The first in the series to be released on the all-new PS3, Final Fantasy XIII had a lot to live up to. Sadly, it didn't quite manage to wow as many of us as we had hoped.
While the graphics were beautifully clear, probably some of the best the series has ever seen, and the soundtrack and cut-scenes engaging; FF13 felt more like I was watching a movie than playing a game. The cut-scenes were incredibly long and drawn out, and although immersive, I didn't feel like I was doing much playing.
The characters were likeable, but not particularly deep or engaging, and the voice-acting was, as usual, fairly poor.
The gameplay itself was far too linear; there was little to no room to explore your settings, to engage with characters and to get to know them; there were no breaks from what ended up being an unfortunately drawn-out and dissatisfying storyline.
FFXIII was yet another homage to just how much the series has declined since the release of FFIX; if you can manage to pick it up for a couple of pounds then check it out for yourself, but don't be dissapointed when it doesn't offer too much.
Square Enix promised that Final Fantasy XIII would be the best outing since Final Fantasy VII, which was released way back in 1997, the famous PS1 era, which remains in many gamers hearts and souls. With a big promise, it wasn't long before rumours were circulating that Final Fantasy XIII was going to disappoint. And boy, did it disappoint!
The story follows Lightening, a female lead. Her name Lightening is a homage to ''Cloud'', the lead character in Final Fantasy VII. Unfortunately, the characters in FFXIII are bland and boring and it seems that the linear path they follow doesn't let you engage with the characters as much as fans of the series would hope.
If you get the game cheap, then maybe it's worth a punt, but if you're a fan of the series, don't be expecting an FFVII rival, it falls short in every single aspect, unfortunately for hardcore fans of the series, this release just isn't good enough.
The Final Fantasy series is one gaming franchise that is continually evolving, with the majority of the sequels taking place in completely different universes from the previous iteration, and often using different gameplay methods. Final Fantasy XIII takes a different approach to the Role Playing Genre by having an amalgam of real time action, alongside turn-based move selection.
The plot is similar to some of the previous games, with your team of heroes & heroines banding together to fight the government, known as the Sanctum. In this case, our heroes have been infected with a curse from a creature that exists in the netherworld of the planet Cocoon. With their lives on a timer, the group work together to defeat the Sanctum and discover a cure for their condition, before they become the Walking Dead.
The core gameplay is rather linear with your characters moving from point A to B, often in a long corridor fashion. Compared to previous games in the series, this is much less thrilling and offers limited choices for exploration. There is one area which does open up more and allow you to explore somewhat, and do several side-quests, but this comes rather late in the game - about 80% of the way through it.
The fighting mechanics, as mentioned before, try to mix the real time action of Zelda and similar action-RPGs, whilst retaining the traditional menu system that most of the previous Final Fantasies had at their core. The mechanics are a bit hit and miss, because it does feel like you are separated from your characters, who act mainly on AI reactions based on whichever paradigm (class) you set for them. For example, setting a character to the Medic class will make the computer assume control of them and auto-cast medical spells depending on your situation. Out of the three characters who take part in fights, you only really get to have control over the primary character, and even that control is limited in some aspects.
The best aspect of the fighting system is the chain gauge, which once it hits a target amount, will weaken the monster allowing every attack from then on to deal double or triple damage. This brings in an element of strategy to the fighting, as certain classes deal more 'chain damage' and some others deal more physical damage, but barely affect the chain gauge. The best strategy is to switch between the two.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game, but it is far from the best Final Fantasy of the series - That honor belongs to Final Fantasy VII. By removing the exploration elements and the old-fashioned world map screens, the game seems far less interactive and loses some of the Final Fantasy spark. There are a few references to the mascots of the previous games, such as Chocobos and Moogles, but it seems like Square Enix are attempting to move away from the traditional Final Fantasy style and are moving towards this futuristic, cyberpunk environment.