PS3 Reviews: Final Fantasy XIII Review

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Final Fantasy XIII Review

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Graphics:

 

9.4

Gameplay:

 

8.1

Sound:

 

9.2

Control:

 

8.3

Replay Value:

 

8.5

Overall Rating:       8.7

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Square-Enix

Developer:

Square-Enix

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

RPG

I’m going to make this abundantly clear right off the bat: Final Fantasy is not only my favorite role-playing franchise, it’s also my favorite video game franchise ever. Most all of the entries in this series have provided me with some of my most memorable gaming experiences of all time, which is why whenever a new FF arrives, it’s a special moment for me. However, as I sit and attempt to write a review for Final Fantasy XIII, I’m struck with a serious conundrum to which there appears to be no easy solution: as a gamer who appreciates great games simply for the sake of being great, I’m thrilled with FFXIII. On the other hand, for a long-time fan of RPGs and the franchise in question…not so much. I say this with a large amount of sadness and I try to be firm with myself; to admit that it’s due in large part to nostalgia; that I should learn to embrace the future and simply reward the game based purely on its merits. But hard as I might, I just can’t do it. There’s no doubt that FFXIII is a fantastic achievement and I love the game (I can’t stress that enough). But…well, you’ll see.

With every new Final Fantasy, we can usually expect anther “bar-setter” in terms of visuals, especially in regards to cut-scenes. Well, I will say this- once again, you will be blown away by the cut-scenes, which are some of the most exquisitely choreographed, beautifully artistic non-interactive pieces of media ever to hit your TV screen. That’s a given. But we’ve seen so many huge advances over the past year and it would be inaccurate to say that FFXIII’s in-game graphics are the best yet; past titles like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Killzone 2 and the recently released Heavy Rain set a new standard for gameplay visuals. This isn’t to say FFXIII isn’t gorgeous while playing, though. The environments, despite featuring linear paths, are large and wonderfully constructed, the character detail is excellent, and the overall effects and design are a pleasure to view. But you will notice a bit of blurriness here and there, a few minor hiccups, and a lack of shiny polish we saw with something like Uncharted 2. All that being said, I doubt people will complain.

The sound is just as good, as we receive the great benefit of a fantastic original score – another common highlight of these titles – and tremendous special effects at every turn. Everything is spot-on and at no point do you experience a balancing issue where the music or effects compete with one another for the spotlight. The voice acting is interesting… We don’t have the single best cast for a game but we do have a competent one, even if some characters can begin to chafe after a while. You might grow tired of Lightning’s gruffness and Vanille’s bounciness in the early goings but they begin to show new emotions as you progress. The dialogue still needs work, though; it reminds me of George Lucas to some extent, in that the stories are great but he can’t write dialogue for beans. But really, just about everything will sound nigh-on heavenly, especially if you’ve got a decent sound setup. This may actually be one of the more musical FFs we’ve ever had; new and surprisingly complex pieces will accompany your adventuring at all times and although I still miss that classic battle theme, I suppose I can let it slide. The effects and music are just that good.

Okay, here we go; the meat and potatoes. Let’s get the facts out of the way first, and then we’ll move into the commentary and critique. Any game that’s as story-driven as this one requires me to be discreet about the plot and characters, so I’ll just say the storyline in FFXIII is very, very good and ultimately quite satisfying, as we’ve all come to expect from this series. Technically, the main character is Lightning, a former soldier who embarked on a brave – even rash – quest to save her sister, Serah, who has been turned into a l’Cie in order to serve the fal’Cie. You’ll learn more about those strange words and the back story behind them when you play; you should also appreciate the added writing and explanation provided by the invaluable Datalog. Now, as for game progression, it is indeed very linear for the first half of the game; you are pushed along a set path at all times, with very little in the way of exploration involved. Some will compare this to FFX but at least we had towns and other standard stops along the way, and we could usually backtrack, too.

Yes, it’s true: there are no towns to wander through in FFXIII. Much has been made about this absence, and when you combine it with a lack of levels (we didn’t have levels in FFX, either, remember), and several other elements that tend to make an RPG an RPG, the negative feedback must be expected. I’ll get back to this but for now; let’s just say that most of the game feels less like an FF or an RPG and more like a straightforward action/adventure game. You will encounter enemies in pseudo-real-time in the field; they will rove about as they did in FFXII but unlike the latter installment, where you simply encountered them right there on the same field of exploration, touching an enemy in FFXIII brings you to a separate battle screen. This is a throwback to the old days, but that’s where the resemblance to the “old days” ends. Once in battle, everything plays out in real-time; you can’t even pause the combat as you could in FFXII. You also can only control the leader and if he/she dies, it’s game over. You can resurrect fallen allies but you must stay alive at all costs.

You also don’t move your character manually, as you did in FFXII. All you really do is input commands and keep an eye on the action. You have an ATB bar – a definite standard – and when it fills, you can unleash your chosen abilities. The ATB bar is broken up into segments; you’ll have two at the start and that will grow as you move forward. This will dictate the actions you choose: for instance, Lightning’s Blitz requires 2 ATB segments so the bar must be that high before she can unleash that skill. You have the option of waiting until the entire bar fills and the character will automatically execute the chosen commands, or you can press Triangle at any time to have the character execute the commands available. So if you really just want to finish an enemy quick and you only need one more strike, you don’t need to wait for the ATB bar to fill entirely so you can attack three consecutive times. How your characters operate in battle is dictated by the Paradigm System. A Paradigm sets the classes for each character in battle; for instance, DualStrike is Ravager/Ravager for two party members while Tide Turner is Synergist and Saboteur. Same idea with three party members and you can fully customize any Paradigms. Classes include Commando, Enhancer, Medic, and others.

Character advancement is done via the Crystarium, which is a simpler version of the Sphere Grid from FFX. You basically move around circular graphs and grab skills and stat boosters; the added twist is that there are separate Crystariums for each class, and each class can be upped in level. You earn Crystarium Points from battles and can distribute them however you see fit. Any abilities you learn will be automatically added to your battle queue and with the help of Libra (Scan, essentially), AI-controlled characters will know which of their learned skills works best against a particular enemy. Finally, there’s the weapon and accessory upgrade system, which is also quite simple: all those seemingly useless items you collect from battles each can be applied to a weapon or accessory, and each is worth a certain amount of experience. So if a Thickened Hide grants you 8 EXP (I forget if it does; this is just an example) and you put 5 of them on your weapon, you’ll get 40 EXP. If the weapon requires 400 EXP to level up…well, you get the picture. Now, all of this works exceedingly well.

The AI is damn good, switching between Paradigms is fast and easy, and the micromanagement outside of battle (upgrading, Crystarium, Paradigm, etc.) will satisfy most any RPG buff. Heck, I didn’t even mention the Eidolons, which are technically the Summons; they join you in combat and you can even jump on ‘em and deal even more damage. In short, the depth is here. It takes a good 7-8 hours to unlock it all, but it’s there, and it’s most satisfactory. The originality of this combat mechanic – who ever heard of a real-time system that doesn’t actually have you control the characters? – is refreshing, the challenge is significant, and the possible strategies for players are almost limitless. Once you hit the 10-hour mark, everything gels together so beautifully, it’s tough to put the controller down. Add in the great story, the likeable characters, the unbelievable CGI, the top-notch music and effects, and the overall polish and refinement, and Final Fantasy XIII is one amazing production. …and yet, I have a problem. Like I said earlier, I can’t help it.

