Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII Review for PS3

On: PS3Xbox 360PC

First instalment of the long-running RPG series on the PlayStation 3.

Review Verdict Read Review
7Out of 10
Back to game info
Just check that screenshot out. Wow.
Just check that screenshot out. Wow.

Just check that screenshot out. Wow.

And then of course, there are the graphics. FFXIII - the first HD FF game - looks fantastic. The in-game character models are superb. Lightning's hair blows in the wind, Snow's jacket ripples realistically as he dishes out his unique blend of knuckle sandwich, and Sazh's afro… well, it wobbles about like jelly, which isn't realistic at all, but from a distance it looks great. Some of the environments look stunning, too. The Hanging Edge, for example, is what you imagine Midgar would look like had it been created in high definition and powered by current generation processors. The vista in the seaside city of Bodhum is up there with the best Uncharted 2 had to offer. And, Gran Pulse, the setting of FFXIII's infamous chapter 11, is a genuine sight to behold - an open field safari packed with enormous, earth shaking four-legged beasts and rabid monsters sprinting in packs, all overlooked by the ominous vision of Cocoon hanging high in the sky. FFXIII's sci-fi world is as colourful and vibrant as any gamer tired of dour, depressing game worlds could hope for. It is quintessentially Final Fantasy - a distinctly Japanese take on science fiction - fuelled by a wonderfully uplifting score composed by Masashi Hamauzu - that acts as the perfect antidote to the concrete, post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 3 and the lens-flare filled galaxy of Mass Effect 2.

But the CGI cutscenes will no doubt steal the show. They are, quite simply, the best ever; to our eyes as good as the Final Fantasy CGI movies. There are loads of cutscenes in FFXIII, but they are not, in isolation, offensively long, as they are in MGS4. They are bite-sized chunks of animated brilliance, and demand to be watched over and over again. But the more impressive feat is how good the "in between cutscenes" look. These cutscenes - not CGI but not in-game - look fantastic, and sometimes fool you into thinking you're watching CGI. There can be no doubt that FFXIII is a graphical feast worthy of anyone's high definition television.

However, it doesn't always look fantastic. Some of the environments look bland and, dare we say it, lack detail. This is particularly true of the Vile Peaks area - a land built with the debris used by the fal'Cie to construct Cocoon. Almost all of the game's interior sections are boring to look at - a particularly disappointing, and frustrating, sight to endure when you're forced to spend hours soldiering through these locales. It's particularly irksome because you know the game is capable of so much more - you've just seen it in the last chapter.

You all want to know about the differences between the PS3 and the 360 versions, don't you? Of course you do. Well, here's the truth: the PS3 version is the one to get. To our eyes, the gameplay visuals look similar across both platforms, but the cutscenes are vastly different. On PS3, and, therefore on Blu-ray, the cutscenes are displayed natively in 1080p, whereas the cutscenes in the 360 version are sub 720p. The cutscenes in the 360 version look, to the discerning eye, pixelated and blurry. But to the untrained eye, it's a case of much ado about nothing.

Despite the superb battle system, engaging cutscenes, and interesting characters, FFXIII, ultimately, is a disappointment. Taken in isolation, it is a fun game with stunning graphics and a compelling story. But compared with the wider RPG genre, and held up against the lofty expectations of the series' hardcore fans, it falls short. For this reason, newcomers may well enjoy FFXIII more than series' veterans.

Characters constantly refer to pushing forward no matter what. For much of the game, that is all the player can do.

Characters constantly refer to pushing forward no matter what. For much of the game, that is all the player can do.

You just can't escape the feeling that, in trimming the fat from the series, Square Enix has nicked FFXIII's bone. It's not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination; like a good song, or a slow-burning book, FFXIII grows on you the more you play it. It is, undoubtedly, the best JRPG to come out of Square Enix in a long time. But the inescapable, uncomfortable truth is that it is too linear. Without traditional JRPG features like towns, NPCs, and an over world, there is no real sense of ownership. Upon completing the game, you certainly feel as if you've enjoyed the 50 or so hours you've invested into doing so, but the experience is more throwaway than formative. Despite some incredibly tough monster hunting missions in chapter 11, there's no variation to the game whatsoever.

FFXIII spends too long easing players into its complex systems - complex systems which, really, aren't that complex. In a recent interview, Kitase said: "It's better to see some people be a little bit bored" than give players too much information to digest. We had no idea he was talking about 25 hours of boredom. Toriyama recently said that lower than expected review scores are the result of press reviewing "from a western point of view", as if to say we're missing the point. But surely, in today's global village and instant communication age, taking a global perspective on a high profile internationally-released video game is the only proper course of action.

