Final Fantasy XIII in 500 words.
Looking at the game objectively, there’s no other way around it: Final Fantasy XIII is a great piece of entertainment. It oozes with high production values, from the texture of every flawlessly rendered environment to the robustness and variety of the orchestrated score. The battle system is complex and expertly-designed, and has enough challenge to keep it interesting but sufficient concessions to keep it from frustrating. But it’s a Final Fantasy game, so there’s always more to it than that.
Yes, it’s (roughly and broadly) about a ragtag band of misfits out to save the world. Each character has their own reasons for embarking on the journey, and most are fleshed out well and easy to empathize with. There might be a character or two you may be apathetic towards or worse, but as is usual with Final Fantasy, there is an array of personalities to choose from so you’ll naturally comprise a team of more level-headed favorites.
The battle system is absolutely the best part of the game. Its sheer speed requires a slight learning curve but its core is strategic, requiring the right mix of character roles to be able to break foes’ defenses and go all-out on them. Every single battle seems to have been designed and optimized around particular tactics, enabling fast-paced, satisfying victories; however, since the game’s enemies are brutally offense-oriented, that might not always happen. But if you get a game over, no big deal – you can simply try again with no progress lost. The growth system, the Crystarium, seems linear at first but you’ll quickly be prioritizing development of the character roles that best fit your play style, as no two characters share the same role setups.
If you’re looking to have your senses dazzled, this is the game to choose. Sure, there’s the flashy, shallow stuff like summons, but the real graphical prowess is displayed in the gorgeous, living detail of each and every area in the game. At numerous points I found myself needing to stop for minutes at a time to take in the scenery; it really does a convincing job of making the vast scope of Pulse, the game’s world, believable. Even more impressive is the game’s music. Featuring numerous choral tracks, blues, rock, and everything in between, this is one score you’ll want to listen to outside of the game. Yeah, there’s that Leona Lewis thing, but the scene where it’s heard is so insignificant you’ll forget about it an hour later.
But the game’s linearity and lack of towns hurt the game, right? Not really. It’s certain to irk some, but it shouldn’t shock that these omissions have no bearing on the game’s quality at all, as it wasn’t designed around those concepts. Between the beautiful graphics and sound, fast-paced and challenging battles, and broad scope of the world of Pulse, Final Fantasy XIII is a game that will please those series fans and curious onlookers that know Final Fantasy’s true face is one that’s ever changing.