* Prices may differ from that shown
More than 60 hours of gameplay later and I finally reach the end of one of the most brilliant main story arcs of any game I've played. I've always seen Final Fantasy as more for the children generation (correct me if I'm wrong) but this game is anything but. A complex and emotional story follows no less than 6 individual characters that all unite on a single journey across beautiful worlds to... well, to defeat the big bad guy. A bit of a cliche but the rest of the story is just brilliant. Genius script-writing and stunning visuals combine together to make an epic journey across two planets and three whole discs. Beautiful original score in the background matches perfectly the mood that is being set.
I'll admit, I'm not much of an RPG fan. I always used Max Repel when I played Pokemon so that wild Nidorans wouldn't harass me and this is the first Final Fantasy game I played, but it is brilliant. Once you work out a good combat strategy (which tragically took me two discs and LOTS of deaths to perfect), the battles are all quite linear and if you learn the audio cues from the friends you're fighting with, you could probably fight every battle with your eyes closed - not even joking there. But as I keep saying, the story is what brings me back to it over and over. Beautiful graphics, music, acting and story make it a brilliant epic journey. Worth playing, but not for the faint-hearted as those three discs do take a while to work through. Not the sort of game you can think "Ooh I fancy playing that for a bit" because it is so long, after four hours you've barely scratched the surface. Persist though, and you shall be rewarded.
Nothing against online based games, but I for one am glad to see the final fantasy series return to where it belongs, console gaming. MMORPG may be where the money's at but fans of the series shouldn't have to dish out the gil for monthly fees or be caught up in levelling for bragging rights. It may only have been 11 that was different but 12, for me just did not work.
The battle system.
Beams coming out of characters.
It appears Square-enix are keen to sort out the problems/downsides of the past FF games, with finding the perfect combat system being the real head scratcher. After all its one of the most important parts of the game, behind the story and such. It is unfortunate that this combat system is rather dull, since you can 'choose' to simply hit auto battle non stop, or do everything manually. Either way, the outcome is the same.. Unless we're talking eidolons (that's Summons's to you and me) a bit part of the game that serve two purposes 1. to make FMV's more entertaining and 2. play a very small part in character development. Am I the only one who thinks 10 handled the summons (Aeons) the best? Hell, even 8's fighting to obtain GF's worked.. but I digress. 13 starts well enough with a decent video and interesting characters enticing you to play on. You're put straight into the action fighting soldiers and creatures in a futuristic world known as pulse. Sticking to traditional FF storyline, your characters are forced into a life altering situation, based around the L'cie, people chosen for a specific task that must be completed, or you turn into a cie'th, a mindless creature roaming around like a goon.
After the main characters are made L'cie, they join up (no secret or additional characters throughout, disappointing) and fight their way through countless enemies, trying to figure out their 'focus' whilst being pursued by the humans military guardian corps and PSICOM, not exactly creative names but the story is fairly well done. However, during your journey you sometimes find yourself a bit frazzled as to what you're doing and where you're going. Sure the character dialogue and constant cut scenes try to explain the situation and can even be a relief amongst all the dreary battles and straight forward maps. But even that can become irritating. A prime example is Lightning, the main character, lets call her Claire. - Lightning is a stupid name, and so is the reason for it- This girl is a b**** non stop for the first 2 discs of the game. No empathy, no compassion, little input to the story. You could say she is such a cliché of the ff main characters. Some might find her cool and to the point, but I assure you, she'll get old quick. She even punches a guy in the face several times (albeit a slightly annoying guy) because she can't understand that someone else isn't like her in anyway.
To wrap up the story without spoiling it - its a tale of misconception, playing God and of course, discovery, of the setting and companions.
Its convenient that it is also a multiplatform release which is a positive, considering its the first FF to be released on the current game consoles. Such a shame that it just doesn't live up to expectations. The battle system different but not for the better, upgrade system strange at first but incredibly plain, enemies are simply different difficulties with a fresh coat of paint, maps are as almost everyone has stated -too linear- and unlike most FF's, 13 is rather unplayable after completion, especially as there isn't really a world map and the missions just involve finding and killing enemies. Consequently, we all know Square can get away with it, because of their glorious backlog. That and the characters, besides Claire, are well voiced and diverse. The story is as ever, imaginative and hooks you in from the word go. FMV's are just as fantastic as ever - Square just cannot go wrong with them - The less said about half the music the better. Leona Lewis + FF = idiocy, a complete mismatch.. Listen carefully and you'll hear a few FFX tracks, I swear it. I say bring back musical genius Nobuo Uematsu.
In summary, 13 isn't bad, if anything its a welcome return to the series despite its glaring negatives. All that can be hoped for in the next instalment is a better battle system.. sort that out and the rest will follow.. right?
Totally playable, bring on 14.
== FINAL FANTASY XIII ==
We all know what the Final Fantasy series has been like and for some reason we all have our favourites out of the series. A lot of people have liked Final Fantasy VII the most. My personal favourite has to be Final Fantasy X. The series has to be one of the biggest and most popular around and probably the best RPG so far to date. Final Fantasy XIII is the first proper Final Fantasy for the Xbox 360. Final Fantasy XI is on the console but its a miserable attempt compared to others. Final Fantasy have been great and I believe this one is no different in terms of greatness. I loved playing the game and I thought the story was absolutely fantastic. This Final Fantasy is 3 discs for the Xbox 360.