Look, despite the depth, this just feels as if too much of the control has been wrenched from my grasp for the sake of streamlining very fast battles. I wrote an article earlier about how twitch-gaming may have affected FFXIII and I can only conclude that this is definitely the case. This is for people who quite honestly can’t sit still for ten consecutive seconds. Even the cut-scenes, notoriously long in the series, have been cut down a lot. Just because there are a lot of things to consider doesn’t mean I feel that depth in combat; too much is happening automatically behind the scenes. You can’t ever control other characters in combat and although you don’t need to, that’s beside the point. You can’t even choose your own party until you reach Pulse and even then, your options are always limited. Some of my favorite things about RPGs was setting up the party I wanted, exploring the landscape and visiting the towns, and feeling as if I were part of a virtual world. And you know, people can rag on turn-based all they want; as far as I’m concerned, that has always allowed the most amount of depth and intricacy because you had time to select from endless lists of commands.

Well, Square-Enix obviously wanted to keep that depth but in order to appease those who have to constantly press buttons throughout a battle, they were forced to automate most of it. Think about having all the options of past FFs thrown at you in total real-time with full control over each character…wouldn’t even be possible, would it? So this time, when I cast Libra to learn the attributes of an enemy, I don’t need to actually do anything with that knowledge. All I need to do is hit Auto-Battle and my character will automatically select the best possible attacks based on that information, and my other characters will do the same thing. You know what else? I like to actually see the effect my party members have on enemies. I get Comet, I wanna see Comet. One of the coolest parts of RPGs is to test out new skills to see what they look like. Sure, you can catch glimpses of special skills in FFXIII but most of the time, I find I’m just watching a bunch of bars. I’m watching health bars for my allies and enemies, the Stagger bar, the Gestalt bar; it’s just a lot of bar-watching and I only realized a little while ago that I’m not actually seeing much.

In the end, I find myself in a real pickle. I have difficulty finding anything significantly wrong or flawed about this game. It all just works so, so, so well. If this was my first Final Fantasy or even my first RPG, I’d think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever played. But I really can’t shake the recurring feeling that Square-Enix has taken something away from me. It’s hard to pin it down exactly, but it’s the void I feel when I subtract so many beloved role-playing elements; the sneaking yet distinct suspicion that I’m not playing an RPG. Maybe that shouldn’t matter. Maybe I should take the bare-bones, almost entirely objective view on this and simply score the game based on its merits alone and without the influence of the past. In fact, I know it’s probably the right thing to do. And maybe I’d manage that if this were anything but FF; if this were anything but an entry in a franchise that has had such a profoundly positive and memorable impact on my gaming career. I mean, the camera can be a bit of an issue and control isn’t entirely perfect, but that’s not enough to knock it down below a 9.

Especially not when you consider everything that’s so damn great about this game. But hey, I’m human and I’m a fan. Perhaps I’m a human and a fan before I’m a critic. And because of that, I have to do this…I have to assign it the score you see above. However, I feel better that you all have an appropriate explanation as to why and I hope you won’t hold it against me.

3/12/2010 Ben Dutka

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Comments (158 posts)

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 12:51:15 PM
Reply

FYI, Arnold's review will come this weekend. You all wanted so badly to have two separate views on this game...

Agree with this comment 24 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Snaaaake
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 12:57:49 PM

We did?

Agree with this comment 6 up, 5 down Disagree with this comment

LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:03:44 PM

Damn, I was so close too...sure you don't want to add .01 to that score?

Agree with this comment 5 up, 17 down Disagree with this comment

Alienange
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:44:00 PM

And score it a 8.71? What for?

Agree with this comment 13 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:52:50 PM

I think it's pretty obvious I meant .1 but I was unable to edit the comment and figured I'd deal with the downvotes since I was going to get them regardless.

Agree with this comment 9 up, 14 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:21:25 PM

Snaaaake: Yes. Via e-mail and PSN messages. It just HAD to stop. LOL

Limited: Really? I don't remember what you predicted...

Agree with this comment 7 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:23:32 PM

BS!! 8.8 and you know it as do the rest of the regulars.

Agree with this comment 10 up, 6 down Disagree with this comment

Alienange
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:33:10 PM

LOL the old "edit button wasn't working" excuse. You ARE as funny as some say.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 7 down Disagree with this comment

MyWorstNightmar
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:35:19 PM

Limited, the "regulars" wouldn't know what you predicted, because we know to skip over your comments entirely without reading them. =)~

Agree with this comment 18 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:43:02 PM

Limited: Oh yes, I remember now. ;)

Agree with this comment 7 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:45:58 PM

Alienange,

You know as well as I do that the edit button fails when we need it the most.


Nightmare,

We used to have something special, don't stop believing in us.


8.8 I called it and close enough, booya!

Agree with this comment 10 up, 5 down Disagree with this comment

Alienange
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:00:14 PM

I don't care what you say LV, an 8.71 is still a good score.

Agree with this comment 5 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Silent_J
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:12:44 PM

hey you got to act quick on that edit button before its gone.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

kraygen
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:18:36 PM

@LV

When I saw the score I laughed inside because first thing I thought of was how you predicted 8.8 and Ben promised he wouldn't give it that score just because it's what you predicted. lol hilarious.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

coverton341
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:26:15 PM

I haven't picked up this game yet, but it will only be 2 hours and 45 minutes before I track down a copy come hell or high water.

I for one think this is a great review Ben and the points you made seem like I will be having the same impressions of the game as you. Though I personally fell in love with gaming as much as I did because of all of Square's games not just the FF series. But that aside, I think I will, as I said in a separate article, enjoy the game for what it is and feel a bit nostalgic for what it lacks.

I, like many long time fans, was really expecting the first current gen FF to be an RPG extravaganza with summons, skills, limit breaks, magic, towns, and side-quests, and while everything anyone says about the game paints a wonderful picture it still sounds like what I have feared from the negativity and what you have confirmed. But, in the end I don't think an 8.7 is too shabby and I will give it a shot.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

laxpro2001
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:43:30 PM

lol reading this convo made my morning

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

totozero18
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:45:28 PM

I held twitch-gaming responsible for this.

I can't understand people who can't sit through a cutscene or a in-game event, I mean sure, that kind of gamer can give it a try, but I find really unfair that the last entry of a franchise like FF had to become a bastardized hybrid between to genres. If you can't watch as the story unfolds or as the plot-twists revolve then
A): This kind of games ain't for you.
B): You don't understand anything of the plot (maybe because you're 10 yrs old, or... well I don't want to offend anyone).
C): You really need to stop eating sugar and settle down a bit.

My point is Square tried to attract more people by making the game more appealing to "Western" (actually twitch) gamers, but the way I see it they didn't stop one second to think "Wait this might actually alienate Good ol' JRPG fans" and of course there's M$ lurking in every corner, and that is the cause of the lack of freedom and exploration, I don't want to sound like a fanboy but this is not what xbox users are used to, ergo they made it fast paced and action packed.

P.D.: I always find myself encouraging my friends to try RPG games and from my point of view this is not the way to go.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

rell
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 8:04:04 PM

I say bring back the ff creator who made the franchies wat it is i forgot his name but he made Lost Oddesy old skool turn-base game like ffvii, ever sense he left SE ff games aint been the same. I hope versus XIII be good like CC. Playb3yond

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

inkme101
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 12:53:28 PM
Reply

thank you for such an honest review

Agree with this comment 9 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

www
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:45:22 PM

Yes, honest, that shows he's a good critic who didn't let his FF fanboyism get to him and issue a 9.8 or something lol.

Agree with this comment 12 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WolfCrimson
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:10:37 PM

This is what I like about this site, the reviews are all real, straightforward, honest, no-nonsense and objective. Thank you Ben.

