Developer(s) – Square Enix
Publisher(s) – Square Enix
Director – Motomu Toriyama
Producer – Yoshinori Kitase
PEGI – 16
In the development of over six years and strangely codenamed “Colours World” for some time, Final Fantasy XIII was finally released in 2010 to widespread critical acclaim, and even receiving a near-perfect score from the Japanese publication Famitsu. Personally, whilst I was disappointed that Square Enix chose not to go back to the classic Final Fantasy formula, and to this day haven’t since, I still thought it went leaps and bounds ahead of Final Fantasy XII critically.
Graphics – 10/10
From both a graphical and conceptual standpoint, Final Fantasy XIII is visually flawless, making it perhaps the best-looking game of the seventh generation. As well as the FMVs being incredibly detailed and exciting, the game’s conceptual design is extremely varied; taking place in locations such as amusement parks, open fields, and futuristic steampunk cities that the series has become synonymous with since Final Fantasy VI.
Gameplay – 6/10
Incorporating elements from both Final Fantasy XII and classic Final Fantasy games, it presents players with a very different combat system and level-up system, which was a lot easier to cope with than in the previous installment, and much less irritating. The biggest problem I had with the game, however, is its sense of linearity during the first half. There are many different beasts to fight and plenty of opportunities to level up, but there are hardly any side quests for the first half of the game, and whilst the structure of most games in the series is similar, this game seemed to want to go out of its way to lead players along a linear path, saving open-world gameplay for the second half.
Controls – 10/10
There couldn’t possibly have been any issues with the game’s control scheme since, during combat, there isn’t a great deal of button-pressing required; much less so than in any game in the series. There is also the facility to automatically input strings of commands in effect, so there are even fewer issues to do with controls than In most other RPGs.
Lifespan – 9/10
After the first half of the game is finished, which should take around 20 to 25 hours, the rest of the game affords players much more to do, which can, in turn, make the game lasts around 60 to 80 hours, which, whilst maybe fractionally shorter than many other games in the series, is still a very substantial amount of time for a game to last. In a time when linear video games were taking precedent, a game like this was a breath of fresh air to me.
Storyline – 6/10
The story follows a party of six people, who have been cursed with a dangerous brand, which in time, will kill them, unless they can discover the nature of, and complete, a focus that they had been given along with it. Although that may sound very simple for a Final Fantasy game, the story is far from simple; especially to follow. Everything, from the plot to the characters, is introduced extremely abruptly and without explanation. Not much time is given to players to think about just what is happening from the start, which to me, made it extremely disappointing for a Final Fantasy game.
Originality – 6/10
The only original things about the thirteenth game in the franchise are that in lieu of Final Fantasy tradition, the conceptual design is different from every other game in the series and that the combat system has been altered, but in this case, isn’t anywhere near as enjoyable as most other games In the franchise. It did cement its place in a popular culture somewhat, as a contemporary pop song was recorded for use in it by Leona Lewis called My Hands, but to me, that isn’t truly a saving grace.
In summation, while Final Fantasy XIII may be a bad Final Fantasy game, it isn’t a bad game overall. It does have its strong points and the gameplay is much more enjoyable than its predecessor, but I think it would have been better to simply bring back the classic style of play synonymous with the series, and do better to introduce players to the plot and basic premise.