=== STORY ===
As a deepening crisis threatens to plunge the floating mysterious world of Cocoon into chaos, a group of unsuspecting strangers find themselves branded enemies of the state. With the panicking population lusting for their blood, and the military happy to oblige by taking them down, they have no choice but to run for their lives. Take control of them on a desperate journey to challenge the forces that control their fate, and prevent untold destruction. Lightning, Snow, Vanille. Hope, Fang and Sazh are the characters on the run. Take control as them individually until they finally bound together by destiny to fight back. Can you save the world of Cocoon before its completely corrupt or is it already too late?
=== GAMEPLAY ===
The Final Fantasy games have always had some of the best gameplay action and features to any RPG. Final Fantasy XIII isn't far different from previous games such as Final Fantasy X. Something new is the way you control each character and at some point in the game they end up coming to merge together. Lightning is probably considered the main character in the game because you play as her the most but the story revolves around all of the characters equally which is great. My favourite character in the game is Snow. The fights in Final Fantasy XIII are a little different and have a turnbased-realtime mix. Each character starts with their own unique skills and fighting types. All of the characters in the game have access to Paradigms which is a bit hard to explain. Its like so many different fighting styles. Each style has different techniques and abilities. For example a Medic mainly focuses on healing themselves and their team mates. A Sentinel concentrates on defending with skills and upgrading their own defense. There are a few different styles that can be changed whilst in battle or in the character option menu.
When your in the game exploring you may come across many different obstacles, enemies, items, characters or other bits. Enemies are actually roaming around the world of Cocoon and to start a battle you just need to run up to them or let them come to you. Its always best to try and sneak up on them in my opinion. This is because if you do it without them noticing, you can get a surprise attack on them which leads to a huge bonus in the fight and makes it much easier. One good thing is if they surprise you it doesn't make much difference. Also when exploring you will come across many treasure spheres which are basically an upgrade from treasure chests. These come in handy so try and find as many as possible because they contain valuable objects that you will definitely need. There are also save points scattered throughout the whole game. These are extremely useful for saving your game and for buying items. There are no shops on the game that you can visit but use the save points for buying items, equipment and other bits. Also the good old faithful Chocobos are back and ready for you to ride them. Chocobos are like overgrown chickens. If you press the back button you have a map that can be viewed. This comes in handy for finding items because most items are in dead end areas and they're easily spotted on your map. It also helps indicate the right way to go. Also each character has an Eidolon which can be used to fight for you. These Eidolon's are like creatures.
One of my favourite parts to some of the Final Fantasy games are the customization upgrades. You can upgrade your armor and weapons. One of the bad points is that its not very hard to make something really strong. Also you only have one piece of armor and its usually something like a bangle. The weapon upgrades are probably the most exciting. There are hundreds of different weapons for each character and all the weapons have different effects and can be upgraded differently. To upgrade your items you need to find parts. Things like scrap metal and other bits you can acquire from enemies can be used to upgrade your stuff. You can also dismantle equipment for parts to upgrade your stronger items. Along with customizing your characters equipment comes the ability to learn new skills, techniques or special moves through the Crystogenesis. The Crystogenesis is fairly simple to navigate and it acts as a leveling up feature. In the game you don't level up in numbers but you level up using this. After each battle your awarded CP points which can be spent on the Crystogenesis in the different fighting styles such as Medic, Ravager, Sentinel and so on. Each one has different skills so choose wisely. This has to be done with all characters or the game will be extremely hard.
The game offers a lot in terms of variety in its gameplay especially when being compared to other RPG's. Final Fantasy XIII is great in my eyes and probably one of the best in the series. It does feature a lot of movies but I actually love that about this game because the story was really breathtaking and the visuals were absolutely stunning. There are a few little bits I wasn't impressed with and one being the way you have to change fighting styles in a middle of a fight. I suppose its a good idea but you do have to be really quick sometimes because if your not your probably going to be dead in no time. If your character your controlling dies in battle then its game over. If others die you can bring them back to life. This makes things a little harder. Some of the places you visit are really good and they vary in terms of how they look and are set out. Final Fantasy XIII is set out brilliantly and the game didn't disappoint me too much. Also there is only one game mode available and no multiplayer or online options.
=== GRAPHICS & SOUND EFFECTS ===
I believe the graphics to Final Fantasy XIII are the best I have seen on the Xbox 360. They are phenomenal in every way. The movies in the game are beautiful and very detailed and definitely make you enjoy the story of the game a lot more. Also the design of the characters and how they are presented is superb to every detail. I was very impressed with the different places you visit in the game and how superbly they looked. The scenery in the game is also fantastic especially when you can change the weather effects in the game. Overall the graphics are very impressive.
The sound effects are equally as good. The usual Final Fantasy music is slightly updated and still sounds fantastic. Its definitely one of the best game series with the best sounds and music. Characters are voiced but not by anyone really famous but they all do a good job in terms of quality and performance. The overall sound effects to the game are great. The battle sound effects are top notch and remind me of previous Final Fantasy games, the free roaming sound effects you can hear when running around are quality and the sound the enemies make are equally impressive. This is where the game shines in my opinion. Both in graphics and sound.