That being said... I... I don't think I'll get this game. I can't. I was really hoping for a world to immerse myself into, something previous FFs provided.

Agree with this comment 13 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

DemonNeno
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 4:17:03 PM

@ Wolf

I think his views DID get in the way of the reivew. I wouldn't call this so much an objective review. Not that Ben's review is BAD! I think he did a great job, explained a great deal and entitled the game much of its deserved credit.

I knew the game would end up being this, however. Such a sad day in my world... You can't even pick your own party?! Really, now? Ugh.. What a bummer. I had no idea about this.. Along with everything else I'm not too keen about this game, another game design I'm now stacking on the CON side of the list.

Gamestop for Less than $40 is the plan.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Natalisrubbish
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 12:57:38 PM
Reply

OOOO! Awesome, Ready to read up. Im likely going to get it tomorrow if I can find anywhere with a ps3 copy laying around... lol.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Snaaaake
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:00:23 PM
Reply

I actually find more positive things in your review Ben.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Jawknee
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:04:07 PM
Reply

"I wrote an article earlier about how twitch-gaming may have affected FFXIII and I can only conclude that this is definitely the case."

i.e. Xboxers. :) i still find my Xbox friends hating on Final Fantasy especially now that the PS3 version has been proven superior. I have no idea why people find it so hard to play RPG's with turn based style battles. I too feel like controller over my party was taken away from me in order to streamline the battles. While i don't hate this aspect, and i am still very much enjoying the game, i do agree the effects "twitching gaming" has had on this title is a cause for some let down. As fast as the battles are, it seems it was necessary to do it they way they did.

The story is great. Top notch like most Final Fantasy's. I don't even mind how linear it is. The story seems to be keeping my attention away from that.

As for the game over if the party leader dies? Don't really see the point to that. Its more frustrating then anything. Great review Ben.

Last edited by Jawknee on 3/12/2010 1:05:55 PM

Agree with this comment 8 up, 4 down Disagree with this comment

WolfCrimson
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:13:16 PM

About the fact that it's gameover when the party leader dies: it's the same concept in FPS's. If your AI controlled teammate falls in battle, it's OK (like in KZ2), you can revive them. If you die, gameover.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:22:24 PM

Wolf: Yes, but since when does FF hold ANY elements of an FPS?

Agree with this comment 12 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

shadowscorpio
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:39:34 PM

Well its seem they're working on Final Fantasy Versus 13 now. Lets see if they can redeem themselves when it comes to what people didn't like about FF 13.

The best way to keep your customers is to actually listen and even implement what they want if at all possible.

Agree with this comment 9 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

coverton341
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:54:01 PM

Alright shadow, I'm not sure who let you in here with all that logic and reason but if you don't cut it out you're going to have to leave. Everybody knows the best way to keep your fanbase loyal is to do whatever you want to do and ignore what they think.

All joking aside, I have always found myself in more anticipation for FFvXIII even with my limited knowledge about the game overall. I hope you are right and they do take into consideration some of the gripes people have with XIII and with their recent statements on having some of the elements of prior FF games returning in future games maybe they are doing just that.

Anyway, I suppose we just have to wait and see at this point.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

FullmetalX10
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:54:31 PM

@shadowscorpio: I read several places that Versus XIII, would be more in the Kingdom Hearts style, meaning real time battles, so you probably won't find any turn-based there.

Though I kinda hoped FF XIII would be turn based, like the old FF's, and Versus XIII being like Kingdom Hearts, so I could have both those things, in a near succesion.

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Bandit King
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:16:21 PM

I completely agree with your post. Complaints aside I really like what I have played so far. XIII has what might end up being my favorite cast since FF7 and 8 (well besides Hope, but I always hate the kid characters in newer games for some reason)

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johnld
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:34:48 PM

@jawknee

I agree, i hate that when the party leader dies its game over. Its not like AI controlled players cant use a pheonix down. It would be the best option to use right, especially if your partner is a medic paradigm. i just reached that level with all the bomb monsters that self destruct right away. i know i died a few times especially when there are 2 bombs and 2 mechanical guys that take forever to kill. One of the bombs blow up then i get attacked by the mech guys right away. i do get the preemptive attacks a lot but the bombs just blow up right away.

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Jawknee
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 7:45:40 PM

Those freakin Bombs nailed me a bunch of times. It would make sense if a party member had Medic available and could cast revive. Seems logical.

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Mr Bitey
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:10:35 PM
Reply

I'm dying on the inside. The game arrived in the mail day 1. However, I've been going insane with finals, so I've only managed to squeeze in about 4 hours of playtime.

I've enjoyed the tiny amount that I've played so far. It took a few hours for the battle system to start to showing it's potential, but I think it's going to end up being an amazing game.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:12:25 PM
Reply

The gameplay in FFXIII is very FF-Lite, I don't understand SE's reasoning for going this route. I understand the lack of towns and linear nature of the game deals with the way the story is told but there is no excuse for taking a majority of the control away from me. RPGs are as much about exploration as they are controlling your character/s decisions in battle.

People that were complaining about the gambit system in XII should be ripping their hair out over XIII.

Thanks for the review Ben, FF is my favorite gaming series as well.

Agree with this comment 14 up, 3 down Disagree with this comment

Jawknee
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:18:53 PM

At least we could turn off the Gambit system. The more i played with the Gambits the more i liked it. I hope that's the case with XIII. Although i have to admit, its taking much longer for this system to grow on me then the Gambit system did.

Last edited by Jawknee on 3/12/2010 1:19:39 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:24:11 PM

Oh I agree, I love the gambit system. My party members were doing EXACTLY what I wanted them to do, it was a lot of fun mixing and matching different styles of play. XIII is the exact opposite.

Agree with this comment 9 up, 3 down Disagree with this comment

Jawknee
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:26:59 PM

Yup, I'm hoping when that Party Management option unlocks under Paradigm we get some more freedom. Switching party leader in the middle of battle perhaps? like in WKC's.

Last edited by Jawknee on 3/12/2010 1:27:38 PM

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SvenMD
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:48:30 PM

The gambit system was great. People may argue that it was "automated", but LV's point is right on - it was automated to do what I WANT! And that's at the heart of an RPG - I am supposed to control the fate of my party, not an "auto-battle" button.

Agree with this comment 5 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:00:52 PM

The automation of combat seems to me to have taken several steps too far in that direction.

I have a problem with games that automate character combat. What am I actually doing in a role playing game if the combat is automated? One of the aspects of RPGs that is the most fun for me is the combat. When you go into combat, you might have the wrong skills set, or the wrong party members active and you have to formulate a strategy that works with what you have. You have to find ways to chain your attacks together in the optimal order for the enemy and your characters skills, you have to balance which turn to attack on in the hope of earning the best bonuses for finishing the enemy. All these things and more are part of the turn based combat, or real time systems that are not automated beyond my control. Not only that but I can challenge myself by deliberately taking the weakest party members, or the ones with the most limited range of attacks, or whatever other mix I want.

The level of automation described by Ben, and other reviewers, takes all of this out of my hands and removes a major reason for playing the game. I'm not arguing specifically against FFXIII here, I'm arguing against this level of automation in RPG combat. Turn based combat is a centerpiece of the traditional JRPG and old skool RPG games. Pushing everything to real time and automating the selection of characters and attacks so that everything automatically optimizes takes all of that away from me, the player.

Sad.

Agree with this comment 9 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:04:38 PM

^

I agree, it's as if SE cared more about telling a story than making a proper RPG.

