Final Fantasy XIII Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
Final Fantasy XIII box art
System: X360, PS3 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Square Enix 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Square Enix 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: March 9, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Unfortunately, the lack of flexibility within the level design affects more than just your ability to level up quickly. Because of the almost rail-like quality of the levels, Final Fantasy XIII lacks some of the special content that made its predecessors so memorable. Instead of exploring towns and talking to NPCs, you'll just wander down vast, tunnel-like areas, fighting enemies as they come. Although later levels do give you a bit more freedom, the majority of the game is spent just going forwards or backwards and exploring large rooms as they appear.

Final Fantasy XIII screenshot

The linear structure of the game also limits the amount of side quests your character can take on. Getting 100% completion in previous Final Fantasy games was quite a tall order, but in Final Fantasy XIII, this feat will require little more than a few spare hours. This not only limits the value of the initial playthrough, but also any subsequent playthroughs.

Technically speaking, Final Fantasy XIII is as sound as they come. Visually, the game is a masterpiece. Cinema scenes are beautifully rendered with plenty of detail. The in-engine graphics don't have as much detail as the cutscenes, but they still look amazing. The audio in the game is also of top quality. The soundtrack is composed by Masashi Hamauzu, who is best known for scoring the Chocobo's Dungeon series. Although the style is much more varied than series favorite Nobuo Uematsu, the same orchestral feel is there, and the game's main theme "My Hands" is expertly used throughout the game to much dramatic effect.

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Final Fantasy XIII is an amazing game. With an engrossing story and a thrilling new battle system, this is one title you can't afford to miss as an RPG fan. However, though it succeeds on the most important fronts, there are some notable areas where the game could have been better. The linear level design is a fairly large stumbling block, and if you are used to open-world games, it can make the entire experience feel a little claustrophobic. In addition, the lack of side quests can make this title fall short of any 100+ hour expectations. Still, if you can get past these issues, you are in for a sumptuous, exhilarating adventure that is unlike anything else you've ever seen.

By Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.9
Graphics
Cinema scenes are gorgeously rendered, and in-engine graphics are nearly on par with the cutscenes. Visuals are definitely a sight to behold.
4.8
Control
The menu-based control is a breeze and active elements do not detract from the game's classic feel.
4.7
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack is beautiful, and the majority of the voice work is well done.
3.7
Play Value
The game is a little too linear at times, and the lack of meaningful side quests limits replay potential. Beginning Cocoon levels may turn off some players.
4.5
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Take Part in a Gaming Experience that Sets New Standards - The first in the series developed for a simultaneous release on multiple high-definition consoles, Final Fantasy XIII pushes new boundaries in cinematic presentation, sound and gameplay.
  • Experience the Unity of Speed and Strategy with the Ultimate Active Time Battle system - The familiar system has evolved, granting players the freedom of executing numerous commands in a single turn with the multi-slot ATB gauge. Whether inputting singular commands in each slot for consecutive attacks, or expending multiple slots at once to activate a devastating blow, it's up to the players to respond effectively to the battle conditions at hand.
  • Adapt to the Ever-Changing Tide of Battle with Paradigms - A brand-new game mechanic enabling players to assign roles to their party members at any time during battle, shifting between combat paradigms. Consisting of various combinations of the game's six roles, ranging from Commando, the offensive specialist, to Medic, the quintessential healer, paradigms allow players to respond and adapt instantly to any given situation to turn the tide and seize victory.
  • Witness the Battle Scene Transform with an All-New Summon System - Introducing Gestalt Mode, a powerful dimension of the summon system that elevates the action to a whole new level. In Gestalt Mode, characters and their transformed Eidolons fight as one, dealing massive damage to enemies through simple button commands.
  • Delve into an Emotional Experience - An immersive storyline connects players to an intriguing cast of characters. Will they have the strength to confront their cursed fates, or will destiny prevail over all that they believe in? ?


  • Screenshots / Images
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