Game- Final Fantasy 13
System- PlayStation 3
Hey TQ’s with the large bulk of messages sent through to me via the PSN about FF13, I know this game is a well wanted product that I have decided to put a fully packed preview of the game, with a few images I have taken of the TV along the way(Pioneer 50″ 1080p Plasma)
Now, I been reading the hype on this game pre-release and once the 360 version was announced the hype has turned to negative feedback. In fact, after ordering the game I read a few articles of really bad press about the game, some of the things I read were unforgivable and I really wish I had not ordered the game. Since then I have not read any reviews for the game, not reading any negative fanboy feedback or reading comments from die hard FF fans, This preview is that of my own thoughts and impressions of the game and not hampered by other site/forums/news articles. This is a gamers true honest FF13 Preview.
All Images taken are from the TV, no capture cards, no special effects, not editing.
Before we kick this off, I would just like to add I have no Japanese speaking skills, I have been progressing through the game from help on many FF13 sites, 1 site I would like to give a huge shootout to is http://finalfantasy-xiii.net/ and would recommend if anyone does get hold of the game, they bookmark this site as its got so much info, translations, tips, help, trophy guides, you name it. If its FF related this is the place to be.
General and Story
While I don’t speak Japanese or understand it, the story in the game is great, you really get a feeling of what’s going in the game by how well the cut scenes are presented and how well animated each characters facial expressions are. Having a quick read online with many translated dialogue of the game lets you get the idea of what’s going on, voices are clear and crisp and the sync of voices to characters are on a level even Hollywood would have to sit back and take a long look at themselves, it is simply that stunning. The game puts you into the roll of playing many characters, all folding together neatly as the story comes together and you are playing each character just long enough before you start with another to keep the game and story rolling, it’s so well done.
Graphics in FF13 are unmatched by any game I have played to date, simply put this is the best looking game I have ever seen, the game blurs the line between in game, cut scenes(in game engine) and FMV, the FMV in the game is on par or much higher with any multi million dollar production film, and the fact that many times you will be trying to work out if its FMV or in game cut scene say’s a lot on just how damn good this game engine is, from the first FMV you know this game means business and it doesn’t let up in any one area.
The character themselves are handcrafted to perfection, no other way to describe it, their hair is so unbelievable, there movements are all unique and satisfying to watch, the detail in the small things like clothes, accessories and being able to see textures of materiel the clothes are made from or buttons and stitching all rendered in HD and the highest of textures, the stubble on Snow’s face looks so life like.
The weapons used by the characters are a delight to see, it’s again crafted to perfection from reflections, shine and the design of them. Enemies are the same thing, endless hrs spent making everything look great, high textures, moving parts, high polygon count and effects, it all here. When fighting in FF13 the graphics come to life, there can be so much going on at once, lighting strikes, fireballs, bombs, gunshots, healing effect, and so on all going of at the same time, its lights up the screen with so much color and effects, characters casting causes a rainbow glass effect sphere to surround then it just looks so damn pretty, things like a bomb exploding into flames and burning an emery is enough to make your jaw drop let alone all the other things going on at the same time.
Environments are packing a punch, HDR lighting, special effect, blur, you name it this game is running it and the worlds are filled with extra detail, like fog and sparking effects through out the levels, not much more I can say here but you have to play it to believe it, I could go on and on about how good this game looks but you need to play it yourself.
I have been playing this game with my wife watching and many times my wife will comment on how good the game is and how life like the characters look, and how detailed the environments are. I can sit there and show my wife games like MW2 or even my Fav looking game GT5P and she will be “yeah that looks good” or along those lines, but never comment herself about how good a game looks, guess that alone is testament to how good this game looks and how far Square has pushed this game to what I call “Graphical Perfection” for the hardware its on.
Fast, non stop action, intense sums it up, the game plays so well. The way the game is put together is something special, there is no longer running around endlessly for countless hours doing nothing in one area, enemies don’t just appear and you in a random fight, you can see into the distance, see your enemies and suit up ready for action before you approach you fight.
Ok, onto a few things; yes the game is linear(so far anyway) there are not many towns and not many people to talk to, but never fear this feature has become one of my best parts of the game, I am no longer aimlessly wondering an area over and over, I am no longer running around talking to every last sucker in a town to get a door to magically open, this might be a killer for many gamers, and I must say, I hate the linear paths on games myself, well not with this game, the way the game is setup and how things progress you never really get a chance to dwell on it and this makes for more gameplay and more progression without the feeling of being stuck to a single path, not sure how they have done it, but they did.
