The aspiration of perfection is achieved in the game in some aspects, but the flaws in the game that can't be overlooked
The first thing that draws you in about this game is its graphics, while not the most important factor about a game it most certainly creates appeal, charm and will appeal to more people. The visuals are beautiful especially the cutscenes, which at times look so realistic you may rub your eyes just to make sure. The in-game graphics are spectacular as well and there is no detail spared no matter where you look.
The next thing that you are likely to notice about the game is the soundtrack and voiceovers, which are both very well done.
The music suits the environment you are in and add the feel of the area. I personally felt the music in the Vestige to significantly add feel. The voiceovers are done well too, probably the only thing that ever got on my nerves was Vanille, while I am myself Australian, the voice actress's Australian accent was a pleasant surprise, but I didn't like her accent and voice on the character. Otherwise the sound aspect of the game was top notch. No other complaints here.
The battle system is where I found a few of my problems. It is easily navigated and understandable, but here is something that I didn't quite agree with, it gives you the option to auto battle, choosing the most suitable attacks to use based on current knowledge of the highlighted enemy. Honestly during boss battles all you seem to need to do is select auto battle or switch paradigms.
At first I thought it was nifty, but honestly, I don't want to play a game where the first option is to auto battle. While I completely disagree with the addition of the auto battle option, I can definitely see why they did it which kind of makes up for my disappointment, not everyone may want to have as much control as me. Concentrating on what the enemy is doing along with having to choose what abilities you are going to use all your gauges while switching into the enemies profile every 2 seconds to recap on what monsters are immune to, would make the game very difficult. Not to mention all the paradigm changing that you may have to do. For example having a healer, a ravager and a commando might not be a great paradigm for your current situation so you have to swap it for a different paradigm which takes time and can leave you vulnerable just long enough for a lot of damage to be done.
Especially since most paradigm changes occur when you need to change your battle tactics as you are getting pretty beat up.
Lastly is the story. I love all the plot twists that I can always count Square Enix to throw at me, there is not a single aspect of the core story line that is boring, and character back stories are riveting and give you insight into the characters but also make you go.
"Ohhhhh that makes sense!"
What ends up being the problem is that the entire game up to Chapter 11 which is on the 3rd disc far into the game is completely story driven without any side quests. Personally this was a problem for me, as by the 9th Chapter I hit a wall - for me side quests are very important to an RPG, Final Fantasy X-2, Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Vesperia are games that I have played through many times because I love the side quests available.
Normally however side quests reveal things about the games characters, Mass Effect 2 is a good example of this as every loyalty mission revolves around something to do with the specific members past. However this is all explained in the story of Final Fantasy 13 and so there was no need to make them available till that part of the game because the base plot made it so that they couldn't spare the time to go on side quests. Still I found that while side quests aren't integral the game, they provide more replay value and allow you to take a break from powering through the story while still doing something productive.
Overall Final Fantasy 13 is a game worthy of recognition - while the battle system angered me I definitely have fun in the battles and after I got to the side quests I couldn't put the game down. Honestly however these flaws provided problems with the 2 most important aspects of a game. Fun and Replay Value - knowing that you have to go through the gruelling hours of running in one direction was a definite turn off - as well as the side quests that far into the game. And the second core aspect - The actual Gameplay - Which while is partially justified by all the other things you need to keep in check while playing the the Auto Battle system is something I would expect to see in a game like Pokemon - which would show the kids the ropes of what type beats which and let the experienced players do as they wish - and therefore it is not a feature I would expect to see in a game aimed at RPG gamers who love the ability to choose the attack and aspect from which the attack is aimed (Kudos the paradigm system).
Still these 2 things really let down the whole game as a whole - and while Final Fantasy is a great game - it is not nearly what I was hoping for.