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Apr 01 2010
By: PapaWarlock PlayStation MVP 11161 posts
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Final Fantasy XIII

0 replies 37 views Edited Apr 1, 2010

Game Title: Final Fantasy XIII

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Genre: Role Playing Game

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Platform: PlayStation 3

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ESRB Rating: T

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Developer: Square-Enix

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Publisher:  Square-Enix

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Release Date: March 9th, 2010

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Overall Score: 8/10

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Review Author:  PapaWarlock

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After a long 4 year wait (it was announced in 2006) and longer development time (at least 5 years), Square-Enix finally released Final Fantasy XIII. Was the wait worth it? Did the developing team make the best of the time they had? It all depends on who you ask. There were a lot of high expectations from gamers. Many felt those expectations were crushed for one reason or another. Others contend it's one of the best in the series. No game is without flaw, most of the ones found in XIII are only flaws to the individual. This review is a bit lengthy, so if you want to read only my final thoughts head on down to the bottom.

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Graphics: 9.5/10 

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   In my opinion, XIII is one of the best looking games available today. Some will disagree, but really it's like arguing over which Super Model is the hottest. It's a matter of opinion, but regardless it looks good. I have not found any graphical flaws in XIII. Whether it's cutscene, or battle, or wandering around the area, everything looks smooth and beautiful.

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Music/Voice Acting: 8/10 

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   None of the voice acting I have come across has been particularly good or bad. I have seen many complain that the Voice Actor for Vanille was extremely annoying, but I found it to be interesting. Then again, I'm one who enjoys listening to a variety of accents.

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   As far as the musical track goes, most of it was bland. Unlike most other FF games (where there are usually a few good tracks), nothing in XIII stood out as great. It was just there. The combat music was good, but not memorable. However the end fight music is great. I still have it stuck in my head a day later.

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Gameplay: 7.8/10 

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   Final Fantasy XIII is a very linear game in story and area. It does open up in the later stages of the game. While I do enjoy exploring dungeons, towns & the world at large, linear games don't bother me as much as it does others. I do wish I could have explored Cocoon, but given the story and how people feel about L'Cie, I can also see where it wouldn't be as beneficial to have towns to explore. Lynching mobs are never good in real life, in a game they can be annoying as well. When you hit the last chapter you do have an option of going back to Gran Pulse for some extra leveling and the Missions. Or after you beat the game you can reload it and the Crystarium grid is expanded one last time, and you can then hit Gran Pulse and have an easier time of doing the Cie'th Stone Missions.

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   Similar to Crisis Core, all shopping is done via the save points. Think of it either like a vending machine or online shopping with instant delivery via Moogle Express. There isn't much point to buying any sundry items like potions or items to cure fog or daze. You are automatically healed after battle and you don't use magic points. Not particularly peachy on the idea of auto healing, but do pick up some Phoenix Downs for raising your KO'd characters in battle. Very useful in Boss fights.

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    Crystarium - In a way this system is very similar to the sphere system of FFX and the grid system of XII. I am not happy they removed the actual character leveling that is generally the heart of the RPG system. I love having the sounds that accompanies gaining a level, not to mention the joy of gaining a level as well as new abilities and improved stats. But at the same time, the Crystarium Points allow you to choose your path as well. Nothing is perfect, but it does feel more like leveling that the Sphere system of X.

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    Combat: The Paradigm Shift closely resembles the dress sphere system from FFX-2. It is also the closest to an actual job system that has been missing from most of the Playstation Final Fantasy titles. (FFIX, X-2 & XI had jobs, the rest did not.) Once you hit Chapter 10, your characters have access to all 6 roles or jobs. Of course each character has their strong role and their weak roles. This is evident by the amount of Crystarium Points needed to gain a new ability or stat .

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    As far as actual combat goes, you are only able to directly control the party leader. Up until Chapter 10, the party leader is mandatory, but eventually you are able to choose your leader and group members.

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    You can either choose Auto-Battle (the AI choose your actions based on the information available for the enemies you face) or you can choose them directly. You can only access the spells and abilities of the role you are currently using. (You can't use Fira if you are a Commando for example.) By Paradigm Shifting you can change the roles of yourself & party members. You can create up to 6 different Paradigm decks (preset role combinations) depending on what roles your party has access to. Unlike some games I've played where the AI controlled party actions were heinous, XIII does a good job on that point. However, I'd rather have full control over my party.

