Final Fantasy XIII

 · 12 mins read

Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII was developed by Square-Enix for the PS3. The game has been the most controversial Final Fantasy title, among it’s fans, because of this game took the evolution, started by Final Fantasy XII, into the next level: the most amazing graphics and soundtrack, a dynamic gameplay

Final Fantasy 13


Strong points

  • Outstanding PS3 graphics. This may be something expected for a AAA game but it isn’t so usual. It’s a game 10 years old now (released on 2009) and still looks better than many 2019 AAA games. Just look the character models and their animations, it’s totally amazing. But some scenario backgrounds are truly breathtaking.
  • Sound track. The FF XIII OST is both beautiful and epic, very melodic. As good as FF X and I think it’s one of the best FF soundtracks, better than FF XII, FF VII or FF VIII.
  • Interesting story. It’s not the best FF story, but this game has a more mature one than the previous games and I totally welcome that. I also liked it because it’s built by merging playable characters stories and interactions chapter after chapter, while doing flashbacks to unveil the backstory. Read more.
  • Good story telling (for a JRPG). The game is focused on it and it’s constantly pushing forward, as first half of the game is just that, with a good dose of cutscenes and battles. There is also a glossary screen on the menu.
  • The playable characters are great.
    • Their personalities are the most mature across all FF saga, interesting too. A bit overdramatized maybe.
    • They’re constantly evolving: Hope changes mood various times, like when he learns something about his mother, Lightning change of mind when paired with Hope, Vanille ups and downs and her hidden reasons, Snow resolution, …
    • They also complement each other: Lightning protecting Hope, Sazh severe ups and downs with Vanille, …
  • The combat system has evolved from FF XII gambits.
    • Now you preconfigure paradigms by just choosing roles. You don’t detail actions like in gambits. Instead, during battle, you switch paradigms constantly to match the enemy and the party situation, everything else is resolved by AI. It’s very tactical.
    • All combats now require some effort, it’s not just choosing a powerful spell and see the enemy die. And, as in FF12, the player is rewarded if he manages to do it right.
  • There are no lost-forever items or summons (missable sutff), like it was usual on FF games. Maybe bestiary entries, maybe.
  • All characters get same experience, even outside combat. No need to switch to keep balance, you can play as you see fit.
  • FF13 serves as a introduction to the Fabula Nova Crystallis world, to play more games later.
  • Enemies are found walking around, instead of randomly, so they can be avoided when given enough room. This is like in FF12 or Lufia.

Final Fantasy 13


Flaws

Flaws? Well, it depends on what are you looking for.

If you look for an open world like Ultima VII, Dragon Age, Baldur’s Gate or Skyrim, you’re at the wrong place. Hell, any FF before FF XV and any JRPG is the wrong place for that.If you’re looking for turn based combat (FF 6/7/8/9/10), wrong place too! The game is not designed to be like that.

Otherwise, it’s a great game. But lets discuss everything, starting by the media and players critics:

  • No open-world? Corridors? Yeah, sure you heard this before. This game is going to keep you going from corridor to corridor a good amount of hours. But, please, lets be honest here:
    • Final Fantasy has never been an open world RPG saga, it’s always limited to a linear path from town to town until you get the airship. Until then, you’re locked on every zone and carried across the story and, after that, you’ve seen almost everything but few small secret locations and the end corridor.
    • FF VII was very linear but FF X was literally a big corridor and it wasn’t so criticized (not until XIII came and neither even so). Read more.
  • Battle system? Many seem to consider this a flaw but, again, I had more entertainment with this game corridor’s battles than 95% of FF7, FF8, FF9, FF10 battles where you just attack (up to IX), throw an enemy skill spell (VII), throw a limit or attack/blue magic+card command (VIII) or just attack opposing the enemy nature (flying, armored, agile) or elemental affinity (X). XIII concept of switching paradigms is very interesting and totally refreshing. You don’t throw a strong attack or counter enemy nature but you choose instead the right tactic every moment.
  • Story? Well, it seems many players dislike the story.
    • Some seem confused with the game lore terms (Fal’cie, L’Cie, Cie’th, Pulse, Sanctum, Cocoon, Purge, Focus, …). Cool names but unintuitive. The problem is that are very linked to the plot, so you need to know them to follow up. FF usually goes easier on the naming side (Flan, Bomb, Ifrit, Ragnarok, Fire … those are easy to understand). FF XIII is not that hard but… seems players are getting lazy.
    • Story is also a bit complex because of all the character interactions happening so quick on every chapter. In other Final Fantasy games the main story is simpler as it revolves around just two/three characters, the rest are just small side plots, easier to digest or ignore.
    • Some players seems to dislike the reason the party gathers together, even if the explanation is fine. Of course, if a soldier, 2 terrorists, a lady, a puppet doll, a “dog”, a thief, a monster and a pilot join in a party it’s perfectly normal.
  • Vanille? Yes, it seems some players seem do dislike her because of her high pitched voice, very feminine and too cheerful. But I think it’s one of the best characters: it looks a waifu, nice to everyone and happy, but in truth she is sad, concerned and even lying about herself. It’s a facade that slowly unveils during the game.

