Final Fantasy XIII review
Slow and steady wins the race!
I'm not seeing why this is on everyone's shitlist. I look at reviews and everything, and then play the game myself. It's not popping up, I'm not seeing why this is such a terrible game. Maybe it's because it's not like Final Fantasy 7. Whatever. I enjoyed the game for what it is - a rather stellar title, sporting some fast and intense combat, on top of some awesome production values. Rather than ask why everybody hates this so much, I'll just explain this game from MY point of view; somebody who LIKED it.
There was once a war between the L'Cie of two different worlds - Pulse, and Cocoon. Cocoon prevails, but the residents of Cocoon fear for another strike, so over time, they've given ALL L'Cie and anything related to them the bees knees. L'Cies, for the uneducated, are beings that are the servants of Fal'Cie, which run all the functions of the world of Cocoon like the sun and the world's food supply. The L'Cie have to carry out a mission set by their masters. Their reward is being immortalized into a crystal, and their punishment for not completing it in a certain amount of time is becoming a monster.
So... what about our heroes? Once they all meet up with each other, they get turned into L'Cie after defeating a Fal'Cie, and they now have to carry out their mission that the game calls "Focus" before they get themselves turned into monsters. Not going to spoil too much beyond this point, but let's just say that 20 hours along the line, they learn what their Focus truly is, and it really surprises them. Oh, and they're being chased by the government, so they're also fugitives of the law - and keep this in mind when you play through it and notice some things different from the norm in regards to non-combat stuff.
Do I enjoy the story? Yep. It was good. It may be slow at the start, with not much going on in terms of going forward - you get your basic premise, then you go through their backstories, like the 13 days before the beginning of the game relating to events happening and stuff, and learning a lot about the characters will get you to really enjoy being around them. Mostly, it revolves around Snow and Lightning - one the cocky hero, and the other the sultry no-nonsense heroine - but the other characters, especially Sazh, are going to be easy to care for as you progress throughout the first 20 hours. With that said, the first 20 hours may feel too slow to some people, with barely any progression forward, and the other issue that may arise is that there isn't much of a story after the first 20 hours - you just get slammed into dungeons with maybe some bits and pieces being flung your way. However, with a lot told to you in the beginning, you may forgive what comes your way later on.
Normally, I wouldn't even explain exploration. It's cut and dry - walk through pathways, get treasure, run into enemies, and what have you. So why here? Because it seems to generate some problems for people. Apparently, if the world isn't open, it's linear. Well, first of all, what do you expect out of a Japanese RPG? None of them are exactly non-linear or anything. You're always on a set path. It just often looks like it's not linear. However, when you traverse off the beaten path, you get destroyed by stronger enemies. So if you're told to go to this place, you do it. Why? The second reason - to progress the story. Realistically speaking, you play a Japanese RPG for a storyline. You get invested into a group of characters while experiencing a whimsical tale... if you want free roaming gameplay, hit the Americans up, their RPGs will give you more of that. If you enjoy storylines amongst turn based gameplay, you'll go for the Japanese. I can't believe nobody notices all of this...
Sheesh, I got carried away a bit there. One thing that may be of interest is a lack of towns, though given the story, it's expected. You do all your shopping through the save points, though Gil seems to be a bit of a hassle to get. You don't get them from enemies; you get them from treasure orbs you find all over the world, which is kind of annoying, since you need to stock up on items in case you're in a bit of a snag and need healing in a pinch. Oh well.
So how does the battle system play out? It plays sort of like the Final Fantasies of old (circa IV-IX), with an ATB system of sorts to make combat fast and effective. You wait for a bar to fill up, then when you select your actions, either through the auto-battle command or manually, you act upon them. Granted that you got some dirt on your foes, the auto-battle feature actually manages to select some pretty sweet commands. You can tell that it's smart, since it knows what abilities to use... well, sort of. For somebody like Hope, it's cut and dry, but for Lightning, when she's a Ravager, she'll be using strikes and ranged attacks. This is kind of when you want to do it manually. As well as this, for medics, you ought to keep your controlled party member healed. That may mean some manual management is in order.
So yeah, you got about six classes to keep in mind, though each of the six characters only start with two or three of them. With the use of Paradigms, you can switch everybody's classes to what you set them to in the menu, and change up your strategy completely, from a completely offensive one, to one that deals with a healer and two attackers. There's a range of strategies you can try out with what you get in terms of who is in your party. There's a point within the first 20 hours when your characters split up and you have to use their classes in conjunction with one another to create good strategies for the road ahead, and possibly in the future, too. You can switch strategies on the fly during battle - in fact, that's encouraged, since you'll need to switch between offensive and defensive strategies, lest ye want to meet an untimely death (which is pretty much if the character you control dies).
You get to use summons a bit later on in the game known as Eidolons. Upon summoning them, you can work with them do deal some damage. Of course, you'll want to enter Gestalt Mode (or as I like to call it, vehicle mode) in order to really dish out the pain with some of the regular attacks at its disposal before laying waste with the finisher. Just make sure you have enough Technical Points to summon them, though it shouldn't be too tricky, as you only use them for a few techniques. That's right, folks - most of the magic in the game is freely used with physical attacks! No need to worry about MP or anything - just let loose!
Leveling up is done through the Crystarium, which is done in a kind of unnecessarily complicated manner. You access it, select the class and hold X to move a dot along a line... There isn't really much else to it. I suppose if you want to focus on leveling up classes equally, though from what I've seen and heard, people just focus on one class, and then the next, which made me think of two better alternatives - spread the EXP through all three classes, or select a class and give all the EXP to that one. The way we do it here makes it seem complicated and like there's some customization to be had, but there really isn't. The Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy 10 at least got it right. This? This is a bit silly.
The graphics are brilliant. Excellent usage of color and textures. There is always something to catch your eyes while playing through this - from the machines, to the landscapes, and especially the characters. The amount of effort put into everything is just astounding. It's like the artists went out of their way to make sure it's the best looking 360 game out there. I will admit that the Playstation 3 version looks crispier, but for what we Xbox 360 owners get, we still get it really well. It all goes hand in hand with the soundtrack, with the theatrical hits and the light whispers that we've all come to know in the genre. The battle theme especially stands out. It goes really well with the battles, managing to create a sort of "epic battle" kind of atmosphere. I guess they loved it too, because at points, they remix it to make it sound a little different. Nah, that's not bad, but maybe a little lazy. The voice acting is definitely well done, adding more layers to their personalities through excellent performances, even for Vanille - I know her voice may be bothersome at first, but it goes well with her overly bubbly personality... I think she could tone it down a little, but it's not bad or anything. The voice acting is just awesome. Unfortunately for
Overall, a 9/10 for a pretty good RPG. Yeah, it's slow at first and the level up system is a bit silly, but the rest is done so well, you may even overlook it!
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