=== DIFFICULTY & LONGEVITY ===
The difficulty to the Final Fantasy games have always been a bit mixed and it all depends on how good you are and how well you understand these games. Near enough every game tells you how to do just about almost everything with tutorials. There are a lot of tutorials on this Final Fantasy but most are a basic ffew pages of information which you have to read in order to understand. Some of the things required can be a little tricky though. Also the story is easy to follow but some parts can be hard. For example its always a good idea not to fight lots of enemies at once and its also a good idea to plan ahead before doing anything. Some of the bosses in the game can be extremely hard. One boss took me ages to beat but I did him in the end. The controls are really easy and you don't use every button. Navigating the map is simple. The puzzles are easily solved. The hardest part would have to be the fights and upgrading to the fullest.
The length of the game isn't the best. I first heard the game was going to be 3 discs and thought wow this could be the biggest Final Fantasy game yet. Its not and most of the game is movies. I expected the game to be as long as Blue Dragon which is also on the Xbox 360 and is 3 discs. The game isn't entirely bad though because there are some side quests. Plus overall there is about 30 hours of gameplay which isn't that bad for what the game costs now.
=== GOOD BITS ===
*The story to the game is very fascinating.
*All of the characters are a mixed bunch and fit well into the game.
*Stunning visuals and sound effects make this game amazing!
*The Crystogenesis and the Paradigms work really well in the game.
*Its a Final Fantasy game.
=== BAD BITS ===
*A little short considering its 3 discs.
*A few annoying characters such as Hope.
*The game can be very difficult in places depending on how good you are.
*The game gets quite addictive as you play it more and more.
*Maybe a few to many movies for some people.
=== FINAL THOUGHT ===
I have been a fan of the Final Fantasy games since the very first one. There is only one RPG I like better than the Final Fantasy games and that's Suikoden. I believe Final Fantasy games have the best story and you can see that in this game. Final Fantasy XIII has probably got to be one of the best RPG's on the Xbox 360.
I would recommend the game to fans of role playing games and to fans of the Final Fantasy series. The game manual is quite good and offers lots of useful information. Also the game has an age rating of 16+ mainly due to strong violence and some strong language. There are 35 achievements in total to get on the game and most of them are simple but take time. Most are secret achievements.
One of the best things about the game is the price at the minute. The game is going for around the £5 mark which is definitely value for money. Any role playing game for that price is worth it.
A top role playing game for the Xbox 360. I would give the game an 8/10!
Review also on Ciao under the username: MrBrightside1987!
For anyone who has ever played a Final Fantasy game, you will know what to expect from this one. For those who haven't, what you get with these games is a visually stunning, plot driven game that will have you hooked and have you frustrated at the same time. Final Fantasy games require A LOT of patience and time. In terms of time, you are probably looking at around 50 or so hours to complete the game which is around twice the average game length.
Without going too far into the deep and complex story line, the game follows various strangers who come together in a sky world called Cocoon which is a very rich yet oppressive society. These strangers all come together during "The Purge" which is the government's attempt to get rid of people from Cocoon into the darker underworld called "Pulse" where anyone who comes in contact with that world becoming "purged." Also in this world are fal'Cie who are seen as supreme beings. When the characters end up in Pulse and come into contact with a fal'Cie, they end up becoming l'Cie who are like the slaves of the fal'Cie (very complex I know!). By becoming l'Cie, our intrepid characters are given various focus' which is a mission that each of them must undertake. However, they do not know what this is and they spend the rest of the game trying to work out what this is while also finding out the truth behind the government purge.
Over the course of the game, the story really develops and each character's background is thoroughly described with the use of flashbacks and also how each characters story intersects with the other characters. What this means is that as you develop through the game, you really begin to fell like you're there with the characters which makes the game much more involved. The characters themselves are all very likeable in their own way - each one is very different from the rest but each one has a way of getting you onside because of their personalities or because of the decisions they have taken in their past.
One of the best loved things about the Final Fantasy series of games is that they are often very free roaming and you can travel anywhere on the normally massive map. However, this game follows a slightly different path. For the first 10 chapters (about 20 game hours) you are very restricted in your movement and the game is very linear - you move forward, fight a few random monsters, fight a boss and move on and the cycle repeats itself. However, once you get past this point the game opens up completely and you gain access to the rest of the world around you and whatever monsters that brings. This linearity does goes on for a bit long though and as you rack up the game hours you will find yourself becoming frustrated with how long it goes on for.
One of the things that the Final Fantasy series of games is known for is the elaborate character development and this one is no exception. Each character starts of as one of the six roles available - Medic, Ravager (magic damage), Commando (physical damage), Sentinel (protection), Synergist (buffs) and Saboteur (debuffs) - but as you progress though the game, you can add different roles to a character and even have one character that is a pro in all six. In order to develop the characters you need to improve their stats in the Crystarium which is just really a fancy grid system. As you earn points through defeating enemies, you move up through the Crystarium in a very linear way added extra strength, magic, health or abilities depending on what comes next. One of the frustrating things with this is the fact that the game blocks how much you can level up in the first 10 chapters so you can often find yourself with various points to spend but no way to spend it. As you progress through the first part of the game and beat various bosses, the Crystarium expands and lets you spend more points.
