Review: Final Fantasy XIII

“The Birth of the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII”

The series which brought Japanese Role Playing Games a wave of popularity across the world is at it again with the recent release of Final Fantasy XIII in Japan. The hype for this game is utterly ridiculous, which, to me, kills a lot of the enjoyment in a game with over saturation. So, I will try my best to point out the things I dislike with this game, as well as the things I like. So, here are a few questions to keep in mind. How’s the battle system? Is the story good? The music? These questions and more will be answered, simply read on!

Story: 8/10

The game revolves around six people chosen by a god-like beings called the fal’Cie to bring down Cocoon. Now, does this sentence make sense to you? Well, this is probably the biggest issue with the story. For the first part of the game, you will know absolutely nothing. Unless you have been reading everything about the game, which you should do to a degree, the first part of the story will make no sense to you. As the game goes on, you will slowly start to understand everything about the world and situation presented in Final Fantasy XIII. Personally, I think this is great. It peels layers slowly and, with each new bit of information learned, a greater concept of the whole comes into play. However, a bit of a drawback is the way you can learn more about the world in Final Fantasy XIII. It is presented in the same way Xenosaga dealt with information by having a ‘Bible’ detailing much of the information available through the menu. Now, this is a great way to keep track of everything when you have a series that spans over 3 separate games, but that’s not how Final Fantasy XIII is going to be. (Unless they will be bridging later games [not VersusXIII or Agito]). It does work for this story. Since, if they were to go into more depth, it would probably make the game an additional 20 to 30 hours. However, on the same hand, it feels like a rather weak method of adding depth and history to the setting. Now, back to the game’s story.

The game follows six characters, Lightning, Sazh, Snow, Hope, Vanille and Fang, as they are branded by a fal’Cie from the lower world, Pulse, and become known as l’Cie. Being l’Cie, they must complete a certain task in an undefined amount of time or turn into a Cie Corpse, a monster in other words. The story deals with these characters as they struggle with their l’Cie mission. They are now able to summon powerful eidolons to aid in battle, but now they are seen as cursed by the people of Cocoon, a massive town in the shape of a cocoon floating in the sky above the planet. The main story can take about 45 – 50 hours and extra stuff can take a whole lot longer.

Overall, it is a fairly decent story and the characters are quite enjoyable.

Sound: 8/10

As you probably know by now, Nobuo Uematsu did not compose the music for Final Fantasy XIII. Masashi Hamauzu has taken over the role and he does a great job. Though it is very obvious that Nobuo was not the composure, the style and setting of the game is complemented by the music. However, their are times when the music seems a bit jarring. Some of the songs are very ambient, but the battle themes are amazing. The theme song, ‘Kimi ga iru kara’, is quite wonderful and variations are used throughout the game. The voice actors did a very good job. All of their voices seemed very fitting and helped to add an extra layer to the characters, which would have been lost if the voice actors were not so good.

Overall, the music is good, but not Nobuo good and the voice actors are great.

Gameplay: 9/10

This section will cover the battle mechanics of the game. The battles in Final Fantasy XIII are very enjoyable. You are in control of one character and the other two are AI. I’d say that the AI is quite good, except for the healer AI. The healer AI is decent, but it could be tweaked to be a little bit better. The battles range from very quick to very long. You will actually have to strategically plan out fights instead of simply mashing the confirm button to victory. Since the battles are so fast paced, (if you sit there to think, unless you pause, you will die) the auto command gives a certain set of skills to be used when the ATB is filled. For the most part, this is usually the best course of action. However, there are times when choosing some of your own actions are better, I think. However, its intensity and speed of battle allows for a wonderful experience and is a nice take on the ATB style combat.

Overall, the battles are fun!

Difficulty: 10/10

This is not to say that it is a difficult game, but rather how I feel about the difficulty of the game. I believe the game does a great job, for the most part, with its difficulty. At times, it can be a bit hard, but that can be attributed to the party you are using or your strategy more than the monsters, in my opinion. It’s wonderful to have a Final Fantasy with some difficulty in the main game, which has been lacking since the SNES, in my opinion.

Overall, the difficulty is great.

Extras: 8/10

The game provides trophies, which are all possible to obtain given that the player plays enough. There is not much to do for side quests other than hunting down monsters, but that is what a lot of the general public enjoys, especially in Japan, which is hunting and killing monsters. The game case is not as ornate as Final Fantasy X and XII’s and is more of a throwback to the PS generation’s, which has an image of Lightning and FINAL FANTASY XIII and some images on the back. The cover is reversible, displaying Lightning riding her summon spanning both the front and back with FINAL FANTASY XIII taking a small corner. The booklet does give a prologue and nice images of the main characters. It also has many detailed images of the menus and very good descriptions of the battle system.

Overall, it is rather standard, but is still nice in its own right.

Overall: 9/10

These are my final remarks about the game. I feel this game is a mix of Star Ocean 4 and Xenosaga Episode III and I mean that in a good way. The battles are fun and quick like Star Ocean 4’s, even if you aren’t able to run freely during the fights. However, they added an extra layer of strategy and that is wonderful. The game flows much like Xenosaga Episode III. Buying things, if necessary, are done from the save points, as well as upgrading equipment. They also share the style of maps with going from one point to another while fighting monsters along the way. This game was quite enjoyable and I highly recommend it. If you feel uneasy about buying a game, rent it, if possible. Give the game a chance and play it.

Score: 9 out of 10


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