Final Fantasy XIII is the latest game in the long-celebrated series of Japanese role playing games, Final Fantasy. Developed by Square Enix for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game was initially intended to be a PS3 exclusive, but at E3 2008, Microsoft officially announced that Final Fantasy XIII was indeed coming to the Xbox 360 as well, and that it was going to be simultaneously released with the PS3 version internationally, following the Japanese PS3 release of the game in late 2009. It was released in the United States and Europe on March 9, 2010. The game is set in a futuristic world called Pulse that is filled with dangerous creatures that freely roam the land. It also features a paranoid Utopian society that is secluded and shut from the dangerous world that it lives on, called Cocoon.
Final Fantasy XIII is the major title in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series, along with Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2 . However, aside from Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2, none of the games are directly related to each other.
The story is centered around the plight of a small group of people, some strangers, some not. A woman calling herself Lightning is the main character of the game. She has limited control over gravity by use of technology which makes the magic of the world usable by humans, commonly known as "manadrive." She specializes in collapsible weapons which can transform from a sword into a semi-automatic rifle.
The game is set in two sister worlds - Cocoon and Pulse. The beginning of the game takes place in the technologically advanced upper-world called Cocoon. Later on the player travels to the apparently much larger, untamed lower-world of Pulse. They are two separate planetoids, with a long history of paranoia and bloody warfare against the other. Humans are forbidden from traveling to or from Cocoon by the government, making it an enclosed society ruled by fal'Cie -- god-like beings who assign a human to govern Cocoon's citizens. However, there also exist fal'Cie from Pulse who turn humans into l'Cie (pronounced as Luh-See). These people are branded with a symbol somewhere on their body, given the ability to use magic, and given a single task known as a 'focus.'
If they carry out their focus and complete the task the fal'Cie assigns them, they are 'rewarded' by being transformed into crystals to live forever in an eternal sleep. If they fail, however, and the brand progresses too far, they are transformed into Cie'th -- soulless, zombie-like creatures who are robbed of free will and exist only to kill anyone they come into contact with. With the destiny of either becoming crystals or being robbed of their souls for eternity, most people view becoming l'Cie as a death sentence, as there is no known way to reverse the condition.
Lightning's sister, Serah, is cursed with this destiny, but it's not long before Lightning, Snow, Sazh, Hope, and Vanille become I'Cie themselves, as their destinies bring themselves together to battle the same pulse fal'Cie who transformed Lightning's sister and many citizens of the Cocoon town of Bodhum. This pulse fal'Cie was discovered to have been sleeping for centuries only to be awakened by the Sanctum (Cocoon's human government) forces just outside of the town. Because the citizens of Cocoon view any l'Cie as a threat, all the people who happened to be in Bodhum at the time were to be exiled to the world of Pulse below in order to keep Cocoon pure.
Unsure as to what their focus is at first, the five new l'Cie set out to battle Sanctum, who, as it turns out, were only using the exile (known as the 'Purge') as a cover to kill them all. After all, the government considers anything from Pulse to be an enemy of Cocoon; by coming into contact with the Pulse Fal'Cie, the people of Bodhum become enemies of Sanctum. The beings on Pulse are at war with Cocoon and there is a large hole in Cocoon from an attack from Pulse several centuries before. Taking place in Cocoon and later on the surface of Pulse, the game covers the adventure of the new l'Cie as they try to figure out what their focus is and then fulfill it to avoid becoming Cie'th.
There are six playable characters in Final Fantasy XIII.
Lightning – The main character of the game. Lightning is a tough young woman previously associated with the Cocoon Guardian Corps. She is given the task to fulfill her "focus" after becoming a l'Cie. The two yellow stripes on the her left shoulder symbolize her Rank in the Guardian Corps. Lightning has long light pink hair and is 178 cm (70.1 inches) tall. For her design, character designer Tetsuya Nomura was asked to create someone like a "female version of Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII." During development, he described her as "not very feminine." Lightning wields a gunblade, that can transform into a sword or gun on the fly. Lightning has buttons on her finger tip and thumb which can be used to manipulate gravity. She controls Odin, a giant god-like warrior who turns into a horse in Gestalt mode. She is voiced by Ali Hillis in the English version and by Maaya Sakamoto in the Japanese version. Her personality evolves throughout the game. She's seen at the beginning of the game as a cold, distant character, not caring for any of the other members of her party. As the story progresses, she opens up and becomes more likable especially with Hope Estheim, whom she protects and teaches how to fight.
