Final Fantasy XIII Review Best Hair 2010
By Tully Ackland, OnRPG Editor
After waiting what felt like an eternity, Final Fantasy XIII made its debut in Europe earlier this year and I was waiting with gleeful anticipation at the store doors early morning on day one. Having already done research prior it was made clear that the public viewed that the PS3 version was graphically superior to the Xbox 360’s, I followed that advice and was not disappointed.
Western and Eastern RPG architectures have been diverging dramatically over time, where the West takes the approach of giving more freedom in character development, multiple choices and open worlds the East focus on very linear storytelling and predefined fates for each and every character.
With that in mind Final Fantasy XIII is most certainly an Eastern RPG, and if you’ve been away from the genre for a long time it can feel at first hit you like a truck and at the same time feel like a setback to the general gaming experience. I should make clear from the start though that Final Fantasy XIII is eventually a fantastic game if you give it enough time, however the build up speed both mechanically and narratively is far slower than should be acceptable.
To me this isn’t such an issue as an avid fan of the franchise but it strikes home that anyone not as patient or entirely new to Final Fantasy would have a serious time continuing to the 10 hour marker where the games combat system and story start to take shape in an engaging and fun way.
The story is one that takes elements of previous Square-Enix games, a band of rebels are brought together and unwillingly made L’Cie which are empowered humans who serve a single purpose and then ultimately die, their purpose is to save the world from certain doom.
Your party is brought into the chaos from the beginning and are soon finding themselves in the middle of a war that has raged for generations. As time progresses the story becomes more and more involving and Square Enix have already begun working on two more games in this universe, Agito and Versus and I’m for one interested how the extended lore takes place.
Without a doubt the game shines its brightest with its combat, characters all can fill each of the 6 roles available. COM, RAV, SEN, SYN, SAB and MED which are in MMO terms, MDPS, RDPS, Tank, Buffer, De-buffer and Healer.
Your Battle Team is made up of three characters at a time and cannot be swapped in combat, you define what a character is which role by setting up Paragrims. You can have up to 6 Paragrims created at a time and these can be switched in combat whenever and as often as you like and is a key part of each battle. As an example you could have a Paragrim as COM, RAV, RAV and switch to COM, SEN, MED if you need to heal and defend more. Two of the three characters are controlled entirely by the A.I which always use the best skills for the job, if the enemy is weak to fire. They’ll cast ice!
Battles are fast and extremely beautiful to watch play out, there’s an automated attack function for your primary character but this is near useless in the later fights. With a little time and practice you can work out strategies and combinations to make swift work of enemies, however don’t be surprised at an occasional boss encounter which may take you more than half an hour an attempt. The combat engine is such a stunning one it’s a real shame that Square Enix don’t let you truly see it in action sooner.
You are also encouraged to upgrade your equipment, both weapons and accessories. In fact the only way to obtain your ultimate weapons is to upgrade a weapon fully, which can be quite an accomplishment to achieve.
You’ll be hard pressed to find such a beautiful game in both its in-engine graphics and pre-rendered CG, there were moments where I just left the game running as a screen saver while I attended other tasks, and confirmed: best hair 2010. The sound track also holds up well which was my biggest surprise, while Nobuo Uematsu (the composer of the majority of FF titles) has been out of Square Enix for a while, this is the first game in the series not to feature a single track from him, a special note has to go for the epic boss battle music and the character Snow’s theme.
I’m in love with Final Fantasy XIII, it’s just truly unfortunate that the game punishes you for the first several hours, still that hasn’t stopped me now racking up over 150 hours while I attempt to finish every last side-quest and obtain the ultimate weapons for all characters.
After XII I worried that the franchise was losing its ability to keep me interested in Eastern RPG’s. I’m pleased to say that I’ve been happily reassured that Square still have what it takes and I’ll be picking up XIII Versus as soon as possible to see what else they can do with this universe.