Review by dmcd93

"The best Final Fantasy"

Final Fantasy XIII is the best of the Final Fantasy series. Suddenly I hear cries of outrage, but let me tell you why I believe it's the best before you burn me at the stake

Story: 9/10
The story is hands down the best the series has to offer, with twists, backstory and some of the best characters I have ever seen in a videogame. The story is a blend of fantasy and sci-fi that has been so popular as of late, however the formula isn't stale at all, the characters react to their situation well and each character has a great backstory which is explored throughout the game.

Gameplay: 7/10
The gameplay is completely changed from previous instalments, in battle you choose a leader character, you directly control this character while the other's are AI controlled, aside from a few minor incidents the AI behaved how I needed it to. Now to actually fight you choose between an auto command which chooses the best abilities for any given situation, or you can manually choose them stacking abilities which the player character will act on. The biggest strength is how different it is I cannot think of any game that plays like this, the old turn-based FF formula has become stale and this is a welcome change. However this isn't to say the gameplay is perfect, most battles can be played using exclusively auto-battle which greatly takes away from the experience, as well as this you CANNOT change your party until about 1/2 of the way through the game. In that vein is how linear it is, sidequests only open up about 3/4 way through the game and even then most, if not all are simply the slaying of powerful monsters.

Sound: 9/10
Unlike previous instalments the soundtrack is handled by Masashi Hamauzu famous for his work on the SaGa games. His addition to the game is something special, the music is simply amazing, so much so that I have already bought the soundtrack. The music includes some beautiful vocal themes and violin work, in particular the final boss theme, ''Born anew'' sets the tone for an epic confrontation. Something has to be said about the cutscene music as well, it can change from a happy tune to a melodramatic to suit the situation in an instant.

Graphics 10/10
The graphics could not be better, the pre-rendered cutscenes are something special and it is even difficult to differentiate between these and in-game graphics, in a word Amazing

Final verdict: 9/10
Simply put the game is breathtaking, it swaps up the formula and provides a beautiful world full of interesting climates and lore, however most npc's are unnecessary and just feel stapled on as a last minute thing, the change and linearity may be a shock to old-school fans of the series but if you can look past this you will find a glittering gem of a story. The collector's edition includes: A harback art book, Art cards, 2 l'cie decals and a soundtrack sample, not much for £20 more, but a must-have for collectors exslusively for the art-book.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/18/10

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

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