Final Fantasy XIII Review
- Posted March 10th, 2010 at 11:13 EDT by Steven Williamson
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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.
- The enchanting sensory experience
- The satisfying battle system
- The character driven plot
- The lack of freedom to explore
- The amount of time it takes to really get going
(continued from previous page) ...the battle system as you get to issue commands to your party members, shape your team and assign points to various skill trees.
In a departure from the battles in Final Fantasy XII, the fights take place on another dimension where you're transported from your location to fight against your enemy. In control of the party leader, you can issue multiple commands and stack them so they can be chained together to perform a flourish of fast-paced combos. You can also assign commands and roles to your other party members and switch on the fly to change tactics in real-time. The battles are energetic, full of pace and have a real sense of urgency about them, which adds immensely to the feeling of excitement. When full, the combo meter allows you to unleash a barrage of attacks and is a decent reward for your hard work.
The Paradigm system builds brilliantly on top of the battle system to add another layer of tactical opportunity by introducing six skill trees where you can assign points to roles, therefore working towards making your party members stronger. Square Enix has all bases covered, from the non-elemental, powerhouse that is the Commando, to the magically enhanced Synergist. With six roles to choose from and switch in between it's a real balancing act working out the right strategy to use and it's an extremely challenging and enjoyable system to attempt to master. As you grow in strength the number of command slots increases and you get even more chance to chain together some visually and technically impressive combos. Though you can assign auto tactics and allow your teammate A.I. to do some of the work for you, it does feel like you're in total control of what happens. The fights are challenging so there's a real sense of satisfaction gained from knowing that it took skill to achieve
Eidolons, those magical creatures that you can summon (from Final Fantasy IX and X,) are also back to help you in battle and each of the six party members has their own creature with their own special ability. What's so entertaining about these magical beings is that you have to tame them before you can utilize their power, or ride them across the grasslands. This results in a battle itself with you and your party members teaming up for some enjoyable and challenging fights where you have to pull together a variety of strategies. To beat Odin, Lightening's creature, for example, we had to heal and buff our character constantly throughout the fight and choose and switch load-outs swiftly to tame him.
And this is what FFXIII is really all about, the fighting. Yes, there are places to explore, a storyline to unfold, characters to meet and shops to peruse, but largely, in between soaking up some of the great cut-scenes, you're going to be building up your team and getting stuck into some furiously fast battles. Everything revolves around combat -- even the points system, where you gain Crystarium from fallen foes to then spend on your character roles. It's a good job then that the combat is also the best thing about FFXIII. Working out appropriate load-outs and how you're going to stagger an enemy before unleashing a barrage of attacking moves is a lot of fun and visually the whole battle system, from the interface to the fights themselves, have been handled with a great deal of care and style.
Despite the underlying negative attitude in our review, the world of Final Fantasy XIII is a wondrous place that is well worth a visit. The corridor design and fast-paced battles are obviously designed to streamline the whole experience, to evolve the series and cut-out elements of the gameplay that Square Enix now possibly deems as unnecessary for a modern day audience. As a result we're sure that some hardcore fans will be as disappointed as we were with the first section of gameplay and the lack of freedom to explore. You'd be wise to stick with it though because at some point in the game you'll kind of get what Square Enix was trying to do here. This is about striking a balance between gaining new and keeping old fans. This is a JRPG that oozes ... (continued on next page)