When the announcement was made that Final Fantasy XIII – once exclusive to the PS3 – was going to make its way to the rival X360 platform, the gaming world was put in to a state of shock.

Now that the first Final Fantasy for this generation of consoles is finally available, lets see if the game itself manages the same effect – or if 13 is indeed an unlucky number.

The game begins on the floating world of Cocoon, governed by the totalitarian regime of the Sanctum – and its military faction, Psicom. Gripped by fear of attack from Pulse, the world below, an assortment of characters are brought together together to save the world they know from seemingly inevitable destruction.

Since the game’s release in Japan 3 months ago, much has been said of the game’s unwavering linearity. This is mostly true. For the first 20 hours you’ll be strung along, trudging through corridor after corridor, without as much as a deviating path to be seen.


It’s quite a long time to spend with the game holding your hand, moving along a linear path, where there’s not much to do other than move from battle to battle to battle, interrupted by regular – but beautifully rendered cutscenes. It’s almost like a 3D Double Dragon with turn-based combat, which I admittedly began to rather enjoy.

There are no towns to explore, shops are reduced to simple menus, can’t select who you want in your party, instead having party members selected for you as it guides you through the story – in fact there’s very little of the RP in RPG. It’s a rather dramatic departure from the traditional JRPG. These aren’t the only genre stalwart that Square-Enix has dispensed with though, and its divisive in that it may be alienating for fans of JRPG’s – and just not action-packed enough to bring in new fans.


Thankfully after the 2nd hour – 2 of the most boring hours I’ve spent gaming in recent memory – the game picks up a little, and starts to show off it’s impressive combat system. It employs an ATB – Active Time Battle – system that features a gauge that continuously fills up over time. Commands are queued up, each with an ATB cost, that are performed when the segmented gauge is full. Each character has a limited number of segments – limiting the number of commands that can be queued to be unleashed. As you progress through the story this limit increases.

The evolution of the ATB battle system – and its focus this time round is the “Paradigm shift”. In battle each of your three active party members can be assigned a single role at any given time, one of six different different classes – Commando, Ravager, Sentinel, Synergist, Saboteur and Medic. Commandos focus on direct attacks, Ravagers do distanced elemental damagers, medics can only heal. These roles can be switched on the fly in created sets called “Paradigm Shifts.” Diversity, a Paradigm Shift featuring a combination of these three classes would have your controlled character doing direct weapon attacks, with supporting a supporting character to deal long-rage damage and the last character providing healing effects.


You’ll have to constantly change between Paradigm Shifts to overcome many of the games enemies, and its this frantic juggle, trying to find just the right combination that makes combat so much fun. It introduces a surprising amount of strategy and depth to combat, considering you can only ever control one character at a time, with the rest being controlled quite capably by the AI.

Last Updated: March 9, 2010

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Final Fantasy XIII


  1. ewie

    March 9, 2010 at 12:28

    So how does this compare to Lost Oddesey as you also
    had to slog for hours 15+ before you got to the good side of it ?


    • Geoff

      March 9, 2010 at 12:36

      Depends on the player. Lost Odyssey was a VERY traditional JRPG, whereas FFXIII is much, much prettier – but not really /much/ of an RPG.

      For the casual player, they’d probably prefer FF.


    • WitWolfyZA

      March 9, 2010 at 15:07

      Well Lost Oddessey still remains the best JRPG this generation


      • Geoff

        March 9, 2010 at 15:14

        I dunno. I reckon my favourites this gen might be The World Ends With You and Bowser’s Inside Story.


        • WitWolfyZA

          March 10, 2010 at 09:20



  2. eltonriley

    March 9, 2010 at 12:28

    So if you give 9.5/10 to the Xbox version for presentation despite pointing out issues with CGI, how much will you give the PS3 version? 11/10?

    Thanks for the review, but I had to ask.


    • Geoff

      March 9, 2010 at 12:34

      The score stands – the videos are the same. It’s a beautiful game on either console, it just /looks/ better on the PS3. The presentation – by way of art, character design etc remains the same.


  3. Someone

    March 9, 2010 at 12:35

    I so much wanted this game. But after hearing (reading) all the bad rep about it was kinda upsetting.
    I guess I’ll wait a bit more or maybe grab it 2nd hand.

    Maybe there might just be some Version 2 that has extra content (yeah right, but hey).


