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Review Roundup: Final Fantasy XIII

March 14, 2010

The reception of Square Enix’s century-in-the-making Final Fantasy XIII has been mixed. For years, gamers expected FFXIII to redefine the role-playing genre, visually and gameplay-wise. However, complaints of linearity, slow pacing and poor narrative have probably made some gamers change their mindsets from a “FFXIII is a day one must-buy,” to an “Eh, maybe when I’m bored of Mass Effect 2,” or “I’ll wait for God of War III.” If you’re still on the fence with the title, not to worry; we’re here to help. Hit the jump to see what the major outlets had to say about Square Enix’s latest.

Game Informer: “The only key area where FF XIII betrays fans – and this is heartbreaking for me to admit – is the story… A good story is of paramount importance in a role-playing game, but the fact that FF XIII’s other elements compensate for its disappointing narrative is a testament to the overall quality of the experience. For years, gamers have had visions of this title as an industry-transforming epiphany, but no game could possibly live up to such astronomical expectations. That’s no reason to lose faith; though reality doesn’t match the myth, Final Fantasy XIII is a phenomenal RPG destined to be remembered as a technical milestone for the series.” — 9.25/10

IGN: “Final Fantasy XIII is a great JRPG and sports a fast-paced, challenging, satisfying battle system. The game also boasts an intricate story, a likeable cast of characters and the best visuals in the series yet (of course). But hardcore Final Fantasy fans might be disappointed by the game’s abandonment of franchise traditions like open worlds, town exploration and complex mini-games. The game is still worth buying, but it doesn’t quite feel as complete as its well-loved predecessors.” — 8.9/10

GameSpot: “There are some elements that keep Final Fantasy XIII from being everything it could have been. Even so, it is still a legitimately great game for its stunning beauty, fantastic story, and enjoyable battles, which means it has a lot in common with the Final Fantasy games that came before it. The stubborn gal in the blue sari, the steely blue-eyed star, and even the apprehensive, spiky-haired adolescent are easy to root for, and their journey is as memorable as any other in the series. Even if the gameplay doesn’t reach those same heights, almost any RPG lover can still get lost in Final Fantasy XIII.” — 8.5/10

GamePro: “I am bitter about Final Fantasy XIII not being the game I wanted it to be…  In essence, it took me 30 hours to get to the “fun” part of the game and then only 10 hours after I got there, the game dragged me back to enclosed spaces and straight-line maps with hardly a nook or cranny worth exploring for loot for chapters 12 and 13… I asked before what reaction I could have had as a jilted JRPG fan besides bitterness — and now the word “maturity” comes to mind. I’ve come to the realization that Final Fantasy is trying to move on as a franchise, and a part of me wonders if I should, too.” — 4/5 (or 8/10 for you 10-point-scale whores).

So there you have it, folks. Some of the reviewers liked the game’s story, while others did not. One thing they all seemed to dislike was the linearity, but, apparently, it didn’t stop them from thinking the game is worth a buy. So if exploration is a must, and you’re not willing to let that take a backseat to narrative, then it’s time to think long and hard about whether this is the RPG for you. If you’re open to the idea of a more linear Final Fantasy and just want to be immersed in another epic, save-the-world story with gorgeous visuals, then you may want to go for it.

If you’ve already picked it up, are planning to or wouldn’t touch it with a three-and-a-half foot pole, let’s chat about it below.

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