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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Final Fantasy XIII on PS3 Impression

Final Fantasy XII
A new Final Fantasy, a new generation of systems and a new reason for RPG gamers to get geeked. With dual release on both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Final Fantasy XIII marks the next great step in RPG gaming … or does it? While the franchise has a storied past and has attained many great achievements and awards does FFXIII measure up or is it resting on the laurels of the past? The answer is yes, but let’s takes a look at which road of ‘yes’ FFXIII travels.

Gameplay
– It’s a role-playing game where characters move in and out of gamers party of three, level up and continue an a fairly linear path with some side-quest later in the adventure. This is core Final Fantasy but changes have been made such as the Active Time Battle system where battles flow much faster with pre-issued commands to fighters as well as an interesting leveling up system, Crystarium, where gamers have more control over the flow of growth. Towns where shopping was done in the past are replaced with a camp shopping system and summons have been turned into vehicle transformations, like the love child of Transformers and M.A.S.K.

Graphics
– Stunning. The level of detail in cut-scenes is amazing from blades of grass to the shine on a blade. The in-game action is also off the charts with a level of polish only an experienced dev team and years of work could produce. Every detail of the game comes across as alive and even the menu system is crisp and polished. Doubters can say whatever they like but they cannot diss the visual appeal of Final Fantasy XIII. Surprising note is the PS3 boast better graphics than Xbox 360. It’s not major but it is one of the few times the PS3 has beat out the 360 on this front.

Sound
– Wonderful thing about Blu-ray is the amount of data one disc can handle. This space allows for hours of dialogue in FFXIII and while some of the lines may be cheesy it’s all very well delivered with the proper dramatics. The music is excellent also and while it does not have that one ear catching tune, well this may take shape over time and play through but still a great score.

Design
– Tons of design, tons of action, settings, weapons, monsters … all very, very well done down to the jewelry. The battle system, Active Time Battle, design is great in being able to set class commands moving the flow of battle along. The leveling up system, Crystaruim, is also a nice update to grid and sphere systems from prior games. No towns to explore but this design element is welcomed by this gamer. Finally the Eidolons and how they manifest, are utilized is solid. While this is indeed a Final Fantasy it makes some bold design changes to core gameplay elements and they all pay off.

Miscellaneous
– First, FABULA NOVA CRYSTALLIS. This project by Square Enix to create different chapters, pieces of the overall same story world is going to be interesting, to see how it plays out in other entries. Second the story and characters. These are core to the success of any Final Fantasy and one of the reasons FFVII is so well remembered. Same can be said to FFX but not as much for FFIX. The story is a bit confusing as the primary city world of Cocoon protects itself from the outside world of Pulse and the branded I’Cie, enemies of the state. The ruling group of Sanctum is behind some larger conspiracy, of course, and the main plot beings as rebels fighting against this plot. The story will begin to make sense and gamers will come to like, maybe love the new cast from strong femme fatal Lighting, her sister Sarah and fiancé Snow to chocobo carry Sazh and annoying youngsters Hope and Vanille.

Overall,
there are some significant changes to the Final Fantasy formula that purest may frown on but these are good solid changes. The game flows faster and will take fewer hours to complete due to the lack to backtracking, exploration and mini-games but there is well over 60 hours of visual and gaming bliss to experience so it’s a great purchase. So is it worthy of the Final Fantasy name? Yes and just like any great game franchise, Final Fantasy continues to evolve while doing enough to stay on top.

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