Final Fantasy XIII Review – Xbox 360

Title: Final Fantasy XIIIFinal Fantasy XIII Review - Xbox 360 Box Art
Platform: 360, PS3
Release Dates: (JP) December 7th, 2009
(EU, NA) March 9th, 2010
Genre: Role Playing Game
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher:  Square Enix

– Detailed and life-like characters
– Beautiful and stunning scenery and environments
– Fun, entertaining and addictive battle system
– Beautiful and engaging music
– Compelling story

– Very linear game play at first
– Stuffy and sluggish camera during exploration
– Game is over when your main character dies

Price as of November 28th 2012
USD $19.99
GBP £9.99
AUD $23.00

Reviewed by FrontalSpy

Singleplayer Review

The Final Fantasy series has all been about a few key things; a story with more twists and turns than a big rainbow lollypop, characters that are very unique and iconic, superb music and sound and top notch graphics of its time. Every Final Fantasy has been a hit, but the series has gone silent for a few years, fans and critics waiting in despair for the thirteenth in the series. Now after many trailers and teasers showing off its new engine and graphics, Final Fantasy XIII is now out, I reviewed it on Xbox 360.

The game when started, strangely enough prompts you to press any button, every time. While I was left wondering, I was amazed to see the beautiful opening cinematic, every time the game starts (only on the first disc for 360 gamers). Final Fantasy is set in another universe, this time the game starts of in the city Cocoon, a futuristic place full of flying machine things and the entire city itself is floating. Beneath Cocoon is the actual planet, which the people of Cocoon call Pulse. Pulse is a dangerous place filled with monsters and other scary beings. The game on the Xbox 360 has 3 Discs which contains lots of goodness.

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The story revolves around six characters, each backed up with great looks and personality. The lead is Lightning, an ex-soldier who talks and fights tough and also a woman. At first man would believe her as a selfish cold hearted person who doesnt care, but later on her personality changes and develops to you liking (unless your evil), and her goal is revealed to save her sister, Serah. Snow is another character on the journey. He is a blonde and is not afraid to keep a promise, forever. He quotes himself to be a hero, but as the other companions see him he is all talk. He is also on the journey to save Serah, because she is his fiancée.

Sazh is the dude with the tude and an afro too, also he has a cute Chocobo chick in his hair. He gets dragged along by Lightning in an accident involving both of them. Next is Vanille, the orange hair girl. She is optimistic and sees the place in a different way to the others. She joins them to help hope settle things with snow. Hope is a small boy who recently lost his mother. He is good friends with Vanille but as hope claims, he is too weak. The last character is fang. She isn’t in the party at the beginning but she will join after discovering they are of the same goal, she also has an Australian accent.

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The story follows as Lightning and Sazh are imprisoned but escape, defeating the guards and freeing the other prisoners. After fighting many soldiers we are taken to Snow who leads his gang of younglings called NORA. There we meet Hope and Vanille, who were also prisoners. Snow and a few volunteers launch an attack on the guards, which are called PSICOM. The attack soon turns deadly for Snow and leaves devastating results. As soon as that happens, a gigantic monster comes out which is named FalCie. Lightning travels there with Sazh as she needs to rescue her sister, Serah. Snow goes there as well to save her, but Vanille and Hope follows Snow on a flying motorcycle but crashes instead. All together they meet at a point inside the FalCie.

Discovering that Serah is a slave of the FalCie called a LCie. She soon turns into crystal when she tells the party to save Cocoon. Snow outraged wants to stay with Serah forever, keeping his promise. The Party soon travel onwards into the middle of the place where they find and fight the actual FalCie it self. When it is defeated the FalCie turns them into its slave, giving them a mission or focus. If they do not complete the mission in time, they would turn into zombies called Cieth, thus making Lightning, Snow, Sazh, Vanille and Hope into LCie. They do not know what their mission is but if they completed it, they would turn into crystal and live an eternal life just like Serah. The LCie are classified enemies of Cocoon so the party is now wanted dead. They travel to find out about each other and their mission before it’s too late.

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One of the major things that anyone would notice is how beautiful the game looks. The scenery of the high tech city of Cocoon to the beautiful grasslands, the game has lots of variety and shows it in the best amount. The characters also look life like. It is even better than Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Every strand of hair, the reflection of light on their cloths to the way the cloths move in the wind, it is captured in the most beautifully. The monsters themselves are looking hot, but some could be ugly, not of the graphic but every detail to make it so. I played the game on Xbox 360, while of course the PS3 will have better graphics than the 360, the version itself looks pretty.

As of every Final Fantasy the battle system is different in a few small ways. This time they stuck with the Active Time Battle, opposed to the Active Dimension Battle in Final Fantasy XII. But in Final Fantasy XIII the battle system is a little more different. Like the previous ATB systems, you have to wait for a bar to fill before you can attack. This time it is still the same but the entire bar is split into segments, which is used by the attacks. The previous games let you only do one attack, magic ability or item usage until the bar fills up again, in XIII as the bar is in segments, and each attack uses the segments depending on how powerful it is. Since magic can not be used outside of battles health will be automatically healed after each battle.

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Example, a normal attack cost one segment and if the bar has four of them you can attack four times in a row. Attacks that are bigger like Fira uses two segments and will only be casted twice before waiting for the bar to charge up. Complicated? Well not really. As you do use your attacks you can be stopped if an opponent physically attacks you. Each time the opponent attacks you while you are attacking you lose time to attack. Items do not use any segments. As of items, the humble potion heals the entire party, which only consist of three people.

