Final Fantasy 13 review Final Fantasy 13 review

Categories: Gaming Reviews   Tags:
We love
The gorgeous visuals, compelling plot and highly developed battle system
We hate
The linear gameplay and sometimes overlong cut scenes
Square’s latest magnum opus will thrill RPG fans the world over
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5 Pages

Final Fantasy 13

Final Fantasy 13 is here! And what a wait it’s been. Since Final Fantasy 7 brought the traditional Japanese RPG to a mainstream audience way back in 1997 Square Enix’s long-running series has been one of video gaming’s most profitable and beloved franchises. It’s also remained resolutely loyal to Sony, with each major episode being exclusive to PlayStation hardware. How does Final Fantasy 13 extend that legacy? Read our Final Fantasy 13 review and we’ll break it down for you.

Read the rest of our Final Fantasy 13 review
Final Fantasy 13 review: The Storyline
Final Fantasy 13 review: Battle System Mechanics
Final Fantasy 13 review: The Key Characters

Final Fantasy 13 is a break from the norm. The gaming landscape has changed over the past decade and Square Enix has obviously decided that ignoring millions of Xbox 360 owners is tantamount to commercial suicide; Final Fantasy 13 therefore marks the first time the series has been released simultaneously across two separate formats.

It’s also the first time that Final Fantasy has embraced the world of high definition and is arguably the most aesthetically cohesive title in the franchise yet; the lush CGI footage no longer jars awkwardly with in-game graphics. The tremendous advancements made in console technology ensure that the transition between video cut scenes and the 3D game engine is so smooth that you often find yourself wondering which of the two you’re watching at any given moment.

Final Fantasy 13 review: Battle System Mechanics

Final Fantasy 13 on the Xbox 360 spans a whopping three DVDs, compared to the PS3’s single Blu-ray disc, and sadly some corners have been cut in order to shoehorn Final Fantasy 13 on Xbox too. The quality of the pre-rendered cut-scenes is notably worse, with unsightly artefacts and pixilation during fast-moving moments. It’s not all bad, though; the 3D engine used in the 360 version is actually smoother and zips along at a steadier frame rate than Final Fantasy 13 on PS3, although admittedly it’s running in a lower resolution overall.

To compliment the lush visual package there’s an equally sumptuous soundtrack courtesy of famed composer Masashi Hamauzu. Fusing a variety of different musical styles – including grand orchestral movements, guitar-based rock and pumping dance tunes – Hamauzu’s score fits Final Fantasy 13’s on-screen action beautifully, although during the more emotional moments the music does become a little overbearing; imagine an episode of Neighbours set in a mythical world and you’re not too far from the truth.

Final Fantasy 13 review: The Key Characters

Final Fantasy 13 splits its gameplay into two main components – exploration and combat. The former sees you traversing each location as you search for a main objective (which is handily identified by a big yellow arrow on the game map). During these moments you’ll spot enemies patrolling the landscape; unlike previous Final Fantasy outings – and traditional Japanese RPGs in general – battles do not occur randomly and without warning. You can choose to avoid a scuffle if you wish, although sometimes it’s impossible to completely shun conflict.

Once you’re in a combat situation you’ll notice that Square Enix has made some sweeping changes here, too. The famed “Active Time Battle” system has undergone a massive overhaul and as a result these contests feel much more alive and thrilling; you can pre-select your character’s actions by placing them in slots. Once the time gauge is full your character will automatically execute all of the commands. Being able to jam your slots with loads of different actions keeps things busy and while there’s still a turn-based element in play, quick reactions do make a difference.

Our biggest gripe with Final Fantasy 13 is that the actual gameplay is rather limited; exploring each location is mostly uneventful because there’s so little to discover outside of bonus items. To keep the story moving forward you’re funnelled down a linear path and, for the vast majority of the game, deviation from that path isn’t possible. As a result if you don’t buy into the storyline then you’re going to end up monumentally bored.

Thankfully the narrative is riveting and contains its fair share of twists and turns; it’s not quite up there with the plot of Final Fantasy 7 but then few games are, if we’re honest.

