Mar 14, 2010
I am a MASSIVE Final Fantasy fan, so it was with a lot of excitement
and squeeing that I embarked on this latest adventure. I’m about 20 hours in and thought I’d share my first (and subsequent) impressions of the long-awaited Final Fantasy XIII. Don’t worry, there won’t be spoilers.
As I’m sure you can imagine, if you’ve seen any of the pre-release trailers, the intro is stunning. The attention to detail is unbelievably thorough. But! – graphics alone don’t a good game make. Let’s get down to how it plays and feels.
Surprisingly (yes, I’m being serious), it feels like a Final Fantasy game from the get go. After reading news and watching trailers, I had my doubts about how much this game would stay true to the series but, if anything, it feels more authentic than any game released after the Playstation era.
The opening scenes reminded me more than a little of Final Fantasy VII and the music put me straight into Final Fantasy mode.
Another thing that everyone’s been banging on about – the lack of world map and free roaming. It’s not a big deal – seriously. Think FFX. Everything else about the game more than makes up for the loss.
The story is intriguing and is getting more so by the minute. If you’d asked me two days ago, it would have been a very different answer:
I spent the first few hours trying to figure out what was going on. Lots of information is thrown at you over a very short period of time and it’s quite easy to become lost (or maybe that’s just me?). This isn’t helped by the fact that you’re given all the history in the form of data files that you can locate in your menu and read at your leisure. A nice idea but I want to get on and play the bloody game, not read pages of history that led up to this point.
Like previous games, FFXIII‘s characters are intriguing, though you have your typical mix; the moody one, the macho one, the comedic one, the annoying (as hell) one and the misguided one. Despite the stereotypes, and once you get over the initial confusion of what’s going on, you come to care about these characters a lot.
When I first gained control of my character, I was a little surprised. Considering how smooth everything else is, moving your character around feels quite stiff. I know, I know – FF games have never had precision controls, they’ve never needed to – but this doesn’t have the smooth feel that FFX or FFXII did. Not too much of a big deal though.
I’d heard that the battle system was very similar to FFX-2 – this is true. Like X-2, at the beginning, I found that the battles had little to do with skill and more to do with just pressing “X” because there was too much going on at once to really know what I was doing. This does get better with the introduction of Paradigms. They are essentially FFXIII’s version of classes or jobs. Each character has a number of Paradigms that they can switch to during battle, each having their own set of unique abilities.
As you progress further into the game, your will characters will gain a “Summon” ability by defeating an Eidolon. Once summoned, the eidolon will fight alongside the character that summoned it or, if you so choose, you can ride the eidolon and launch a series of stronger attacks by pressing different buttons.
There’s a lot more I could say but a) I wanted to keep this spoiler free and b) I really want to get back to the game!
Let me just say though – Final Fantasy fans will not be disappointed. If Final Fantasy XII was a letdown (though I personally loved it) then XIII will restore your faith in the series. Don’t let the first couple of hours put you off – it took about 4 hours of game play to really get me hooked and now, in typical Final Fantasy style, I’m not getting to sleep until 4am and I haven’t showered or eaten since Tuesday (I jest!).
For those who have been living under a rock for the last few months, Final Fantasy XIII is available now on Playstation 3, Xbox 360. :)