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  • Six unlikely heroes brought together by fate. Two worlds split apart by war. Towering beings

  • that force you to bend to their whims. Welcome to Final Fantasy XIII, a stirring and emotional

  • adventure starring Lightning, the latest in a long line of great final fantasy stars.

  • She's not the only star of this great story, however: Shes joined by four equally fascinating

  • companions... and one incredibly irritating one. They take a grand journey filled with

  • electric and heartbreaking moments that will stick in your mind long after the journey

  • is over. The great story comes at a cost: the larger portion of the skill progression

  • and exploration is shockingly linear. Freedom eventually comes, but the constant narrow

  • corridors diminish the sense of grand adventure. Fortunately, fun, flashy battles and gorgeous

  • visuals help pick up the slack. Final fantasy XIII is a great addition to the franchise

  • and a great role-playing game in its own right.

  • So I've mentioned Lightning, the beautiful and resolute heroine. She's the soul of final

  • fantasy XIII, but she isn't the only character worth caring about. Among others you'll meet

  • Snow, the roguish self proclaimed hero. And Hope, a lost soul looking for someone to blame

  • for his anguish. And sadly, you'll also meet Vanille, an annoyingly chirpy, happy go lucky

  • waif whose high pitched cries might want to make you reach for a set of earplugs. Fortunately,

  • the other members of your party are easier to root for. You meet them on the broken world

  • of Cocoon, where a great purge is underway to deport citizens to its nemesis world, Pulse.

  • While the story has a dull stretch in the middle, the tension between party members

  • and the great beings called Fal'Cie that govern the flow of society make the tale shine.

  • And what a world this is. Final Fantasy XIII is absolutely gorgeous, moreso on the PlayStation

  • 3. The art design is quite lovely, equal parts organic, metallic, and crystalline. There's

  • a lot of detail everywhere and a nice variety of different locations. Everything looks meticulously

  • crafted, as if every rock, every blade of grass, every tower looks like it's exactly

  • where it belongs. And aside from some rare moments of slowdown, the game runs smoothly.

  • You'll spend a lot of time pulling up menus during combat, but everything is slick and

  • easy to navigate. And boy does that combat look good. It's flashy and colorful, and the

  • camera does a good job of making things look dramatic while still showing you what you

  • need to see. If you have both a PS3 and an Xbox 360, go with the PS3. The Xbox 360 version

  • features a lower resolution, so textures and cutscenes are blurrier. However, the Xbox

  • 360 version is still lovely, so don't sweat the differences if that's the version you

  • get.

  • The combat is a blend of real-time and turn-based elements. You have an action gauge that's

  • split into segments, and it rises during combat. Each action you take costs a certain number

  • of segments. Once the bar fills, you execute all the moves you've queued up, or you can

  • cut things short early if you need to. You only have direct control of one character

  • at a time. The other two members of your party perform moves on their own, and this is where

  • paradigms come in. Each character can use abilities from several different roles, like

  • a medic or a commando, but party members can only fill one role at a time. A paradigm is

  • a combination of roles, and during battle, you'll switch back and forth from one to another.

  • The first half of the game is relatively easy, but during the second half, you'll need to

  • experiment to see what works and have a good command of paradigms if you want to succeed.

  • And frankly, the combat is just a ton of fun when you reach that point. You'll be switching

  • back and forth between paradigms quickly and occasionally micromanaging your own spells

  • and abilities. And the boss fights are a great challenge that will have you checking out

  • different combinations of party members and roles.

  • You spend crystogen points you earn in battle to improve your attributes and learn new spells

  • and skills. You're limited to the three roles the game assigns to your characters to spend

  • points in for the first portion of the game. But eventually you'll unlock all six roles

  • for every character. The problems with leveling up are twofold. First, character progression

  • is incredibly linear. There are a few short branches off the Crystarium tree for each

  • role, but there's no reason to skip over them since you'll be able to earn everything available

  • to you before you gain access to the next level. Second, by the time you're free to

  • choose any role, there's no reason to spend points in them. You just end up spending points

  • on low level upgrades when you can use them for much more powerful enhancements. When

  • it comes to character advancement, freedom is an illusion.

  • The limitations also apply to the exploration. There's a stretch where you can pick up side

  • missions in the middle of the game, but for the most part, you are always moving forward.

  • The fact that the walkways and corridors and canyons you navigate are usually rather narrow

  • just makes the linearity all the more noticeable. A little variety would have helped... minigames,

  • puzzle solving, or something else to help break things up. Of course the plus side is

  • that the story and gameplay have a lot of forward momentum, and aside from a tedious

  • jog through a tall tower, no one area overstays its welcome.

  • So yes it has its problems, but Final Fantasy XIII is a long and great game perfectly worthy

  • of the franchise. It's got a story you can get lost in and a mostly great cast of characters

  • that will eventually seem like old friends. Plus, it looks absolutely beautiful. If you're

  • looking for a fun and involving RPG in an exquisitely crafted world, this one will fit

  • the bill, and in the process, might even move you in unexpected ways.

Six unlikely heroes brought together by fate. Two worlds split apart by war. Towering beings

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GameSpot Reviews - Final Fantasy XIII Video Review

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    阿多賓 posted on 2013/04/16
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