Fantasy adventure never ‘Final’

Ashley Nadeau / Washburn Review

With more than one million sold in North America within its first five days, Final Fantasy XIII has become the fastest-selling game in franchise history and for good reason.

Moments into the first cinematic cut scene you are blown away by smooth, detailed graphics, gorgeous artwork and an amazing soundtrack.  The momentum never ceases in 40 plus hours of gameplay and story in the three-disc role-playing fantasy adventure.

The dramatic and touching story revolves around a cast of six unique and memorable characters (seven if you count the chocobo living in a main character’s afro) whose fates have been intertwined to reach an elusive and sometimes unknown goal. These characters all have distinct and likable personalities and their own personal motivations.

Each character can eventually learn abilities from any role arc. While Final Fantasy XIII has integrated new abilities, most of the same classic abilities fans know and love can still be learned. New abilities and attributes for each role are unlocked as the story progresses and are learned by spending points earned in battle.

What really sets this game apart from past Final Fantasy titles, or any other RPG for that matter, is the gameplay. While maintaining its menu-based roots, the battle system feels much faster and more intuitive than its predecessors.

The goal of any encounter is to stagger the enemy by unleashing chain combos to fill its stagger bar to maximum. Once an enemy is staggered, high amounts of damage can be inflicted along with the potential for air-juggling.

To be successful in battle it’s best to take advantage of the paradigm system. Up to three characters can be in your battle party at any given time, each with its own role specializations. By adjusting Paradigms you can set up different role combinations and switch between them mid-battle, creating a new level of strategy and intensity to every encounter.

Much like previous Final Fantasy titles, summons play a major role in the storyline and gameplay. The summons in Final Fantasy XIII are known as Eidolons, and include some series staples and introduce some new faces. Each character possesses one Eidolon which can be summoned during battle. The Eidolon fights alongside the character and can also transform with Gestalt mode. During this mode the Eidolon morphs into a different form and the summoner can ride the Eidolon, combining attacks in real time dealing high damage to the target.  

Incorporating new and classic elements, Final Fantasy XIII is the most impressive game in the series yet. Striking visuals, a thrilling storyline, detailed customization and addictive gameplay make Final Fantasy XIII a must have for any fan of the series or anyone who enjoys RPGs.