This week, Kaleb and Joe begin their review of Final Fantasy XIII. Enjoy!
As we know, Final Fantasy XIII is the start of the Fabula Nova Crystallis collection of Final Fantasy games, and was the first game Square used their internally developed Crystal Tools game engine with. This tool was created to further unify the game’s development, and bring the originally PlayStation 3 exclusive to the Xbox 360 and Wii consoles. This system was conceived by the success of the Final Fantasy VII Tech Demo, which also spurred Square Enix to release Final Fantasy XIII on the PlayStation 3, instead of the originally planned release on Playstation 2.
The game received received mostly positive reviews from video game publications, praising the graphics, presentation, and battle system. The story received mixed reviews, but the linearity would be the centerpiece of most criticisms for Final Fantasy XIII, especially when compared to the rest of the series.
Development for Final Fantasy XIII began in 2004, just after the Release of Final Fantasy X-2 International + Last Mission in Japan. Director Motomu Toriyama and Kazushige Nojima conceived ideas for the stories plotline over the first year. It was Nojima that thought up the crystal mythology that is the basis of the series, and the roles of the fal’Cie and l’Cie. Toriyama then created the story around the mythology. His goal was to show the characters at the mercy of a predetermined, unjust fate. He also wanted to create a group who belonged together, but clashed heavily. To go about this, they designed each of the sory’s thirteen chapters to focus on different members of the party. The structure of the narrative started to come together in 2006, when Daisuke Watanabe joined the team. Watanabe, as you may recall, filled in for Matsuno left the Final Fantasy XII development team due to sickness. Watanabe was given a rough outline of the first eight chapters, including necessary scenes that had to stay, and was told to strengthen Toriyama’s script. An example of what this entailed, is he would get a document that simply said “Snow and Hope reconcile”, and would decide how the scene would play out, and write his scenario accordingly. Watanabe also did some adjusting for characters. He felt that Lightning shouldn’t be a reliable and calm leader, and went with the more irritable, enraged Lightning we know. This was done to capture the confusion and unease that the characters no doubt would feel in light of their situations. Toriyama felt that the Sazh suicide scene was too dark, so elements such as the Chocobo chick helped maintain a good balance within the games overall scope.
The developers of Final Fantasy XIII were divided into multiple teams, where each team would be assigned with a specific area of the game. XIII’s staff included many members who worked on previous entries in the series. The games Director, Motomu Toriyama worked on X and X-2, Kitase, as we know, worked on V through VIII, and Nomura was back as the main character designer. Since XIII was the first Final Fantasy game for the PlayStation 3, the crew wanted the game to have the same impact that VII and X had upon their release. Their sales goal was to hit 5 million copies sold, and Toriyami wanted the game to be the “ultimate single player RPG.”
Although I can’t say that XIII is the Ultimate………..single palyer RPG, It did meet, and exceed, their sales goal. As of now, Final Fantasy XIII has sold 6.71 million copies between the Ps3 and Xbox 360, making it the fourth biggest game in the series. It sold 1.7 Million copies in Japan, making it the fastest selling game in the franchise. The games budget would top out at Number 22 on the most expensive games to make list at 65+ million.
Final Fantasy XIII was released in December 2009 in Japan, and March of 2010 for the rest of the world. The game includes a very quick paced battle system, and an upgrading system similar to the Sphere Grid called Crystalarium. Players also customize paradigms, a sort of class assignment for your three person party, and the outcome of the battles heavily rely on the player “staggering” their opponents. This is essentially finding out what weakens them, and getting them into a critical state where more damage is dealt.
The character is controlled via a third person perspective. The character is also given a 360 degree camera movement. The entirety of the game is scaled relative to the characters, rather than a massive version of the character roaming a miniature terrain. Square brought back the Bestiary from Final Fatnasy XII, and also provided a way to level up ones weapons through components obtained, or bought at a save kiosk. Interestingly enough, the Final Fantasy XIII Ultimate Hits International version of the game, released in Japan, has an easy mode. This is interesting, because the company has talked about being concerned that their games are too difficult for us North Americans.
The battle system is similar to Final Fantasy XII in some ways. Most noticeably in that the character can approach or avoid enemies in the field. When the player touches an enemy, the screen transitions from the map to a battle screen similar to ones from previous entries in the series. XIII also only allows the use of three characters in battle, and uses a variant of Active Time Battle that we’ve all become accustomed to. The part where this game differs the most, is with the secondary characters. The player only controls the party leader, and the other two characters are controlled by AI. There is an extremely useful Autobattle function, where the game will automatically select actions to perform. The game also fully heals characters after a battle is complete. This makes the game sound super easy, right? No. You’re wrong. SO FUCKING WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Every enemy has a chain counter. This counter starts at 100, and each enemy has different effects on creatures. Generally, black magic spells will make the chain counter jump very quickly, but the bar will quickly reset if not supplemented with a physical attack, or debuff. Once the meter is filled, the enemy will enter a Stagger state. This form is generally quite susceptible to physical damage, and the player can even launch most enemies into the air, rendering them attackless. These stagger states can be manipulated by assigning Paradigms to your party.
Paradigms are used to assign different roles to different characters. The six paradigms are Commando, Ravager, Medic, Saboteur, Sentinel, and Synergist. The Commando deals physical damage, Ravager is designated for black magic, Medics perform healing spells, Saboteurs attack enemies with various debuff spells, such as slow or deprotect, Sentinels raise a parties defence, and Synergists are used to assign buffs to your characters such as protect and haste. These classes can, and in many cases, must be quickly changed throughout battles to quickly defeat enemies. This gives Final Fantasy XIII a refreshingly fast battle system, and also leads to many game overs on non boss enemies.
Each character has a specific Eidolon that they can summon in battle. Only the party leader can select this skill, however, so the summoned creature depends on the leader. You can trigger a Gestalt mode for the Eidelons, and they will transform into a vehicle that the player then rides on during battle…..