Repost: Final Fantasy XIII Review

After years of waiting and long hours of playing, my experience with Final Fantasy XIII is complete. I was worried about this new HD generation release of the series because after the staggering change with Final Fantasy XII, what would Square Enix do to further evolve the series?

My end result is that Square Enix made a Final Fantasy title that wasn’t created for the old school players who were used to the grinding of the old titles, but made a much more bite-sized version that put the story first and streamlined everything else and effectively made a Final Fantasy made for the younger “Internet Generation.”

The Plot

By now, the plot of Final Fantasy XIII should be well known, but as a refresher: the story focuses on a group of people who are connected through a series of events that eventually mark them as I’Cie, those chosen by the fal’Cie to full a mission or “Focus” or become a monster. Through these events, the group must decide what their mission is before becoming a monster and hopefully free themselves from the curse that the fal’Cie has placed on them.

The Look

If anything, Final Fantasy XIII looks amazing. On the PlayStation review copy that I played on, the quality of graphics is astounding. The title was made for HD televisions, and seeing the quality of the visuals is difficult to beat. The character animations complete with dynamic movement of clothes and accessories is something that other games use, but seeing that in the Final FantasyFinal Fantasy XIII is very pretty to look at.

The Sound

Final Fantasy XIII at one point was suggested that it would have the Japanese and English audio on the PlayStation 3 version, but upon release only the English language track was included. While the voice acting isn’t bad, there are some cases where the title feels incredibly camptastic because of the dialogue delivery. The added lip-syncing to the voices adds a lot to the believability for the title and makes it easier to be enveloped by the story.

As for the soundtrack, it is another stellar soundtrack that follows the story very well and add the atmosphere consistent with the title. The effect of battle are also the standard Final Fantasy type.

Function

Final Fantasy XIII isn’t like older Final Fantasy titles. The much more streamlined nature of the title, including linear environments, smaller exploration options, and an almost automatic leveling system do pull away from the much more difficult older entries, but the story is still another strong entry for the long series.

The battle system is both a plus and minus. Even through it is not strictly turn-based, the foundation of that battle system is still present with the battle menu and Paradigm menus. Having to wait for the Technique gauge to fill to complete attacks requires quick and careful planning and the Paradigm choices are an interesting addition, though the locked nature of specific Paradigms doesn’t help all the time.

When Eidolons (summons) are acquired, the title does take a different approach to battles, but they still follow a similar strategy. As for leveling in the title or Crystogenesis, it’s a much more linear travel than before and opening new levels to upgrade aren’t as open as previous titles. By gaining points through battle, these can be spent on opening new abilities based on certain Paradigms which helps during battle, but it does feel like a lot of control by the player is taken away.

The massive change in the battle and leveling system is interesting, but the increasingly simplified system is a little disappointing.

Though when it comes to the story, Final Fantasy XIII is still one of the best of the series and RPGs overall. The evolution of the systems in the title are necessary, but a bit more player control would have been appreciated.

Decisions

Final Fantasy XIII has the one overall focal point of the series: a great story. That is the reason why most people play through the titles of the series regardless of how functions of the title change. I have to say that even with the changes in the battle system and the simplification of the title overall, the story still draws people in and while it has lost some of the exploration of the older titles, the evolution of the title was necessary because the newer generation of players probably couldn’t deal with the older titles grinding.

As the first Final Fantasy on HD consoles, it delivers where it needs to and provides a huge amount of hours for completion. Missing out on Final Fantasy XIII is a mistake because it shows that Square Enix knows how to evolve and still make their titles open for more than just RPG fans.

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