Final Fantasy XIIIFinal Fantasy XIII is a console role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Released in Japan in December 2009 and worldwide in March 2010, it is the thirteenth major installment in the Final Fantasy series. The game includes fast-paced combat, a new system for the series for determining which abilities are developed for the characters called "Crystarium", and a customizable "Paradigm" system to control which abilities are used by the characters. Final Fantasy XIII includes elements from the previous games in the series, such as summoned monsters, chocobos, and airships.
The game takes place in the fictional floating world of Cocoon, whose government, the Sanctum, is ordering a purge of civilians who have supposedly come into contact with Pulse, the much-feared world below. The former soldier Lightning begins her fight against the government in order to save her sister who has been branded as an unwilling servant to a god-like being from Pulse, making her an enemy of Cocoon. Lightning is soon joined by a band of allies, and together the group also become marked by the same Pulse creature. They rally against the Sanctum while trying to discover their assigned task and whether they can avoid being turned into monsters or crystals at the completion.
Development began in 2004 and the game was first announced at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2006. Final Fantasy XIII is the flagship title of the Fabula Nova Crystallis collection of Final Fantasy games and is the first game to use Square Enix's Crystal Tools engine. Final Fantasy XIII received mostly positive reviews from video game publications, which praised the game's graphics, presentation, and battle system. Reviewers were more mixed in their opinion about the game's story and linearity compared to previous games in the series. Selling 1.7 million copies in Japan in 2009, Final Fantasy XIII became the fastest-selling title in the history of the series. As of January 2013, the game has shipped 6.6 million copies worldwide. A sequel titled Final Fantasy XIII-2 was released in December 2011 in Japan and in February 2012 in North America and PAL regions. A second sequel, titled Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which concludes Lightning's story and the Final Fantasy XIII saga, was released in November 2013 in Japan and it will be released in February 2014 in North America and PAL regions.
Final Fantasy XIII PlotFinal Fantasy XIII begins in Cocoon as the citizens of the town of Bodhum are being evicted, or Purged, from Cocoon after coming in contact with something from Pulse. Over the course of the game, the player is shown flashbacks of the events of the previous 13 days, which began when a fal'Cie from Pulse was discovered near Bodhum. Lightning's sister Serah had found the fal'Cie from Pulse and been changed into a l'Cie by it. Lightning and Sazh derail a Purge train bound for Pulse in an attempt to save Serah. In the subsequent battle, Snow leads his resistance group, NORA, to rescue the Purge exiles. Several of them are killed, including Hope's mother. As Snow heads to the fal'Cie Anima to save Serah, he is joined by two of the exiles: Hope and Vanille. The two groups meet at the fal'Cie, and find Serah just as she turns to crystal. Anima then brands them all as l'Cie and they are cast out into a different part of Cocoon. During this transformation, the newly crested l'Cie all have the same vision: a monster called Ragnarok. The group, arguing over the ambiguous nature of the dreamed Focus, find Serah in her crystallized form; Snow remains with her as the others leave.
Snow meets Cid and Fang after being captured and detained aboard the airship Lindblum. Meanwhile, the others escape from PSICOM, but are separated during an air strike; Hope and Lightning travel to Palumpolum, while Sazh and Vanille travel to Nautilus. In Lightning's scenario, she unintentionally supports Hope's goal of killing Snow as revenge for his mother's death. In Vanille's scenario, Sazh discusses how his son Dajh was turned into a l'Cie by a Cocoon fal'Cie and was taken by PSICOM to discover his Focus. At Palumpolum, Lightning tries to persuade Hope not to go through with his revenge and meets Snow and Fang. Fang reveals that she and Vanille were l'Cie from Pulse who were turned into crystals; they were turned back into humans 13 days prior to the start of the game, sparking the Purge. Hope attempts to murder Snow, but after Snow saves him from an airstrike, he decides not to go through with it. The party then escapes the city with Cid's aid. At Nautilus, Vanille reveals herself to Sazh as a l'Cie from Pulse, and indirectly the reason that Dajh was turned into a l'Cie. PSICOM then captures Sazh and Vanille and detains them on board the airship Palamecia.
