area, had me stopping, just to look around.

This much detail is a landmark, any later release will be compared graphically to this. I used to state that graphics didn't matter, only the story and gameplay, now I swear by these graphics.

Story: 8/10
XIII has this charm, it takes you on a journey that is impossible to forget. Opening up an entire tapestry of emotion and plot that will make you beg for more. It's not perfect, I did come across a cliche or two. The one thing that disappointed me was the character who took the "Main" role, in my opinion, someone else deserved it more. But apart from the little hiccup, it's solid. Building you up so that after a chapter, you can barely bring yourself to put it down. Reeling you in, and gripping your attention firmly.

Square have woven this epic tale, and are still able to please.

Sound: 4/10
This is really the only thing that tarnished XIII for me. It just isn't the same without Nobuo Uematsu, and I think that is what Square was going for. Something different. But there are somethings you just don't change. Now the voice-acting on the other hand, is something I wish they would change. Vanille is evidence of this, at one point, she sounds Australian, and at other points she has a odd London like accent. Not being able to switch it to Japanese Voice Acting is a disappointment, but on the other hand, the lip sync is perfect.

Admittedly there is one piece I am addicted to; Defiers of Fate is catchy and has a good beat.

Combat: 10/10
Paradigm Shift is genius. One simple change can decide the fight. Double-edged sword, if you choose wrong. "Auto-(Class Role)" is very well done. Gambits in XII were fully customizable, but you had to learn them, in XIII, you choose the best Paradigm for the situation, and mash A/X. Alternatively, you can ignore Auto-Battle and choose your attacks. The fighting gets more and more intense the further you progress, and the Crystarium evolves accordingly. You can't "Overkill" something early on, which means you still have to think on your feet, giving the player a more interactive experience.

Although some enemies do take the cake, multiple millions of HP, and attacks that will knock you to floor. But shifting your Paradigm can change "That One Boss" into a cakewalk.

Characters: 8/10
Lightning is our protagonist, and she plays the role well. Strong willed, skilled with a blade/gun, and compassionate. Sazh is our dual wielding chocobo nest. He has some comical things to say, and some very serious thoughts to share. He is balanced and well rounded. Snow has the gung-ho attitude, and fights for the one he loves. Uses his knuckles to solve his problems, and to protect his friends. He will do anything and everything to pursue what believes is the right thing to do. Vanille is our happy-go-lucky rod/staff wielder. Caring and free spirited. (Also very frustrating. i.e. Giggling and Moaning.) Hope is a young teen who throws a boomerang, and due to an incident wishes revenge. He is cowardly and he whines alot. Although later on he changes, and becomes more positive. Fang is a spear-woman, who joins the party with one goal in mind. After awhile, the team grows on her, and she changes her perspective.

Some characters are dropped from the story just like that, but you do get to see some familiar faces later on.

Non-Combat: 9/10
Linearity for the most part. Until you get the "World-Map" I mentioned earlier. Then XIII becomes a free-roaming box of goodies. The Auto-Jump is much better than pressing a button to leap across a gap, and eliminates alot of "Why can't I go this way, the only thing blocking my path is a bit of rubble." No random encounters, you can see the enemies before you fight, so you can prepare, or even get the drop on them. After combat, you are awarded Crystogen Points, which are used to advance on the Crystarium. Sometimes you may need to go back and "Grind" and collect more. You can Save/Shop/Upgrade all in one spot, meaning you don't have to run back to the previous area to get that item you have been saving up for, as the shops update themselves.

Once you get there, you will see what I mean by "World-Map".

Overall Analysis: 9/10
What a marvel. I clocked 50 hours on my first run through. There are so many things to do, side-quests, a minigame, and achievements to unlock. Well worth playing, well worth completing 100%. Square have outdone themselves. This is one Final Fantasy that I will keep going back to. One of the greatest games released this decade.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/18/10

Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (Collector's Edition) (EU, 03/09/10)

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