I haven't been as active lately around the site as usual, due in part to getting to the meat of my coursework in graduate school, but also because I picked up Final Fantasy XIII and started playing it. I'll be taking a break from my normal style of blog writing for this one, but I'm sure I can manage to fit in a laugh or two. I definitely wanted to share my experience with the game so far, to coax any stragglers who haven't picked up the game yet to buy it immediately, and also to defend the honor of my beloved X-Box.

"Mine is bigger. Trust me."

If you aren't familiar already, here's a short rundown: You start off on Cocoon, which is a small planet or moon type world where everyone's living fat and happy. Everything is governed by beings called fal'Cie which provide basic needs like food, water, weather, etc. They're kind of like gods but they rarely meddle in human affairs. (They're also named after espers from previous Final Fantasy games). However, everyone in this little sanctuary fears the nearby world of Pulse. Pulse is supposedly this horrible place full of terrors. It also has its own set of fal'Cie, but these fal'Cie turn any who come into contact with it into beings called l'Cie. Once this happens, you have two choices: complete your focus (every l'Cie is charged with some task to be accomplished) and become crystal forever, or don't and become a Ci'eth (basically a wandering zombie). Because of this fear, a series of events happen causing the Cocoon government to start banishing and killing anyone who has come into contact with l'Cie, calling it "The Purge". For different reasons, all of the protagonists join in to fight against this Purge.

This is where you start at. Hopefully that was spoiler free enough.

Before I go further I want to comment on a couple of things. First, I've heard complaints of the game being too linear. I'll agree that the game is linear (so far). However, this only comes as a shock to people who probably didn't play Final Fantasy X. While that game opened up more quickly than this one does, most of its levels were linear with a few nooks and crannies to explore for treasure. It is the same here, except no random enemy encounters. No, it's not anything like the beloved Final Fantasy VII, but it's not going to be and you're playing the wrong game if you're expecting a return to that. Secondly, whoever says that the X-Box version is not absolutely gorgeous is kidding themselves, you, and is probably a PS3 fanboy. I have been blow away time and time again by the incredible detail of this game. This is probably the most beautiful game I have ever seen. If you thought Mass Effect was gorgeous, check this game out.

"Japanese character 1 is less than Japanese character 2!"


I must say that the first couple of hours of the game were not anything like I expected them to be, and I probably would not enjoy the game very much if it stayed like that. If you decide to pick up the game, you need to at least get to Chapter 3 before you decide if you like the game or not. The beginning comes in very short spurts. You get into one or two battles between each cutscene. You change characters every few minutes. There is no real strategy to battle or character maintenance. In retrospect it's actually quite dull.

Eventually you open up the two things that make this game incredibly addictive: the Crystarium and the Paradigm battle system. The Crystarium is like the Sphere Grid from FFX, but doesn't quite let you do as much with it. You don't really have choices on which path to take, but there are nodes you can skip. You make progress by earning CP which are given to you at the end of each battle. This is what is used to power your characters up. I'm addicted to leveling so I'm glad something like this exists.

The Paradigm system makes battle really fun. Basically, each character has different roles they can play. You can organize different people into different roles at once in order to take on different enemies in different ways. You also only control the party leader, so the other guys will act accordingly based on the role they're given. 95% of the time they play pretty well too, so no worries about them deciding to cast Fira on a fire-immune monster or anything. You can switch these on the fly, so you can start off a battle debilitating everyone with status effects before jumping into a caster role and finishing them off with magic. The battles are extremely fast paced, and you are actually rated based on how fast you kill them. This is another point of addiction for me, as I always try to devise a method to kill everyone as fast as possible. The battles take place in real time though, so you must always act quickly because every second is precious.

I found a screenshot without Lightning in it, yay!


So that's pretty much it. So far it's been 18 hours of killing, leveling, story, and fighting with different parties. Sounds like a Final Fantasy game, right? Hopefully I've given a decent description of the background of the game, the basics of what you'll be doing, and convinced you that the haters are just hating for no reason. To summarize:

1) Linearity is not an issue if you've played FFX. If you haven't, don't worry, it's still a Final Fantasy game.

8) The new combat system rocks, even for a FF6/7/X loyalist like myself


4) Tacos.

c) Play through Chapter 3 before giving the game your final say.


That's all for this edition, thanks for reading.