Product Type: Square PS3 games
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Destiny is what you make of it
Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
Member Name: doomichelle
Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
Advantages: good graphics, engaging plot, innovative battle style
Disadvantages: too short, easy, full of movie sequences
Genre : Role playing
Final Fantasy 13 is the first outing on a next gen console for creators Square Enix. Square Enix have always been one for trying to wow with visual effects from the very beginning so this was a chance for them to create something truly visually stunning. For the first time there is little distinguishable difference between movie sequences and gameplay as it all flows seamlessly into one. A role playing adventure, Final Fantasy gives players a chance to step into a universe bigger than ever before. Move from the safety of Cocoon to the wild plains of Pulse in an adventure where destiny is against you.
The people of Cocoon rely on the power of Gods for their every need. However, the appearance of Falcie gods who 'brand' the people of Cocoon as L'cie shakes things up. Anyone branded must either complete their focus and turn to crystal or fail and be transformed into a monster. Former soldier Lightening finds herself fighting to save her sister Serah who has been branded along with Serah's boyfriend, the rebellious Snow. These are the characters we are first introduced to who are soon joined by father Sazh, the childish Vanille, Hope and later Fang. In the search for Serah they all find themselves branded as L'cie. But is it there focus to destroy Cocoon or to save it? In thirteen days the stories of each character intertwines and they are thrust into battle. What will become of the Falcie's chosen?
Cocoon - A sheltered world, the appearance of one pulse Falcie causes panic amongst its citizens, the Sanctum, rulers of Cocoon brand Lcie as monsters who must be hunted and destroyed for the good of Cocoon. Are there hidden motives behind their actions? A landscape of technology and hi tech cities, the gameplay here is pretty linear travelling from one location to the next to complete story line.
Pulse - A wild, rough landscape infested with monsters. You must battle your way through to find the truth behind the Falcie and what they want. A beautiful but cruel setting. An open world adventure where you run across fields, caves and abandoned towns to reach your goal.
Each of the characters are playable within the game however at some points the characters who you can have as part of your team are fixed. Unfortunately if you have your favourites, you won't be able to play as them throughout the whole game. Each character enters the story with their own backstory, their own strengths and weaknesses, it's your job to battle and build them up in a way that suits you. A lot of the time the game centres on the emotions of the characters and how they deal with the problems they face.
Similar to the sphere grid development style of Final Fantasy 10, players need to collect experience points to level up their character within a certain role to unlock more abilities. Players also have the option of role switching during battle via the use of paradigm shift which is customisable from the menu screen. It's your job to figure out what role is best to defeat the monsters you face, some roles will be entirely ineffective against certain monsters and bosses which is where the challenge lies in choosing the best course of action. As usual eidolons are also on hand to help, beasts summoned in battle. However, in this version they are specific to certain characters and must first be beaten to be won. In honesty they don't really help that much in battle and I tended to forget about them but the summoning sequences are pretty darn cool. Moves are stacked in battle or you can automatically ask your character to do what they think would be best.
Final Fantasy 13 has a really great story which really stands out from some of the others in the franchise. From the very beginning there is no sense of knowing in which direction the story is going to go. Though it is set over such a short period of time there is plenty of action packed in to make gameplay interesting. The battle system is a refreshing change for the franchise with the traditional turn based gameplay replaced with fast paced active time gaming. The graphics in this game are absolutely stunning and some of the best on the PS3 at the moment.
As beautiful as the graphics are, the amount of time spent playing this game and watching movie sequences are worlds apart. Unfortunately the movie sequences are far too long and often and I often found myself sitting and sipping a cup of tea while the controller sat unused on the sofa waiting for the characters to stop blabbering on about one thing or another. To add insult to injury, the game is certainly much shorter than any other Final Fantasy game I have played and I have a feeling if the movie sequences were removed it would probably only have enough gameplay to last a couple of days at most. Lastly, though the new battle system is innovative, the option to let the characters act for themselves feels a little like cheating and takes away the challenge from the game. I would recommend if you want to make the game last, try winning the battles for yourself without letting the game decide what to do for you.
Final Fantasy 13 as enjoyed much success and is one of the highest rated Final Fantasy games out there along with the likes of 10 and 7. Thankfully, Square Enix are releasing a sequel to the story in 2012 to follow on from where the characters left off, something I feel was necessary as there wasn't quite enough gaming on offer in 13. Despite its flaws it is a game that was enjoyable to play and that I have played again since finishing it. I only hope that 13 part 2 picks up on the flaws of its predecessor to create a truly brilliant game.
Summary: Something different from the team at Square with plenty to offer
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