Version tested: PlayStation 3
Final Fantasy XIII it is not a masterpiece, but it is worth the price of the ticket. It took Square Enix almost six years to complete the thirteenth chapter of the series, going from two generations of consoles and looking down on the growing loss of popularity of its genre and the uncertain pace of the whole Japanese market.
The one coming out on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 should therefore arrive as a sort of exclamation point after too many suspensions, a turning point if not from the point of view of development - after all, putting more than a decade and spending a fortune is not a model to be exported. - at least from the productive one. The result of such a gigantic effort is a title to buy, of course, but aware of a series of limits caused by the very desire to exaggerate, to dilute the experience to the extremes, so much so as to invalidate the excellent work done on several aspects of an experience that still remains something absolutely distinguishable within the videogame panorama.
Two worlds in conflict
The game is introduced gently, with a series of early stages aimed at familiarizing the user with the main mechanics, as well as introducing him to an overall successful plot, excellent in intertwining the events of the individual characters so as to characterize them gradually. Moreover. The two worlds in struggle, the sci-fi Cocoon and the primordial Pulse, are therefore the background to a series of events which, as per tradition, will be related to some extremely powerful entity, to conspiracies of immense proportions and great upheavals, resulting however connected to the protagonists who in some cases will discover that they are intimately linked to what is happening and therefore to each other, with the group's power relationships punctuated by well-written dialogues supporting a number of different emotions and problems.
There remain some typically oriental drifts such as the excessive verbiage of certain exchanges or the tendency to overexpose the user to the emotions of the protagonists, arriving at the caricature or temporarily diverting attention from what is more important in the game world, but the narrative sector from Final Fantasy XIII he can be elected without too many hesitations to one of the most valid of recent times. The inevitable computer graphics films are present as always and are used to emphasize the most choreographic moments, often in sequences in the sky or with a lot of field in front of the camera, alternating with a series of equally well-studied cutscenes made with the game engine, in able to integrate effectively with both the action and the interludes in CGI. The desire to tell a story at the center of everything, in short, to the point of invading the gameplay by imposing on the user a series of different but non-modifiable parties, composed according to the events that follow one another, for almost all the first fifteen hours of game: a two-sided decision that on the one hand allows you to keep on the desired tracks but on the other ends up further accentuating what is the great flaw of the title, namely its linearity.
PlayStation 3 Trophies
Final Fantasy XIII offers 36 different trophies of which 9 silver and 5 gold, in addition to the inevitable platinum. A good twenty are earned by completing the game entirely while the rest are more related to collectible items such as having walked 10.000 steps in the world, having collected all the weapons and accessories present in the title, or having developed all the skills of all characters. The trophy that is collected by completing the final battle with 5 stars, the highest ranking, is also particularly difficult.
Rights to the goal
Pad in hand the first few hours are valid and the long sequence of corridors that characterize them does not cause annoyance, so much has been concentrated on mastering the restyling of the classic game formula operated by Square Enix. The revolution implemented by the twelfth chapter has been mediated here with what has been expressed in the past, returning to make the clashes take place on a separate field from that of navigation along the maps but committing to create a dynamic and at the same time strategic combat system. The result is a combat system that soon becomes the most valuable element of the entire title, capable as it is of combining the possibility of directly controlling a single character with that of giving a behavioral indication to the other two members of the team. The Active Time Battle, always present on the screen, is continuously loaded by providing a series of slots that can be filled with the actions to be carried out by your alter ego, coordinating in real time with the other two companions controlled by artificial intelligence. to take down the opponents as quickly as possible. Maybe looking for the right tactic to raise their Crisis gauge to the maximum, to fill up in such a way as to inflict a much greater amount of damage than would otherwise be the case.
The traditional level growth system has been abandoned in favor of the Cristalium, which allows you to individually progress each of the six classes present and available to the six recruitable characters, who will purchase an increasing number each during the adventure. These specializations range from the self-explanatory Attacker or Therapist to the magician, here Occultist, and to the tank, here Sentinel, passing through the Saboteur and the Synergist, respectively responsible for casting penalties on enemies and bonuses on allies. The tree inside each class allows you to spend the appropriate points earned in battle to get new skills but also to increase physical and magical statistics, initially presenting a small number of possible choices but making up again after the middle of the game by making a number available. via upper branches to the main route. The combination of the above is an exceptional blend of immediacy and strategy that engages by asking to manage the Active Time Battle slots with shrewdness and to modify the specialization of the party members according to need, rewarding with a multitude of possible choices. . At this point comes the paradox. The developers have succeeded in the enterprise of reviving the formula of the genre with great taste, making the fights potentially beautiful, and then at least partially ruining what has been done with a deranged adventure progression.