As Western role-playing games have evolved, delving into open world, player-driven territory (Elder Scrolls, Fallout) and cinematic, cross-genre experiences (Mass Effect, Borderlands), Japanese role-playing games have remained largely the same - stuck in a rut, even - telling tales of teenage angst and upbeat heroic fantasy we've heard countless times before. We're not saying we wanted Final Fantasy to copy WRPG mechanics. We simply wanted - quite desperately - for Final Fantasy XIII to be the best JRPG of all time. You have to hand it to Square Enix for trying to move things forward - better that than yet another rehash of the tried and tested Final Fantasy formula (the less said about Infinite Undiscovery the better). But it does so along a path so narrow and straight that you long for the days of old. When Vanille is knocked out in battle, she sometimes says: "What went wrong?" It's a question we find ourselves wondering as well.

New stuff to check out

To add your comment, please login or register

Highest Rated Comment

User Comments

Woffls's Avatar


I really enjoyed this until I got to some mega robot boss and got stuck. Somehow it makes the first 10 hours a tutorial, and STILL hasn't made obvious to me what I need to do to beat this boss. It's the one just after you meet Hope's father, I think, and I got stuck so gave up. This was like 6 months ago now. I've been meaning to go back to it, and I probably will because I was half invested in the story.

It's definitely the best looking game I've ever seen.
Posted 12:05 on 25 March 2011
87Sarah's Avatar


I'm currently on the 'grinding' stage of this game so thought I would take a break and read this review. I never bothered to read it before as I was always going to go out and buy the Final Fantasy game straight away but this review is so true and I agree with pretty much everything that has been said.
It really is the most beautiful game I've ever seen though :)
Posted 16:38 on 24 March 2011
Azcarim's Avatar

Azcarim@ scaz2244

I am getting extremely tired of everyone and their brother praising the 'high and mighty FF7". I have played nearly every final fantasy game to the extent of 10 hours (with exceptions to some of the older ones like 5 and 6) and I can say without a doubt FFX is my favorite. It has my favorite combat and leveling system, as well as the most satisfying storyline and characters. The only reason I can see that everyone likes FF7 so much is because either it was the first 3D or its the fanboy effect; I played 7,8,9,10 and 12 to the end and honestly the only one I didn't like better than 7 was 12. Try to be candid when you are playing a game and stop comparing it to FF7, then go back and replay 7 and see how 'awesome' it really was...
Posted 13:08 on 12 April 2010
krellda's Avatar

krellda@ shadowkaster

Play 'Heavy Rain'

Movie games are not bad things, infact they are 'Revolutionary' according to the critic world
Posted 15:35 on 17 March 2010
krellda's Avatar


I don't think its fair to say this game is bad for being linear, fact of the matter is its the most enthralling Final Fantasy game i've ever played, I think the fact that there are no towns or places to stop and quit the game for another time is a strength, not a weakness. I sat down on the first day of getting this game and played 7 hours, stopping only to go out to get wasted. Following that, mid hangover the following day I played a further 10 hours... stopping only because i saw the words, 'insert disc 3'. The story, battle system, characters, environments are all top notch. I hope no one is forgetting that FFVII had some of the most bleak and boring area designs (and some of the best) and that was arguably the greatest (or at least most loved) game within the series.. and what was it famous for? The story, the battle system, the characters, the environment... i think people need to stop getting so hung up on this game being linear and just play the damn thing :D
Posted 15:31 on 17 March 2010
akorndr2's Avatar

akorndr2@ shadowkaster

lol i recon numbers 10-12 were bad never got into it like numbers 7,8
Posted 10:40 on 16 March 2010
akorndr2's Avatar


as an old player i do like this linear style i remember spending weeks trying to workout what to do next but that was due i was young and noob who knows mabey ill like the exploring game like zelda or final fantasy 8 but till then i like the game and how it removes the stress on having quickly click here and there change and stuff. square enix did well into moving the modern gaming world
Posted 10:39 on 16 March 2010
akorndr2's Avatar

akorndr2@ scaz2244

i think its due to that role playing explorer games like the old final fantasy died many years ago today its all american style buy play it finish it within a days work and dont forget it isnt multiplayer.
Posted 10:36 on 16 March 2010
Stegosaurus-Guy-II's Avatar

Stegosaurus-Guy-II@ shadowkaster

You haven't played it for long have you?