    • Geoff

      March 9, 2010 at 12:38

      It’s still a good game. If you’re looking for a traditional JRPG like VII, or even the recent XII, you’ll likely be disappointed.

      Still I enjoyed it immensely once I came to terms with what was presented.


  4. evilredzombie

    March 9, 2010 at 12:53

    again another flawed review….. You guys realy need to set a standerd of when is a 9 and 6 etc applicable……


    • Geoff

      March 9, 2010 at 12:59

      Nick and I have slightly different ethos’ when it comes to scores. I believe score of 8 plus are GREAT, and that 5 is mediocre. An awful game would garner a score of 2.

      Final Fantasy XIII is a good game, but it just misses being *Great*

      I don’t subscribe to the all-too-common ideology that review scores start at 7.

      Also, try not to focus on the score. It’s an arbitrary, meaningless number in the end. The review itself is what matters.


      • RSA-Ace

        March 9, 2010 at 13:51

        I agree fully with what you said at the end there. I think reviews shouldn’t give you a numerical value. Every reviewer is different and has a different idea what a 7 is and what a 10 is.

        Reviews should leave out the whole ‘scoring’ aspect – I think joystiq don’t give scores but just ‘review’ the game!


        • LazySAGamer

          March 9, 2010 at 14:14

          We have had this discussion often and in the end I still tend towards insisting on scores as I feel people still like to see a reviewer final opinion on a game.

          If it’s worked for movies for decades I see no reason why we can’t apply the same logic to games. It’s hard but at the same time reviewers needs to be held accountable for what they write.


          • Geoff

            March 9, 2010 at 14:36

            Facist! 😆

    • LazySAGamer

      March 10, 2010 at 11:16

      How did I miss this comment before, anyway I don’t feel the review is flawed and I also feel setting a standard for scoring across all reviewers takes some personality away from each person.

      The review isn’t about the final score it’s about the entire body of writing. If you disagree with the review on any point please feel free to point them out.

      The score is only one small part of a much larger 2 page review


      • Flaimbaitboy

        March 10, 2010 at 11:36

        The problem is that only a small fraction of the readers who comment actually READ the whole review.


        • LazySAGamer

          March 10, 2010 at 12:04

          Are you insinuating people merely read the headline and score and then comment :blink:

          You may be onto something :tongue:


          • Flamebaitboy

            March 10, 2010 at 13:35

            That’s how the internet works…

  5. darthdad

    March 9, 2010 at 13:09

    Thanks for the review Geoff. Looks like a 2nd hand buy for me.


  6. Cleric

    March 9, 2010 at 13:19

    Great review. Kinda captures everything that I’ve heard about it already. Strangely, I think that the new linear nature may suit me, as I just don’t have the energy to go searching nook and crannies anymore. And knowing upfront what I’ll be in for will probably enhance my enjoyment of the game.

    Too bad GOW3, Ratchet and Clank, and an as-yet untouched Heavy Rain will keep we away from this one for a long while. Prob pick it up second hand in July, but then again, by that time, Splinter Cell will be rocking my world.

    Ahhh… too many great games to play.


  7. Alucard

    March 9, 2010 at 13:53

    I have pay attention to the graphics on the game. Looks very good for a current Gen game. I’m not a fan of graphics but a fan of storyline/gameplay. I pay attention on the graphic detailing and video. It doesn’t seem crappy compared to the Xbox 360 screen shots we’ve seen on one of the articles that stated that Xbox 360 won’t be in HD and with 576i resolution. Ok not Full HD but didn’t they just said on the back cover of the game its HDTV 720p/1080I/1080P?! I mean seriously I have my 360 set to 1080I on my HDTV and the Xbox360 shows HD quality for XIII but ya know not Full HD. Seriously I do not see any difference I believe the graphics on the 360 version is good enough.(I’m not defending the Xbox360 and bashing the PS3 version once again I favour Gameplay over graphics.)So far I give the game 7-8/10. Regardless of not switching characters It has that traditional battle system of 1-10 but upgraded a bit making the characters constantly moving. I perfer that style then XI/XII battle System. The paradigm shift system looks good but I barely got started using it. But so far FFXIII for the Xbox360 does look good to me graphics wise and gameplay. It may not be very good to everyone but in my opinion its very good to me and I enjoy it.


