A First Look at Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII is the long-awaited next installment of the popular JRPG series. This is the first Final Fantasy title ever to be released on an Xbox platform and the first one to be released on  the PlayStation 3. The story is confusing at best, especially since they don’t clear up important details of the situation early on in the game. Read this before playing, and your understanding of the back-story will be a little easier (maybe not, it’s a lot to swallow):

Pulse and Cocoon are two very different worlds- one dark and one light. These two lands are in conflict with each other and Cocoon citizens who come in contact with Pulse are quarantined and exiled. Humans are watched over by powerful mechanical beings called the fal’Cie, which have been corrupted by an awoken Pulse fal’Cie. Humans can be marked by the fal’Cie with a symbol on their bodies, which makes the humans l’Cie. These l’Cie are given a “Focus” or quest to complete. Succeed in this quest and you are granted “eternal life” in crystal form, but fail and you are turned into a zombie-like creature. That’s the situation in a nutshell, but there are plenty of twists and turns along the way-including the fate of your entire party.

Gameplay is different than the usual Final Fantasy formula in that in the first third or so of the game you cannot choose your party as you progress, even though you have extra members standing by. You also only control the party leader in battle; the other characters manage themselves according to their professions. Your health automatically regenerates after each battle as well, which saves on potion use.

Square Enix has brought back the profession system, so your characters can be many different classes that are interchangeable via the Paradigm Shift system. This system allows a character, for example, to change between a ravager for damage, a medic for healing and a sentinel for defense quickly and easily in every battle. This system is a refreshing change from previous Final Fantasy titles and the pacing of encounters is less frustrating, though expect to hit some tough battles where the Paradigm Shift system is integral.

Don’t expect to get the full taste of the game for the first 30 hours (up until chapter 11) while you cannot choose your own party and can rarely stray off the beaten story path. The game becomes much more Final Fantasy-like in the chapters to come.

The character design, personalities and voice acting are enjoyable (with the exception of Vanille’s strange accent) and are easy to connect with. Final Fantasy fans may initially feel jarred from the dramatic changes XIII has made, but it doesn’t make the game any less entertaining. There’s certainly over 60 hours of gameplay available and an exciting story that’ll keep you hooked. You can purchase Final Fantasy XIII on Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 from P.C. Richard and Son and it qualifies for 60 video game rewards points. Enjoy!


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