Agree with this comment 9 up, 3 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:08:34 PM

I may try this game via rental, but I will have to get my head around it not being a RPG first.

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cLoudou
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:12:30 PM

Eff paradigm! eff gambits! turn-based FTW!

Last edited by cLoudou on 3/12/2010 2:13:08 PM

Agree with this comment 6 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

piratedrunk
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 11:23:13 AM

One thing you could do is set the battle speed to slow to give yourself more time to choose your actions. You still wouldn't be able to control your other characters directly but if the auto-battle thing bothers you it is definitely an option.

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Silent_J
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:16:36 PM
Reply

My cousin bought this ,so im probably gonna play it after he's done with it.Great Review.

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Mavfan321
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:24:56 PM
Reply

This review is EXACTLY my take on this game. Especially the being part of a virtual world, for me a RPG works so well when you feel like you're doing a job within it, even if that job is (sometimes reluctantly) saving the world or something, you can still go visit mom, or go to an arcade.

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Bromus398
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:25:50 PM
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Glad to see yet another honest review. I'm 40 hours into the game myself and I agree with you on almost every point. I guess my only knock on the story is that while it's been interesting, it's hardly fully engaging especially with quite the level of melodrama that's come along with what I assume was the change to voice acting in cut-scenes. Perhaps the story will pick up a bit for the last two chapters though, i'm not knocking it, it just feels a tad too goofy and awkwardly melodramatic at times - staples of jrpgs, i know, but still a bit disappointing compared to some of the clever translations of earlier FF games. Still great review, I've been feeling the game at around an 8.5 myself.

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Monkeysnarf
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:29:18 PM
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I think it’s telling of the series that when the latest game drops and doesn’t earn a 10, we all try and find out what is wrong with *us*. Ben that’s a good review.

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Highlander
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:49:58 PM

I think it's telling when the first Final Fantasy game of the HD generation gets 8.7 from a reviewer who is a major RPG fan, and loves Final Fantasy above all.

It doesn't mean it's not a great game, 8.7/10 is a great score. However, it tells me that there is something lacking from the game.

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Alienange
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:46:27 PM
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Well if everything "works" as you say, then it's a damn good game and I'm glad it'll soon be mine.

Another bang-up job on the review by the way. It told me everything I need to know without destroying the plot and unleashing spoilers.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:53:37 PM

Why don't you already have this game?

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Alienange
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:36:54 PM

Ugh... don't remind me. I bought it from WalMart in the States because I had a $20 credit there from having bought MW2. So I ordered it and had it shipped to a friend's place (I'm in Canada). Will be picking it up next Friday.

When I explain it that way... it sounds so stupid.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:48:58 PM

Just cheap :) but it's all good, too many games coming out during this time of the year.

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Highlander
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:48:08 PM
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Ben,

Great review as always. Reading it through I am struck by an impression and hope you don't mind commenting on it for me. It almost seems as though what you're saying is that this is a great game, but not necessarily a great RPG. You're saying that it's a Final Fantasy game in name, but somehow despite the good story and production values, something is missing. In the end, it seemed that despite all the positives, you were left feeling a little empty by the experience. Is this a correct impression?

As for the game itself, is this a case of play the game for what it is, not what you expect? So don't expect a typical RPG or JRPG experience, expect an action adventure with RPG trappings.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:57:05 PM

If I buy a BigMac and it ends up tasting like a really great Whopper but not a BigMac than I'm going to be upset and take points off the meal, even if it was a good meal.

You said it quite well, "action adventure with RPG trappings".

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Highlander
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:05:09 PM

LV that's a great analogy for it.

So if you order a Big Mac but get a Whopper, it's still a burger, and it fills a hole. But your desire for the Big Mac goes unsatisfied. Right?

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:09:54 PM

Well let's say the burger patty is the videogame and the various toppings that go with each burger combine to make specific genres. I bought the BigMac expecting an RPG but wound up with a tasty Whopper that played like an adventure game with a dash of RPG elements.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:25:30 PM

The fast food analogy is a good one (even though I want to gag at the idea of a Big Mac or Whopper). ;)

But yes, Highlander, that's just about right. There are two parts of me on this, as I tried to say in the review. One part is really happy with what the game IS while the other is a little unhappy at what I thought the game should BE.

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fluffer nutter
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:43:21 PM

In N Out > Burger King, McDonald's, etc.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:50:10 PM

fluffer I live in the Midwest so I'm screwed when it comes to FastFood

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rogers71
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:06:39 PM

Jack in the box rules all!!!

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mexgeo86
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:19:57 PM

i'm gonna have to go with Wendys. Baconators ftw!

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darxed
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:22:27 PM

Well that's the best review I've read so far... and I honestly think I've read them all... I'm happy that the game is great, but sure hope that Versus gets us that Final Fantasy feeling when playing it... As for me, It will always be about the story when It comes to FF, that's why I loved VI, VII, VIII, X and even X-2, and why XII never got a second playthrough in my PS2... I've always felt that the gameplay mechanics of ANY FF were great, just took some time to get accustomed to. So If the story and character development delivers, which seem to be the case with XIII, then I'm happy as happy can be. Only a week left and It will finally be mine!

Anyways, from a huge Final Fantasy fan to another, great review Ben, I'll be looking into Arnold's review this weekend

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FullmetalX10
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:10:21 PM

Dudes, you should all go n order some lovely chicken at a Kentucky Fried Chicken, Hail the Colonel.
That'll be all.

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Oxvial
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:50:54 PM
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''Classes include Commando, Enhancer, Medic, and others.''

That sounds like a FPS xD.

Your review until now its the best I read about this game,so I don't think nobody gonna complain.



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www
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:51:40 PM
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Yesterday I read all you guys comments about how the 360 is not to blame but I can't help it, deep down I know DVDs are holding this generation back a great deal.

In the business world is all about the money and considering the number of 360s out there and the evidence that multiplats sell better than exclusives. You think these devs care about making the maximum use of the blu-ray? They will never come out to admit the DVDs hold them back sometimes.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:59:02 PM

www,

The DVD format has nothing to do with the battle system in FFXIII. As for the linear approach, when you play the game and follow the story you'll understand why it's like that.

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www
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:40:40 PM

The towns...

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LimitedVertigo
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 3:32:37 AM

Lack of towns has everything to do with the story and its pacing and nothing to do with the media format.

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SvenMD
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1:56:02 PM
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"it’s just a lot of bar-watching"

I laughed so hard when I read this - I didn't really pick up on this while I was playing, but now that you say it, that's alot of what I do. It's hard to even see how much damage you did to an enemy because it's all so fast and I'm just watching the stagger bar and all our life bars.

I also agree with not being able to see the magic take effect - everything looks like a swirling pattern on screen and goes away so fast.

Again, I don't want to say too much negative. It's a great game. But after 20 years our expectation from SE and FF is just too high that it has to be perfection. But again, great game so far.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:01:53 PM

Ya, I find myself look more at HP levels and status icons than anything else. Sure I looked at these things in previous FF games but in XIII you have to constantly keep an eye on them and everything else going on is often a blur.

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Highlander
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:06:17 PM

"Again, I don't want to say too much negative. It's a great game. "

Why? If it's a great game but worthy of criticism, why deny the criticism? Are you deferring because it's Final Fantasy?

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:10:51 PM

I think he's simply making sure people don't take his words out of context or assume he doesn't enjoy the game.

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Highlander
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:38:09 PM

Gotcha.

