A lot of chat has been doing the rounds about how linear the next gen Final Fantasy is but this seems to be where most of the focus is set. I am not going to lie to you, they are right! The game is very linear. If you want me to sum up most of the game I would say run forward in a straight line from A to B and fight some enemies then cut scene then from B to C, fight some more then boss and cut scene etc etc because that is what it is!
Pushing all that talk aside Final Fantasy is known for its stunning graphics, detailed story line, playable battle system and outstanding music and this is what makes this game.
The first thing that jumps out at you, is how pretty this game looks in high def, you can tell Square-Enix have really gone to town on this game making everything look as detailed as possible which is why we have been waiting so long. The controls at first are a little annoying, unlike the static camera when you move around, FFXIII puts you in control of camera yourself. At first you will find it annoying the camera isn’t the best and half the time you will have it pointing in the wrong direction but like anything this is soon forgotten about as you progress through the game and get a hang of things.
The battle system is introduced throughout chapter 1-4 and in a way this is a good thing because it’s so complex at first, just handing it to you with all the options will be too confusing, so I actually agree with Square-Enix on the way its set out, letting you adjust in slowly. You will only ever really have control of the lead character which from the start all the way to chapter 9 (I think) you will not be able to choose your lead character or change around your team, forcing you to play as every character at least once.
As you only control the lead characters the decisions in battles you would think battles could be a little slow, as with older FF games where you control the whole party (even 12 to some extent) well, you would be wrong! Even taking control of just the one character can be demanding at times especially as you can change the jobs around of the whole party mid battle and later on more than once or twice.
The battle system works wonders and every enemy can be different forcing you to change tactics throughout the game. Losing a battle badly one time can be easily won the second having changed the way you approach them, this makes you think about your tactics in battle and how you approach them. The EXP system has gone being left with a crystal grid much like Final Fantasy 10. Easy to pick up and it’s here where you will gain new abilities, magic, strength and HP.
The weapons are limited but you can upgrade them to be more powerful and even add more defenses. There is however lots of accessories you can equip and also upgrade.
As to be expected from a Final Fantasy game the story line is solid from start to end, the voice acting is better than most previous in the series and it also has a wonderful soundtrack.
The main story can be completed in under 40 hours with a couple of boss fights which will cause you problems if you have not leveled up enough or tackled wrongly. Those who may find this game a little too liner at the start may want to resist putting the game down until they reach chapter 11. It is here that the game really opens out, allowing you side quests and a free roam of Gran Pulse which is huge. Clearly the most beautiful chapter of the whole game it’s Gran Pulse that will hold all the Hunts you will attempt once the game has come to an end as when you first set foot into this massive area the first thing you will want to do is take on some enemies which can kill you with one swipe.
I do like Gran Pulse; I have gone back to it after finishing and while most of the Hunts from class D-B have been no problem when you start “A” class hunts they step up the challenge. Also around Gran Pulse there are some extra cut scenes and some much loved characters make a welcome return. There is nothing like walking back into the main area of Gran Pulse after finishing the game to see Titan walking around in the background.
Finishing everything will take you longer than 70 hours so there is quite some game play to be had after the final fight.
As I will be marking this down compared to previous Final Fantasy games I better tell you the points to why.
The linear maps can be to linear at times making exploration to find hidden items none existent, meaning every item you will pick up pretty much a slight walk left or right of the main route. Enemies in certain Chapters can feel a little repetitive and sometimes you just want to fight something else. The hunts from D-B class can be a little too easy and even though there are teleport sections and Chocobo’s this can seem like you are just going back and forth over large sections.
I do miss having towns and the side quests they offer including shops and the random chats you can have with the town folk, missing this out is a huge disappointment as your characters don’t really interact with everyone who not involved in the main story.
On a whole Final Fantasy XIII looks and plays how you would expect with an amazing soundtrack and stunning graphics I can’t help feel it’s let down with its linearity and lack of shops and site quests. The battle system is one of the best yet! It must be doing something right because I can’t stop playing it.