Unfortunately the Crystarium often needs a lot of points to level up and the best way to get these points is a common Final Fantasy task known as "grinding." This basically means wandering around looking for fights in order to get more points. This can be painful as you will need to spend hours and hours wandering around fighting the same monsters in order to build up the characters. There are certain areas where the monsters are much harder to defeat but in return, you get a lot of experience making it worthwhile to have a go at them.
When it comes to battles, Final Fantasy 13 uses the same tried and tested method of previous games - turn based fights. Instead of a free for all, each side has a kind of gauge that fills up between attacks and when it is full you can have a go. While this sounds pretty stupid, it actually works quite well. Within your party of three (you can only fight with 3 people but it can be any combination of the available characters) you only control one character with the computer taking over the rest. While this sounds silly, it actually works with the addition of Paradigm's. These are the various combinations of the six roles that can be used strategically to provide the best benefit in battle. For example, if you start a battle with two Ravager's and a Commando then your party will do a lot of damage to the opponent but if you find your health getting low then you can switch Paradigm's to a Commando and two healers which means you will do some damage but mainly restore your own groups health (make sense?!). You can save upto six Paradigm's and switch between them as much as you like during a battle. Of course, the more roles a character has the wider the variety of Paradigm's available.
Whats good about the battle system is that the computer does the best thing for you're your party when in a battle. There is a spell called "Libra" which tells you what the enemies weaknesses are and once this has been used, the computer will automatically use the most beneficial attack against the enemy. This also works if your health is low and the computer is controlling a Medic as the computer will always focus their spells on healing the person who needs it most.
One of the great things about the Final Fantasy games has always been the graphics and this one lives upto all expectations. The world around you is beautifully designed and every little detail has been given a lot of attention, whether it be one of the characters afro or the open plains that you are free to roam in from chapter 11. The whole place is a creative genius' dream with massive crazy looking beasts all over the place or never seen before environments like Cocoon. The one area where you will really be astounded is the CGI movies. These look as good as anything I have any game or CGI movie that I have seen and look especially good in high definition.
The whole game is nicely complimented by the music score as well. Throughout the game there is always music but often is very subtle but at times when there is a lot of action the music keeps up and helps to add to the atmosphere.
Unfortunately one of the most frustrating things about the game is that it can be quite repetitive, especially when you are spending hours on end grinding because your characters simply aren't strong enough to defeat a boss. While there is something somewhat satisfying about making your guys the best they can be, it is at times very painful. As I said previously, while the Crystarium is also very pretty, it is somewhat pointless as you don't actually have much freedom to improve the characters in certain areas. There's nothing more annoying than when you want to build up a characters health but the Crystarium keeps given you magic or strength upgrades.
However, the most frustrating thing about the game is the first 10 chapters when you do not have any freedom. By about 10 hours you are just about ready to pull your hair out but it is definitely worth persevering!
Overall, I definitely liked this game but there were points that I just couldn't be bothered any more. Like I said at the start, you need a lot of patience but if you have this then the game will certainly repay your perseverance. The story is deep and highly involving, the graphics look great and the overall feel is very positive. Im sure this game wont please everyone but if you've played the previous games then this one wont let you down.
The final thing I want to mention is that, if possible, I would get the PS3 version of this rather than the X-Box version. This is simply because the graphics are at a higher HD level and the PS3 version is on a single blu-ray as opposed to 7 (yes seven!) CD's on the X-Box.
For those thinking whether or not to buy this installment of the series, just go buy it!
I have been wondering for a while why there is such a mix of reviews for this game and I honestly believe that with Final Fantasy being a long established series, there are those that will get angry with any changes that may happen.
People fear change (see health-care overhaul).
But change also brings fresh new ideas, and new mechanisms to reinvent, or simply enhance a long established series. If games don't ever change at all they simply become repetitious and boring. You need to keep people going with fresh, smart, and clever new inventions.
Ah yes, what jrpgs and this series is known for. And this installment delivers on story. Without giving too much away, on Cocoon, a small floating planet in the sky, the main characters gain powers from a god-like beast called a F'alcie that happens to originate from the world below: Pulse. Years ago both Pulse and Cocoon were in a great war trying to destroy one another.
As the main characters powers stem from Pulse, the Cocoon government fears they will unleash their powers and destroy their home. People fear Pulse and for the greater good, the Cocoon government wants you dead.
What unfolds is a brilliant story that is very obvious was not thought of overnight. Enhancing the story is the "Datalog" which leads you read some back-story or get further information on current events.
Furthermore, all dialogue is voice acted. And yes they delivered. Each characters voice matches wonderfully with their characters and the acting is superb
(minus one villains voice actor in a scene figuring out what color code means what - Code red? no wait or is it code purple? What about blue?).
The story unfolds very much like a soap opera. And an extremely entertaining and enthralling one at that. It is definitely geared more toward mature gamers, so those who have no emotions or are extremely childish or immature may not like it as much, but what has been written is truly amazing.
Oh...and the character development in this game? Wow. I have never liked a cast this much before. Sazh and Lightning especially are just amazing.
Umm....hello. Have you SEEN any pictures of this? The game is gorgeous. the cinematics are amazing, the landscapes are beautiful, the graphics are just some of the best out there. Final Fantasy games always deliver here.