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SvenMD
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:04:34 PM

Exactly LV - the fact is, when a game is this good, and deserves praise, then I don't want my nit-picking about negative qualities to detract from the overall experience...which so far, is one of my favorites on the PS3. The story and characters do draw me in. But again, being a FF I have 12 other games to directly compare it to, and most of my complaints are just "different" from past games.

Highlander - You're right, my view does change because it's a FF game, as did Ben's I think. Let's face it...if this was a new IP we would be fu**ing FLOORED at how amazing it is.

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Slick Rick
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:00:17 PM
Reply

When are we gna gt ur review on GOW 3 Ben ?

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inkme101
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:11:05 PM

like 4 days ago man!

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:18:37 PM

That was Arnold's review, not Ben's. Ben wont be reviewing GOW3 I believe.

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piratedrunk
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:13:27 PM
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"You can’t even choose your own party. Not ever."

This isn't true starting around the half-way mark you can choose your party just fine in the paradigm menu.

Great review though and I agree it isn't everything a Final Fantasy game can be.. but in my opinion it is still the best game I have played this generation. I have a hard time putting it down and can't wait to really get into the meat of it at the end.

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Naztycuts
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:25:29 PM
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I agree with the personal deduction as a fan of the series. I was disappointed to learn they never let you control who's in your party, why the f not? How hard would that be? I assumed once you got to Gran Pulse the linear portion would be over and they would let you pick your party. To me it plays like FFXII slept with an action adventure game. I like it, but I was relieved to read your article about the return of most of the things that made FF the name it is. Will we ever see a turn based RPG on the ps3? It doesn't even have to be a new IP! At this point I'd settle for a remake of Breath of Fire III. (not to say I didn't like BoF3 it was awesome)

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Alienange
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:38:56 PM

That's a BIG downer for me too. One of the reasons I like turn based was because everyone was under MY control. I decided what happened and when. Great AI or not, I'm not playing computer controlled characters and therefore not having as much fun.

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Naztycuts
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 9:07:15 PM

Yea I guess they didn't think things like choosing who's actually in your party, actually seeing the effects of new magic, and feeling like you are actually controlling whats happening on the screen were vital to the enjoyment people get from JRPG's. I forgive everything but the battle system whos idea was it to make a battle system that consists of switching paradigms and hitting auto-battle for the best results? They should be dragged into the street and shot. I miss turn based

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XxNoir
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:29:30 PM
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As i was reading your review ben I looked up at my brother who is playing Final fantasy 13 just a few feet away from me and he was in the middle of a match;through the entire thing all he was doing was looking at the bars.

Great review by the way,I'm enjoying the game immensely right now.

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BikerSaint
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 8:16:37 PM

Off topic for a sec...

@XxNoir,
Are you still looking for a copy of The Lion King???

FYI, I've got it from the Disney "Masterpiece" collection on VHS tape, with the original cover art & case it came in(all in great shape too).

Just let me know(here) & then we'll work it out.

Last edited by BikerSaint on 3/12/2010 8:20:16 PM

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Alienange
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:40:30 PM
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The in game engine looks fantastic. For those who have this, does the camera do a good job during the battles? It sometimes seems to me like it's zoomed in a little too much. Tell me I'm wrong.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:42:16 PM

It's fine. Sometimes when there's a huge skill it'll go off the screen up in the air, or something, and this is part of my "can't see much" complaint.

But it doesn't affect the gameplay because you're not actually controlling the characters in battle, anyway.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:46:44 PM

You can control the camera in battles, the graphics are amazing.

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Jawknee
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:54:33 PM

Square could have spent a few more polygons on the fingers. Everything looks fantastic until you see the hands.

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Alienange
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:59:26 PM

Thanks. It would certainly be a shame to have such great graphics and then be constantly annoyed by not being able to see them properly. Glad to hear they've done a good job with that.

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MyWorstNightmar
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 11:50:22 PM

Yeah, what is UP WITH THE FINGERS???? Game is amazing, looks amazing, but the fingers. Is it supposed to be like a cute nod to FF games of yore?

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Vivi_Gamer
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 2:46:28 PM
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Interesting review. I have to honestly say though this game does deserve better. And i'm not saying that to be an FF fanboy, i'm sure you all know how i cant stand XII. Whilst i hear linear coming from every review i honestly think it was a good descision. The story is very well structured. If i am truely honest i don't miss the towns, which was something i thought i wouldnt say but FFXIII's structure is so strong it makes it work.

With XII as an example, for most of the game you would just run through land scapes battling, the story rarely appeared. with FFXIII the story pops up very frequently.

I'm reallying enjoying it, it's a real epic adventure, easily ranks among the best of the FF games IMO.

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SvenMD
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:13:09 PM

First, what's wrong with XII? Obviously these are all opinions but I REALLY enjoyed it...but then again, my favorite part was the marks. Besides the story there, why didn't you like it?

Second, I agree that the linear nature helps continue the story and it helps the learning curve on the fighting, but I think one little open area around ch 5/ch 6 where we could do some side quests and just fight for fun would have gone a long way to dispel alot of the "linear talk".

Third, I don't miss towns either so far. I think all games would be cooler with them, but I don't feel like I have less of a game because I don't walk from town to town, fighting monsters in between.

Definitely an epic adventure though.

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Vivi_Gamer
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:25:34 PM

My issues with XII:

The story, It the main focus was political, which just didnt interest me, i preffer more character driven stories. The characters in XII were pretty bland and forgetable.(Apart from Balthier, Who is birlliant and also has the best backstory).

The story events rarely crept up. I just remember going through locations for hours on end wishing for the story to advance and it very rarely happend. While the locations were beautifully detailed and huge after hours it got tedious.

I dont have many complaints with the battle system in all honesty, it was pretty good. The soundtrack wasn't particually memorable either.

Final Fantasy XIII solves all them problems, so far in my 25 hours of playing there has never been a dull moment. The characters all have unique personalities, i like every member of the playable cast.

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darxed
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:30:31 PM

Well you just said it, "Besides the story there". I've always thought that the pillar in every FF is it's story and character development and... well XII just kind of failed in those departments. Another thing that annoyed me with XII was the huge promise the game delivered in those aspects in the first hours and then... well nothing happened, Vaan just went along to save the world with no real reason to be there and Penelo just went along to be with Vaan. The only character that had serious development was Ashe, and It was kind of predictable too.. I had no problem with the gameplay, but a Final Fantasy without a strong story driving it It's less Final Fantasy than one with, oh I don't know, no exploration till half the game and a heavily automated gameplay...

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Alienange
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:32:01 PM

I gotta agree with Ultimadream. I loved XII, but the story was meaningless to the characters I controlled. It's as if the story was happening without me. A good story, but it doesn't suck you in as much as when the story is about the person you control.

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SvenMD
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:33:03 PM

haha - good point, I do remember wondering why a little kid would ever get involved in political takeovers and turf wars.

I think the enemies on screen really helped out though. I know that the FF staple has been to not be able to see enemies and just be thrown into random battles - but I never really liked that...I really like being able to see who is trying to kill me...and I esp like it in XIII where I can sneak up on em and kick their butt.

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aaronisbla
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:38:10 PM

Everything about 12 was great except the story ( it was so so ) and the summons, they sucked ass.

this is why some hated it so much, the story wasn't up to par

Last edited by aaronisbla on 3/12/2010 4:38:52 PM

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www
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 6:43:23 PM

FFXII had one of the best gameplays but it's just that the story sucked ass plain and simple. FFX story ftw!

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Alienange
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 3:29:54 PM
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Snow really does "ride" his Eidolon doesn't he.

