Final Fantasy XIII – Impression

Final Fantasy XIII is upon us.  I have to be honest, I’ve kept myself from reading too much information about the game.  I wanted to keep it a surprise to myself so when I finally played it – it would be a non-spoiled whole new experience.  After having a few hours to try it out what can I say?  Not too bad Square, not too bad.

There are many things that define a good RPG.  For me, the story and the battle system can make or break it (and I really have a dislike for sewer levels).  Right from the start, FFXIII starts fast and throws you into this world.  I found the intro to be a good fit for it.  It isn’t too drawn out and gets you ready for what is to come.  Keeping in mind that I’ve only played a few hours, I think the story has a lot of potential and really kept me interested.  The nice thing so far is that between all of the combat, there are a good bit of cutscenes.  The way it is spread out in my limited time from playing kept me from being exhausted from battle to battle.  So far, so good!

But what about the battle system?

Well, I wasn’t too interested at first.  It does utilize an Active Time Battle(ATB) system.  This means that you can attack when your time gauge fills up.  After you attack, you have to wait for it to fill up again.  It all happens in real time while the enemy is utilizing their attacks.  It can make for fast paced-fast thinking battles.  My issue at first was that you have no control over what the other members in your party do.  That’s right, you don’t control the other members of your party.  They will perform their own attacks as they please.  I was a bit let down by this because I guess I was looking for that classic turn based style system.  Why shouldn’t I be able to control my other members?  More so than that, if your controlled character dies in battle, the game is over.  Your members don’t get to use a Phoenix Down to revive you.  I think that was a bit of an odd thing.  If they die, you are able to revive them.  I guess I was looking too much for that classic style.  But the more I played it, the more I realized that it actually wasn’t a bad thing.  It works quite well.

You have different options at your disposal.  Once again, only a few hours in, I don’t have a whole lot of abilities.  You have the ability to use Auto-Battle.  If you push this then the attacks are selected for you and will be carried out without any of your planning.  Depending on the scenario, it can be quite useful instead of hitting attack over and over (you can chain attacks together).  Of course you also have the ability to input your own attacks.  It does offer some flexibility and to have the Auto-Battle option is a nice touch.  The other option is, of course, to use items. Without being too far in the game I cannot say how much you will be able to do, but something tells me you will have a great amount of attacks at your command as you go on.

The only other thing that I want to touch on about that is the enemies.  This is more in the style of Final Fantasy XII.  You do see the enemies walking around.  There is no ‘walk around until you hit an invisible enemy and enter battle mode’.  No, in FFXIII you see the enemies walking around.  You have the opportunity to avoid them or fight them, for the most part anyway.  I have no problem with this approach.  I know, I don’t like FFXII a whole lot, but I feel it just works better in XIII.  After awhile I felt like it was a combination of classic and new.  It really grew on me.

The visuals are very nice.  It does have FMV’s – It’s Final Fantasy!  What did you expect?  But they aren’t a distraction and in fact they seamlessly move from FMV to in-game quite well.  You can still tell which parts are FMV’s, but the in game graphics do match up pretty well.  Along with the graphics, the music and the acting are pretty strong.  Although there is one character that, to me, sounds like a mix between an Australian, an Asian, and a Southern.  A bit odd!  Really though, between the visuals, music, and voice acting – it all comes together for a great experience… So Far!

I personally can’t wait to jump back in and see where this story takes me.  At first I did have mixed feelings on it.  But after awhile it all really did seem to fit right.  Hey, things could change.  It’s only a few hours in and there is a ton of game to be played.  But for now, I can say that I’m pretty excited about the next hours!


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