Now before you crucify me, let me make this absolutely clear. I highly recommend every Final Fantasy game out there, and given the choice I would have you play some of the earlier installations of this Fantasy epic, then this one. However, those are actually more expensive, and this is $20 or less. Now that the elephant in the room is gone; Yes, I am in fact suggesting this game. I’ve been playing the Final Fantasy games for several years, in fact; more than a decade by my count (I’m old). Yes it’s true; I entered this journey with the release of Final Fantasy VII for the Playstation, but I am proud to say I’ve played every single Final Fantasy released to-date.
Except Mystic Quest. Okay I played it; I just never bothered to continue playing. What I’m not so proud to admit; is that since the release of FFXI I’ve been quite let down by the series as a whole. If you’re like me, you’ve wanted a good Final Fantasy game since 2002! There was a glimmer of hope when Square Enix announced FFXII, but to be honest…I found that game boring and overly complex. Luckily the release of Final Fantasy XIII has brought life back into the series by showing that it is possible to evolve Final Fantasy into our “action” oriented age of gaming, and still keep it feeling like one of the old games. Also, it’s under $20 (for the Xbox) so you really have nothing to lose!
Final Fantasy XIII
by Square Enix| Rated: Teen|Platform: Xbox 360/Playstation 3
Graphics – 10/10
I’m not going to lie, this game is freaking beautiful. The entire game is gorgeous; from the actual gameplay footage to the CG cut-scenes. I think more impressive than the CG is the attention to detail for the in-game graphics, the entire world is detailed I couldn’t find one bad image, no jagged lines nothing left out! It is one of the most visually entertaining games I’ve played to-date and I got it on the Xbox, which (unlike the PS3 version) is only 720p instead of 1080p. The fluid nature of the character movement is also something that has to be praised! Clothing moves with the character, as well as hair! Yes, the hair has physics! Awesome!
Sound/Music – 7/10
I’m making Sound and Music separate from the Voice acting because my opinions of the two are a bit drastic. Music has always been a passion in my life, Final Fantasy music in particular has always been something I’ve sought to play, and enhance my skills with. Now, I’m not saying this is a bad soundtrack, as it does its job well. It is great background music, and some of the songs are even good to listen to on their own. But, it’s just not like some of the classic pieces. I’ve always loved Nobuo Uematsu’s works, and the title without him is lacking in that department. On top of that, the actual sound effects seem lacking at some points, for instance when “changing” your Eidolon into its Gestalt form, certain sound effects seem to be missing, and it’s a bit of a turn off. This could be a glitch though that will be fixed, or…already has.
Voice Acting/Dubbing – 9/10
I have to personally say the voice acting in this game is excellent. Ever since X I’ve been pro everyone is vocal, it adds a nice movie/novel feel to it and I quite enjoy it. The game has quite the cast of talented voice actors, such as: Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, Ali Hillis, and Reno Wilson. All of whom do an amazing job in their roles! There is one “minor” issue though, and this is entirely on the game editors. With the ever increasing technology allowing game makers to make the lip movements of the characters match the dialogue being spoken it creates one small issue. When a game is originally made in a different language…it can get messy at times. Luckily this only really applies to CG scenes, and so you don’t notice it that often. That being said, I’m very impressed and they did a pretty good job adapting the English script to the original Japanese animation. Still, when it doesn’t work…it’s very noticeable.
Game Play – 8/10
Now the tricky part with rating game-play is some part of me always wants to compare this to previous Final Fantasy games, but I do realize that can never be. A sad fact is that for some reason we (and I use that term quite loosely) gamers, have tend to shift toward a more action oriented control in our games. The prevalent first person shooter genre, and the ever decreasing RPG genre, or the blend of these two, is proof enough to that. So what did square try to do with XII? Make it feel less turn based and more like you have control, I guess?. They failed. It ended up just feeling like some online-less MMO. However, in this game they’ve more-or-less succeeded. It has the visual appearance of an action battle system, but the very roots are still turn-based in some sense. I have to say I was very impressed.
Now for the bad part. This game is quite linear, a little more so then even X was. Another downfall is, you can only control one character. The reason for this is very obvious, the Battle system just could not accommodate you playing as your entire party as its live-action, and you’d die by the time you decided what everyone does. This doesn’t mean you can’t order them around, however. Enter the paradigm system. This system allows you to choose what style, or to be more specific class you want your character to act as. You’ve got: Medic (White mage), Commando (Fighter), Ravager (Black Mage), Saboteur (Time Mage), Sentinel (Knight), and Synergist (Buff Magic Class). The Paradigm system allows you to choose which character is in which class mode, which can then be changed mid-combat. Great system, however; it can take some getting used to.
Story – 10/10
Yes, like every important Final Fantasy out there, no matter how good, or bad, the graphics or even game-play are; it all comes down to the story! Thankfully, this one delivers. Like the good old days of Final Fantasy; you are thrown into the game as if the world had already existed before you put the disc in. The opening action packed and probably one of the more exciting intros to a game. After the intro, it can drag for a bit, I will admit this. Not a big deal though. Afterward the story gets deeper, and deeper, and just keeps pulling you into this new world. I won’t give away what happens, because let’s face it that’s no fun. Needless to say, this game has just as great of a story as VII-X. In fact the story progresses very much like a novel would, transitioning from points of perspective as the main cast is all over the place, and do not unite until half-way through the game. In my opinion, its genius, I felt like I was playing one of my favorite Fantasy/Sci Fi novels.
Overall the game is great. There was quite a bit of stigma to this title, as it is a very drastic change from previous Final Fantasy titles. Well, now’s your chance to judge for yourself. With the game being so cheap, you can finally jump in and see if it does its name, or if like it’s immediate predecessor it simply fails to deliver. Now, if all of this wasn’t enough to entice you. I give you this one final thing: One of the characters has a freaking Chocobo living in his hair. Nuff said.