Ok so the Linearity complaint. Sure it's linear to a certain point. However, It's still an amazing game.
The Linearity complaint is overused and is only valid if this game were boring and NEEDED more freedom. But the game flows so well that this really is a non-issue.
You will have great fun. The longer you play, the better it gets. And it starts out REALLY good. You don't need to get halfway through to enjoy it.
The way this game flows from battle, to scene, to cinematic cut-scenes all flow in such a way where you will not think to yourself "OMG THIS IS TOO LINEAR I WANT TO GO WHEREVER I WANT!"
You will just continue plowing through and getting more and more into the story and game.
Combat here is done superbly. Some say with auto-battle that the fun is ruined. To those who say this.....well don't use auto-battle!
And to all others....the battle system is addictive as hell even using auto-battle.
Let's look at Final Fantasy 7's battle system. You control your characters. Move the cursor up or down and hit X to select attack, magic, defend, or item. Once doing so you pick the skill you want or item.
Here you control your main character, move the cursor up or down for auto-battle, class skills to use, techniques, or items and hit X.
Oh wait....its the same......Except here you can use auto-battle which generally uses (but not always) the best attacks for an enemy if you have identified its weaknesses.
And one more thing.....you can (and must) change your classes during battle! By hitting L1, you can access up to six groups of three classes you select before battle. Each class has different skills so you must chose what classes you need at the right moment....or you are dead.
In actuality, this makes the battle system here more advanced than any previous Final Fantasy game. This is because you MUST think on your feat, and you benefit from having the right classes. So you actually have more options than Final Fantasy 7 or 8 .... or any other in the series.
The battle system here is addictive as hell and this is by far the most difficult Final Fantasy game there is. Although in later chapters you can grind and actually make the main game pretty easy, those that don't grind will see how much more difficult this is than any other in the main series.
And of course there are bosses harder than the final boss! Some secret hunts will have you ripping your hair out until you become beastly strong! And most of these you can't kill until you beat the game and unlock the top level of the level up system anyway.
Speaking of the level up system....think Sphere Grid from 10. Except you can't delete nodes. It's an alright system. Not the best but each character has their own specific skills and stats so there will be times that its best to have a certain character in your team.
Music & Sound 10/10
The Final Fantasy series always shines here. And this installment is no exception. The music whether it be field music or battle music is all superb. The only complaint I really had was the main theme on the title screen is used a LOT in the game. Many different renditions of it but I wish it wasn't repeated as much. However, each rendition is beautiful and fits the story at that point so its not a terrible thing.
The battle themes are great too. The main theme is fun and upbeat with some killer violin thrown in. Later on you get a few more battle songs as well depending on the location and they are all awesome.
I wish the victory fanfare had made its way back instead of the 4 second battle victory song we do get, but oh well I guess you can't get everything!
Well the story is amazing but the game doesn't have anything you can really miss on a playthrough except for a certain trophy or datalog entries. Not any minigames in areas you pass so there isn't as much of a need to play again.
However the story is so superb and the game is so fun you will most likely want to play again and maybe level up differently or use different characters earlier to see the difference it makes.
But hey I am already on my second play through and am having a lot of fun. It took me a while to get great at the battle system and its amazing to see how drastic the difference is on my second playthrough!
This is one of the greatest Final Fantasy's out there. The story is surpassed by none, and the battle system is the most fun of any that I have played. It is fast paced like most other games these days and keeps you on your toes. The music is beautiful and the graphics even more so. The strong characters and major character development also enriches this epic adventure.
This is a MUST buy for any fan of the series or anyone wanting to get into it. It is money well spent.
Final Fantasy XIII more than holds its place among the top ranked of the series.
Final Fantasy 13
2010 saw the release of Final Fantasy 13, that all conquering juggernaut, icon of the video game world that is the Final Fantasy series. Being from such a pedigree means big hype and big expectation however off the back of the very disappointing FF12 (for me anyway, Famitsu gave it a perfect 40/40...) it was time to see if FF13 could bring the series back on track.
One of the criticisms FF12 has had to face is the story or rather the perceived lack of anything of any king of interest, well that's not the case as far as FF13 is concerned. The story follows six characters; Lighting, Sazh, Snow, Hope, Vanille and Fang and their struggle to complete a task or "focus" handed to them by a "Fal'Cie" the beings responsible for shaping and controlling the world of Cocoon, upon completing said focus the participants or "L'cie" receive the gift of eternal life however failure to complete the results in transformation into a lumbering monster so it's a race against time for Lighting and company to avoid such a terrible fate. It may not win too many awards and compared to previous games in the series it's definitely lacking but compared to the "politically driven masterpiece" (what?!) of 12 this is a nice change of pace. Characters also surprisingly decent, Lightning was supposedly made to be cool like Cloud Strife of FF7 which does her quite the injustice being a good character in her own right and comedy relief being supplied by Sazh whenever things get a little too heavy. Despite getting the heroes right Square Enix have managed to get the villains very wrong or in reality not at all, what I mean is that there simply isn't a real antagonist of any worth in 13, you won't find any Sephiroths or Seifers and here no matter how hard you look and not having that strong figure to base the conflict around is something the game is really missing.
