Final Fantasy XIII – First Impressions

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.

Controls/Battle System
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. :)


  1. 12Sided /

    Yes finally someone who loves this game like I do XP
    I was skeptical at first I wasn’t sure I would like the characters but they really do grow on you, I’m only up to the second Eidolon being aquired and I’m having SO much FUN right now with battles.
    I’m always trying to get 5/5 stars even when I don’t need them XD
    I’ve heard people complaining about things like ‘it’s linear’ and ‘there are no towns!’ but really I am having no problem with this. Liniarity is not always a bad thing and so far I’m not really missing towns because I’m too into what’s going to happen to these characters next.

    • /

      Ooo! A fellow FF fan! :D

      Yeah, I wasn’t sure if I’d like the linear-ness (is that even a word?) but it works really well with the story. I’m already looking forward to the next playthough when I’ll actually have more of a handle on the battle system right from the start!

      Now please excuse me – I’ve spent far too much time not playing already today! :P

  2. Krishna M. /

    Sarah, great article!

    I’m about 15 or so hours in, and completely agree that it’s not bad at all. I don’t mind the linearity in the least – it makes perfect sense when you take the plot into consideration. The battle system started out pretty slow, but I’m liking it more now since I have more abilities to choose from (being able to launch enemies into the air with Lighting is fantastic). I like all of the characters – yes, even Vanille – and the voice acting is top notch. Music is great, and of course the graphics are typical Square Enix greatness.

    I also like the fact that everyone is split up for now – I like games with storylines that are separate but then come together.

    Regarding the Datalog, I can see your point; however, if they really had cutscenes/gameplay for all of those, the game would probably end up being too long…



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