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just2skillf00l
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:01:18 PM
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Great review Ben. So far from what I've played, I agree with your take on the game. I'm missing a lot of the typical RPG elements like towns and side quests. The linear nature of the game isn't unbearable but I'd prefer more exploration and freedom. As for the combat, I agree with you there too Ben. They've taken away most of your personal inputs (chosen attacks) and your ability to decide the events of the battle and everything just feels so automated.

I can't stand the fact that you can only control the leader in the party and also you can't change your party lineup. It felt like they took character customization and sent it all over to weapon customization.

Back to the combat side of things, most of the time, I'm not even looking at the attacks and how amazing they are. I'm either staring down my team's health bars, the stagger bars on the enemies, or browsing the default and customized paradigm system classes to work up the stagger bar. When the stagger bar is full, I'm switching over to the relentless class to bash the enemy to death. Finally, when my HP falls, I switch to the class with medics to avoid the death of the leader (me) and my companions.

More than anything I feel I'm trying to get through battles and this entire automated combat system makes things so much easier for me to win without feeling like I really did anything.

Despite my constant rambling above, I'm enjoying the game. I probably would be enjoying it more if I never played a turn-based game before but that's not the case. I can't help but compare this game to what it would have been as a true JRPG from the past. It's a great game in my opinion but subjectively I'm just missing older combat mechanics and other JRPG elements that I've known and come to love. This is a must-get game for those who are on the fence still.

In other news and almost completely unrelated to the above article, I can't wait for Resonance of Fate. Towns and all...

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Jawknee
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:03:48 PM
Reply

Thought this might give some of you a chuckle.

http://www.thekoalition.com/final-fantasy-fans-boo-the-xbox-360-at-final-fantasy-xiii-launch-party/

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eLLeJuss
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 10:15:15 PM

ahahahaha thats awesome.

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Scarecrow
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:04:46 PM
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Another review which agrees with me*

I saw this years away
Sad, FFXV will do the job

Though, I never said it was bad. Just always so it as average (and bad as a FF)

Well, can't wait to see Arnold's

Last edited by Scarecrow on 3/12/2010 4:05:13 PM

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Jawknee
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:10:07 PM

What makes you so sure about XV given none of us know a single thing about it other then the fact that Square said it could go in "any direction".

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Scarecrow
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:46:10 PM

And that other elements such as towns are coming back

psxe article: http://www.psxextreme.com/ps3-news/6741.html

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Scarecrow
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:54:39 PM

Crap, so many typos in that first post lol....

Meant to say "Just always saw it as being average (and bad a FF)"

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Club80
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:05:49 PM
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Awesome review, Ben! I've been on the fence about this title, even though I've been craving more RPG goodness on the PS3 (heck, RPGs are the only reason I have an 360). So now I've decided to Gamefly it, and if it strikes a good chord, I'll be keeping it.

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aaronisbla
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:10:20 PM
Reply

I really liked your review, but i think this game suffers from its own fame and that maybe the reason why a lot of the 8 scores are hitting it imo.

Be honest, if this game was another totally different IP, everything the same except for the name, the scores would be higher from a lot of sites.

even ben stated this game would have scored higher if it wasn't for it being a FF game.

I do agree with mostly everything Ben said about it except for one glaring error: You can switch your party members. It takes awhile for that to actually happen but it does happen. "Not ever" was false

Last edited by aaronisbla on 3/12/2010 4:12:12 PM

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Jawknee
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 5:57:59 PM

Can you change characters in the middle of a fight?

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piratedrunk
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 6:46:20 PM

Nope not in the middle of a fight. But i find the paradigm shifts do plenty to offset that. Especially later on when everyones roles can be expanded

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 8:47:13 PM

Sorry about that. In my head, I was thinking about in-battle but that didn't come out right. I'm going to fix it now.

And yes, as I said, if the game wasn't a Final Fantasy, I think we'd be seeing very different results from critics...including me.

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kraygen
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:13:58 PM
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@Ben

Thanks for the great review, this is exactly why I waited to get this game because I knew your review wouldn't spoil anything but it would reveal priceless information that would be very important to me.

Also I don't think that you should feel bad about your review at all or feel the need to defend how you felt. When looking at any game in any genre it must meet certain aspects to fit into that genre. FFxiii was announced as an RPG, if it is lacking RPG attributes then it should be called out for doing so.

Now onto other thoughts. I will say that I have not yet played the game, however I know what I and everyone else who has played FF games before, expect from a FF title. I think this review broke my heart a little because this is exactly what I was predicting the game would be like.

I have certain pet peeves and I'm sure you all do as well. Not being able to control who is in my party is a huge pet peeve of mine. What is the point of giving me a cast of characters if I can't even make my own decisions about who should join me? I'm reminded of Suikoden which I enjoyed but would be constantly frustrated by the fact that I had an overwhelming amount of playable character but out of 6 party members I was usually limited to picking only 1-2 of them most of the game.

As for the battle system, the bar watching the you talked about is something that I noticed just from watching video's of the games combat. There are bars everywhere, the entire time and it actually made me think of NFS Shift. I played the demo for shift and all I kept thinking was, how they made all these claims about it being a beautiful game and yet I would not know from playing it because all I could focus on was that stupid green line in the middle of the road. I'm supposed to focus on that line so I know where to drive, how can I focus on anything else. From the sounds of it FFxiii is the same way, but instead of a green dotted line I have a "battle bar."

Another thing that I find highly disappointing is that from the sounds of it, while you may be able to use strategy to play, it is unnecessary. Cast Libra, hit auto-battle and the game will automatically devise the best plan of attack for me? What? If that is the case why not just have an option on the main screen to auto-play the entire game?

I'm sorry but how can I be immersed in a game that I have so little control over. You can't control who's in your party, in combat you can't control your party members, you are busy watching a bar instead of the gameplay itself, it's fast, it's twitchy, it's a little disheartening.

Overall from what I have read from Ben and all of you, it sounds like I'm sure that it will be a lot of fun. It will have a lot of great features, visuals, story, a lot of things to enjoy. However my original assessment seems to hold true. While FFxiii may be a great game, I can't call it a true Final Fantasy game without a sigh of pain.

Basically it says Final Fantasy on the cover. If went to buy a Lamborghini, but received a Ferrari, I would be a little miffed. Regardless of whether or not the game is fun and enjoyable, it is lacking key elements that have created the family of games we know and love as, Final Fantasy.

Edit: Sorry if at any point I ranted a little, I have a lot of love for final fantasy and I just feel torn with this game. Also I have no problem with the linearity, some games do need that, and that is ok.

Last edited by kraygen on 3/12/2010 4:18:54 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 8:52:20 PM

Thanks. And much of what you said is right. However, I may have been a little harsh on the whole Auto-Battle thing. It's TRUE, of course, but at the same time, you really can't just let things go. You have to constantly switch Paradigms if you want to get the most out of combat, and you do have to select special skills like your Eidolons.

That being said, if your original assessment matches my review, than you pretty much knew ahead of time what to expect. It really is a great game. Fantastic, even. Just...well, you know.

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Highlander
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 9:32:46 PM

Great comment and reply. That's what I love about this place, people actually think about what they post. It's a discussion, not an argument or flame war. That's why people come back here.

Now, onto the topic at hand. Would this game have done better with critics and gamers alike had it been called something other than Final Fantasy? Seriously, if Square Enix had simply removed Final Fantasy from the name, and never talked of it as a Final Fantasy game would we have had the same expectations?

Instead of looking for the latest and greatest Final Fantasy JRPG, we could approach the game with a clean slate and find that we have an action adventure game with RPG elements and strategy. Final Fantasy games are known as genre defining JRPGs, but this game appears not to really be a RPG in the generally accepted sense.