Gameplay is very different to previous Final Fantasy games, this is particularly evident when it comes to exploring the environment, you see every area in FF13 with one exception is a big corridor, what I mean by that is there is no real exploration to be had , no world map (why... Why are there no more world maps?), no NPCs to talk to or shops to enter, you literally start at one end of an area and walk forward erring two to three steps left or right before soldering onward again.
On the subject of walking you may have to do a lot of it but it's not something you'll generally notice through the torrent of cut scenes in this game, without any exaggeration there are times when you will literally sit through a scene walk for half a minute and sit through another cut scene. Levels are another thing missing in this game, instead of experience points you receive csytogenesis points or CP at the end of battles which can be used on stat upgrades for your character such as increasing HP or gaining new spells, it's all housed in a branching grid called the Crystarium, if you're familiar with FF10's Sphere Grid then you'll have a perfect idea of how this works. Finally we have battles, FF13 uses the "Active Time Battle" or ATB system created by Square back for Final Fantasy 4 which basically means that until a gauge in the corner of the screen fills up you are unable to take any actions. Battles are not random encounters, instead monsters can be seen on the map before battle so don't get too close if you don't want to engage them. The main chunk of strategy to FF13 is not to choose commands for your characters but to instead change the classes of your party members mid battle while allow the game to issue commands for you using the auto-battle command, there are a total of six different job classes each with there own strengths and weaknesses, the Commando for example provides strong physical attacks however won't be able to heal party members if their HP is running low, the Medic is capable of providing healing however cannot attack. The system has good and bad points, while it definitely provides originality and for some can at times mean control over higher levels of strategy I just fell that only controlling one character at a time and simply changing classes just isn't enough control for my liking.
Graphics are as to be expected very nice with character models and environments very nice to look at although some of the indoor areas are a little drab. Music is good despite the use of Leona Lewis' "My Hands" (Leona Lewis... this is a Japanese game) to replace the Japanese theme, the soundtrack is generally lively with plenty of JPop taste. Voice acting is also good however you may have a hard time enjoying it if you don't like JRPGs since the scripting is filled with the cliché cheese you come to expect.
A good game and a definite step up from Final Fantasy 12 however perhaps a step too far in some directions, good ideas such as the innovative battle system that although enjoyable just aren't quite capable of living up to the prestige that comes with having Final Fantasy in the title. If you Like JRPGs then this is a game for you, if you didn't like FF12 then give this game some consideration as it's a different breed, but if you don't like JRPs or think that FF12 was the way forward then maybe give this a miss.
At A Glance.
Gameplay ~ 7/10
Story ~ 6/10
Graphics ~ 9/10
Sound ~ 7/10
Replay Value ~ 6/10
Final Score: 35/50
To start off with I'm a fan of Final Fantasy games and really enjoyed it's predecessor FFXII. I thought XIII was fairly average, which was quite a disappointment.
The gameplay still uses the ATB (active battle system) which is fine. My problem comes with the plot itself, which can be described with one word; linear. There's no freedom to be had at all apart from in the last third of the game with side missions (these come far too late). You have no option but to carry on with the main quest, there's no freedom or choice in the matter.
One thing I do like is the new paradigm system which bring more tactics to the battle. A paradigm is basically a role you can select for each character (i.e. basic attacker, healer, support spells, tank, etc).
I don't like the levelling system very much as just like the story it's very linear and there is no freedom until later on in the game.
Final Fantasy fans beware, this is a lot different from the other games in the main series. This might not be to everyones tastes, I suggest giving it a rent before buying.
The thirteenth chapter of the Final Fantasy series is, in one simple word, beautiful. As soon as the first FMV starts you find yourself immersed in a fantasy world, of colour and light, of magic and adventure. This is the sort of game that leaves a lonely absence when it has finished.
After the complete emotional non-attachment of Final Fantasy XII, which featured forgettable characters (I can't even remember the name of the main protagonist), a silly and boring story, and not nearly enough full motion videos, I was both eagerly awaiting the second chance the Square-Enix was working on, and slightly feeling slightly apprehensive. Would the Wait be worth it?
The answer is; one hundred times yes, yes yes!
Not only have they produced memorable, un-annoying characters (perhaps with the exception of Vannile on the annoying element), who seem real and multi faceted, but the storyline in this game is just incredible (If a little complex. Without the help of the back-story offered in the 'Datalog' section of the menu, I think an average player may find it too confusing at the beginning). Based in a world of humans and the powerful, supernatural beings, Fal'cie, of a corrupt government and a frantically paranoid society, five people become branded by an evil Fal'cie to become L'cie, tools of the Fal'cie, and given a 'focus' which they must fulfil. If they do not fulfil their focus, they will be turned into monstrous C'ieth, but if they do, they are granted eternal rest in crystal form. However, when the group find out their focus, things get a bit more complicated.
Sounds confusing, right? But don't worry, whilst this sounds convoluted on paper, it is delivered with just the right amount of emotion that it becomes a really involving storyline as you fight through soldiers and various fiends to try and avoid your own fate.
The animation in Final Fantasy XIII is incredibly detailed and imaginative, and, to be honest, just breathtaking. The final FMV is probably one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in a game, but beauty is carried right from the first scene to the last, and the lack of in game movies and interaction with fellow characters in XII is more than made up for in this chapter.
