My name on the MyGamer forums is SpudlyFF8Fan. Yes, Spudly “Final Fantasy VIII Fan”. I made the name back in 2000 or so. I was thirteen! Shut up! It was cool at the time! In spite of that, my favorite game in the series is Final Fantasy Tactics, and my enthusiasm for the series waned about two months after FFXI came out. It was dead in time for XII, such that I’ve never even played the game that supposedly bridged the gap between American and Japanese RPGs. Final Fantasy XIII, though, is revitalizing my interest in the series.
Final Fantasy XIII goes back a bit, to the days of Final Fantasy VII and VIII, taking place in a semi-futuristic setting; the flying paradise city of Cocoon. Naturally, a flying paradise must have a dark side, or else it’d be a very boring game. Cocoon is built by an ancient race called the fal’Cie. The fal’Cie sometimes pick out gifted humans and designate them l’Cie, granting them magical powers, that will potentially turn them into a crystal if they do not fulfill the desires of the fal’Cie (sucks, huh?). Cocoon has a history of war with the people of Pulse, who live a much more “grounded” life on the planet Cocoon flies over. Because of that, anybody from Cocoon who sets foot on Pulse is exiled by the city’s government, the Sanctum. People who refuse to abide by this ruling are pursued by the police organization PSICOM. Snow, one of the game’s main characters, leads the resistance group Team Nora, against the Sanctum, leading his group on a crazy, magical adventure.
The gameplay of Final Fantasy XIII takes a couple steps back towards classic titles, bringing back turn-based combat, with a few unique twists. The game’s battle system works a bit like Final Fantasy VIII, going to the “Active Time Battle” days where, even with turn-based attacking, you still need to quickly make your move, lest your opponents may beat you to the punch button. While in the past you simply hit “attack” or “Fire”, in FFXIII your characters work using “Cost Points” (CP). As time builds up, your character acquires more and more CP. Let’s say, hypothetically, a character can store up to five CP. A regular melee attack may take one CP, which lets a character “stack” moves, forming combos. Additionally, characters gain CP incrementally, which could allow you to send out one small attack at a time, or bide your time and send out five at once. The result is a surprisingly fast-paced and deeply strategic battle system.
Graphically…well…the game is made by Square-Enix. ‘Nuf Said. It’s gorgeous. The characters and environments are stunningly well-done, and the game features jaw-dropping cutscenes. The design team points out that they tore a page from the movie spin-off of Final Fantasy VII, Advent Children, which can be seen with high-flying, over-the-top animation that comes up both in and out of battle. Music is done by Masashi Hamauzu, who worked in both Dirge of Cerberus, as well as Final Fantasy X and features a blend of sythny and orchestral numbers. At this point, the voice acting list hasn’t been fully announced, but it will, in all likelihood, meet any expectations you can have.
Final Fantasy XIII is set for a March 9 release on both the PS3 and Xbox 360. Look for a review from MyGamer around the time of the game’s release, and check out your local game store for all the badass paraphernalia that is sure to spawn from the game’s release.