Final Fantasy 13 is the latest Final Fantasy adventure from Square Enix – it puts a new twist on the battle system, changes the way you explore the world, and introduces some fresh faces.
It was launched on both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360; being developed for two consoles is a first for a mainline Final Fantasy. It’s one of many Square Enix games released in 2010, including Nier and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. Square Enix also helped distribute some western games, including Just Cause 2, Blur, Singularity and Call of Duty: Black Ops in Japan.
The Final Fantasy franchise has been going since its Japanese debut in 1987, and there have been 12 mainline games before 13. On the way there’s also been many quality spinoff games like Tactics and Crystal Bearers, in the form of strategy games and Zelda clones, and much more. Final Fantasy 13 is a true RPG, like all the other numbered entries, and also like Dragon Quest. Dragon Quest 9 was another game released last year by Square Enix, although made by completely different people in the company. It’s the first Dragon Quest game that’s seen success in the west – a promising sign for the future of the series.
Japan has a rich history with RPGs, with the original Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy pioneering the genre and bringing forth many clones and new ideas. They are also a huge part of Japanese gaming culture, with Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Pokemon being some of the only games that garner over a million sales at launch.
A million is a big number, it’s twice 500,000, which is two times 250,000. Just to clarify, it’s ten times 100,000. Big numbers are pretty common in RPGs too, as players level up, the HP and damage stats start to get ridiculous. Some games like Disgaea have you doing tens of millions of damage with stats in the thousands. Disgaea is a tactical RPG developed by Nippon Ichi. Nippon Ichi are also responsible for Phantom Brave, La Pucelle Tactics and Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure.
Development of Final Fantasy 13 began in 2005 before being announced for the Playstation 3 at E3 2006. It was a long road for the development team: the game changing concepts and changing platforms as the Xbox 360 version was announced midway through development.
Final Fantasy 13 takes a long time to get properly started; I found that really irritating. 30 hours into the game and I still didn’t have a chance to explore the world and the battle system to their potential. The battle system is very engaging and requires you to use many different techniques and constantly adjust your lineup on the fly. The characters are quite varied, some are losers, some interesting, some funny and some just weird for the sake of it. None of them seem to really understand what’s going on in the plot: they all just push through the game hoping that they’ll find a reason for what they’re doing. The characters connect very well with the player, because that’s exactly how I felt.
Overall it’s a decent game that holds your hand almost the entire way and requires a big investment to get into. The only thing that really got me through it was the interesting battle system. It does things very differently to any RPG i’ve played, and despite its reliance on menus it’s very interactive and refreshing. However, refreshing isn’t an accurate way to describe the overall game experience. It feels like you’re following a string through endless hallways of generic environments, hoping it’ll lead you somewhere beautiful. Then you see it, a beautiful waterfall, but before you can appreciate it, you’ve followed the string right off the edge and you’re dead. That’s Final Fantasy 13.