I have a huge passion of gaming in general, obviously BW and SC2 are some my favorite games ever but before that I used to play alot of Console and handheld games. I still continue to play Consoles and handhelds but SC2 currently takes the biggest spot of my day. I follow everything I possibly can about gaming, from IGN to Podcasts to the twitter of every publisher I know, to constantly visiting a ton of gaming sites. I have always wanted to try and become a reviewer or an Editor for a videogame related site or Magazine. But again my location provides a big obstacle in my way to trying out what I want.
However, recently I stumbled upon MEgamers.com ! Turns out its the only site in the Middle East that actually caters to gamers and one that has a pretty solid amount of followers. I also noticed they are low on reviewers and are open for any potential writers. So I decided that this might be an opportunity for me to try and do something. So I took my CV along with their request of a review I had recently done and sent it to them.
Hopefully this will sort of allow me to finally do something and become a reviewer :3. Do you guys have any tips you can give me regarding this matter? How would I be able to get through this huge geographical location blockade. In addition the review of FF13 I worte is in the spoilers down below, so please have a look and comment! Criticism is welcome!
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The Amount of prestige the Final Fantasy series has is tremendous, and with each title released the hype and expectation is extremely high. Final Fantasy 13 was announced back in 2006 when we first got a glimpse of the PS3 causing the huge fanbase to sit tightly and wait for 4 years until the first next-gen Final Fantasy finally hits consoles.
Final Fantasy 13 is set primarily in Cocoon, a sphere shaped world that floats over a much bigger world called Pulse. Cocoon and Pulse are extremely different places and have been constantly in war for generations, Cocoon is a very advanced world that is developed and catered to be a shelter from Pulse which is a jungle like world filled with vicious might creatures that will make you run for your life. Both of those worlds are monitored and controlled by godlike beings called the fal’cie, these fal’cie sometimes for unknown reasons create Lucie which are humans that have been given a Focus(a goal) and if they don’t successfully accomplish that focus they turn in to monsters and are never able to return back to their previous form. These terms may sound confusing in the beginning but as you progress through the game you get a better understanding of what is going in. The main story of the game revolves around the lovely Lighting, a young pink-haired woman in her quest to find a way to save her sister Sarah who got turned into a lucie by a Falcie from Pulse. You are joined by a diverse group of characters: Snow, Hope, Sazh, Fang, Vanielle who all have different reasons to help you accomplished the common goal of stopping Fal’cie from doing whatever the hell they want .
The battle system of Final Fantasy 13 is called ATB or active time battle. It’s sort of a mash between a turn based and real time RPG, you take control of 1 character the whole battle while the others are controlled by the AI and you can perform attacks that take away 1 or more spots in the ATB gauge. Once you used up all the spots on the ATB gauge then it takes a small period of time to refill. You start out with 2 spots in the beginning of the game however as your characters develop the gauges increase and you are able to do more stuff each time. There is also auto-battle which is uses the AI to make the best decisions for you based on the situation you are in. The problem some people have with auto-battle is that the AI is so smart that auto-battle is probably the easiest and best way to finish these battles. There are a lot of criticisms around auto-battle, however I think it’s a real time saver, would you rather go through the menus clicking attack 5 times or click auto-battle once and it does it for you? Either ways, you can choose to use it or not depending on your liking. The battle system revolves around “staggering” your opponent which basically means filling a gauge that causes your opponent to be open to massive amounts of damage. This is done by combing attacks onto an enemy filling the “stagger gauge” in the process. As you get through around 7 hours or so through your playthrough you will get introduced to” paradigms”. Paradigms are a set of roles available such as medic and commander that completely change the types of spells/magic/skills you can usefor each of your characters during battle, for example if you pick the Relentless Assault Paradigm you switch to roles that try to deal as much damage possible to the enemy. Paradigms open up a whole depth to the game as it requires you to know what roles to setup and when to switch to what role at a given time in battle. The leveling up system in the game is called the Crystarium which very similar to Final Fantasy X’s Sphere grid system as you basically get points from battle and you can level up the roles of each character.
In terms of visuals Final Fantasy 13 is a stunning game, Square Enix sure did its job to ensure that playing this game is breathtaking on its own extent. The textures are rich, the colors feel very natural and the diversity of environments that you can experience in this game from frozen lakes to vast lowlands is quite astonishing. The Pre-rendered (CGI) Cutscenes in this game is comparable to watching Avatar on blu-ray, you can visually see every single detail from Snow’s facial hair , to the curves and details of an airship. The addition of the ability to upscale to a 1080p capable HDTV on the PS3 version enhances the experience even more, so big props to the folks and Square Enix for that welcome addition.
The soundtrack for Final Fantasy 13 is gorgeous, carefully orchestrator pieces of music that molds perfectly the amazing graphics of the game however, sometimes I feel some pieces of music are repeated more than usual and the battle theme although still epic gets too repetitive. As for the voice casting its somewhat of a mixture of horrible to amazing, on one hand you have Ali Hillis voicing Lighting and doing a great job of bringing the character to life, on the other hand you have Georgia Van Cuylenburgh voicing Vanielle which might be cute at first but it gets very very annoying after the first 2 hours of hearing her voice over and over again.
The game in a sense is very linear, literally. I mean you constantly go in straight lines for the first 10 chapters of the game, and then suddenly you get thrown into these huge areas where you can actually start side questing through Missions and target hunts, in addition to exploration. Even though the game can take you around 40 hours to finish and another 40 or so depending on what you do to complete everything in the game, I still feel that compared to previous titles in the series this one doesn’t have that many post game exploration and side quests which disappointed me somewhat. Still Final Fantasy 13 is an enjoyable experience and is one of the best JRPGs in the current next-gen market.
- Some of the best graphics for any game out there in the market, CGI reminds me of avatar on blu-ray.
- The gameplay is fun and engaging, however the depth only start occurring later in the game and the auto-battle feature might really frustrate the hardcore audience.
- The soundtrack is incredible but sometimes repetitive, voice acting is all over the place from bad to amazing.
- Will take a lot of time to finish all the sidequests and finish all the post end game missions but I still expected more from a JRPG specially a Final Fantasy title.
Fun Factor: 9.0
- The story, the gameplay, and the world will keep you entertained for the whole trip.
- Final Fantasy is a great JRPG to its own extent, but the linearity and voice acting are the biggest stones blocking it from becoming the best title in the series.
Note: The scale I used and how the review is broken down is according to the websites guildlines for writing a review.