Final Fantasy XIII fells more of a step down from previous entries rather then anything that is supposed to be rather...

User Rating: 3 | Final Fantasy XIII PC


Game Title: Final Fantasy XIII

Platform: XBox 360, PlayStation 3, Steam, iOS

Developer: Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix

Genre: Role Playing

Age Rating: PEGI: 16+, ESRB: T for Teen, CERO: B

Release Date: December 19th 2009 (JP), 9th March 2010 (WW), 16th December 2010 (International), 9th October 2014 (PC), 10th April 2015 (JP, iOS)


Game Score: 3.0/10



Final Fantasy XIII fells more of a step down from previous entries rather then anything that is supposed to be rather promising.


Ever since the E3 showing at 2006 Final Fantasy XIII got plenty of hype for the game's main character, the setting and the battle system. However the game received a very long delay before release and you would think that within that develop time Final Fantasy XIII would turn out as it promised, well soon after playing for yourself that you realize that the game brings small and major changes that confuses and disappoints longtime fans on a grand scale.

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The first of many is the storyline, the game takes place in a fictional world of Coccon where a government known as Sanctum is purging the citizens who supposedly came into contact with Pulse which is a much feared world. Lightning the game's leading female protagonist begins her fight against the government and she and a cast of other characters end up being marked by the Pulse creature, being marked as L'Cie and end up branded as traitors. They soon take up the fight against the Sanctum while also having to spend nearly the entire storyline trying to figure out what their actual focus is. That is where the storyline easily turns off for most people aside from maybe a few decent cutscenes about after a couple of hours in the game. First the plot is told in such a convoluted matter that you honestly begin to lose interest and the characters just simply makes it worse. The main characters are either ignorant or just plain obnoxious, Hope is a 'hope-less' mummy's boy, Fang and Snow constantly blame themselves for any actions that couldn't be prevented, Vanille is a high pitched dimwit who is likely to get on your nerves within the first few moments of her screen time. Of all the characters Sazh is the only one who is most tolerable because at least he shows reason, wisdom and humour whenever necessary. As for Lightning, well how can I describe her? Well for she is completely annoying and most of the time she is difficult to even put up with. She is ignorant and selfish about the events going on around her and also to her allies who she is forced to tag along with. When you see some of the game's early moments that involve conflicts with Snow who is in love with her sister Serah, she punches him as well as blaming him for what happens. These are some of the worst that she can get away with, plus her voice acting played by Ali Hillis is also terrible. To me Lightning acts more of a immature teen then an actual character anyone would even care for.

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Final Fantasy XIII's gameplay is much different from other games in the series, you walk through small corridor areas instead of having the freedom to actually explore large looking environments. You have an arrow always pointing out where you need to be going and there are little to no detours since mostly they only offer is treasure that you can pick up. You do have a map system which points out where your next point is as well as other items that are shown as you uncover them. You don't get to interact with any of the game NPCs in the game so for the most part the game is progressed in a strictly linear fashion compared to older games in the series, the storyline tries to make sense of this game's linear nature but it really doesn't excuse the poor game design. You have save points that are plastered all around the game and they can operate shops instead of having NPCs operate their shops. What happens is that the game is supposed to introduce new gameplay elements to change up the overall experience and improve after hours into the game. Starting off you don't get to do much but progress forward from point A to point B, along the way there are enemies that are present on the map you trigger fights by touching them, similar to Grandia and any of the Tales of games. Eventually if you are somehow patient with the game you get to unlock stuff like new shops which will give you new gear and items and also the ability to upgrade weapons and accessories which I will return to. What does get annoying is that the game feels the need to give out tutorials for things that you get even after dozens of hours into the game, it's only fine for the first moments of the game but when you are spreading tutorials for later sequences it's a sign of nearly making the game an interactive tutorial.

On with the topic of Final Fantasy XIII's combat system, the combat uses Active Time mechanics with menu integration. You only have control of your leading character while your other characters is controlled by the AI which for the most part it doesn't sound like a bad idea but however the AI doesn't seem as fully reliable. Like with exploration the battles take a while to expand as you progress through the game but even then you still realize the combat system feels rather clunky to get used too. The first of many problems of the combat is the interface, you have to select from various abilities that your character has learned to stack up the bar as the ATB fills up so that your character can act and that can be a chore. That does not apply to recovery items or techniques like Libra or summon which I will also get back to. Later on in the game you get access to the Paradigm Shift which allows you set up character roles. These roles include making a character use physical attacks, healing, supporting or defending, there are 6 roles that can be used in the game and each character has about 3 different roles assigned to them starting out. In the menu you set different roles to each Paradigm that determines how the characters act in battle and you can have up to 6 different Paradigms at a time with various combinations as you please. Also after a few hours your characters will be able summon beings called Eidolons which will aid the leading character in battle as well as unleashing their final attack. Even with those the battle system is deeply flawed, first and foremost is that there is an Auto Battle option which will select the best abilities that can be used on the enemy, you will end up selecting this option to win through nearly every single fight in the game. Enemies do have a stagger meter that fills up as you attack it and that when the gauge fills up completely you can unleash massive damage to the enemy as well as being able send it flying and prevent it from attacking. What you end up using for the majority of fights is using a Paradigm for unleashing Magic attacks since they fill the meter the fastest, switch to a Paradigm where everyone can unleash their best attacks and switch to a Paradigm for healing if necessary, rinse and repeat until you win.