Snow Villiers– A huge, blond, beanie-wearing male who fights with his fists and is augmented by changing his trench coat and is the leader of the rebel group Team NORA. He controls the Eidolon Shiva Sisters, who can turn into a motorcycle in their Gestalt mode. He refers to himself as "The Hero" and is determined to save his future wife, Serah. He is voiced by Troy Baker in the English version and by Daisuke Ono in the Japanese version. An interesting fact is the makers of Final Fantasy XIII referred to him as Mr. 33cm, due to his shoe size, the idea behind his character design was that he could carry two people and still run.
Oerba Dia Vanille – A bubbly, young girl who was originally sent away during the Purge, but was saved because of Team NORA. She takes a big sister type of role to Hope. Her weapons resemble different types of staffs, yet transforms into a four-pronged fishing rod during battle. She is voiced by Georgia van Cuylenburg in the English version and by Yukari Fukui in the Japanese version. She also serves as the game's narrator during certain points to the story.
Sazh Katzroy – A middle-aged man who unwittingly becomes entangled in Lightning's plot early on in the game. Sazh wields dual pistols and has a baby Chocobo as a pet which lives in his Afro. He carries a jaded attitude and claims that he is "too old for this stuff," but remains loyal to his allies regardless. Being the elder of the group he feels it is necessary to keep the "children" (other party members) safe. He is voiced by Reno Wilson in the English version and Masashi Ebara in the Japanese version.
Hope Estheim – A young teenager who lost his mother during the purge, who becomes entangled in the battle against the sanctum with the rest of the gang. His mother who fought alongside Snow, ultimately ends up dead, causing Hope to blame Snow for her death. As Hope tags along with the group, he is consoled by Vanille after his mother's death. He also tags along with lightning who teaches him how to fight and look out for himself. Hope's weapon of choice is a boomerang Weapon, which he uses to take aim at foes from a distance and allows for the possibility of multiple hits. He is voiced by Vincent Martella in the English version.
Oerba Yun Fang – A raven-haired woman wearing clothing similar to a traditional Indian Sari adorned with various tribal accessories. Although she is also a l'Cie, she works for the Cocoon Sanctum for an unknown reason. Fang wields a spear in battle that can also transform into a three-section staff. Her Eidolon is Bahamut, who, upon entering gestalt mode, transforms into a larger, flying Bahamut which she can ride on. She is voiced by Rachel Robinson in the English version. She is the last playable character players obtain in the game.
Significant Non-Playable Characters
- Serah Farron – Lightning's younger sister and Snow's bride-to-be. She was a l'Cie who completed her "focus" and was turned into a crystal. She is voiced by Laura Bailey in the English version.
- Dajh - Sazh's son who was also turned into crystal.
- NORA (No Obligation, Rules, or Authority) – Snow's band of street soldiers who put up a resistance against the Purge.
- Cid Raines – Appears first in this game aboard the airship Lindblum alongside Fang. His motives are questionable at the start, but he eventually aids the protagonists and reveals his ultimate goal.
- Chocobo Chick – A baby chocobo that lives in Sazh's afro.
FFXIII features the series trademark Active Time Battle system, as players only have a limited time to execute their skills before the enemies take their turn. The battle system lets players control only the main party leader (who switches throughout the game), while only controlling the class of the other two party members, not specific actions. The main premise of the battle system consists of the player trying to chain attacks against monsters so that they become staggered and take extra damage. There is also a heavy emphasis on constant Paradigm shifts during combat.
- ATB (Active Time Battle) Gauge – Characters use skills and abilities by spending segments of the ATB gauge. In battle, this gauge charges continuously over time and allows players to queue up commands as the bar goes up. Each ability has an associated ATB cost which indicates how many segments would be used to execute that ability. More powerful abilities have higher ATB costs and require players to wait for longer periods before executing that skill. The size of the ATB gauge (and its number of segments) increases as players level up and progress through the game.
- Auto-Battle – Players have the choice to pick their own abilities each turn or let the game's auto-battle system decide it for them. The system takes into account things like target vulnerabilities and weaknesses, player health, and enemy position for area-of-effect attacks.
