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Final Fantasy XIII Impressions


The U.S. Box Art for the PS3 version of the game

With Final Fantasy XIII recently released, I have taken it upon myself to write a review for this massive title. Little did I know how long it would truly take me to complete it. However, I will post my current thoughts and feelings about the game so far as well as a rough score.

For starters, Final Fantasy XIII is a beautiful example of what gaming should be, despite the complaints you may have heard. Square Enix has crafted an outstanding story filled with rich and detailed characters that you will grow to truly love. I myself am only 15 hours into the game and already feel a strong connection to each of the characters. It is also clear that Square DID in fact put some effort into avoiding traditional JRPG character archetypes, although you will still be able to recognize some very familiar ideas through the cast. They all have their own reasons for the actions they take and they are all believable.

Without spoiling anything, the story is also multi-layered and more is revealed about the characters through flashback sequences which take place in the thirteen days leading up to the beginning of the game. Each one reveals a little bit more about what is going on and how the characters got to where they were at the outset of the adventure. These scenes also reveal more about the different characters’ motives and what is driving them to do the things they do.

The gameplay feels like a natural extension of what a Final Fantasy title should play like in the current console generation. The combat is fast paced and visceral despite the fact that it is still turn based. Character development is no longer handled with simple experience points and levels gained. Instead, you are rewarded with Crystogenesis Points which can be used in the Crystarium to develop your characters’ skills in any of the character classes available to them. The system functions a bit like X’s sphere grid with some branching pathways and such. These developed classes are also used in battle and switched on the fly to determine how your fellow party members will act. This Paradigm system is also reminiscent of XII’s Gambit system.

The game’s linearity is also an oft-discussed point. Some love it, some hate it. My stance on it is that it won’t disrupt your enjoyment of the game. In fact, the past games in the series have only had the illusion of freedom. There was always a main path that one would have to take through the game and you would simply travel through an open world to get there. XIII simply discards this illusion and is more up front about what’s going on. The title is incredibly story-driven and the flow of the game follows suit. What it really boils down to is whether or not the linearity spoils your enjoyment of the game and I can safely say that after 15 hours I wouldn’t have noticed it if it hadn’t been discussed so intently before the release of the title.

Needless to say, the graphics are the best in the medium. Square Enix is always ahead of the curve with graphics technology and this game is no exception. The characters all look perfect and aliasing is simply nonexistent. The lip syncing has been completely redone for the Western release and the characters’ facial animations are simply perfect. The voice acting is also top-notch. The one character that I have heard complaints about, Vanille, is actually explained in the context of the story, although to say any more would spoil major plot-points.

All in all, Final Fantasy XIII is an outstanding example of why I play video games and has renewed my faith in this console generation which has been ruled entirely by mediocre and repetitive first-person shooters. Rest assured, this entry in the venerable series is among its finest and you should not hesitate to run out and pick it up.

Tentative Score: 9 out of 10

By LostAddict1993

P.S.-I will update the review upon completion of the game, hopefully in 2-3 weeks. The score listed is what it will be if the game continues at the quality that it is currently at without doing anything to really make my jaw drop.

P.P.S.-It has been said that the game opens up quite a bit around the halfway point and that there are over 50 monster hunting sidequests to develop your characters but as I have not reached this point, I chose to leave it out of this piece of writing.

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