The other members of the party stage a rescue mission and reunite with Vanille and Sazh before they confront Galenth Dysley, the Sanctum's Primarch. Dysley reveals himself as the Cocoon fal'Cie ruler Barthandelus. He tells them that their Focus is to transform into the beast Ragnarok and slay the sleeping fal'Cie Orphan, who keeps Cocoon afloat above Pulse. Slaying the fal'Cie Orphan will result in the destruction of Cocoon. The party escapes and learns from Cid that the fal'Cie believe that Cocoon's destruction will summon the Maker, the creator of the worlds. The fal'Cie cannot harm Orphan themselves. Vanille and Fang reveal to the party that they were involved in the War of Transgression centuries prior, and that their Focus then had been the same: to transform into Ragnarok and attempt to destroy Orphan. The party flies away to Pulse and travels to Oerba, Vanille and Fang's hometown, where they hope to learn how to remove their l'Cie marks. The town is deserted, and they find no living people on the surface. The group is unsuccessful in removing their marks, and Dysley confronts them again. He tells them that he is forcing Cid, now the head of the Sanctum, to create chaos in Cocoon to force the Cavalry to attack Cid and Orphan in a coup d'état.
The party infiltrates Cocoon with the goal of preventing its destruction. They head towards Orphan only to find that the Cavalry have been turned into Cie'th. The party encounters Dysley and overpowers him, but Orphan awakens and merges with Dysley, then compels Fang to finish her Focus as Ragnarok while the others are seemingly transformed into Cie'th. The group reappears in human form, preventing Fang from transforming. The party engage and defeat Orphan and escape Cocoon, which is now falling towards Pulse. As the rest of the party turns to crystal for completing their Focus, Vanille and Fang remain on Cocoon and transform into Ragnarok together. They prevent a collision between Cocoon and Pulse by turning themselves into a crystal pillar between the two worlds. The rest of the party awaken from their crystallization on Pulse and find their l'Cie brands gone. The game ends with Lightning, Hope, Snow and Sazh reuniting with Serah and Dajh.
Final Fantasy XIII GameplayThe player directly controls the on-screen character through a third-person perspective to interact with people, objects, and enemies throughout the game. The player can also turn the camera around the characters, which allows for a 360° view of the surroundings. The world of Final Fantasy XIII is rendered to scale relative to the characters in it; instead of a caricature of the character roaming around miniature terrain, as found in the earlier Final Fantasy games, every area is represented proportionally. The player navigates the world by foot or by chocobo. Players may save their game to a hard disk drive using save stations, where the player can also purchase items from retail networks or upgrade their weapons. An in-game datalog provides a bestiary and incidental information about the world of Final Fantasy XIII. The Final Fantasy XIII Ultimate Hits International version of the game, released in Japan, also contains an "Easy" mode option.
The Final Fantasy XIII battle system, with the "Paradigm Shift" option, the Active Time Battle (ATB) bar filling beneath it with five slots and two actions queued, and the three active characters' health and roles displayed. The enemy's name and damage percentage are shown in the upper right corner.
As in Final Fantasy XII, enemies are integrated into the open field and can be approached or avoided by the player. When the player's character touches an enemy, the screen transitions from the regular map to a separate battle screen similar to those used in previous Final Fantasy titles. A maximum of three characters may be used in battles, which use a variant on the series' traditional Active Time Battle (ATB) system designed by Hiroyuki Ito and first featured in Final Fantasy IV. Under this system, the player selects an action from the menus, such as Attack, Magic, and Item. Unlike previous games in the series, the player only controls the lead character while the remaining two characters are controlled by the game's artificial intelligence (AI). Each action requires a specific number of slots on the ATB bar, which continually refills to a set maximum number of slots. The ATB bar gradually increases in size throughout the game from two slots to six. The player may select less than the maximum number of possible actions or may stop the filling of the ATB bar and perform as many actions as can be done with the current ATB amount. The player may select an autobattle command, which fills the ATB slots with actions chosen automatically. Actions cannot be performed outside of battle, and the characters' health is fully restored after each battle.
