Final Fantasy XIII Review
Final Fantasy XIII Review
It's been a while since my last review, which was the WKC review. I had planned this review and it's now long overdue. J introduce to you all, the second Final Fantasy XIII review published to FFTogether. The first being published by ChaosWOTW many months past.
Final Fantasy XIII is the thirteenth installment in Square Enix's seemingly never-ending flagship franchise. With it being praised tremendously for it's visuals and gameplay, it occasionally fell short of fans expectations. Will it be the game we have all been waiting for, or is it just a failed experiment that is a black mark in the long running series?
STORY and CHARACTERS
The story starts out on the world of Cocoon, where citizens are being transported against their own will to their impending doom. Due to finding a vestige in the town of Bodhum just a few days prior to the start of the game, from Cocoon's nemesis; the wild and untamed Pulse. You start out with Lightning; a determined, yet cold woman who doesn't show emotions much. She volunteers to become a part of the Purge in order to save her sister Serah from the doomed fate of a L'Cie. As brought together by fate, Lightning finds herself made into a L'Cie along with many other various comrades with equally interesting personalities and pretty good backstories.
For the most start, the story can occasionally be a teeter-totter. In some scenes, the story seems really interesting. On the other hand, some scenes can be extremely cheesy and frequently melodramatic. There are 13 (The number 13 is often mentioned way to many times in this game) chapters in this game, and the story is the most linear we have seen in a Final Fantasy to date.
To put it bluntly, the first 10 chapters or the first 20 hours of the game is a mere tutorial and a setup for character development. Introducing you to the basics of the combat system and delving deep into the backstories of the characters. Areas cannot be returned to from the first ten chapters of the game, and each chapter just feels like a pattern to get to the next cutscene or to the boss. It's sometimes to be expected in a JRPG like Final Fantasy, but Final Fantasy XIII brings linearity to a whole new level. Final Fantasy XIII's world also feels extremely lonely at times. With NPCs being rare and towns being out of the question, Final Fantasy XIII can feel more like a dungeon crawler and monster hunter than an actual RPG.
Linearity aside, the combat system in Final Fantasy XIII is the most complex to date. In the beginning of the game, combat is basic... almost as basic as some of the first Final Fantasy games. As you dive deeper into the game, you begin to unlock new features to the combat system. One of them is the Paradigm System, which are sort of jobs for each of your characters. There are a total of six; the Commando, Ravager, Sentinel, Saboteur, Synergist and Medic. Combining two or three of these roles creates a Paradigm, which you will need to use throughout the entire game and adds a nice level of complexity to the game. Enemies in this game can be brutal and punishing if you don't know what you're doing or when to switch Paradigms at the right time. An all out offensive strategy will only get you so far in this game. If you're party leader dies, even if you're two other party members are still alive and ready; it's Game Over. No if's, and's or but's about that. The good thing though is that you have the option of Retrying the battle. You need to think, plan ahead, experiment.
If you don't, every possible foe you encounter will seem like an impossibility. EXP in this game is replaced by Crystogen points, which you can spend on the Crystarium Grid. Which is a sort of variation of Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid, albeit more linear though and lacking freedom in how you level up you're characters through the early portions of the game.
Graphics, Music and Voice Acting
Square Enix is one to make every Final Fantasy's visuals look elegant and smooth, and Final Fantasy XIII is no exception. Being the first Final Fantasy on the PlayStation 3 console, the game provides a nice 1080p option, and the game is positively gorgeous. We can only wish that we could go back and visit the game's beautiful environments once again. The music track is composed by Masashi Hamauzu, most notable for his work on Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus. Hamauzu has composed a lively score of a combination of orchestral tracks with simply upbeat and lively tracks. Sadly though, notable Final Fantasy stables such as the normal Prelude and Victory Fanfare are nowhere to be found. Onto the voice acting, Final Fantasy has not lacked much on the voice department and once again, Final Fantasy XIII is no exception. Each of the members of the main cast giving brilliant performances and providing emotion into each and every scene and quite frankly, can make the cheesiest dialogue seem all the more bearable. We could still go without the frequent yells of the word "Hero" from Snow Villiers.
In conclusion, Final Fantasy XIII is a brilliant addition to the series in it's own right. A few positives about the game is the elegant and complex gameplay and the game's beautiful visuals. On the downside, the game is very linear and the story and dialogue can occasionally be very cheesy. Overall, it may not be the game fans were expecting but it's still a great game in the end. It may not be the best Final Fantasy ever, but it's certainly not one to miss out on.