Like its predecessors, Final Fantasy 13 presents players with a huge gameplay proposition; if you really wished to fully explore every aspect of this epic title then you’ll easily surpass fifty hours of play time. The trouble is that maintaining a player’s interest for that amount of time is no mean feat, and Final Fantasy 13 stumbles more than once in its quest for such grand entertainment.

Action-hungry gamers who have been raised on a seemingly never-ending diet of first person shooters are definitely going to struggle with Final Fantasy 13’s often overblown plot, and mildly annoying cast of melodramatic characters.

That said, long-time followers of the series are less likely to find fault; while the first HD interpretation of gaming’s most illustrious RPG franchise doesn’t match Final Fantasy 7 for sheer impact, it remains a gorgeously crafted piece of entertainment, and the myriad amendments made to the battle system show that it’s moving in the right direction.

Read the rest of our Final Fantasy 13 review
Final Fantasy 13 review: The Storyline
Final Fantasy 13 review: Battle System Mechanics
Final Fantasy 13 review: The Key Characters

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  • Serah

    totally agree with this review..the game is linear but surprisingly to me, it is super fun and enjoyable for the hours and hours i have played. I hear u get to explore gran pulse sooner or later..w/e i still love this game, becuz i love RPG and FF fave is FF8

    FFXIII may not be exactly like how the classic FF’s use to be but still, u will have a great time..especially with the battle system! the characters arent as lovable nor is the world u have to save..but maybe in the long run u’ll realise how much u adore and love every single one of them!

    • Ben Sillis

      8 you say? I enjoyed 8 but the lack of a decent baddie lost it for me – I much prefer the Akira-mindbending plot of 7.

      • CJ84

        I agree, 7 was and always will be the benchmark for the series. After an hour of play I’m not convinced by the combat system. To me the system employed in FF7 was ideal and every revision to date has gotten a little bit worse and a little bit more complicated each time. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a slower combat system when the visuals are of this quality, the action combat system suggests they are trying to compete in some small way with action games – why bother!

  • sarel

    Im yet to play this game,
    got my copy of the collectors edition today,
    but im still at work, the wait is killing me piece by piece!
    FFviii was also my fav, my first actually..
    anyway , this is final fantasy were talking about,
    its great no matter what!

  • Final Fantasy 13 Blog

    This game is awesome, I’ve only played it for 5 minutes, but I’m on my way to purchase it now. I agree with others that 7 was the best, but we need to take into account that this game embodies all that a Final Fantasy Game is. Sure it lacks a few things, but this is the First NEW NEXT GEN Final Fantasy, so now thy can make an even better 14 :D

  • minisana

    this game is sooooooooooo awesome please make a sequel

  • james

    i have ff13 for xbox 360 and for the most part it rocks! the story wasnt as good as previous ffs but the battle system is kewl and fast paced. im on 31 hours rite now and i cant stop playing, if you like ff then you have to play it. other than a slow introduction its awesome!!!

    • Ben Sillis

      I’ve slowly got sucked in as well. The only thing I really hate are the stupid eidolon fights. Square treats them as trial and error battles, where you fling yourselves against them a few times before finally figuring out what arbitrary spell or trick works on them – the fact that they feel the need to put a retry option in from the start for these fights just shows it’s poor game design.

  • Marzouqi_2005

    FF13 is the best FF game, but SE could make it much better. And by the way. cutscenes are great, don't care about what ppl said. cuz without them the characters are dead. Before FF13 was released….in 2006… I new that I would LOVE the game. I had faith on it and I still do. I beat the game 4 times and still playing it. SE….FF13 is GREAT no matter what ppl say. I know that u know that, but it feels like there're things missing! As a great company u should know that. The game looked perfect, but i felt like it was in herry!! cuz we didn't have lots of places to explore. only straight lines!! It's like u were saying… go straight and you'll finish the game.Anyway, u did a great job BTY :)

    • bensillis

      I played FF13 through to the end as well and I loved the cinematics as well. I was disappointed by how you were tunnelled down one course all the time though. Where's that FF7 remake?

  • Marzouqi_2005

    And yeah.. FF13 was like an opening game for the ps3-xbox360. I think it should be just the beggning.

  • Sakurahain

    i love final fantasy 13. a part 2 would be awsome!

    • bensillis

      Hear hear!

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