13 Days of FF13: Review Of FF13
To kick off the Thirteen Days of FFXIII special I'm reviewing the original FFXIII. I just played this game recently myself in preparation for the release of Lightning Returns. Beware of spoilers, the story section has spoilers in it.
I feel FFXIII is a great game. The story and aesthetics matched up and really let the player feel the characters' desperation. For the few gripes I had with the combat system I gave FFXIII an 8 out of 10. I'd highly recommend this game to anyone who likes a good story. If running around and doing a lot of side-quests is what you prefer, this might not be a game you want to pick up.
The Story So Far (Spoilers):
The story starts out during the Bodhum Purge. Lightning volunteers for the Purge as a way to get closer to her sister Serah, who is somewhere within the Fal'Cie structure. On her way to the structure, Lightning crosses paths with Sazh who decides to tag along.
In another part of the same area, Snow is leading a rebellion to reach Serah himself. Along the way he passes Vanille and Hope. Hope's mother volunteers to help in the rebellion, ultimately costing her life. This prompts Vanille and Hope to chase after Snow.
Within the Fal'Cie structure everyone converges on the spot where Serah is. Serah asks them to save Cocoon and then turns to crystal. Afterwards the group takes on the Fal'Cie Anima, and got branded as L'Cie.
This starts an epic journey that they face together to defy their fates and save Cocoon. The team learns many things about the world and the truth behind Cocoon. The true enemy of Cocoon, Barthandelus tries to use the group to destroy Orphan.
In the end, Barthandelus is defeated and then drawn in by Orphan. Orphan, the entity that supplies Eden with its power, forces them to fight. In doing so the team eventually defeats Orphan and cuts support to Cocoon. Without the Fal'Cie power Cocoon falls to Pulse.
To save the people of Cocoon, Fang and Vanille create a pillar of crystal, entombing themselves in its core. Thus Cocoon is saved, with a bittersweet ending as only four members were able to walk away from the battle.
My thoughts on the story:
The story was really intense, there were times that I was on the edge of my seat, anxious to get to that next scene. The fact that the plot has a linear flow really doesn't hurt the game that much. Once you get to Gran Pulse, you can stop and smell the roses for a bit, but mostly it's just a race to the end.
With how the characters are always saying they are running out of time, the linear flow fits the game's mood. If there had been a lot of side-quests, you'd lose the sense of urgency that the game was striving for. Overall, I'm really happy with the meshing of the story and the linear flow.
This is really big in RPGs. RPG's need to entrance the player and make them feel like they are in another world experiencing these events for themselves. In my opinion the look and the feel of FFXIII draws the player in really well. The grand scale of the scenery mixed with the mood fitting songs just define the world really well. The themes for the Barthandelus and Orphan fights really make the game for me.
This is the one thing I have gripes about. The Auto-Combat system basically takes the player out of the battle. Sure you can use your abilities manually, but on the first playthrough that's a bit risky. The combat doesn't pause while you select abilities the way most Final Fantasy games do. If you're just a little slow selecting abilities it could mean the death of your party.
In FFXIII the only member that has to die to cause a game-over is the player character. When prioritizing character safety, the player character always needs priority, even if they are the least helpful. The problem is the non-player characters don't follow that priority. Auto-Heal doesn't follow the player heals priority either. It's a broken system, that could have used a bit more work.
Outside of the Auto-Combat system, Paradigm Shift was pretty innovative. Set up different builds with different bonuses, then you swap as needed in battle. The system added strategy to an active turn-based system.
Character progression had several options within the game. At the start you had three roles that a character can level up in using the Crystarium. Of the six roles each character had their one build on which three they could level. For instance, Lightning started out with Commando, Ravager, and Medic available. Hope starts with Ravager, Synergist, and Medic.
How a character advances is totally up to the player. Over time you'll unlock the other role options for every character to further improve the customizable progress.
Make sure you check back every day for more Thirteen Days of FFXIII content. I hope you found this review helpful. Let me know in the comments below what you thought of FFXIII on your playthrough.