Final Fantasy is a name that commands attention in the RPG world. Reigning as the all but unchallenged champion of RPGs, the Final Fantasy series has legions of fans who disagree on almost everything, except that Final Fantasy is king. With the original Final Fantasy games being released over ten years ago, there are a lot of changes that have taken place over the last decade of games. Final Fantasy games have always sought to push the envelope with RPG gaming. They were one of the first games to feature 3-D, they pioneered the idea of game with strong storyline, and they created world after world of engaging enemies to slay. Now, Final Fantasy returns again with it’s thirteenth installment. But how will it compare?
In Final Fantasy XIII, you play the role of Lightning, the all-action female soldier and five other main characters, in the midst of a huge war. 1300 years ago, Cocoon, a floating city above the planet of Pulse was created. War broke out between Cocoon and Pulse below and Cocoon ended up winning, but they still fear that war will happen once again. The people of Cocoon are warned again ever going down to Pulse, claiming that it does things to people, and people from Pulse who visit are quarantined by the government of Cocoon. Snow, leader of the resistance group NORA, fights against this strong militaristic government while Lightning tries to get down to Pulse to find her sister Serah, who happens to also be Snow’s fiancee. The story is engaging, but has been criticized for being perhaps a little too emotional. Final Fantasy with its in depth storyline has never run the risk of this in the past because if a character cries with poor graphics, it is funny rather than soap-operish. The political intrigue of the story will please fans of mystery and big government.
Square Enix has had its first opportunity with Final Fantasy XIII to use its Crystal Tools engine, which is has been designing for some years now. This new graphics engine allows the gameplay to include interactive CGI scenes in near-perfect real time. As a result, the graphics of the game are astounding and never stop being so almost throughout the entire game. Final Fantasy does not disappoint with its presentation of breathtaking graphics.
New Battle System
The battle system is a change and most people enjoy it; Final Fantasy has not changed their fighting system too much in past years, so it’s important to try something new. First of all, characters have to be assigned to a task (healing, attacking, and using offensive (black) magic). These tasks are all that a character can do, so it’s important to mix your team well. You control your team not individually, but by a series of paradigms, which are sheets of strategy. As you plan your battle, you are a few steps ahead of what is happening and so you can react strategically to the battle. In this way, the game focuses on team effort. There are some frustrating points to this, though. Sometimes your characters can make foolish decisions that can seem beyond your control. Also, battles are lost whenever the leader character of your team is killed. Luckily, Square Enix made it so that losing a battle only results in you appearing where you were a moment ago. After each battle, your health goes back to full and this feature seems to be encouraging the fun aspect of the game, as getting frustrated is one of the general drawbacks to RPGs.
Final Fantasy XIII operates as a series of levels that you progress through with a boss at the end. This may seem old fashioned for an RPG and more reminiscent of God of War. In truth, this feature of the game can be tiresome. There are no Inns, no towns, no shops, only enemy after enemy after enemy. The most bothersome thing about this is the lack of a feeling of progress through the game. You never really can tell how far you are and without that breather of town life, old school Final Fantasy fans may feel like this game has left something out. Final Fantasy XIII’s soundtrack is pleasant, but not particularly stunning. The tunes are background music and don’t find a place in your head and heart like previous Final Fantasy songs have. Also, though if you are a fan of Final Fantasy this should come as no surprise, the game is very long. This is the type of game that involves hours and hours of dedication presumably because the game developers want a little time before rabid fans are begging them for more.
Reviewers give Final Fantasy XIII scores ranging from a 7-10/10. Overall, it is a fun game with amazing graphics and everything else you’d expect from a Final Fantasy game… except for towns.