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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Square Enix
Developed By: Square Enix
Genre: Action-RPG
Players: 1
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: March 9, 2010
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty








May 14, 2010 Ė For more than 23 years, Final Fantasy titles have captured the minds, hearts and creative flare of people around the world. Whether it was simply rushing out to acquire the latest title in the series released or dressing up as your favorite character for Halloween and expos around the world, Final Fantasy is a series destined to go down as one of the greatest to have ever been created. Fast forward 23 years and Square Enix has released Final Fantasy XIII for both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, a first for the company and for those who have long played the series on their PlayStation consoles. And while the implementation of evil villains, airships and spiky-haired characters hasnít change in the latest installment, Square Enix decided to venture into new territory for the series which will allow the game to appeal to a broader audience. Did they succeed, continue reading to find out.

Not to be outdone by the competition, the opening sequences of Final Fantasy XIII are of an explosive nature. A group of civilians are being deported from the upper world of Cocoon to the lower world of Pulse. For the longest time the forces of Pulse and Cocoon havenít seen eye-to-eye and everything seems to reach a boiling point as Pulse soldiers have moved into Cocoon territory. You take control of Lightning, a former Cocoon soldier who gave up her position and status in order to hunt down the falíCie that turned her little sister Serah into an líCie, a servant to a falíCie. You eventually meet up with Snow, who is the fiancťe of Serah, and who is also after the falíCie. Sounds like a lot to take in the beginning, but throughout the game everything is fleshed out a bit more so you are able to understand whatís going on.



Itís not soon after meeting up with Snow that you come across a rag tag bunch of individuals, who all have something at stake when dealing with líCie and falíCie. While many though the root of the problems going on at Cocoon were because of the líCie, it is soon realized that the government is behind all the corruption and destruction thatís going on in Cocoon. You have to give credit where credit is due. Square Enix has been able to create an immersive universe that rivals the Star Wars universe in which there are literally hundreds of worlds, species, and characters exploring them within each game they have released, often enough causing confusion for those who are not familiar with everything. Iíll admit this is my first Final Fantasy title as an actual player, not an observer, so it was a bit much at the beginning of the game to wrap my head around.

To help you along with your question for redemption, salvation and several other epic words, the game as an immersive datalog, which keeps track of all the events that played out, locations, enemy specs, etc. This system is your best friend when it comes to this game simply because there are moments where you might not understand whatís going in during a cutscene, and thankfully the datalog can summarize what even took place, or what needs to be done in order for you to progress forward knowing everything you need to know. I found this system very helpful within the realm of helping better perfect my battle techniques whenever you had to do battle with a soldier, animal, beast, giant, or god-like boss. The datalog will also come in handy if you decide to take a break from the game, and you need a refresher as to what your current quest is, you can simply look up said information to familiarize yourself with the current part of the storyline before venturing off into the world of Final Fantasy XIII.



The most rewarding, yet frustrating aspects of Final Fantasy XIII is its battle system. I have played many JRPGs over the past couple of years and the battle implemented within Final Fantasy XIII is something unique for the genre. Known as Active Time Battle (ATB), you have a bar that fills up, allowing you deliver various attacks or support enhancements to your enemies and comrades. Starting out, the bar maxes out at three slots. As you progress through the game, you will gain a couple more slots, allowing you to deliver even more destruction on your foes and the game is and will get harder. Then there are Paradigm Shifts, which allow you to switch the jobs of your supporting cast on the fly, which is both great and frustrating at the same time. Being able to switch from a Saboteur to a Medic, or from a Sentinel to a Ravager can and will save your butt in a heated battle. However figuring out what works best on what enemy and making sure your characters are up to par with the enemy becomes to problem spot.

Other factors that help determine a successful battle from a Game Over screen are the TP points and techniques. TP points and techniques work hand-in-hand in Final Fantasy XIII. By using the TP points, you will be able you of several different techniques which include scanning an enemy for weaknesses or summoning an eidolons. Once the battle is over, you are then rated on your performance via star rating. If you are able to complete the time within the require time, you can net a five star rating, which helps to build back you TP much quicker. Getting a zero star rating doesnít really have an effect on you progressing through the game, but it can be a sign that your characters havenít been fleshed out enough for the part of the game that you are in. And if thatís the case, this is where the Crystarium system comes into play.



The Crystarium system allows you to crease the power and abilities of your characters in your party applying points you earned in battle to specific jobs you want that particular character to know. It is hear there you will also be able to increase your HP and learn new abilities, which can turn the tide in a battle, or have it play out differently than it normally would. Each job maxes out at the 5th level and getting your character there will take a lot of playtime and level grinding and this is where I have a problem with the game. Final Fantasy titles are notorious for requiring level grinding in order to progress through the game and actually beat the game. For those who opt out of level grinding, you will be met with great hostility and many deaths along your quest until you reach a point where it either takes entirely too long to defeat an enemy, you try to avoid enemies at all cost or that enemy defeats you no matter what you do.

There is no denying the fact that every time Square Enix releases a Final Fantasy title, they are out to push the console has hard as possible in order to have a visual presentation that is befitting of the console. Case in point Is Final Fantasy XIII, which runs at every resolution possible, including the lovely 1080p setting that this game should be experienced at. Whether we are talking about the fluid cutscenes or the actually in-game graphics, Square Enix and the Crystal Tools engine put the PS3 to work in presenting a nearly flawless visual presentation not seen out of many third-party developers releasing games for the console. From the character models, to the environments you are traversing, simply to the special effects used when casting spells or blowing things upÖ everything in Final Fantasy XIII received some TLC (Tender Loving Care), which will please gamers around the world.



Considering this is my first Final Fantasy titles, I canít compare it to anything that has come before handÖ but then again I donít have to. When it comes to JRPGs, itís one of a few games where the entire in-game dialog is spoken, rather than some voiceover work and the rest done with onscreen text. The sound effects of swords hitting their targets, explosions, and musical soundtrack playing in the background is simply astonishing.

When it comes to replayability, thatís really up to the player. There is no online multiplayer not plans for any DLC of any kind for this title. What you get is a single-player linear experience through and through. After it taking you 60 hours + to beat the game, you can opt to hop back into the game and complete tasks that will help you get that Platinum trophy that you desire or simply test your might against the baddest animals roaming the land. Beyond that, only die-hard Final Fantasy fans will find reason enough to venture back into the world of Cocoon.

For my first Final Fantasy adventure, I have to say the experience was engaging and immersive. The complexity of the battle system was a nice challenge to embark on, though due to the level-grinding aspect of this title, didnít too good of a taste in my mouth. For those who are die-hard Final Fantasy fanatics, itís no question you will be running out to pick this game up, if you havenít done so already. For those who are still on the fence about the game, itís well worth the play through and experience. From immersive environments, to engaging and interesting battles and characters, a complex yet intuitive battle system, Final Fantasy XIII is the latest in the long line of great JRPGs from Square Enix.

8/10


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