Final Fantasy XIII is the 13th installment to the Final Fantasy series. Yes, there are more than 13 games, but each game has their own set of characters that the game centers around. This game in particular follows the characters of Lightning, Snow, Hope, Sazh, Vanille and Fang, all of which are pulse l’cie. After meeting under negative circumstances, when Cocoon is purging its undesirables, each eventually groups up in order to survive. Originally most of the characters are just regular people until the Fal’Cie (Pulse’s gods) gives them a focus (a task) to complete. If they succeed they are turned to ice and granted immortality. After being turned into l’Cie, they all become the enemy of the Sanctum and are hunted by Psicom. Each character is interconnected by some way, shape, or form whether they know it or not. Throughout the game players actually find out how each interrelate with one another. Overall the campaign is quite linear. There is never really much to explore and directs players to go forward with no chance of turning back.
There are multiple types of character classes in which each character has their own set of classes specific to them. The six classes are: Commando, Ravager, Medic, Saboteur, Synergist, and Sentinel. The Commando class is melee oriented and relies on strength; it is mainly augmented attacks. The Ravager class is both melee and casting type of attacks; it mainly relies on magic and it improves chains during battles. The Medic class is the healing class and is based off of magic as well. The Synergist class is the buffs class; they increase the strength of themselves as well as other party members. The Sentinel class is the tank class; it mainly is the distraction when fighting enemies and reduces the other members of the party’s damage. Finally the Saboteur class weakens the enemy by lowering its stats and helps insure victory.
When multiple characters are in a group they start out in a primary class set called Paradigms. Paradigms sets can be altered in the main menu. There can only be six Paradigms sets all together, so make sure to balance them out. During battle, players can paradigm shift in order to change their characters class. You can only have a maximum of three characters in a group at any set time.
The battle system is an action command RPG, in which players give commands to their character while not being able to actually maneuver them. In battle there are four options: Auto-chain, Abilities, Technique and Items, as well as the option to Paradigm shift. Auto-chain is where the game picks your attack for you which makes it similar to a button masher. Abilities option is where all the characters attacks or abilities are kept that can be selected to put into your command chain. The technique option contains none attack or multiple targets commands. The two main ones under here are Libra and Summon. Libra identifies the enemy and tells you everything about it. Summon is unlocked throughout the game individually for each character. It summons a spirit to aid you in battle or becomes a mount in which you preform special attacks with it. In order to be able to summon you need to have 3 tp meters full. Finally items just are your items that can be used in battle. Then there is the stagger meter, whenever the meter reaches max the enemy becomes staggered and whatever damage it receives is multiplied by the number shown. Warning! If the main character leading the group goes down in combat the battle will end and you will have to restart the fight. After each battle, players receive battle results giving stats, score and a rating as well as Crystogen points and Technical points. Stats are based off of the target time, initiative bonus, battle duration and points per second. Stats give you your score and rating. You are rated on the star system of 0 to 5 stars. Also you can receive spoils depending on how well you do in that battle.
All Crystogen points are stored in the Crystarium. The Crystarium is the leveling system in which each character has their own class tracks. Each track is different and unlocks different things like: Hp, strength and magic boosts, and abilities. Classes can also be leveled through maxing out a certain amount of stages on a track. As for equipment there are only two types: weapons and accessories. Each type can be upgraded at the save points throughout. Also at the save points, players can shop for new items, weapons, accessories or components. Components are used actually to level the weapon and accessories.
Overall the game was a lot of fun and is able to suck you into its own world. The characters are easy to empathize with which may make the game so easy to follow. The battle system was pretty simple to use and didn’t give many headaches unless button mashing occurred. As for some of the battles that occurred they can be hair wrenching unless you go into them prepared and are able to adapt to any situation. Also it was nice that you did not have to heal your party after every battle. Even though it is considered to be one of the worst Final Fantasies in the series, 13 is better than what people give it credit for. You do not have to know what happened in the previous games to understand what is going on and is easy to pick up and play. FF 13 provides the player with multiple hours of playing time and is surely worth the investment.