The characters all gave very distinct and different personalities, from the complex and mysterious Lightning (Who I think is the best FF character to grace our consoles since X) to the bubbly and optimistic Vannille (Who seems to be Rikku, Yuffie and Penelos counterparts) to the calmed focus and determination of Snow, you become so involved in their stories that it gives the game about a hundred more layers.
The game play is also tried and tested. The new battle system, where you control just one of your characters in a battle party of three, is fantastically fast paced and thought out. The ATB gauge returns and you pick out abilities to fill the gauge in a chain. There is a new element here which is an expansion of the dress spheres concept of FFX-2. There are six 'roles' in battle which all offer their own advantages; the Medic heals whilst the Ravager casts offensive spells, the Commando deal heavy physical damage whilst the saboteur debuffs and hinders the enemy. The three characters who are in battle form a 'paradigm' with their three chosen roles, and they can 'Paradigm shift' at any point to change roles. This sounds complicated but is easy to get the grasp of. Another new battle element is the stagger-gauge, which slowly fills as the enemy takes more damage. When it is filled, the enemies defence drastically decreases, and the player can deal massive damage. This promises for some interesting strategy planning.
The only issues I would mention are the strict linear gamely of the first ten chapters of the game. It often seems to be going from point A to B, watching a cut scene, A to B, cut scene. However, I didn't find this a major issue, as, not only do I think it makes the game more focused, but the opportunity to do some off the beaten track exploring is presented in chapter 11, when you come to a place called the Archylte Steppe, which will likely leave you jaw-opened, and certainly presents hours and hours of post-story playing. The other issue I had was with the levelling up system. Like the spehereboard in X, you are given a crystalarium, where characters gain 'buy' certain abilities and stats with the exp they earn in battle. The progress of characters is limited to what point the player is at in the story. Once you have got to a certain point on the crystalarium, you can go no further till you reach a certain point in the story. In this way, I never felt particularly ahead of the learning curve.
However, these are minor drawbacks in the big picture, and the big picture is incredible. Fans of the series will be glad to see some familiar elements. Summonings are back in the forms of 'Gestalts', and chocobos, cactuars and moogles all make some appearances.
With an incredible story and some incredible graphics, as well as a battle system that will immerse you completely, FFXIII is Square Enix back on top form. There isn't nearly enough room here for me to mention all the brilliant things, but trust me, buy it, play it, and you will thank me later!
This was a muchly anticipated game for the xbox 360, square enix making there first (of hopefully many) final fantasy game for the xbox 360.
The game is spread across 3 disks but i feel as if it was just for show, yeah the graphics where good but the game is very straight forward, there isn't the freedom i have come to expect from final fantasy games.
The story as I have come to expect from final fantasy games is fairly gripping, it sucks you in and yeah you will grind for hours to get past the next boss just to find out what will happen next. The cut scenes are spot on, nuff' said.
The game play is different to the previous final fantasy games, no random encounters, instead you can see the monsters and they will lunge for you when you get too close.
The combat itself is a bit dull if im honest, you can just press A and the character you control will use the best combination of attacks, only a couple of situations calling for me to enter my own commands
My other problem with this game is how much you are restrained, there is no freedom to do whatever you want, partly due to the lack of towns, there is no back tracking, no revisiting places you have been, no world maps or anything. Something i felt it missed very much. At one point on the third disk it seems square enix remembered this and suddenly gave the player a huge amount of freedom to explore this wasteland and do some side missions, too little too late, i wasn't interested, at that point i just wanted to get on with the game, i wanted to know what was going to happen next in the story not waste my time grinding to do pointless side missions.
This game could have been perfect if done correctly, bring back random encounters, bring back towns, bring back the freedom we want.
Its still a good game, all things said, but just not what i wanted.
If you are a final fantasy fan you will love this game. The last few games in this series have been let downs apart from no 10 but final fantasy 13 doesn't let down! Its got a new system for leveling up and the story is amazing and will have you glued to your console for days.
Downside to the game is the fact that it is so huge in size that it is on 3 discs overall. Some people see this as an adavantage though as you can set yourself milestones using the discs.
WARNING! This game will get you stressed and you will spend hours leveling up and trying to defeat that one boss which you have just spent 1hour getting its health down and then it kills you in one hit. I would recommend making sure you have got controller insurance!
However minus getting stressed and how hard some of the bosses are this is a fantastic game and i just couldn't wait to see the next part of the story and ended up playing hours and hours without breaks.
Opinions on this game are split 50/50 with the hardcore fans of the series arguing that it's a step backwards for Final Fantasay, well i hugely disagree. This game is one that you must have in your collection if you are an xbox 360 owner, it's addictive, it's long and it's definitely worth the money. Ok so it's pretty slow for the first 6-7 chapters but these chapters and important and highly valuable to understanding the story and i've gotta say it is one of the greatest stories in a game of all time. The battle system is fast and effective, combining this with a huge weapon and accessory upgrading system makes it one of the best in the series. The game is typically long with story mode lasting around 50 hours but the sidequests and bonuses can take you well past the 100 hour mark. The 6 main characters all have strong personal backgrounds and each individual is well focused on so you get the most out of the story. I recommend this game for anyone who is a fan of role playing games and do not be put off by the change in direction for the game.
