Final Fantasy XIII Review (PS3) – No Spoilers

Game Review: Final Fantasy XIII
Release: March 9th, 2010
Genre: Role Playing Game
Developer: Square Enix
Available Platforms: PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
Players: One
MSRP: $59.99
ESRB: Rating: Teen


Cocoon – a utopia in the sky.

It’s inhabitants believed their world a paradise. Under the Sanctum’s rule, Cocoon had long known peace and prosperity.

Mankind was blessed by it’s protectors, the benevolent fal’Cie, and believed that tranquil days would continue forever

Their tranquillity was shattered with the discovery of one hostile fal’Cie.

The moment that fal’Cie from pulce – the feared and detested lowerworld – awoke from it’s slumber, peace on Cocoon came to an end.

Fal’Cie curse humans, turning them into magic-wielding servants.

They become l’Cie – chosen of the fal’Cie.

Those branded with the mark of a l’Cie carry the burden of either fulfilling their Focus or facing a fate harsher than death itself.

A prayer for redemption. A wish to protect the world. A promise to challenge destiny.

After thirteen days of fates interwined, the battle begins.

(Taken from the in-game booklet.)

I have to admit, taking this on after reading some pre-release reviews had me a bit worried. I had heard that some Final Fantasy series lovers would hate this game.  I had decided to take this game on as an unbiased reviewer, not a Final Fantasy lover, in case they were right.

But after a few hours in, I realized that this was another game that some reviewers had completely wrong.

Though it has both it’s ups and downs, it is an amazing game. If you haven’t decided on getting it or not, let me help you make up your mind.

The first thing you’re going to notice when starting FFXIII is the graphics. Absolutely fantastic! That’s all you can really say. Once again Square Enix is raising the bar on video games. Battle scenes take on the same look as their ‘movie’ scenes which makes the entire game flow so smoothly.

I think the story is excellent and I love the way all of the characters intertwine back and forth and meet up throughout the game. Also, you don’t play the same main character throughout the entire game, you switch between them so you can see what each group is up to at all times.

The one thing I highly recommend doing is reading all of the Datalog and keeping up with it. Your first chance to get into your menu is the best time to start. It goes through a lot of details they leave out at the beginning of the game and really gets you caught up to speed as to why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Your main characters are all in the fight for different reasons. Lightning and Snow are out to save Serah (Lightning’s sister and Snow’s fiance) who has been taken by the fal’Cie. Hope was pushed into the entire situation and blames Snow for everything that has happened to him. Sazh’s intentions remain unknown for quite some time, but he sticks it out and fights with these people he’s only just met.

Then you have Vanille. Cute at first, but I promise you, her odd voice, constant moaning and “Ah!” “Oh!” “Yeah!” “Mmmm” comments will get to you after a while. She plays a good part in the game and is a strong character, but sometimes I wish she would just shut up.

The battle system is easy to learn if you go through the tutorials. It progresses well throughout the beginning of the game so you’re not bombarded all at once. They also keep the tutorials in your Datalog so you can check up on them if needed.

Now you can only battle with one character in the beginning (you get the ability to switch about 20-25 hours in). The other characters fight by themselves and you have no control over what they do. The only thing you can change is their “role” in battles. You have 6 different Paradigm’s which allow you to change the characters abilities as well as their behavior in combat.

For example, for more damage-dealing, you would want to use Commando or Ravager. If you need healing more, you can switch a character to a Medic. The best thing about this is that you can switch in the middle of a battle to what you need.

There are things that I really like about the battle system. If you use a potion, it goes to everyone, not just a single character. That helps during the fights more than you can imagine!

Two features that make it feel like your cheating is the Auto-battle command. Instead of going through and picking what you want to do, it will automatically choose what is best for that specific fight. Cheating, I know. Also you have a retry feature. If you die, you can start again right before the battle started, or you can use a combination of buttons to stop the current fight and retry again, if you started out badly.

There are SO many more features to the battle system, but you’re going to have to get the game to test them yourself!

Your character advances through a process known as crystogenesis. You obtain crystogen points in battle and you spend them in the Crystarium to unlock new abilities. Reminds me exactly of the Sphere Grid in FFX, which I was a big fan of. A great feature of the crystogenesis is that even if your characters do not participate in that battle (or even if they are not part of the party you are currently with) they still get crystogen points.

Music in the Final Fantasy series games has always been very good, and very important to fans. You can clearly tell that the music is not Uematsu, but it is still very good and fits the game very well.

There are a few things I’m not fond of (besides Vanille’s voice…). There are NO towns to shop in and explore (I know, right?!?). You do have a “shop” option at save points, but there are not a lot of options… Weapon choices suck, though you do have the ability a bit further into the game to upgrade them, which doesn’t make up for the lack of choices, but it helps.

Overall, I am very happy with what Square Enix has done. Though it is not my favorite Final Fantasy, it makes a great addition to the series. I would recommend it to anyone!

A big thanks to Greg Knefel & John Knefel (family members and amazing gamers!) and all the rest of my gaming family for their input!

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  • Mark Withers. (MarkWithers)

    currently working through this on the 360 and loving it. I can see why the crystgenisis reminded you of FF10 as that what i immediately thought when i had to use it.

    Great review by the way.

  • John K

    GJ Sarah

  • Hmm…I commented through the iPhone app but apparently it didn’t show up.

    I wonder if it’s something I can get into. I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game before, but the easy combat seems to good to be true. It’s almost cheating as you say? Good game to start with? Seems this game makes you focus on the story more than the combat.

  • I would say it’s great for a first timer. That’s one of the great things about Final Fantasy is that they don’t tie together (except X & X.2)

    The battle system and story go well together, like they normally have it. 🙂

    You could try renting it first.

    Combat is easy to learn as long as you read the tutorials and don’t just rush through and expect to just figure it out. LoL