Final Fantasy 13


True flaws

This are the real game flaws, considering it a Final Fantasy:

  • Towns. This is the real big “flaw” (for a Final Fantasy point of view). The game is almost all wilderness, without towns to “waste” time (because they were that, a big no-progress time sink) doing something else. Most players seem to remember the corridors, but the true problem is the lack of towns to slack off. Read more.
  • Crystarium system development. The skill tree gives little room to customization. I think this is what really hurts the battle system. Development is limited and balanced, so there is no room to unusual and overpowered setups that are so common in FF games.
  • Lack of a proper antagonist. There is one thrown to the middle game but I think there is some lack of connection with him. What made FF7 great was Sephiroth, not Cloud.
  • Lack of secondary characters. As happens with the antagonist too, there is no development of secondary characters.
  • Every one is like an enemy. Even the party characters seem to act sometimes like that. It makes harder to empathize with protagonists during the early to middle game.
  • The “open world” area is not so good. I find amusing other players seem to like the game when it just gives freedom for side questing. Are you serious? I enjoyed the game up to that moment. I don’t like to abandon the story to just grind just because it’s a JRPG and it’s mandatory. When I stop the main quest, I hope there is a good reason. Corridors are good to keep the focus and don’t lose the track of where are you and what to do next.
  • Lack of replay value. FF games are not specially replayable because 100% completion is usually a tedious task. But FF12 Trial Mode or NG-, FF8 no-levelup, collecting FF8 or FF9 cards, tweaking materia/GFs/jobs, powergaming… Usually there is something worth the pain. I don’t think FF13 offers that.

Final Fantasy 13


Why to play?

You should play FF XIII if you like modern games with good story, amazing cinematics, great soundtrack and graphics. You should play also if you’re a JRPG fan, but keep calm and just play it.

You shouldn’t if you are a Final Fantasy fan and you hate everything post-FF9 or if you are expecting open-world, on FF, for some reason.

Final Fantasy 13


Media

Most epic theme on a Final Fantasy. Saber’s Edge:


How to acquire

You can acquire it in several places:

  • In Sony PSStore, for PS3 and it should be on the store for PS4.
  • In XBOX Live (Microsoft Store), for XBox One.
  • In Steam, for PC.
  • Physical: XBox 360 and PS3.

Final Fantasy 13


Version / Platform

I’m reviewing the PC port but I also own and played the game on PS3 release and both releases are fine.

Final Fantasy 13


Future

I don’t think there are going to be any other remakes or spin offs for FF13, as the game ended it’s cycle of life and there is no reason to remake or remaster it, it’s only 10 years old but it still looks very good.

Final Fantasy 13


Games like Final Fantasy XIII

There are no so much games outside FF13 that are JRPGs with dynamic battles but we could have a look into these:

  • Final Fantasy XII. Battle system is also dynamic but distinct in concept.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2. The sequel is more popular and a great game to play after XIII.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake. It seems the remake is going to have both turn-based mode and a dynamic gameplay mode.
  • Final Fantasy Type 0. This game has some links with the Fabula Nova Crystallis, the FF13 world.

If you’re more interested on turn based Final Fantasy, you can check the FF8 review.

Final Fantasy 13


Conclusion

Final Fantasy XIII is a good game, maybe not the best Final Fantasy, sure, but it’s still a fine game and worth playing. I had a great time with some boss battles and I think it’s story is refreshing.

Final Fantasy 13


Appendix

Story comparison

  • In FF13, there are no accessory playable characters (well, maybe Fang, but it’s fine). All central plot resolves around the them.
  • In FF7 and other FF, the plot resolves around protagonist (e.g. Cloud), a friend in love (Aeris/Tifa) and an enemy. The rest of characters just throw their random phrases and they have almost no impact on main story… just a single event (Hojo Lab, Wutai, Nibelheim) that serves also as excuse for them to join the party for the rest of the game. This includes post-Midgar Barret, he only impacts during main plot on Corel. The exception could be Cid (has impact on Rocket Town twice and some important phrases elsewhere).
  • FF XII seems to be in a middle ground, as the main plot is build by few characters (Ashe, Balthier, Basch) but the party is just pulled by the events most of the time, so their impact is limited. Funnily, Vaan and Penelo are a bit irrelevant plot-wise.

Corridors

  • It seems everyone forgot FF X corridors were the same: the game mostly is a big corridor and you just have to backtrack it (without airship) to get some optional things (blitzball players, sigils, overdrives, unlock optional aeons…). Backtrack was annoying for me. With the airship you open very small locations and skip the corridors when backtracking.
  • In FF VII there are more open places but is still limited and backtracking was the same: it was mandatory to just backtrack many times, for full Fort Condor, before airship too. Going back was annoying as it felt like a long corridor too.
  • In FF XIII, at middle-to-end game, a world map area is open to explore and do your optional stuff there. No corridor backtracking, only going forward and getting into the story!

Towns

  • Well, in FF X there were only two towns (Luca and Guadosalam)… Kilika and Besaid were only villages: small with little to do there. But FF X has the temples.
  • The only town-like place is Nautilus, but it isn’t a town and there is minimal interaction and a minigame. Palumpolum has too much combat. The reason for the lack of towns seems to be the effort they’d need to do to make them right: FF XIII had high res models and scenarios with great detail.

Final Fantasy 13