You know what annoys me a little about this game? That people complain it is linear. I have yet to play a JRPG (Japanese Role-Play-Game) that wasn't linear, and I'm a big fat geek so I'm played a fair few!
Yes, for the first 11 chapters you will traverse what are basically straight paths, but the environments are all wonderfully varied and detailed, and the game in no way suffers for it. I turned off the mini-map and played a few hours and I didn't even notice that I was running in straight lines, that is how small an issue I found it. Plus, once you get to chapter 11, I can promise your jaw will just drop.
Now that's out of the way, welcome to Final Fantasy XIII!
The story is similar to most JRPGs; an eclectic mash of characters will band together in order to save the world. The plot is made slightly confusing however by the strange terms thrown about. Basically the world is ruled by all-powerful beings called Fal'cie. They are limited in their ability to interact with the human population so they create L'cie - these are humans given the power of magic and a 'focus', that is a task to carry out on the behalf of the Fal'cie. They are branded with a mark and given a certain amount of time to complete their focus. If they fail, they will be cursed to become Cieth - demon creatures twisted by magic. (Told you it was slightly confusing!)
The story is told through the perspective of the six characters, with a fair few flashbacks thrown in for good measure. I honestly really enjoyed the plot, and it's twists and turns kept me guessing as to what was going on.
The game is extremely beautiful - probably one of the best looking games I've ever played. The cutscenes are almost seamless and all the characters and creatures have an insane level of detail about them.
The combat system is just incredible. It has all the benefits of looking more action orientated and exciting, but with all the strategy of a turn based RPG. For the first few hours the game gently eases you into the combat system, opening up more depth as you go. Some people have complained that this "hand-holding" is too slow, but I felt it had a really nice level to it. It'a miles better than just being dropped in an not understanding what you're supposed to do. At a certain point you are let off the leash and you can change your battle team and paradigms as you wish.
Paradigms are roles your team fights as. Each character can act in any of 6 roles: commando (physical attacks), ravager (magic attacks), sabateour (debuffs), synergist (buffs), sentinal (tanking/defense) and medic (healing). You can adust your paradigms to any combination you want and instantly change between them during battle. Not all roles are unlocked at first - the characters will start with their best roles unlocked.
Battles are all graded, by how quickly you manage to defeat all the enemies, which makes even repeat battles exciting as you strive to better your score. 5 Star battles give you better item drops, and in some cases, achievements.
The level up system in similar to the sphere grid from FFX. Each battle earns crystal points or CP and you can spend these in any of the role trees, levelling up your characters' stats and unlocking them new abilities.
The menus are just gorgeous, and really easy to navigate, and the equipment and accessories use a upgrade system where all enemies drop parts which are used to make them better, and eventually transform into even stronger items.
The main story will take around 60 hours to play through, then you have at least another 60 hours of side missions to play after the main story ends. These side missions are similar to the Hunts in FFXII, where you are given a powerful unique enemy to track down and kill within a certain timeframe.
All in all this is a brilliant direction for the series to be taken in. After the unsatisfying FFXII, I was really worried that FFXIII would be equally disappointing, but I played it for 125 hours and finished it still wanting more. I definitely recommend everyone play this game.
Final Fantasy XIII takes a lot of inspiration from previous titles in the series but takes these elements and creates a very different style of game.
It is still, inherently, a role-playing game. Your characters can be advanced through crystarium points that are gained from battle. You have a party, you have attacks, magic and skills. You have summons. All of these are basic staples of the Final Fantasy series. However it is a much more linear game, and to many this will be to the game's detriment, in particular fans of the series. Yet taken as a standalone game, it is a fun and worthwhile experience.
Graphically, few games will come close to FFXIII this year. It looks brilliant, especially in HD. The only downside in terms of aesthetics is that sometimes, during in-game videos, the action is too frenetic and you cannot follow exactly what is going on (this is on a 37" TV from around 2 metres away in HD, someone with a higher quality TV may debate this point). Apart from that the character models, attacks and magic spells and summons (known as Eidolons) are stunning, and the environments breathtaking. In particular when you start chapter 11, you will run around the map in wonder.
In terms of gameplay, as stated it is much more linear. Battles are initiated by coming into contact with the enemy on the map, so are not completely random and can be avoided. The battles are the focus of the game, there is very little exploration and no puzzle solving, therefore they take on a much greater importance. Interest is held through the strategy required to tackle even low-level enemies. The days of button-bashing through and dealing with enemies via relentlessly attacking them are, in this series at least, over for now. You are required to shift battle roles throughout battles in order to react to enemy attacks and patterns and to access the best skills for the time. In a typical boss battle you may shift roles (role combinations are known as paradigms) up to 10 times or more, to exploit weaknesses.
The story is typical Final Fantasy fare; for anyone unfamiliar with the series of games, this is not a negative. It is engaging and drives you through the chapters, with some fleshed out and believable characters. However there is one big flaw in this area, a playable character called Vanille. To describe her as the most annoying character in the Final Fantasy series is an understatement. While some characters are at times mildly perturbing, they are usually justified through the story. Yet Vanille is so whiny and irritating that she can ruin some cutscenes. A minor gripe that shouldn't stop anyone playing the game, but it feels so obvious that it is a surprise that the script/actor combination was retained (as it is a combination of both that infuriates).