    • WitWolfyZA

      March 9, 2010 at 15:11

      Well BTGames just SMSed me telling me my Copy is ready… so if you’ll excuse me, im gonna get my game and my limited edition Wallet lol


  8. daki-sama

    March 9, 2010 at 16:48

    I’m about 7 hours in myself, I’ll agree on a few points:
    – It’s more obviously linear than previous FF’s, which were almost all just as linear. You may not have been walking a straight path before, but you were funneled from point A to B with the illusion of choice.
    – I miss the time-wasting NPC’s with useful dialogue about the world you’re trying to save. Cocoon is hard to relate to, having not seen it, or even heard much about it.
    – The combat is a comfortable mix of old and new. Previous Final Fantasy’s like X and XII were more experimental with their introduction of game mechanics to the series.
    – The Australian voice acting is just…. a shawker.

    This game reminds me mostly of Final Fantasy X – although with a slower character build-up so far.
    I’m not finding it ‘tedious’ at all. The combat is engaging and it genuinely interests me. Best combat system so far, it really feels like a re-invention of the old formula. Nice surprise to see Square’s tried something new, even if it didn’t work out 100%, they should learn from it and make their next game (Versus please!) less ‘focused.’ The review seemed a bit harsh, if people didn’t keep going on about its linearity, I would have shrugged it off about 2 hours in without consciously thinking on it. There were definitely more steps forward than back. Not my favourite FF so far, but if it gets better than this, I’d rate it above X and maybe IX. Vanille is annoying, Hope needs a nappy, Snow needs his mom to tell him she was exaggerating by telling he was special, and Lightning has PMS. Sazh on the other hand, is a bit of a downer, but funnier than expected :happy:
    I expect that these characters will flesh out in a few hours.


  9. Radam

    March 9, 2010 at 19:59

    Clearly a mediocre review from someone who has no idea what a videogame is. Son you must be a kid am i right? you started playing 5 years ago? then don’t go playing at the “reviewer”.


    • Geoff

      March 9, 2010 at 20:32

      Hahaha, I played the very first Final Fantasy on the NES. Six (released as 3 in the US) is still my favourite in the series though…But not a single Final Fantasy game tops Chrono Trigger.

      Anyway, this isn’t my least favourite in the series – but it’s really nowhere near as good as XII and VII.


      • WitWolfyZA

        March 10, 2010 at 09:23

        Im about 2 and a half hours in, and all i can say is wow. THE CINEMATICS ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!

        My GF tottaly crapped on my for not being so romantic like the blond dude with the fire crackers scene


        • Flamebaitboy

          March 10, 2010 at 09:43

          You know there are things called movies you can watch.


          • WitWolfyZA

            March 10, 2010 at 10:27

            well if it makes u feel better we watched “True Blood” there after

    • Goose ZA

      March 10, 2010 at 10:19

      Clearly a mediocre comment from someone who has no idea how long the reviewer has been gaming for. Son, you must be an asshole, am I right?

      If you have a comment about the game or review then make it. How it is that you think you know anything about any one of the authors on this site is beyond me.


  10. Alucard

    March 11, 2010 at 01:35

    I believe the game being linear has to be a reason. Square-enix maybe wanted to introduce this game to first timers as well. Quite simple for a first timer who wants to try out a good rpg. I believe its very good to introduce this game to newer fans since this game is easier then the other FF games(Not Entirely easy since it can switch from easy to hard and back to easy.) So far this game is indeed good but Final Fantasy VII will remain the best RPG in my heart since VII was the first RPG I played when I first got my PlayStation 11 years ago.


  11. Kamasenin

    March 12, 2010 at 18:19

  12. kab123

    March 13, 2010 at 09:07

    What’s the issue with a game being linear? Is it a bad thing? I played Fallout3 with a .38 special on my lap contemplating when would be a good to relief myself of my boredom


  13. SgtFiddler

    March 15, 2010 at 20:05

    I’m not sure if the reviewer actually played any of the previous FF titles – none of them are terribly exciting in the first 2 hours.
    I’m about 17 hours into FF13 and, put simply, it rocks. It’s clear that the structure of the game was a conscious design desicion – it makes perfect sense in the context and flow of the game’s structure.


  14. mitas

    March 20, 2010 at 10:47

    gana give it a miss , too many other great games out at the moment , GOD 3 comes to mind


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