Each enemy has a meter, called a chain counter, consisting of a percentage starting at 100 which increases when the enemy is struck by attacks or spells. Attacks by different roles have different effects; some raise the chain by a larger amount while others give the player longer before the chain counter resets. The amount of damage performed by an attack is multiplied by the chain percentage before it is applied to the enemy. When the chain counter reaches a preset amount, different for each enemy, the enemy is placed into Stagger State. In this mode, the enemy has lowered defense and may be launched into the air. The Paradigm system allows the player to program six different roles which the characters can then assume to perform certain formations in battle in response to the specific conditions. The roles consist of Commando, a warrior-type role; Ravager, a black mage-type role which uses damage-dealing magic; Medic, a White Mage-type role which can heal and remove negative status ailments; Saboteur, which use magic to weaken enemies by inflicting negative statuses; Synergist, which uses magic to strengthen allies by giving positive statuses; and Sentinel, which has protective and defensive abilities similar to a paladin. Each of the characters can initially take on only three roles, but the player has access to all of them later in the game (although the other three roles are limited in their abilities for those players which choose them). The player can select which roles the controlled character and the AI characters are using both outside and during battle, which is the only way that the player can control the AI characters during battle. The player can only choose from specific sets of paradigms that the player has set up beforehand outside of battle.
Each character can summon a specific Eidolon into battle. These summoned creatures include series staples Odin, Shiva, Alexander, and Bahamut, and newcomers Hecatoncheir and Brynhildr. When summoned, the Eidolon stays in combat while the characters accompanying the summoner leave the party. While an Eidolon is summoned, the player can trigger a feature called Gestalt Mode, in which the Eidolon transforms into a different form and performs different attacks while the summoning character rides them.
ReceptionFinal Fantasy XIII sold over one million units on its first day of sale in Japan, and had sold 1.7 million copies for the PlayStation 3 in Japan by the end of 2009. Square Enix had anticipated high initial sales for the game and shipped close to two million units for its launch. The game sold more than one million copies in North America in its release month. In March 2010, Square Enix stated that Final Fantasy XIII was the fastest-selling title in the franchise's history. By April of the same year, American game sales for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 reached an estimated 800,000 and 500,000 units respectively. As of January 2013, the game had shipped 6.6 million copies worldwide. According to Media Create, female gamers accounted for nearly a third of the game's Japanese fanbase. As of July 2012, a combined total of 9.6 million units has been sold for both Final Fantasy XIII and its sequel Final Fantasy XIII-2.
Final Fantasy XIII received generally positive reviews. It was rated 39 out of 40 by the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu. Dengeki praised the game for the battle system, stating that the battles are by far the most exciting in the series, and concluded Final Fantasy XIII deserved a score of 120, as 100 would not be enough. The game was voted as the second best game of 2009 in Dengeki Online's reader poll, and in January 2010, it was voted the best game ever in Famitsu's reader poll. The game received a Best RPG of the year award nomination at the Spike Video Game Awards.
Universal praise was given to the technical milestones achieved by the game's graphics and presentation. Edge felt that Cocoon in particular was an "inspired setting blessed with a vibrancy and vivid colour that often leaves you open-mouthed". GameSpot called the art design "magnificent". Further praise was given to the pre-rendered animation sequences and the almost seamless transition of visual quality between these and the realtime gameplay. Many also appreciated the game's soundtrack, with Masashi Hamauzu providing "a score with catchy hooks and blood-pumping battle melodies", according to Wired.
The battle system of Final Fantasy XIII received widespread praise. The increased pace of battles was appreciated, with several reviews describing it as "thrilling"; Edge's description of the battle system summarized it as "among the genre's finest". 1UP.com said that "Despite the fact that two-thirds of your party is AI-controlled, FFXIII's battles may be the most involving the series has ever seen." The story got a mixed reception, with Wired remarking that the plot was "a little more human and less esoteric than in previous games". 1UP.com felt that the story was "hardly world-class writing", but that the writers clearly knew the medium well and had attempted to avoid clichés. Reviewers felt that the characters worked well together, and that the interactions among them as the game progressed made up for shortcomings in the story.
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