- Chains and Staggering – Located at the top right of the screen, the chain gauge fills up as players deal more hits to that target. Enemies take more damage as the gauge slowly fills up until they reach the Stagger point. A staggered enemy takes far more damage from regular attacks and allows the use of selected special abilities. For example, staggered enemies can often be launched into the air by a Commando, which allows the party to juggle them in the air with repeated attacks.
- Techniques – Players earn Technique Points from each encounter that can be used for special skills like Libra which reveals special information about enemies such as their weaknesses. Technique Points take time to accumulate so the use of techniques is limited and the game recommends players save them for tougher encounters. They are also used to summon Eidolons. Summoning uses 3 Technique Points.
- Items – Items like potions or phoenix downs can be used at any time without wasting the ATB gauge. The game calls these "free actions". Potions heal hit points for the entire party instead of just one member.
- Pre-emptive Strikes - If the player initiates a battle without being discovered by the enemy, they will gain a preemptive strike. The player character will charge forth and strike each enemy in the fight, instantly driving their chain gauges up so far that they will be staggered with one hit. Enemies cannot get a preemptive strike on the party.
Paradigms are player-configured setups that change the roles of each party member during combat. Since the players can't control their party members directly, paradigms are the only way to change their AI behavior. Players can fill up to 6 paradigms slots, ranging from offensive to defensive setups before a battle starts. Paradigms can be created by hand or generated by the game.
Roles are essentially character classes. Each character has access to multiple roles that provide unique skills. Each role has an associated Role Bonus that augments that role's purpose. Players can level up their character in a particular role by spending crystogen points (essentially experience points). The leveling up process is called Crystogenesis, found under the Crystarium menu.
These are the six roles available in FFXIII:
- Commando (COM) – Offensive specialists that deal extra physical and magical damage. Ravagers will target whichever enemy the Commando in the party is attacking. Role Bonus: Augmented Attacks.
- Ravager (RAV) – Magic specialists that deals fire, ice, lightning, water and other elemental damage. Role Bonus: Improved Chaining.
- Sentinel (SEN) – Defensive specialists that can protect themselves and their allies by provoking enemies and soaking up large amounts of damage that would have otherwise done much damage to teammates. Role Bonus: Damage Reduction.
- Medic (MED) – Healers that can restore party members HP, cure ailments and even revive KO-ed allies. Role Bonus: Augmented Healing.
- Synergist (SYN) – Buffers and support specialist that increase party member's abilities and grants additional defensive bonuses. Role Bonus: Extended Enhancements.
- Saboteur (SAB) – Another support class that specializes in debuffs. They weaken enemy resistances and make them more vulnerable to attacks, along with filling and maintaining the Chain Gauge. Role Bonus: Boosted Success Rate.
Note that all of the Role Bonuses affect the entire party. For example, a Medic's augmented healing affects the Sentinel's skill "Mediguard" as well, and the Sentinel's damage reduction protects the entire party.
Eidolons are special creatures that can be summoned by players during combat to gain access to powerful skills and abilities. Players first need to defeat an Eidolon in a one-on-one battle to gain their allegiance. They are summoned using 3 Technique Points (TP). Each Eidolon can also transform into Gestalt Mode that allows players to ride and use the creature directly. Players lose access to their normal skills and even party members during this mode, but instead gain direct attacks through pre-configured button presses. Here is a list of the Eidolons in the game and their respective characters:
- The Shiva Sisters (Stiria & Nix): Snow Villiers - acquired during Chapter 3
- Odin: Lightning - acquired during Chapter 4
- Brynhildr: Sazh Katzroy - acquired during Chapter 8
- Bahamut: Fang - acquired during Chapter 10
- Alexander: Hope Estheim - acquired during Chapter 11
- Hecatoncheir: Vanille - acquired during Chapter 11
When a player uses an Eidolon, the player character automatically receives full health and Doom counters are paused. In addition, all party members receive full health when an Eidolon exits the fight. Players can use this to their advantage if their team is taking a heavy beating.
Similar to Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid, the Crystarium is a linear method of character advancement. After a battle, the player receives a set amount of Crystogen Points (CP), which can then be used to connect to crystals in the Crystarium. The CP is doled out equally to every character in the game for every fight, regardless of whether they participated in the battle or not. The Crystarium is divided up by Paradigm roles, and apart from a few protruding branches the advancement is mostly straightforward. Any stat bonuses or techniques earned in the Crystarium (HP, ATK, STR, etc) are instantly applied to the character; however, any abilities learned are still relegated to the designated Paradigm.
