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Final Fantasy XIII
Playstation 3, XBox 360

Reviewed on: XBox 360

Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Rated: "T" for Teen

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6

The original Final Fantasy hit shelves in 1987 – nearly thirteen years ago. Just think about how much has changed in the world of video games since then.  We’ve seen countless systems, games and new technologies, but to its credit, the Final Fantasy series still stands as one of the medium’s premiere franchises.

When reviewing a game like Final Fantasy XIII, the question isn’t really if the game is any good, it’s if in this post Mass Effect 2 world, the series – standing strong in its J-RPG roots – can still resonate with a gaming audience as it did before. The answer of course is a resounding yes, but it does so in a way that sets it apart from anything else available.

Androgynous characters, epic story and turn-based battles, Final Fantasy XIII has all the makings of your typical RPG, but it’s really anything but. Some gamers will complain about just how linear the game is, but if you take the time to let the narrative unfold you’ll find one of the most touching game stories in recent memory. Sure, the story may lull a bit in the second half but the side quests should be enough to keep you going.

"... there likely won’t be a shortage of things to do."


In a “no, we’re not trying to evoke memories of Final Fantasy VII, nope – not at all” kind of move, you’ll take control of Lightning during most of your time in Final Fantasy XIII. In truth, the character structure of Final Fantasy XIII is in fact similar to that of its legendary predecessor in that you’re pushed towards one central character (in this case Lightning) but you’ll control all of them throughout the game.

Final Fantasy XIII’s story places players on the world of Pulse and centers around a race of mechanical, god like beings known as the fal’cie. People chosen by the fal’cie are charged with a goal they must complete over a limited amount of time – but they aren’t told exactly what it is. Guess what you’ll be doing during part of your quest? Of course, this is a Final Fantasy game and there likely won’t be a shortage of things to do.

The real question is whether the mass market is going to accept a game like Final Fantasy XIII when non-linear, “choose your own adventure” style games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age selling so well. Let’s hope so. Gamers have already started complaining about how linear the game truly is and yes – it is noticeable, even compared to classic Final Fantasy games, but as I stated above, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The tale of the two worlds created by Square Enix here is one of mellow-dramatic twists and emotional moments.  It’s one of the most enjoyable stories of the year so far.

Still though, the game is incredibly linear, like –shockingly so. More than anything the first few chapters are so straightforward that you’ll start to wonder if you’re stuck in some excruciatingly long tutorial.  The game opens up well in the last few chapters, and it’s here where Final Fantasy veterans will feel most at home. You have to wonder though if this is a case of too little too late.

"Final Fantasy XIII is a visually stunning game..."


I’m going to be honest, I haven’t played much of the last few Final Fantasy games, don’t get me wrong – I’ve tried them, but I just never can seem to find it in myself to finish it. I truly was amazed how much Final Fantasy XIII reminded me of classic series gameplay. Part of this familiarity was with the battle system, which takes place not in the same world as the gameplay but another combat arena players are transported too.  Final Fantasy XIII is a visually stunning game, but having these effects intense sequences take place in a place where the developers didn’t have to focus on the environments places the focus on the action where it should be.

The truly great thing about Final Fantasy XIII’s battle system is that it’s deceptively deep. As you progress through Final Fantasy XIII, you’ll of course level-up your character and learn new attacks and spells. What began as a simple menu system is now a complex mix of timing and skill. Of course at the heart of the game’s battle system is the tried and true turn-based system, but what really sets it apart is the Paradigm’s system. Before entering battle, players must choose a set of Paradigm cards, which work almost as role selectors. Each card you select will affect gameplay and battles immensely and about halfway through the game you’ll start to really take an interest in just what Paradigms you choose.

One of the reasons I hardly ever get into RPGs is because I tend to get very bored getting into seemingly meaningless battle after meaningless battle. In Final Fantasy XIII, each battle has a timer and you’re scored based on said timer. I found myself trying to beat my former best times, which limited (notice, I didn’t say removed) that boring feeling.

Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII is a fantastic example of classic J-RPG storytelling, it just may not be what the general public wants in a gaming experience right now. The characters and worlds are interesting and the battle system is fun, but some players may have a hard time getting over just how linear this game truly is. 



CHEATS USED: Trophies/Achievements

As of this writing there are no cheats for Final Fantasy XIII – and don’t expect any to come out either. The series (and Square Enix games in general) are notorious for not having cheats or shortcuts. What would be nice though is an easy kill cheat to end the pointless battles quicker and an unlock all spells cheat.



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