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Final Fantasy XIII Review

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Note - this reviewer did not finish the game. This is based purely upon the impressions the reviewer got after an hour or something into the game.

Also, any controls referenced are for the Xbox 360 version.

Final Fantasy - a popular game series. The seventh game in the series popularized Eastern RPGs in the West, if I'm remembering correctly. The games are liked by many. However, not all of the games are so good. Final Fantasy XIII is one of them.

We'll start with the good bits first: the battle system and paradigms. Mistakenly labeled as the ATB Battle System (at least, if I remember the tutorial correctly), it features the same basis: there's a gauge that fills up over time. When it fills, you can execute actions. However, it also gets a bit more complicated: there's segments of the ATB gauge that can be expended for attacks. You can combo the attacks together. If, say, you had 3 ATB Segments, you could chain 3 skills that had an ATB Cost of 1, or one skill that had an ATB cost of 2 and one that had a cost of 1. (At least, theroetically.) There's nothing stopping you from filling your action list with commands that's total ATB Cost exceeds the amount of ATB Segments currently filled (but not total); you'd just have to wait for the ATB Gauge to fill to full, or press Y to get rid of any attacks that exceeded the current amount, which would cause your attacks to execute instantly.

However, there's one thing that I don't like about this system: the Auto-Battle mode. You might remember something with the name from the PSP releases of Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy III. However, instead of repeating your last commands (there -is- an option for that, however), it instead automatically chooses what it deems the best of your commands for the situation, like your AI companions. You could literally win the game just by pressing A and switching paradigms when needed.

Anyway, let's move onto the next part of the game: paradigms. They're a set of three "classes" that you can switch into during battle by pressing LB. Each character has a different classes they can access: for example, Lightning can't access Sentinel and Medic (at the start, at least). This affects what paradigms you can use. The only downside is is that the battle is still going on while you choose which paradigm you're going to switch into.

Now, for the bad bits: to start, FFXIII is linear. Extremely linear. The paths are really almost straight lines. Let me paint a mental picture for you, comparing it to Final Fantasy I: Final Fantasy I is a corridor. After walking through the corridor for a while, you reach four branching paths. These are what you can do after you beat the Lich: relight the Fire, Water, and Air Crystals, or get the class upgrade. You can always go back down the corridor to train, and when you get to the end of one of the paths, you're dumped back where you started, just more trained, and can go back down the path to train, or go to a new one.

Final Fantasy XIII is a corridor where one end is slowly closing in on you. There are no seperate paths.

There's also a few other problems with the game: one, there's a crap load of cutscenes. Two, in combat, if your party leader dies, it's a Game Over. You can't switch to a new one. You can't even use one of the Phoenix Downs in your inventory. It's Game Over. Thankfully, there's a retry option, but still.

And third, there's the crystanium or whatever. This takes the place of standard levels in FFXIII, a la the Sphere Grid. Unlike the Sphere Grid, however, it unlocks the more you get into the story.

This is bad. Not that it would matter; the encounters aren't random, so you couldn't really grind it as easily. However, this means that you can't get a needed boost if you're stuck on a boss.

If you're choosing between an Xbox 360 or a Wii U, and this is the only reason you'd get an Xbox: get the Wii U.

Score: I'd say a 5.5, according to the Game Informer scale.

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