Both weapons and accessories can be upgraded by adding either mechanical or biological components to them. Each component added has an XP value as well as an impact on the items XP multiplier. The quantity of components added each time also has an effect. Once an item reaches a certain level of XP it will level up, increasing various statistics. Each item also has a level cap identified by a star. At this point no further improvement can be made unless the item is transformed into a new form via the addition of special components. The new item will be weaker than the old one and have different properties, but has a greater potential for improvement. Equipment can also be dismantled to give the player various components which can then be integrated back into other weapons or accessories.
Players can also gain hidden bonuses by equipping specific pieces of gear at the same time. For example, the Axis Blade, a weapon exclusive to Lightning, charges an ATB segment when an enemy is attacked. If this is equipped alongside the accessory Whistlewind Scarf, the player's ATB gauge will gain +10% recharge rate. If the player equips a few more specific items, they can increase the recharge rate by up to 30%, allowing them to attack at a higher rate.
Saving your game, shopping, and upgrading your weapons and accessories are all relegated to terminals placed frequently throughout the game. Unlike in most RPGs, losing a battle does not send the player back to a Save Point. Players are instead placed right before they started the battle, allowing them to either attempt the fight again, possibly with a preemptive strike, or avoid the fight altogether.
Final Fantasy XIII's soundtrack was composed by Masashi Hamauzu, who is notable within Square Enix for other composition roles including Final Fantasy X, Unlimited Saga, and Saga Frontier II among others. He also wrote the main image song entitled "Kimi Ga iru Kara" sung by J-Pop singer Sayuri Sugawara. However, the western release of the game features the song "My Hands" by UK X Factor winner Leona Lewis instead. Producer Yoshinori Kitase explained that this decision was an experiment in tailoring elements to different regions, as well as citing difficulties translating "Kimi Ga iru Kara".
Long-time Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu was originally slated to compose the main theme. However, he instead chose to focus on FFXIV, which he'll be scoring in its entirety. This marks the first Final Fantasy soundtrack to not feature any new composition from Uematsu. The soundtrack was released in Japan on January 27, 2010 across four discs in both standard and limited edition packages. The limited edition is housed in a box containing the soundtrack, over-sized liner notes with additional art, and a bonus drama CD.
A Piano Collection for Final Fantasy XIII is also being planned for release in Japan on July 21, 2010. It will feature music composed, arranged and produced by Masashi Hamauzu.
1 Prelude to FINAL FANTASY XIII
2 FINAL FANTASY XIII - The Promise
3 The Thirteenth Day
4 Defiers of Fate
5 Saber's Edge
6 The Hanging Edge
7 Those For the Purge
8 The Warpath Home
9 The Pulse Fal'Cie
10 Face It Later
11 Snow's Theme
12 The Vestige
14 In the Sky That Night
15 Promised Eternity
16 Eternal Love (Short Version)
17 Lake Bresha
18 The Pulse L'Cie
|1 Blinded By Light |
2 Glory's Fanfare
3 Battle Results
4 A Brief Respite
5 Cavalry Theme
7 Crash Landing
8 Daddy's Got the Blues
9 The Vile Peaks
10 Lightning's Theme
11 Sazh's Theme
12 March of the Dreadnoughts
13 The Gapra Whitewood
14 Tension in the Air
15 Forever Fugitives
16 The Sunleth Waterscape
17 Lost Hope
18 To Hunt L'Cie
19 No Way to Live
20 Sustained by Hate
21 The Pulse L'Cie
22 Serah's Theme
|1 Can't Catch a Break |
3 Hope's Theme
4 This Is Your Home
6 Vanille's Theme
7 The Final Stage
8 The Pompa Sancta
10 Chocobos of Cocoon - Chasing Dreams
11 Feast of Betrayal
12 Eidolons on Parade
13 Test of the L'Cie
14 All the World Against Us
15 Game Over
16 Primarch Dysley
17 Fighting Fate
18 Separate Paths
19 Setting You Free
20 Desperate Struggle
21 Mysteries Abound
22 Will to Fight
|1 Fang's Theme |
2 Terra Incognita
3 The Archylte Steppe
4 Chocobos of Pulse
5 The Yaschas Massif
6 Memories of Happier Days
7 Sulyya Springs
8 Taejin's Tower
9 Dust to Dust
10 The Road Home
11 Start Your Engines
12 Eden Under Siege
13 The Cradle Will Fall
14 Born Anew
15 Sinful Hope
16 Fabula Nova Crystallis
17 FINAL FANTASY XIII - Miracles
19 Nascent Requiem
21 Kimi ga Irukara (Long Version)
22 Ending Credits
Final Fantasy XIII was first shown at E3 2006. Along with Final Fantasy Versus XIII and the PlayStation Portable game Final Fantasy Agito XIII (later renamed to Final Fantasy Type-0 and removed from the franchise), Final Fantasy XIII is part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII project, but none are a prequel or sequel of the other installments. Square Enix explained that although all three games take place in the same universe, they are not directly related in terms of story. The game runs on the Crystal Tools engine, a seventh generation multi-platform game engine built by Square Enix for its future games. The engine and the game were originally slated to be used with the PlayStation 2, but were later moved to the PlayStation 3.
