Review by lighty691

"Another game, another blockbuster"

Final Fantasy XIII - Review

Welcome to my review of Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy XIII is currently at the time of writing the latest game in the main series of Final Fantasy games. It follows the success of titles on various consoles such as the legendary Final Fantasy VII and more recently Final Fantasy X. Although the series has had many "spin off" titles, XIII is the next major player in the series and one that was hugely anticipated to be a groundbreaking release...

Final Fantasy XIII is set in the worlds of Cocoon and Pulse which are contrasting worlds of a futuristic metropolitan capital of Eden in Cocoon and the breathtaking Archylte Steppe. The storyline follows the usual pattern you would expect from a Final Fantasy game - group of unique characters thrown together by destiny with the intentions of saving the world. Without giving any of the storyline away for those who are yet to start/finish the main storyline you will take control of a group of characters who all have their own pasts and stories to tell individually but will find that they are all interlinked together as their lives progress. This is nothing new to a game in this series and Square Enix have created a very engrossing storyline that will have players hooked and feeling emotionally attached. The only downside to the storyline is that sometimes players will feel confused over some of the terms used in the game which also leads to confusion over what is happening in the storyline too. However one unique feature in the game will help to overcome this. The Datalog. This is an encyclopaedia of all the people, places and different terms used in the Final Fantasy world which explains really well who's who and what things mean. There is also an ongoing "storyline" log that progresses what has happened in the main story which is really useful for players to backtrack to and review what has happened.

As with any RPG the storyline is only as good as the characters in them. Final Fantasy XIII has a good, wide range of playable characters with different personalities that most players will find engrossing. They all have their own unique personalities that players will be able to relate to and sympathise with, however these personalities can become a little irritating in some cases in the prolonged cut scenes and story fillers. As with the main storyline, the characters can take a little time to develop and show their true colours which may cause casual or new players to lose interest sooner.

Graphically, Final Fantasy XIII is, as expected, one of the best looking in the whole series to date. Comparing it to other similar games on the console the game also scores as one of the best looking. The CGI cut scenes that fill the story in are beautifully created and look exceptional in all areas. Characters mouths move realistically when talking and "loose" items such as hair and clothes all move the correct way when characters are jumping and fighting for example. All this adds to the realism that the game already has and helps to provide a very well presented game. One area of the game that is particularly impressive is a huge, wide open expanse of land, similar to the Calm Lands that players pass through in Final Fantasy XIII. As regards the music in the game, Final Fantasy has some really good themes and tunes that are in keeping with the style of the game. The music fits in perfectly with what is happening in the game, for example the music takes a calming theme when out in the beautiful, natural forest areas and takes a more deep rock style effect when you are in the old machine based areas. There are also unique themes for boss battles and the final showdown, as well as an interesting theme saved specifically for chocobos. One point that is worth mentioning is that Final Fantasy XIII has the backing of a famous star singer in Leona Lewis who's "My Hands" song provides the main theme to the game. This is a really good choice as a theme and definitely adds to the overall enjoyment of the game.

One of the most important aspects of ant RPG game is going to be the gameplay. Final Fantasy XIII is a fun, interesting game that at times can be really challenging. As with all Final Fantasy games, there is a unique way of developing characters. Final Fantasy XIII uses the Crystarium which is a similar method of upgrading to Final Fantasy X whereby you move around a grid by expending points gained from battle to power up upgrades along the way. Each character is able to learn skills from this grid in specific classes that will improve Strength, Magic and Defensive abilities. These roles can be switched in battle to give a really fluid feeling to fights and allow players to have complete freedom in battles. Another area that is slightly different to previous incarnations is the fact that the same stacks actions in battle. In previous games you select and perform one action in turn based combat whereas now you can select multiple actions as the game progresses. This can be particularly useful for example when inflicting status ailments on enemies. Instead of doing one at a time you can programme characters to inflict multiple ailments in one go which again adds another level of strategy to the battles. Further changes have also been made to battles where you can now "stagger" opponents which gives you the ability to inflict massive damage for a period of time. Battles are also now rated in stars out of 5 depending on how well you performed in the fight. This rating system is also used to determine what spoils you will be given at the end of the fight.

As with many other games in the series there is also the option to upgrade equipment and weapons to improve characters abilities. A unique system has been adopted that gives every item a value when upgrading weapons and accessories. It can be at times a challenge just finding and sourcing the most valuable items to use when upgrading as shops in the game will only sell some of the basic items. This is a new feature to the game as each weapon for example has many different forms and several levels to obtain before it can change into a new and improved weapon.

Final Fantasy XIII is a game that you are going to be playing for a long time. The main quest itself probably contains 50+ hours of game time but that is nothing compared to the length of playtime that you will get out of the side missions. There are Mark Missions that require you to take on the biggest and most dangerous creatures the game has to offer which will take a considerable amount of time to train for and defeat.

So overall is this game worth getting. The answer has to be yes. A great game coupled with a really good mix of achievements results in a really worthwhile investment. Although not completely perfect the game has so much to offer it would be foolish to ignore it. The only areas that players may find frustrating are the linearity of the main storyline and the difficulty of some of the battles. Also the fact the Eidolons do not really feature too much in the game will be a disappointment to some players. However the negatives are hugely outweighed by the positives which is why this game scores so highly.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/25/11

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

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