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However the battle system's fatal flaw is that whenever your leading character falls in battle it's Game Over even if you have two other party members still standing. Excuse me but that is some really bad design especially if you're fighting either a group of tough enemies or a boss and an enemy lands a killing blow on the leader and that can make some fights in the game unfair. This can also lead to some situations where your Healer isn't acting fast enough to heal you or when your Healer is too busy healing wounds instead of curing status effects. It would have been more fair to allow the leader to be revived like with any other party member or switch to a different character if he/she gets killed but nope, that means you will end up seeing the Game Over screen quite a lot because of all that. At least when you do get a Game Over you can select Retry which puts you near the enemy you lost to so that you can have a second chance instead of having to reload and restart near the last save point you used, but honestly it doesn't too matter too much if you lose against a bosses cause there are save points placed before the boss anyway.

The battles are hindered by the levelling systems that the game introduces. The first level system that the game brings to the table is the Crystarium that you unlock after the first two hours of the game. It works in a similar way to the Sphere Grid system in Final Fantasy X only that the system is somewhat more simplified. You earn CP from battles and that is used to upgrade character roles which will increase their stats and give them new abilities which doesn't seem so bad but however the Crystarium system does not allow to fully level up your characters right away instead each role can only be levelled up to a certain point until you defeat a boss which will help expand it, plus if you want to get all the roles for your characters you have to wait till a later portion of the story. During the earliest hours of the game it leaves you weak against the bosses especially with the already mentioned leader dying causing a Game Over and later bosses being brutally tough.

Another levelling system that is included is for weapons & accessories that you are carrying which is unlocked after a few more hours in. You give a selected weapon or accessory experience points not from winning battles but from feeding it materials dropped from defeated enemies or bought in stores. Some of the materials barely give you much experience while other materials that don't come until much later on in the game gives you the appropriate experience that you need to raise a level of either one. You do get a EXP multiplier which does help speed up the upgrade procedure but each weapon and accessory has their own levelling caps and it takes a long time to get either one upgraded all the way. This can lead into hours of grinding and that is also alliterated by the fact that enemies don't drop Gil instead you have to sell off unwanted items or materials so that you can get the money for what you need. Who fought this was a good idea to have an upgrade system like that? it's ridiculous! It doesn't help that battles in the game are so boring were you simply press the same button over and over to go through nearly every battle in the game, you may end up ignoring it but it is needed in order to win against the hardest enemy encounters in the game and overall it is just no fun at all.

When you reach the last third of the game you eventually get to take on 64 optional missions which are scattered around the world of Grand Pulse which you get to explore very late in the game. They all involve taking on either groups of enemies or a tough boss so at least this somewhat helps break the game from the linear route, however most of the missions may require you to look online for their locations which is a pain but they are not as bad as the hunting quests in Final Fantasy XII. Many of the optional fights can also be very difficult for the reasons I already explained. Overall Final Fantasy XIII's battle are just plain boring and often times unfair, the levelling systems are awful and the exploration for the most part is strictly linear and the upgrading systems are just atrocious.

Well at least the presentation is superb, while the corridor environments are rendered nicely the character models are very highly detailed especially their hair looks and the monster designs are really cool, although I never recall Behemoths needing to stand on their feet and bring out a weapon. The cinematics on the other hand do look fantastic with all the nice explosions and crisp visuals so it does show that Square Enix games are very rich when it comes to graphics engines. The soundtrack is really solid with a lot of upbeat tracks especially the battle music tracks and you probably will enjoy listening to the tracks so the game at least shines well in terms of the overall presentation.

Unfortunately the presentation does not help make the game good, the way that the overall design of the game archived nothing but quality over substance on how the game turned out. The story is convoluted with obnoxious characters, the main game design is absurdly linear and the battle system requires little input to make it even be considered enjoyable and it's very ridiculous it on difficulty including the upgrade systems. To be honest Final Fantasy XIII has little redeeming features and I cannot recommend this to anyone not even to longtime fans since it fells more like of a step down from previous entries rather then anything that is supposed to be rather promising. If you want to play a High Definition J-RPG then you really should look elsewhere.


The Good Points:


1. Excellent presentation

The Bad Points:


1. Convoluted storyline and obnoxious characters including Lightning, Snow, Vanille and Hope

2. Strictly linear game design

3. Both levelling systems are awful

4. Battle system is both boring and unfair


Reviewed by: Anthony Hayball (AQWBlaZer91)