Several of the game's developers had worked on previous installments of the series. Motomu Toriyama, director of Final Fantasy X-2, and director and scenario writer of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, directed the game and wrote the story. Eiji Fujii, previously the movie director of Final Fantasy XII, returned in this position. Isamu Kamikokuryō, previously the co-art director of Final Fantasy XII, returned as well, with Tetsu Tsukamoto designing the weapons. The main programmers were Kazumi Kobayashi and Yoshiki Kashitani. Occasionally, developers from Final Fantasy Versus XII provided assistance as well. Final Fantasy X's battle director Toshiro Tsuchida returned as the battle system director.
Xbox 360 Version
During Microsoft's media briefing at E3 2008, Square Enix announced that Final Fantasy XIII would be released first in Japan on PlayStation 3 in 2009, then released in North America and Europe on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The latter started development only after the Japanese PlayStation 3 version was completed.
In December of 2009, Square Enix finally released an official list of differences between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game. Most notably, it was revealed that the Xbox 360 version will be shipping on three DVDs. Square also announced that the Xbox 360 version would have more compressed audio and 720p FMV, as opposed to the high quality uncompressed audio and 1080p video that the PlayStation 3 version's dual-layer Blu-ray Disc can accommodate. The Xbox 360 version also renders at 1024x576 with 2x MSAA for gameplay and FMV cut scenes as opposed to the full 720p real-time 3D with 2x MSAA of the PS3 version for gameplay and 1920x1080 for FMV cut scenes.
There was not a Japanese release for the Xbox 360 version initially, but was later released as Final Fantasy XIII International on December 16, 2010 and included additional content.
Xbox 360 Installation
Final Fantasy XIII requires 18.3 GB of space to install on an Xbox 360 HDD: 5.9 GB for Disc 1, 5.8 GB for Disc 2, and 6.6 GB for Disc 3. You will still need to switch discs even when installed.
On April 16, 2009, a playable demo was released as part of the Japanese version of Final Fantasy: Advent Children Blu-ray Disc set. However, the demo was built using an older version of the FFXIII game engine and doesn't fully reflect the final version of the game.
Final Fantasy XIII received generally favorable reviews with a Metacritic average of around 82. The departure from a typical Final Fantasy game design was the cause of most of the criticism from reviewers. Among those was the absence of any towns or the lack of an open world throughout the game.
The new battle system on the other hand was universally praised as a good evolution for the series and help streamline what some consider a stale system. The games very high production values and the strong cast of characters set a new benchmark for the series as well.
This game comes with several extras that are unlocked for earning certain achievements/trophies. For the Xbox 360, these extras take the form of gamer pictures. For the PlayStation 3, these extras take the form of XMB themes. To earn them:
- Lightning: Obtain the Superstar Trophy/Achievement - Defeat the final boss in his second form and obtain a 5 star rating.
- Snow Villiers: Obtain the l'Cie Paragon Trophy/Achievement - Complete all 64 Mark missions with a 5 star rating.
- Sazh Katzroy: Obtain the Loremaster Trophy/Achievement - Reveal the full attributes of 100 enemies.
- Oerba Dia Vanille: Complete Chapter 12
- Hope Estheim: Complete Chapter 13
- Oerba Yun Fang: Obtain the Treasure Hunter Trophy/Achievement.- Collect all items available in the game.
- Serah Farron: Obtain all Trophies/Achievements.