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Final Fantasy, probably the most misleading name in gaming, with dozens of entries across various genre, there will probably never be a final entry in this long running series. Final Fantasy XIII...
Fantastic Graphics, Great Battle System
Linear to a fault, forgetable main story
Final Fantasy, probably the most misleading name in gaming, with dozens of entries across various genre, there will probably never be a final entry in this long running series. Final Fantasy XIII was the first entry released on the current generation of hardware.
Prepare to be lost through the entire plot, the game does a poor job of keeping the player informed of what is going on all the way through the credits. Even the in game codex fails to provide enough information to understand what is going on. The story presented in the cutscenes focuses more on the characters than the world or villains, but sadly, the cast isn't interesting enough to carry the plot on their own. The ending is a giant deus ex machina that Square Enix has rewritten, twice, in their Ultimecia guide and for Final Fantasy XIII-2.
World exploration is linear, there is a reason it is called a hallway simulator. Aside from Chapter 11's Archylte Steppe everything is a straight line to the next objective. Combat is a fast paced variation on the active time battle system used by most entries in series. In this system you only have direct control over your party leader, and if they fall it is game over. To compensate for the lack of party control the game allows you to customize six class setups called Paradigm that can be switched to at any time. The AI is smart enough that they will do what you want them to 95% of the time.
On the surface the combat is shallow, just auto battle to win, but that will get you killed in boss fights. Proper management of your Paradigm in battle is key to success in boss fights. It can be the difference between a 30 minute slog and a 5 minute slaughter. Final Fantasy XIII rewards those who take the time to learn the battle system. Knowing which accessories to upgrade and use also plays a major part in success against the challenging bosses.
In game graphics at a high quality native 720p with a 30fps update that is fairly stable. The graphics never fail to disappoint and Square mostly lived up to their promise to make combat that resembled Advent Children in motion. There will be times when you question if it is a CG cutscene or an ingame cutscene.
CG cutscenes are 1080p Native and are encoded at a high bitrate that gives them that blu-ray quality. These cutscenes are simply stunning to watch.
Voice Actors are all well chosen and acted, the music is a mixed bag, ranging for the great battle themes to the terrible Chocobo vocal remix. No dual audio on this release which is disappointing, as the Japanese cast is very good, and the ending music is much more fitting in the Japanese version.
Final Fantasy XIII is a dividing point for fans of the series, there are those who hate the game for a lack of a well presented plot and there are those who love the game for the battle system. I fall into both camps, I've spent so much time with the game simply because I liked the combat so much, but I am critical of the story that requires supplemental reading and research just to begin to understand many of the plot points and just what happens in the ending. Give the game a shot if you haven't already, find your own answers on which camp you fall into.
720p native with solid AA in game (upscaled to 1080p to avoid resolution switching for the CG cutscenes)
1080p native blu-ray quality CG cutscenes
Played to Completion in 2010 on a Samsung 51c450 with Logitec 2.1 PC speakers
Played to Completion again on my Sharp 70LE732 with stock speakers
Japanese import played for a couple of hours on my Sharp 70LE732 with stock speakers.[/B]