You will encounter loads and loads of invisible walls, at first I was thinking man this sucks, but as you get into the game you start to understand that this is another one of those things the developer has done to keep the game moving forward, keeps you from aimlessly running around to see if you can fit through every little hole that other games painstakingly let you do to waste your time and make a 20hr game roll into a 40hr game because you are doing loads of pointless things, this game keeps you moving forward and I love it! If I roll 40 or 50hrs of gameplay from this game it’s literally that.
Keep in mind this is a J-RPG and not a standard RPG like oblivion where everything is in real time and a big open world is suited so well. At the same time it constantly feels fresh, its not running around with 100s of pre-generated trees, grass and rocks, FF13 is hand crafted level design at its best moving forward from one area to the next is underwhelming how they could craft so many areas in such great detail and pure eye candy on the eyes and never feels like you are stuck in one spot cause all you have seen for the past 5hrs is the same textures, lighting, trees and character other J-RPGs make u feel, not taking anything away from Oblivion as it is(or soon to be was) my fav RPG of all time, but other J-RPGs of late have been sour, repetitive, lackluster and down right boring.
The blend of gameplay to cut scene to FMV is non existent, there is not 5sec delay while a cut scene loads breaking you away from the story, no FMV with super high detail then 10sec pause while it loads a low texture in game model that again makes it feel like a game and kills the feel of it, its all smooth flawless and engaging.
Another neat feature on the lines of keeping you moving forward is the map has a little bunch of dots showing were you came from, so you don’t get confused and start back tracking by mistake, and some levels have a glow of light in the direction you need to travel, its this fine detail that has won me over in a big way.
Flawless! I love every bit of it, it’s still a turn based system, but the days of you hit me and I will hit you are gone. Pick your attack, wait for the meter to fill up and unleash your fury on your enemies. It is great how the developers have changed up the battle system to suit the new game style, everything about this game is to keep you moving, keep you entertained and it pull it off in great fashion.
The Optima system is where you can change yourself and your team on the fly within a battle, loosing the fight? Change to a healer and recover your team, change the team to attackers and keep one as a healer and get stuck into the enemies, this system alone its genius, it makes battles that should end in a few seconds roll on and become more intense and intense. Some fights of 10 mins or more bouncing back and forth until you perfectly timed a great optima, change to bring the enemy to a break where you can switch over to all attackers and go for the kill, it’s so rewarding and satisfying to pull this off. A fist pump in the air after many battles like this, let you know how rewarding this is.
Now, I have read that there is no strategy in the fight system, I can confirm this is a load of garbage, there is so much strategy and styles of gameplay needed once you get further into the game, its kind of easy sailing at first but believe me, come later in the game you will die…a lot and strategy becomes the only key to winning… period!!!
This is a Final Fantasy trademark, and it delivers on all front in XIII. The smooth Japanese soundtrack, mixed with up tempo battle music and sound effects to match every last lightening strike, sword slash or fireball blazing. Character voice acting is top notch, and the ever relaxing piano music relaxes you and sends you into a tranquil feeling of being in the game, for those of you lucky enough to have a surround sound setup via HDMI its got uncompressed audio.
Overall, I am loving this game more than any other game this year. FF13 is without a doubt head and shoulders above what I was expecting. With all the negative feedback about it I had my doubts. To all the negative feedback/comments on the net about this game because it’s not like this FF game and its not like that RPG game, and why did they do this and why did they do that bla bla, its all been done now and it works perfect. Just play it and enjoy this well crafted master piece(so far anyway). Nothing comes into my mind but awesome when playing FF13, it’s just a joy to play, it’s perfect in every way, the new style of combat, the linear levels, the sound, story progress and so forth.
I am currently about 17hrs into this game and I have many more hours ahead of me. At this amount of gameplay time on a game like MW2 I would have beaten Veteran mode unlocked all my trophies and never want to press on the story mode icon ever again. FF13 has kept me thrilled and entertained for this long and I am eager to get back onto it to blast through many more hrs.
It just doesn’t get any better than this, from the graphics, gameplay, menus, sound effects, music, quick load times, it’s a perfect package and what I expect from high production games that normally don’t deliver the goods come launch day, FF13 is all class!
For those TQfam’s wanting to know a Michelas Rating, I will need to complete the game before I hand down a review score, but a hint of what score I would give from the game so far is maximum Michelas , but a lot can change the final score as I am only 1/3 way through this epic adventure.