Show Spoiler Turn auto battle off...
Posted 20:46 on 15 March 2010
shadowkaster's Avatar


This is a good review but the combat is wayy to easy and linear. Walk straight press auto, rinse repeat. Why did they dumb this game down soo much? If I read your review before the weekend I never woudl ahve bought the game. It it didn't Final Fantasy in the title all reviews would be at least 1-2 points lower. Worst FF to date IMO. looks nice, decent story but thats about it. More of a movie than a game.
Posted 20:43 on 15 March 2010
mecegirl's Avatar


The main characters have been made outcasts and need to escape Cocoon or be killed. They have to complete the task given to them buy "higher" beings and have no idea what the task really is. If they fail they get turned into zombie things if they succeed they turn into crystals. Oh and they have no idea how soon they need to get it done... yeah I'd be rushing too. After playing it a bit I feel like the reason why they streamlined the game was because they wanted you to feel like you really are a fugitive. I mean I do miss the freedom of past titles and other rpgs but because of the story the fast pace doesn't bother me. It's not like a real fugitive has the freedom to go where they want or stay at inns or talk to the townspeople. In reality if a fugitive did that they would just get arrested or worse.

What does bother me is the way they handle the battle tutorial and the fact that I can't change characters. That aspect makes me feel like I'm being baby sat. I know it gets harder later but goodness cut the cord already.
Posted 05:59 on 13 March 2010
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister@ IndoorHeroes

That's just one 'zone', there are lots of areas branching off it. Looks like that video was made with a character that hasn't yet explored beyond it (just going by the HP they've got in one of the menus, my characters have 4 or 5 times that as they've travelled a bit more).

I think you mentioned elsewhere that you weren't currently looking for 60 hour opuses (opii?), if that's still the case, stay clear, there's a bit more grinding to do here than, say, Cloud had to do to take on Sephiroth and his various forms. You'd be missing out on a beautifully woven story though. Ultimately you know yourself better than I do, so I'm not going to try and hard sell it.
Posted 10:59 on 11 March 2010
IndoorHeroes's Avatar


That looks like running around a giant mostly empty field? Not exactly what I'm looking for.

I will play this game I have decided. Perhaps this Sunday :)
Posted 10:42 on 11 March 2010
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister@ Stealth-SLi

Originally Posted by Stealth-Sli
The game is completeley linear. In almost every way possible.

Only the first 20-30 hours of 'tutorial' through the first 10 Chapters. After that you get:

YouTube Video

which is a more traditional open world type gameplay replete with over 60 side-quests (mission crystals) and a few 'points of interest' to keep an eye out for on the map.

And to be fair, Square Enix even made the first 20-30 hours of linearity make sense in terms of the storyline; Primarch Dysley explains it all when you reach Chapter 9, no spoilers but the short version is that up to that point you had no option but to follow a specific route, after that point it's logical why you then have the ability to go where you please.

Personally I love it, there's some serious hardcore grinding to be done in FFXIII, lots of it, which is the main reason the series has always appealed to me. And Sazh is growing on me, he hasn't quite got Auron's instant cool factor, but after 40 hours he's getting close to becoming one of my favourite FF characters.
Posted 10:30 on 11 March 2010
Stealth-SLi's Avatar


Just to clear a few things up to the people who have posted about this review. The game is completeley linear. In almost every way possible. As Wes stated, there are no towns, no side quests, no world map, you cant simply explore an area, you are confined to it as though it were a race track. The reason he uses refference to WRPGs is because WRPG has in a way taken from JRPG and done its own thing with it. For example in final fantasies of the past it was almost like an open world game. You did the linear story quests of the game but there were times when you had a break from that and you could go explore the world. You could back track and find hidden treasures and secrets in places youve already romped through ro go to new places you hadnt seen just yet. There were towns and areas to visit with shops and bars and amusement rides. The world in which you played actually felt alive, and you felt more involved in the game because you were free to do whatever you wanted and go wherever you wanted. In FF 13 you can do none of these things. Every time you come to a save point there is the option to shop via a digital HUD and that is it. This game is decent at best, and I was expecting the most epic FF to date. The developers had so much time and so much past experience. They had the bleeding edge of technology to work with and all the space they could possibly need (blue ray, or 3 dvd discs) they simply made a huge mistake on this one. As said in a previous post, no matter how bad this game REALLY is, it will still make 3-5 billion dollars worldwide. The sad part about that is I cant help but think that SQUARE just "knows" that. I really hope they redeem themselves with 14 because if they dont then it will be the 5th final fantasy that completely flops in the eyes of the FF veterans. Ive played from the very beginning and im starting to lose hope in the series.
Posted 20:44 on 10 March 2010

Game Stats

Final Fantasy XIII
Out of 10
Final Fantasy XIII
  • Stunning graphics
  • Great story
  • Too linear
  • Repetitive
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 09/03/2010
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Square-Enix Co
Publisher: Square-Enix Co
Genre: RPG
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 1,272 109
View Full Site