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xnera ([personal profile] xnera) wrote2015-11-06 01:31 pm

Game of the Week: Final Fantasy XIII

Cocoon hangs in the sky above Gran Pulse. The people of Cocoon treat all things Pulse with suspicion and fear. When a Pulse Vestige is found near a village on Cocoon, the government reacts by ordering a Purge of all the village’s inhabitants, exiling them to Pulse. Serah, Lightning’s sister, had wandered into the Vestige, and was made a Pulse L’Cie by the Fal’Cie inside. She now has a Focus to accomplish: if she does, she will be turned into crystal; if she fails to fulfill her Focus, she will be made into a monstrous Ce’ith.

Lightning and Snow (Serah’s fiancee) attempt to rescue Serah, but in the process get made into L’Cie themselves. Will they fulfill their Focus and turn into the monstrous Ragnorak and destroy Cocoon, or will they follow their hearts and somehow manage to save Cocoon?

The gameplay is quasi-turn based. There is an Active Time Battle gauge; as the ATB fills, you can stock commands. Once the ATB is full the commands are unleashed. You play in a party of three characters and control only the main character; the other two characters take action based on their defined role. There are six roles: Ravagers (magic damage dealers), Commandos (melee damage dealers), Sentinals (tanks), Saboteurs (debuffers), Synergists (buffers), and Medics (healers). You can create Paradigms of different role combinations: for example, the Relentless Assault paradigm is made up of a Commando and two Ravagers, while the Combat Clinic paradigm is SEN MED MED. You can then switch between these paradigms in battle as needed. You can also summon Eidolons to fight for you, but it is not something I used much.

Weapons and Accessories are found in treasure caskets throughout the world, and can also be bought from stores at a save point. They can be upgraded using components found in battle or bought at stores. Character growth is done in the Crystarium; after each battle, you are awarded CP which are then spent in the Crystarium on one of your character’s roles to increase their prowess and learn new abilities.

When I saw the initial trailer for the game, I was not very impressed, so was pleasantly surprised when I ended up liking the game a fair deal. It’s a solid game, but it does have some faults. The two biggest:

  • It’s linear as heck. I call it “Corridor Fantasy”, because for a large portion of the game you are running down narrow pathways. The benefit is that you can’t get lost, and the story unfolds easily, but you lose the sense of exploration that past Final Fantasy games have had;
  • It’s most efficient to choose Auto-Battle, which stocks commands for you. This means that for many of the battles, you are just mashing the A button, which is pretty boring. Harder battles do require switching Paradigms, which is more fun, but for the most part, it’s mash A and win.