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Final Fantasy XIII: It’s great but…

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It’s finally here, Square-Enix’s latest installment of Final Fantasy! With an all new crew, an excellent voice cast, a compelling combat system and story, it was well worth the three year wait but there few features that just didn’t pique my interest. Here’s the lowdown!

The Story: FFXIII takes places in a divided world; Cocoon and Pulse. Cocoon is run by Sanctum, a government that cooperates with the benevolent fal’Cie (a group of god-like machines created by the “Maker). However, the government is terrorized by anything dealing with Pulse and conducts “purges” of people who have had anything to do with any l’Cie, a group of people chosen by the fal’Cie of either Sanctum or Pulse and is given an ambiguous focus to fulfill before they become a Cie’th. Of course, Lightening and her crew get involved for personal reasons and the story goes from there. Play the game and find out!

The Good: The combat system is outstanding. In a nutshell, every character has six “classes” to pick from: Commando, Sentinel, Saboteur, Medic, Ravager, and Synergist. Each has their own unique feel and brings something to the table:

Commando: The combat specialist, they deal heavy physical damage.
Ravager: Think black mage, tons of magic damage.
Medic: Obvious enough, they heal other members.
Sentinel: Absorbs massive amounts of damage with their “guard” abilities.
Synergist: A bard basically, they give buffs to other characters.
Saboteur: A red mage with a fancy name, they de-buff the enemy.

In addition, there’s a chain system where if the player reaches a certain percentage of an enemies “chain gauge” known as a “stagger” they can inflict massive damage with some spectacular attacks.

Where things really get interesting is how you setup the classes in “paradigms” when you have your party members together. A player could setup a Sentinel/Commando/Medic paradigm but the battles would take too long. Or they could get really aggressive and try Commando/Ravager/Ravager for a quick kill. Every setup has its own advantages and disadvantages and it’s up to the player to setup a custom array of setups for each situation. Certain setups are more effective at staggering enemies and setting up a kill much faster than others.

However, the game won’t let you cheese it up very easily. I’ve gone Commando/Medic/Medic on a boss and after a grueling half-hour battle the boss had enough of my cheap antics and casted doom (which gives you a set amount of time or die) on me while he was at 20% health. I wasn’t thrilled but at the same time I knew I was being cheap and deserved it.

The game is visually stunning to say the least (on PS3 that is) and I was fascinated and awed by some of the animations. Square-Enix definitely delivers again in that department.

As for the cast, I liked them and thought each character had an interesting and relevant part in the overall plot. But I’ll leave that up to my audience to decide.

The Bad: Not every game is perfect and this certainly applies to FFXIII. One huge glaring problem I saw was that the player was only allowed to control one character at a time. Sure it makes the battles a lot simpler but I felt at times that I was just simply mashing X just to get some of the random fights over with. If it weren’t for some of really exciting fights and compelling story line I would have been bored to tears.

Some of the dialogue is a little cheesy at times but that’s merely a quibble to me.

Finally, as with every Final Fantasy the story is linear. The player has no control over where the story goes and there’s only one ending (at least I think so). I wish there could be a Final Fantasy where a player can choose what to say and it would have dramatic effects on things to come. Bioware has me spoiled just a tad.

The Ugly: Why does Square-Enix make farming an essential part of every Final Fantasy to get ultimate weapons? Does anyone really want to kill an adamantoise hundreds of times for an item that drops 0.000001% of the time? How is that any fun? Players can definitely beat the game without getting the ultimate weapons (I did), but there’s no fun in that. I certainly don’t have the time or will to sit there for hours and hours to get a weapon that won’t matter in a few hours. It’s not an MMO, and it’s just not necessary.

Instead, a side quest for every character would have been a lot better. For instance, why not go into Lightning’s background a little bit and have a side quest with a ridiculously hard boss to kill to get her ultimate sword? I’d definitely be satisfied if I could do that instead of grinding gigantic turtles for hours.
Also some of the weapons in the game just flat out suck and make you wonder “What the hell is the point of this useless thing?” A perfect example is one of Sazh’s guns that are graced with a wonderful stat named “paper tiger.” The description: Reduces HP greatly. Why on Earth would anyone want to use that weapon? Weapons should be better as a player progresses and not worse.

Overall: FFXIII is definitely one of my favorites in the series now. I loved the characters and the music (as usual). If Square-Enix could just take the grinding out and give us a dynamic story line I’d be thrilled. I’d recommend buying it if you’re a hardcore fan, but if not go ahead and rent it. It’ll give you at least a solid 30 hours of entertainment; if you’re a masochist hundreds of hours.

- GameGavel Writer, Smiling_Cobra

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  1. GivenTheOkieDoke's Avatar
    Im on the fence with this one. I want to get it because I really liked Final Fantasy 9 and 10. Also there isnt much of a selection of RPG's for the PS3. But the only problem I have is that I love the classic turn base fighting system, and im not sure how i'll fancy these new RPS's having a diferent battle system I want to rent it, but I dont think renting an RPG does it any justice. Hopefully it drops in price soonish.

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