Could it have been better for Square Enix, and this game, if it had been given a different name and if the game world and characters were not steeped in Final Fantasy itself? I believe that saddling this game with the Final Fantasy heritage may be doing it a disservice.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 9:51:02 PM

It's an interesting question. Really, if this game didn't hold the "Final Fantasy" name and was just a new IP from Square-Enix, I promise I would've given it over a 9. And I can almost guarantee that the average critic score (which is around a 8.3, I believe) would be almost a full point higher.

But what would I have done if I were an executive at Square-Enix? Would I have said, "let's make a new FF AND a new IP; the latter will have a whole new approach, but we'll keep FF, FF." Would that have been the right move...? We'll never know.

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kraygen
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 11:34:36 PM

@Ben

I think giving it a new IP and keeping FF, FF, would have been the right move. SE is known for more than FF and I believe a new IP from them would have brought a lot of excitement.

It could have been multiplat and when it was released it would be judged solely on what it is, not what it's predecessor's were known for.

I know if that were the case at least for me, I wouldn't have been disappointed that it didn't have certain elements and probably would have simply thought of it as a great action/rpg.

At least that's how I would feel.

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FullmetalX10
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:24:04 PM
Reply

I agree with your(and thus Ben's) points, I think, when I will be playing this, I will miss the calmth of being able to think about what your doing, and then think again, just to make sure you're doing the right thing.
I'll see when I'm done with God of War III.

PS: Can't wait for Arnold's review either, reading the reviews on PSXE is just a fun way to spend time.

Last edited by FullmetalX10 on 3/12/2010 4:24:43 PM

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nogoat23
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:26:09 PM
Reply

This is a fair analysis of the game, and I agree with it. Great work Ben.

The production value is very high, and the game is very polished, but it just doesn't feel very deep. Everything is too simple.

Has anyone played Final Fantasy Mystic Quest? This game, when compared to my favorite Final Fantasies, feels like that game, compared to the other SNES Final Fantasies.

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aaronisbla
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:28:56 PM

mystic quest was horrible

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nogoat23
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:32:27 PM

Haha, it was simple, but I had fun with it. I was younger then though, so I don't think I'd enjoy it as much today if I went back and played it.

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aaronisbla
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:39:54 PM

well to be fair, i tried it after i had a chance to play FF6 and Chrono Trigger, so lets just say i was spoiled

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aaronisbla
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:40:30 PM

Gran Pulse is huge

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soli
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 4:50:50 PM
Reply

Ben u can actually change party members after a certain point o.O

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kraygen
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 5:18:19 PM

After you can change party members are you still required to have certain people in your party from that point on?

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Jeffrey
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 5:20:31 PM

When I was at the launch party on Monday, you were allowed to switch out any character as long as it was pre battle. I havnt gotten that far yet since I've had the game.

Last edited by Jeffrey on 3/12/2010 5:20:52 PM

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piratedrunk
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 6:48:15 PM

kraygen

Only here and there like Eidolon battles but for the most part you have a decent level of control at that point

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kraygen
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 11:35:50 PM

@piratedrunk

thanks that makes me feel a little better. Hate being told who I have to like/use in a video game.

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tlpn99
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 6:48:42 PM
Reply

As a new person to enter in the FF foray for the first ever time. I love this game it is sheer brilliant and I hope to try the previous other versions too. :)

Consider myself now a FF convert. Ben/World and others your work here is done lol ;)

Quote off Ben "I mean, the camera can be a bit of an issue and control isn’t entirely perfect, but that’s not enough to knock it down below a 9".

overall score an 8.7 so technically thats below a 9 it's only when you round it up that it becomes a 9 lol. Just thought id point that out.

Great review Ben cant really compare to other FF games having never played any. This game makes me want to go and get the others now too. :)

Last edited by tlpn99 on 3/12/2010 7:07:48 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 8:48:54 PM

If you've never played a FF before, you'll have a much better chance of loving this game. That much I know.

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www
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 6:49:17 PM
Reply

Okay its all said and done, I'm still getting this game and I know I'll love it, though multiplatism held it back a bit, that I know Wada won't admit cause I know how it goes down in the business world.

At least we have this to hold on to, till versusXIII is out, and mark my words on this very article, as long as it stays exclusive versusXIII will surpass XIII.

Last edited by www on 3/12/2010 6:51:32 PM

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Bo0mKiiD
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 7:32:13 PM
Reply

A lot of people around the web are saying the ps3 version has screen tearing. Can you confirm that Ben or is it bull?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 8:48:07 PM

They're saying the PS3 version has screen tearing on a standard-definition TV. There's almost none on a regular high-def TV.

I wouldn't be surprised if a bunch of Xbots everywhere latched onto that story without actually knowing the facts, though. They're really good at that.

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tes37
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 7:58:18 PM
Reply

I'm going to be playing the crap out of FFXIII this weekend. I had a friend lose a couple of fingers today and all I could think about was how I would show mine some appreciation by letting them do their favorite thing. And that is, to hold my Sony DS3 and play some games.

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chedison
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 4:40:31 AM

awesome.

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Phoelix
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 9:52:41 PM
Reply

(I didn't read all the comments above. There's a lot.)

Ben, in response to you saying that you need a game like the old FF's in order to have that "feeling as if [you] were part of a virtual world:" (with just relation to the turn-based stuff)

I find that in, i.e. Persona 3, a party-based system where you control just your own actions gives me the feeling that I'm part of a team. Being turn-based often makes me feel more like an omniscient dictator who controls every aspect of the party. With the new style, I feel more like I am actively contributing to a team--one where I don't know how the other members will act in a situation.

Not that I don't miss the turn-based action of previous FF titles, but I'm not as appalled by the new style.

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Kai200X
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 10:13:08 PM
Reply

The truth is I bought FFXIII Jap version and I probably play it for about 3 hours. For some reason I am just not very into it. I think this is a fair score. Looking forward to versus.

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Qubex
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 10:28:11 PM
Reply

Thank you Ben for a wonderfully written FFXIII review.

From what I have seen and read about peoples experiences playing the game... I think your reasoning and score is spot on :)

Q!

" learn . experience . enjoy "

Last edited by Qubex on 3/12/2010 10:28:28 PM

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Oyashiro
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 10:42:37 PM
Reply

Great review. I agree with everything you said. I knew from the begging that this would be a bit of a disappointment as a FF, so I got into a frame of mind that this was more of a new IP. I played it as if it wasn't a FF and am enjoying it quite a bit.

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natho86
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 11:31:51 PM
Reply

Well done Ben another top review mate,I have been playing the game for a while now,26 hours or so i think and im loving how much more open it has got.

I think it is a great game but like you said in your review there is just a few things that let it down.

SPOILER, Does anyone else see some similarity with old FF, The ones i have noticed are the intro when you come in on the train and start fighting, much the same as FF7 then there is the nautlis which is like the Gold Saucer, even the music is the same in that area and also Gran Pulse is much like the calm lands out of FF 10.

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MysteriousMagus
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 3:16:46 AM
Reply

Nice review Ben. You know the game it's pretty tough, the whole real time thing it was really well done. My problem is having to look at the bars constantly, apart from that the battle system it's highly addictive to play with.
However, I have never used Auto yet, I don't like the idea and I think I will never going to use it except when I want to do an strike of three attacks that are the same.

Well at least that review was really honest.
I just got the game today and already pre-ordered God Of War 3!

Final Fantasy XIII, IMO its a great game, and it's better than I expected. I like it better than XII but not as much as X.

