Final Fantasy XIII Review

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Final Fantasy XIII

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Whether you enjoy it or not will depend on your expectations. Walk into it with a clear mind and you will get lost in this magical fantasy world.

We like

  • The enchanting sensory experience
  • The satisfying battle system
  • The character driven plot

We dislike

  • The lack of freedom to explore
  • The amount of time it takes to really get going

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

With a glittering legacy that spans over 20 years it’s inevitable that a whole heap of expectation rides on the wings of every Final Fantasy game’s release. Living up to that sort of pressure and creating a game worthy of bearing the Final Fantasy name is an unenviable task, but Square Enix consistently delivers, creating worlds that demand to be explored. It’s clear that this developer loves its most precious franchise more than most. You only have to scratch the surface of the series to see the attention to detail to character building and the highly polished audio and visual experiences that have now become synonymous with its name. Delve even deeper and strip away its glossy exterior and you’ll find a world of creative story-telling, innovation and rich and rewarding gameplay. With all that in mind, Final Fantasy XIII is a disappointment.

Okay, so you’ve already seen the high score we’ve awarded it, right? Ah yes, well, before you jump on our backs and call us hypocrites, we want you to know that our disappointment is only slight, and it’s only because we had our own vision on what Square Enix would deliver on PS3. We hoped that our Blu-ray disc would come packed to the rafters with sprawling open-world locations littered with tons of quests to embark on and hundreds of NPCs to interact with -- a world where we could really let our imaginations run wild. In that respect, Final Fantasy XIII disappoints us ever so slightly so we won't be putting it on a pedestal and labeling it today as our favorite Final Fantasy game of all time. It is still, however, a brilliant, combat-heavy RPG that does deserve your attention.

From an audio and visual standpoint, FFXIII delivers a bedazzling display of creativity, artistry and sheer wizardry. The stunning opening cinematic sets the tone for the game perfectly and each and every cut-scene from that point forth blends seamlessly into the action, playing an important part in immersing you fully in the universe and its array of bewitching characters. Moving from the finely detailed and compact city of Cocoon to the larger area and lush green setting of Pulse has a profound visual impact, while the wandering piano solos and warm sounds of violins and cellos create an impressive audio backdrop that shifts and drops in tempo alongside the gameplay. During a fight sequence a fanfare of brass instruments will interrupt the tranquil sounds to work alongside the frantic action to create and build intensity. FFXIII is a feast for your senses and a predictably brilliant and engaging audio and visual Final Fantasy experience.

Recurring elements and themes from past games, including weapon and magic-based combat, party and upgrade systems, gives FFXIII that familiar feel, but in terms of gameplay it gets off to a slow and unfamiliar start. For the first 12-14 hours of gameplay you're taken by the hand and lead through the game world, moving from 'A' to 'B,' from one fight to another, before tackling a big boss. There's little chance to explore, or discover the hidden depths of the battle system -- that comes later. It's the storyline that drives you forward at this point, which alongside the impressive visuals and charming characters, just about manages to make up for the lack of gripping gameplay. Despite the frequent battles, this is a slow starter and a streamlined game with focus and direction and not the sprawling universe that some may have hoped for, although it's worth noting that it does open up far more as soon as you hit Pulse.

Chances are, if you're considering the notion or indeed have already bought FFXIII, you know that it isn't a short game; you're going to be in it for the long haul, right? Well clocking in at between 70-100 hours this first batch of fairly slow-paced, but still utterly engaging campaign, will soon be forgotten as you discover the real depths of the game, including the character development and the interweaving storyline that is driven superbly by the characters and personalities of the six party members that you'll meet. It's after a dozen hours or so that you'll also start to enjoy even more the strategic depths and technical brilliance of the battle system ... (continued on next page) ----

A gamer since the days of the ZX Spectrum, Steven Williamson now works as General Manager for PSU. He's supposed to be managing, but if you're reading this, it means he's dipped into editorial again. Follow @steven_gamer
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  • Related game: Final Fantasy XIII

    Release date (US):
    March 9th, 2010
    Square Enix
    Role Playing Game - Fantasy
    11 of 2,669 Games
    Up 0 places (in last 7 days)

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