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Final Fantasy XIII on XBOX 360

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The long-running Final Fantasy series brought its 13th main series game to consoles just a few years ago. The story follow six playable protagonists through their journey to challenge their fates. Does this adventure live up to the expectations of the series?

The most noticeable thing about this game is its battle system. Rather than the turn-based style many RPGs use, FF13 uses a time-based system. A meter fills up as time goes on, and segments of this meter are used to attack enemies, cure allies, or perform other actions. While it may seem strange and new at first, it's easy enough to get the hang of the battle system.

The most important element of the battles is the role system. All protagonists can, at any time during battle, switch to one of six different roles, although some characters excel in certain roles. These roles have different purposes, with the Commando role focused on doing as much damage as possible, and the Medic role focused on keeping the party healthy. Rather than having each character be a designated "class" that performs one role, the battle system is based on switching the party's roles to fit the situation. Overall, the system is fun and addicting, and should keep you engaged.

The story, on the other hand, is not as simple. While the story is fun and interesting once you understand it, understanding it can be a problem. Names of places, people, and monsters are thrown around, and it can be hard to remember everything that's going on. Fortunately, the game provides extensive in-game files on everything that has happened and everyone that is involved, so you're at least able to understand things with a bit of extra reading.

The six characters you control are interesting, from the cold, determined Lightning to the always-cheery, always-smiling Vanille. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, and they come together to make what I consider a pretty solid cast.

The graphics and sound are good. There's no better feeling in an RPG than running across a grassy plain, with huge monsters ambling in the distance, giving you a feeling for the scope of the world. The sound, while not the star of the game, will provide a solid background for the action.

My biggest complaint with this game is the linearity. For much of the first half of the game, your adventure consists solely of walking down what are basically hallways disguised as forests, canyons, and caves. Occasionally you can run off the beaten path to grab an extra item, but there isn't that sense of exploration one expects from an RPG. The linearity is disappointing, but once you get to the later parts of the game, you'll be free to explore a little more.

Overall, this game is a solid entry. The story, while complicated, is interesting, and the battle system is undeniably solid and will have you coming back for more. If you're looking for an RPG experience with a fun new battle system, look no further.



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