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Slime
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 9:30:12 AM
Reply

So far played about 19 hours not reached pulse yet and I am totally enjoying playing, I do like the speed and flow of the combat and my fingers and eyeballs dont usually get this much excercise while playing nevermind while playing a final fantasy game and although while the combat is done well it just does'nt feel like final fantasy combat as like many people have said you are not seeing a lot of the effects of your actions as your eyes are glued to the different bars.

What would FFXIII play like if it had an option to play like previous FF games? And could this option be added as free DLC/patch or would this spoil the games as it is now? I am still enjoying it but I would be enjoying it a lot more I think if it was still turn based.

I don't know what FFXIIIvs has in store for us but I know what game I would like to see and its FFVII-2 FFX-3 although I did like FFX-2 it seems a lot of people did not but that does not mean FFVII-2 FFX-3 would not be good.

I just think on the whole I am nostalgically missing playing a game like FFVII or FFX which are my 2 favorite Final fantasy's closely followed by FFVIII and FFX-2 :)

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Hestar
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 10:14:11 AM
Reply

Good review I agree with ya all the way!.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 1:21:14 PM
Reply

I agree as well, you guys are like a mirror.

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Araknai
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 2:17:52 PM
Reply

I love this game; it's got me hooked like nothing since FFX. I feel it is the best story any FF has ever had and the character development is great. I find the battle system to be the best yet cause I simply have not become sick of getting in fights like has happened in every previous game; normal encounters just don't become so monotonous.

It certainly took a long time to get freedom but the hours went fast and the story made it necessary to do it that way. 30 hours in and I'm giving it a 9.2 so far.

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LimitedVertigo
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 7:33:06 PM

"I find the battle system to be the best yet"

Do you play many RPGs?

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MrAnonymity
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 4:07:18 PM
Reply

Excellent review. I haven't had the pleasure of playing this game, as I unfortunately have yet to acquire a PS3, but I have witnessed in it action. I will get to see all of this for myself... ... ... someday...

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BikerSaint
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 8:29:27 PM
Reply

Hey Highlander,
Just curious if FFXIII is the same size for both the PS3 & 360?????

FYI, here's what info I found for the 360's three disc's...

Disc 1 – 5.9Gb
Disc 2 – 5.8Gb
Disc 3 – 6.6Gb

Plus this.....To get the best out of Final Fantasy XIII you will need to install the disks to the hard drive. This will allow the game to run a lot * smoother and may even give the game a little graphical boost. Below are the install sizes for each disk on the Xbox 360. Remember though, these are optional. You are not required to install the game if you do not wish to, but it is recommended.

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DeathOfChaos
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 8:52:53 PM

...so they barley used a dual layered disc for each disc on the 360? That just makes me wonder much more...but I'm sure it's got to be bigger than that on the PS3, everything is uncompressed and true. 18.3GB is what the 360 version all comes out to be. Dual layer discs come out to be .5GB over a single layer bluray disc, and they barley hit the 18GB mark...No one could ever convince me that the 360 isn't to blame now. That's just unbelievable... If it were exclusive to the PS3, they would have had almost no limit. Up to 50GB, and that's just a dual layer disc.

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DeathOfChaos
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 8:55:54 PM
Reply

This game isn't worth $60 from my pocket, and I'm surely not going to let my money be sent to that Leona Lewis joke. I'd rather buy this game from a place like a pawn shop. It'll cost me $15 to buy the game from my local pawn shop. That's a quarter of the original cost, lol. Not to mention I will be buying the PS3 version, and blu-ray discs are nearly indestructible. Safest thing to buy used, I think. And the money wouldn't be going to Leona Lewis as well. I save some money and I don't support a terrible singer at he same time. That is gonna be the best day of my life.

Last edited by DeathOfChaos on 3/13/2010 8:57:15 PM

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MysteriousMagus
Sunday, March 14, 2010 @ 3:53:00 AM
Reply

I came to think that I only bought it to support them and keep FFVSXIII to the PS3. I hope more people are buying it for PS3 than 360.
If not the worst thing that could happened might happen again!!

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seeker01
Sunday, March 14, 2010 @ 8:06:37 AM
Reply

While playing, I keep having this 'missing' feeling during the battle. Now that you put into words, I understand what is that 'missing' feeling I felt.

Watching the bars more than watching the battle. Every time I try to get a sense of what's enemies are doing, I need to shift the eye back to health or the stagger bar or current target. There's always a sense of urgency. Maybe I should try out the slow battle speed.

Another thing, early on, I think the camera sits too close to the character that the character is blocking the amazing view. At least that's what I felt early in the game.

All said, I still enjoy the game very much.
I think they should have the cut scenes available for repeat viewing again once the point is passed or the game is beaten or some sort of cinematic gallery.. or does it have the option built in already?

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Ergi
Sunday, March 14, 2010 @ 9:11:14 AM
Reply

this auto-battle thing is a real shame. With God of War 3 on the way and after reading this great review, FF13 will have to wait. It just hurts to have been waiting for this so long just because i expect it to be this great RPG experience and now it isn't. Guess Eternal Sonata is worth a try.Seems like this game is less about strategy.

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D1g1tal5torm
Sunday, March 14, 2010 @ 12:15:12 PM
Reply

I dont like RPG's, I prefer FPS and shooters etc.

But I've just bought this and I'll let you know my thoughts.

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chris1981
Sunday, March 14, 2010 @ 6:38:45 PM
Reply

I agree with just about everything in this review. I love FF games but this one just does not feel like a FF.

I was really disappointed with it, but I do feel that if it was not a Final Fantasy I would say it was a ok game.

The main problems for me is its very linear, FFX was also but not this bad. I like to explore and roam around and find secrets. The lack of towns, shops and hidden areas have removed alot of what I like about FF series.

I feel they have taken a little to much control away in combat, I have a problem right now that my medic is more concerned about removing status effects than keeping people alive. I also don't like the party leader dies game over.

I don't really agree that the story is that great ether and I was trying to figure out why I felt something was missing here. I think that the story around the main characters is fine but what I think is missing is background.

Think of what you knew about spira in FFX, or the world of FFVII. FF is normally very good at creating the world that its set in. I think this is where FFXIII has failed, I know next to nothing about cocoon. The side characters also seem very weak compared to past titles.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, March 14, 2010 @ 7:55:55 PM
Reply

WOW.

It's unbelievable how many of you agreed with the review. I was afraid I'd have a horde of very unhappy FF fans on my hands.

But I keep forgetting that our readers are SMART and can recognize and understand what FFXIII really is. I actually think the fans are pretty much in agreement: great game, but it just ain't FF.

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Gamer4Life
Monday, March 15, 2010 @ 4:06:19 AM
Reply

Im currently on chapter 11 right now. Im having a great time with this game. It's got my vote for GOTY. I don't understand why everyone is complaining about auto-battle. You don't have to use it you know. You can manually select your leaders attacks. That's what i do.

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Athrin
Monday, March 15, 2010 @ 9:50:53 AM
Reply

GOTY no, Action/Adventure of the year yes

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anaconda
Thursday, March 18, 2010 @ 1:31:30 PM
Reply

OH MY GOD
what a boring over hyped game. i cant belive people drank the coolaide and belived the hype.
i know i did
the best thing about the game is the grafichs.
this has to be the most boring drawn out game i ever played. what a failure. i can see the games selling on ebay now. i advised my friend to wait till its $10 on ebay before buying it. and be prepared to be dissapointed and bored to death. thankfully god of war3 and heavy rain is out. i was ready to gag on ff.

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