Final Fantasy faithfuls to be disappointed with “FFXIII”

Fans of the Final Fantasy franchise may be disappointed by its newest installment, “Final Fantasy XIII.”

This game takes place in a fantasy universe on a planet known as Pulse and the city which floats over it, called Cocoon.

The environments of Cocoon and Pulse are beautifully designed, as are the character models. The voice acting is also excellent, which helps to draw the player into the story.

By far, the best aspect of this game is the new battle system, known as the paradigm system which is a cross between typical Final Fantasy menu system fighting and FFXII real-time combat.

The player only controls one character but chooses the classes of the entire party. The combination of classes creates unique paradigms that have different abilities. Knowing when to switch the paradigm from attacking or defending to healing is the key to success.

This game encourages the player to use combination attacks to weaken the opponent. When enough combination damage has been applied to the enemy, it becomes staggered and is susceptible to increased damage and new attacks. The new battle system keeps the player actively involved in each fight.

However, there are some serious flaws that will leave the die-hard gamer disappointed.
The biggest problem is that the game is incredibly linear. Not only is the story line straightforward, but the environments only allow one path to be followed.

The game opens up toward the end, but a player will spend the better part of the time following a straight line.

This means no visiting towns, talking with non-playable characters or traveling from shop to shop to find the right equipment. The only shopping that can be done is at save points, though the shops are hardly necessary with virtually no money in the game.

With such a linear game, a lot of pressure is put on the story line. Though the story is interesting and the surrounding universe is impressive, the story is often too predictable. Even when  it isn’t, the characters can become annoyingly one-dimensional.

For example, one of the characters, Hope, spends half of the game wallowing in despair, unable to see any hope in his situation. This kind of character development and obvious irony drags the story down.

This game is a disappointment because it is not the vast, interactive and unpredictable game that fans have come to expect from the Final Fantasy series.

However, the game is worth playing through once. The unique world, with all of its complicated history and beautiful design, and the battle system are certainly worth the time and money.

Just don’t play this game looking for a FFVII experience – you won’t find it.

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