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    When it comes down to it, the Paradigm Shifting actually lends a greater strategy to the combat than you think. For the average battle (for leveling) very rarely do you need to do more than attack, nuke and heal. Occasionally you will shift roles two or three times during a tougher fight, but the Boss Fights are where the most strategy is required. It's not just attack and heal. Knowing when to shift Paradigms, knowing which Paradigms to use and set, that's where the strategy is at. Since the game is "over" when your leader falls, it's a good idea to always ensure your party is well healed. However the game over isn't like in previous games where you go back to your last save point. You 'restart' right before your last fight unless you choose to end your game session.

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    Mini-Games: Late in the game you get access to a Chocobo Hot & Cold mini-game and a series of missions (like side quests or Marks). While not bad, these are not as good as other notable FF mini-games like Blitzball, Tetra, Battle Arena or Chocobo Racing.

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   Weapon/Accessories Upgrading: This was one spot where they truly needed to work on. I don't mind adding components to change or strengthen my weapons and accessories, but the system was completely bland. Regardless of what you added, you never could add Elemental or Status effects/resistances to your equipment. That nearly defeats the purpose to item synthesis. Getting the gil to make these upgrades can be a daunting task which also pulls this aspect down. Upgrading weapons and accessories, while very useful, was a rather bland and semi-annoying task.

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Story: 9/10

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   For me this was the best part of FFXIII. The story about Fal'Cie (Guardians or Demi-Gods) and their chosen servants called the L'Cie was rather fascinating once you got into it. When you hit the end of the game it all makes sense and when added together it's extremely good. There are 2 'factions' of Fal'Cie: Cocoon and Pulse. The Cocoon Fal'Cie are responsible for keeping humanity safe. Carbuncle for example is in charge of food/water. The L'Cie are given a Focus (think of it as a mission). If they succeed they are turned to crystal for eternal life. If they fail they are cursed to be Ciethe (undead) for eternal damnation. If they are tapped by a Cocoon Fal'Cie it's considered an honor. If they are tapped by a Pulse Fal'Cie it's considered a curse. But whether they fail or succeed, their original lives are no longer theirs.

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   The citizens of Cocoon are so paranoid about Pulse invasions or taint that anyone suspected of being anywhere near a Pulse Fal'Cie or L'Cie is carted off to be Purged. The official word is simple re-location to the surface of Gran Pulse. The truth is far more heinous. They are led off to be slaughtered. This closely mirrors several events throughout our own history, which makes it fascinating for a game story.

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    The early events of XIII introduce you the 6 characters of the game: Lightning, Snow, Hope, Sazh, Vanille and Fang. Unlike most of the Playstation era Final Fantasy games, I was able to connect with most of the cast. I understood their desires to protect the ones they love and the lengths they would go to do so. I also understand their desire to be free to choose their own actions and not be forced to do something they did not want to do. It's hard to explain more than that without leading to major spoilers. But I will say that the further in the story you get, the more sense it all makes and the better it gets. The ending was spectacular and some of the things I thought would happen, didn't. What did happen was a surprise.

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Final Thoughts: 

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    Overall the aspects that I felt were flaws were not large enough to take away from the pleasure this game gave me. FFXIII in many ways feels like a starter RPG for those with limited RPG experience. Yet the richness of the story, the complexity of the combat system and the character Roles allowed the RPG veteran in me to feel challenged. The average battles in any game are rarely more than simple attack-attack-heal-attack. But the Boss fights were challenging and enjoyable.

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    If you do not enjoy Western RPGs or linear games (like God of War or Uncharted); if you want full control of your party; if perky characters annoy you; if you prefer Character Levels to growth based grids; if you want full blown turn based combat; if you want towns to explore, shops to enter, NPCs to chat with; if you want any of these things, then odds are you won't like Final Fantasy XIII.

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    If you want a great story and a solid experience, then you'll enjoy FFXIII.

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Please Note: The views expressed in this message are the views of the review author, who is in no way affiliated with SCEA or PlayStation.com.

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