As mentioned at the beginning, the first chapters were rightly characterized by a strong linearity. Less brilliant was the choice to continue on the same path for something more than the first twenty hours of actual play, forcing to repeat to exhaustion a series of long sections of the level characterized by clashes of medium difficulty, preparatory to what are often the frustrating boss fights, in the memory of whoever writes ever so demanding. The circle is vicious because if it is true that there are no casual encounters, the choice to avoid those imposed to prevent boredom has repercussions on the extreme effort required at the end of each section of each chapter, perhaps arriving too weak to use a different strategy. from strenuously defending oneself by attacking only when one is sure not to lose one's feathers.
Once in Pulse, things change slightly, since some secondary missions are available to take place in the plain of Archylte and in a series of optional areas, but the possibility of hunting special enemies, riding the chocobos and completing other activities secondary is postponed too long and is often linked to a challenge rate such as to suggest postponement after the very long second part of the adventure, like the first decidedly linear one. The absence of cities, non-player characters to talk to and all the usual outline of the series is therefore only a small deficit that would have been very tolerable if accompanied by a less stretched progression and a lower challenge rate. Final Fantasy XIII it does not lack variety, quite the opposite, it only dilutes it beyond the tolerable for those who are not strongly motivated, diminishing its depth.
Technically Final Fantasy XIII it is a good game, with more than convincing models, beautiful animations and a certain ability to keep the average quality always at the same level, lacking only in the lighting which is really too static for the standards. Visually, however, it is something extraordinary, enough to leave behind the polygon count or some less performing texture than the average. Every environment, whether internal or external, hyper-technological or wild, is characterized to perfection and different from the previous one, with views capable of leaving you breathless however suggestive. The enemies themselves present themselves in impressive quantities and often in multiple versions, as expected, demonstrating a very fervent fantasy.
Videos in computer graphics and cutscenes, as mentioned, are very well shot and are integrated with mastery into each part played: arrived at Nautilus, a sort of amusement park located about a dozen hours after departure, we witness one fireworks display beautiful for its complexity and then we start walking again with the same structures of the video in the background, among a crowd made up of an enviable quantity of different models; to leave you breathless. The money, time and passion merged into the Square Enix project can all be seen, so much so that this is one of the most evocative and satisfying titles for the eyes of the current generation. There are no major flaws and potentially annoying elements, such as loadings in the transition between the map and the battlefield, are reduced to historical lows, leaving only a free camera that is too slow and often set by default at the wrong angles, a reason of regret. We refer to the specific video comparison that will arrive in the next few days, the differences between the two versions, since the review has focused solely on that PlayStation 3. The audio sector is also beautiful which not only is of great variety, but fits perfectly into every moment adapting to the most disparate needs, underlining the moods of each member of the cast and proving to be of great versatility even during the fights, when inevitably the music is repeated. English dubbing, like virtual acting, is excellent and accompanied by Spanish subtitles.
Final Fantasy XIII it is a title that does not deny the value of every single yen spent on its realization, presenting itself with a sumptuous dress and a stratospheric amount of hours of play. The combat system, the nodal point of the experience, is perfectly completed with that of growth, guaranteeing a mixture of old and new suggestions of rare effectiveness. Unfortunately, many positive elements are contrasted by a diluted progression to madness in the tens of hours required to complete the adventure, with a first part at the end that is really unsustainable for the average player so much is carried for the long and a level of difficulty too high. , penalizing for the many possible choices that can be made on paper. The purchase is recommended indiscriminately because where it succeeds the game leaves you enchanted, with the awareness that to complete it - or to do it without a couple of nervous breakdowns - will be a relatively small portion of the user.
- Immediate, fun and deep combat and growth system
- Story written and edited with skill, one of the best in the series
- Visually spectacular, varied, satisfying
- Lots of content, skyrocketing longevity
- Linear for the first twenty hours, only a little less in the second part
- Too difficult unless you want to repeat many photocopied fights
- Narrative at times oversized
- The secondary content is largely meant for the endgame