Top 10 Games of the Seventh Generation Consoles - #8: Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII does not use the exact combat system of its predecessors, but that’s kind of a pattern the series has followed all along – trying new spins on an old classic. FFXIII utilizes a variant of the ATB battle system introduced way back in Final Fantasy IV, and puts you in control of three characters at a time, requiring you to rotate through your lineup of roles (known as paradigm shifts) in order to fight foes. While it is true that the game does not require you to be particularly involved with selecting specific attacks seeing as auto-battle will generally select the most useful magic or physical attack, FFXIII’s fast-paced combat will ask that you remain attentive and ready to switch party roles at a moment’s notice. As a result, the combat is less chaotic and frenetic and more fluid and methodical.

The only real gripe that I have with Final Fantasy XIII is that the side quests are all centered around the concept of tracking down increasingly stronger creatures and slaying them in order to unlock Xbox 360 achievements/PS3 trophies. While you can technically continue grinding during the game’s later hours in order to fully level up your party members and expand their crystarium, the roles you’ve assigned them up to that point should complement each other impeccably – each character basically starts off on two primary roles (in the case of Snow, these are Sentinel and Ravager), and then a third is recommended to both further specialize your party members as well as cover potential gaps in your strategies. Unlike many a JRPG, it offers opportunities for grinding for experience points without actually requiring it.

For my first foray into the core Final Fantasy games, FFXIII was a strong start. It’s not perfect and I have since discovered elements of other Final Fantasy titles that I prefer over some of what FFXIII has to offer. But nearly everything that FFXIII brings to the table is handled very well. During the forty plus hours it takes to complete the main game, there is ample time to develop each of the six main characters as well as explore the lore of the Fabula Nova Crystallis universe without the terminology going completely over your head. I loved Lightning and Sazh, I came to appreciate Snow, Fang, and Hope and everything they offered to the party. But in a most unexpected turn of events, Vanille, the bubbly girl who I expected might get annoying rather quickly, proved to be the most deep and engaging of the bunch.

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