An example of the new battle system; a normal attack cost one segment and if the bar has four of them you can attack four times in a row. Attacks that are bigger like Fira uses two segments and will only be casted twice before waiting for the bar to charge up. Complicated? Well not really. As you do use your attacks you can be stopped if an opponent physically attacks you. Each time the opponent attacks you while you are attacking you lose time to attack. Items do not use any segments. As of items, the humble potion heals the entire party, which only consist of three people.

Another thing is once a battle has initiated there is no turning back. So even if you are in a tough battle, there is no way out. Although if you do lose, you will appear in front of the enemy with the items and equipment after losing the battle.

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You may only control one person in combat and exploration, but as the story progress you will have to switch between characters. At first it will need some time to get use to. Later you can choose who you can use in battle. It does get annoying how you are the only one that can use items. The leveling up system is also different. In fact you don’t level up at all. To increase your skills and learn new abilities you use a new system called the Crystarium System which is based on your jobs. This new system lets you gain new abilities and increase your health, strength or magic depending on what is next. The entire system follows a straight line, which makes it very linear as possibly the best would be last. To gain more of these things you need Crystrogen Points which are gained after each battle. CP varies on how tough and many the enemies are.

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Also with making your character stronger using the Crystarium system, you can make your weapons stronger at the save point. You use scrap left by defeated enemies to use as EXP to upgrade the weapon. The better the scrap the more exp it gives. The weapon has a point when met it will increase the strength and magic of the user. This also works with accessories increasing the ability of what the accessory does. While this is a important development, more powerful weapons can be bought, which means your possibly LV.10 weapon would have to be sold for a weapon not strong now, but later on. Each character has their own weapon; Lightning uses a gun-blade like weapon, Snow uses his fist and gloves, Sazh uses dual guns, Hope uses a boomerang like weapon, Vanille has a staff and Fang has a spear. With this, it is obvious that Lightning, Snow and Fang are good at physical damage, while Sazh, Hope and Vanille are good at magic.

A new element called the Break bar is added to the battle. It is specific to each enemy and the break bar increases as you deal more damage. It also increases the percentage of damage you could do each time you attack and if the bar fills the enemy stumbles and will take more damage like 300%. If the enemy stumbles the bar slowly depletes until it reaches the end, but if you continue to attack in its mode the percentage can increase dealing more and more damage every time. Enemies in this mode can be launched in the air and attacked multiples times.

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Like in some earlier Final Fantasy games, you can somewhat change jobs but you can do it in battle. The jobs vary from; commando – the main attacker, Medic – the healer, Ravager – the spell caster and heaps more. Since all characters can use all the same jobs, you can count on all of them to help you out. Changing jobs in battle is called a Paradigm shift since the job system is called the Paradigm. Although the first time you activate one in battle there is a small cutscene where you could get attacked. The Crystarium system is also affected by the Paradigms.

Summons are also in this game, but are called Eidolons and act slightly different. Instead of having an entire list of summons each character is only limited to one, although they are different for each character. Instead of using MP summons uses something called Tactical Points which is also used for special spells like Libra. When summons are called they appear in two modes. Eidolons use Summon Points to indicate their health, but the SP slowly decreases over time. Initial SP depends on the TP level used to summon the Eidolon. Once SP is completely depleted, the Eidolon will disappear, and the other party members will return. But before they can summon each L’Cie first must win the approval of their respective Eidolon by defeating them in combat. With summoning Eidolons to fight alongside them, each Eidolon can transform into another form that combines them with the character. This mode is called Gestalt Mode where the character can control the summon using its attack and abilities. Each Eidolon’s Gestalt Mode also includes a powerful finisher move that will end the summoning after being used. How often and for how long the player can activate this ability is again determined by TP.

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In past Final Fantasies one major highlight has been the sound and music. Sound it is a big thing too. From the beautiful music of the main menu to the intense and engaging battle music against bosses, this sure does have variety. Walking into big cities or landscapes, the music helps highlighting the journey even more. The voice acting is superb apart from one. It gives the characters even more charm, wit and personality.

While in previous Final Fantasys, you could use lots of transportation like airships or dragons, but in FFXIII you can only ride Chocobos (not the one in Sazh’s hair) and some giant machine walker during exploration. Chocobos can be found on Pulse while giant walkers are found in junkyards. Although walking around looks cool enough, it cannot avoid battles like being the Chocobo or the walker.

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Also the camera you use when you explore is very slow for most of the times and it sometimes make you look at something that you might not want to look at. Although the camera in battle works like a charm! Like Final Fantasy XII you can see the enemies and they can see you. Towns have almost been eradicated from the game but expect for the main storyline ones. So all your shopping will have to be done somewhere else, like the save point. As with Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, shopping has to be done electronically. At save points you can shop from many shops like in Crisis Core. More shops and better equipment will be unlocked later in the game.

Coming into Final Fantasy XIII I had fewer expectations due to rumors of many missing RPG elements and the game is very linear, but hours into the game I was hooked instantly. Graphics are of course stunning; the Battle system is now much more fun and exhilarating than ever before, the games sound and music are still are staple. With many likeable and unlikeable characters this game won’t suck you in straight away, but gradually tugs you into the world of Pulse. Final Fantasy XIII will not disappoint, although this is not a hardcore RPG so many people who never played Final Fantasy or an RPG will enjoy this, as well as many RPG fans being grateful for its new battle system and compelling, complex story and interesting characters. Final Fantasy XIII is one to remember, as well as being the first on the next gen console; this game could be a turning point in the series.

Overall Score: 90/100