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Data
Release Date (Japan): 12.17.2009
Release Date (NA): 03.09.2010
Preferred Platform: PS3
Other Platforms: Xbox 360
Percentage Played: 76%
Percentage Completed: 62%
Scores (Out of 5)
Story & Cast: 2.7
Battle System: 3.7
Soundtrack: 3.7
Visual Style: 3.7
Originality: 3.5
Replayability: 2.3
Fun Factor: 2.9

Michael Apps
Final Fantasy XIII, likely the most controversial non-MMO game in the history of this long-running series. Called linear to the extreme and too far a departure from the earlier entries, it also has more voice acting than the series has ever seen before. So what's the truth behind all the controversy? Final Fantasy XIII is a fantastic game in many ways with a number of blemishes. There's no doubt the game is clearly quite linear until you get to the second half of the game. This isn't exactly unexpected for the series, but XIII features no backtracking to previous locations and no towns, laying out the linearity quite clearly for the player, creating almost a suffocating feature at times. What helps distract from this is the fantastically voiced cast of entertaining characters that serves to carry the story despite a convoluted narrative. The main attraction of course is the battle system, which plays out like the old active time battle systems only with the speed turned way up. Controlling only one character directly, the player takes on more of a director role, changing the roles of the party on the fly to react to changing battles systems along with using items when needed. Understandably, players used to having direct micro-management of characters found the system quite jarring, but those able to move past this found a new and refreshing battle system that proved to be deep and challenging especially in the later stages of the game. Not a perfect game by any means, especially due to the slow start, but Final Fantasy XIII still remains a top notch game and an interesting experiment for the series.

Trent Seely
Final Fantasy XIII makes a great first impression with its gorgeous graphics, high presentation values, and a stellar OST, but the title suffers from coyote ugly syndrome. While you will likely enjoy many aspects of your first night with this high- def JRPG, the cruel light of the morning after may leave you questioning whether you'd ever want to "hit that" again. Many replay-inhibiting flaws become glaringly evident once your scratch Final Fantasy XIII's very pretty surface. Your characters are as melodramatic as they are cardboard, antagonists come off superfluous since they get little screen-time, the plot lacks power as the game opts to throw an encyclopedia at you instead of subtly weaving exposition into the narrative, the character development system and area maps are extremely linear with few branching points, and the stakes never seem as strong as those in previous series entries. That said, it's not as though Final Fantasy XIII is without merit. Outside of the sleek visuals and sound, this title boasts an innovative and engrossing battle system that should keep you love drunk until the end credits roll. It's by no means a "bad" video game, or even RPG — it's just not a great Final Fantasy.

Michael A. Cunningham
With Final Fantasy XIII, I tried to recreate the same feeling I had with Final Fantasy X by avoiding as much media on this game as possible. I saw one trailer, the first one that wasn't even similar in style to the final product, so I succeeded fairly well. I wish I had a stronger opinion on it, but I found the cast to be underdeveloped, the story to be rushed, the pacing to be completely off, and the game to be entirely focused on style over substance. The intro to chapter twelve is the best example of this problem. I was always taught if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, so I will end this here.

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