The lights are on
Wow, so I know it's REALLY old news about the game, but for a while, I wasn't able to write a proper review for the game (for some reason, my browser wasn't showing the "Write a Review" link). I wrote a short blog about it, but whatever, let's get down to the review.
I'll try and keep it short and sweet (again, I already wrote some on my blog page)
First, I really enjoyed this game. I was extremely excited when I got a hold of it when it came out in Japan. I played it almost non-stop for about a month. I did pass this game some time ago, but just never got around to writing a review. Also, I say stuff like 'optima' instead of 'paradigm' because I have the Japanese version and I was kind of confused why they changed so much in the translation of the game (why is driving mode called 'gestalt' mode or whatever...and why is 使命 'shimei' translated to focus???) Anyway, off the subject and just some personal gripes about the translation of the game.
So just a quick breakdown of what I thought about the game:
Gameplay: Always an important aspect of a game. The basic play of FFXIII is fairly straightforward for the first part of the game when your actions are limited. However, when you really start the missions, you quickly see how the optima system can make any battle a complete pain in the @$$ or a breeze. Many of the harder enemies simply came down to not so much WHO you had in your party (although good healers are key for some), but HOW you had your party setup (Great Wall, utilizing Jammers/Enhancers, etc.). This gameplay feature made what seemed like a cut and dry game down to more of a quick-thinking-on-your-feet game. Very fun indeed. 9.5 out of 10
Graphics: Never really an issue with FF. XIII's CG movies were the best I've seen. And even some of the in-game cut scenes were awesome. Granted some of the characters were more annoying than others (Hope...), I really enjoyed the character design overall. This is especially true with the Summons (I guess they're called Eidelons or something in the NA Ver). And not really a category for scoring, but on a personal level, I really liked the main character more than any other in the FF series. I was getting kind of tired of the main characters being wiener guys who looked and sounded liked girls and just complained all the time about their hardships of being chosen to save the world (FF X and XII for example). I'm glad they just said screw it, and put in a totally badass female who just gets the job done. Again, a pretty minor thing, but for me, having a main character you want to keep in your group even after given the choice to change is key for me and I had Lightning in my group, as leader, the whole game (I never really saw too much of the other summons til later on, haha). 10 out of 10
Story: Always the heart of any FF and XIII didn't disappoint for me. Although at times it could seem a little overdrawn, like Snow ALWAYS talking about saving Cocoon or Sera, I always felt the story had a good pace and kept you enthralled enough to keep playing. On another note, I was kind of glad to actually have the side missions be available only later on in the game. I personally feel too distracted if the game introduces them right away, because I become too involved about trying to rank up or something that I get completely sidetracked and don't want to continue the story until I finish the side missions. 9.25 out of 10
Music: Again, another category that always shines with FF. I picked up the OST after the game came out and listened to the music again, out of the game setting, and really enjoyed the compositions. It was also interesting listening to the Sugawara theme song, then hearing that Leona Lewis was doing the song for the NA ver. Personal preference I guess. 9.75 out of 10
Overall: Once again, I know it's old news, but I just felt as a fan and long-time gamer that I should voice an opinion in favor of FInalFantasy XIII. I understand how many people disagree and say it's not a legit game to stand next to VII or VI, however I personally did enjoy it alot. I still hold VI as No. 1 in my book, there's probably never going to be a greater game than that. But XIII is a strong No. 2 for me. Take a look at my blog about a quick take on what I say about what other people say are negative aspects of the game (too linear, no cities, etc). Again, I'm not some hardcore fanboy, but I am a pretty hardcore gamer.
Great job... this is the kind of educated user review that we need to see more of.