Reader Review: Final Fantasy XIII

Reader Review: Final Fantasy XIII

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Chris tells himself that each of his fantasies is final, yet this is his 13th one.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by Chris McCulloch. If you’ve played FFXIII, or just want to ask Chris more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)

Final Fantasy seems to have become a series that is either titularly half-ironic or wholly ironic, depending on the volume. For every massive high (VII), there is a less than stellar counterpart (VIII). Despite this, the games all set like hot cakes in a fat camp, leaving it up to the individual to decide whether a purchase is necessary. So after three years of tinkering away, what kind of foul beast have Square Enix unleashed on the world?


Those Graphics: It happens every time you get a Final Fantasy home. In goes the disc, and out pop the eyeballs at Square’s amazing ability to seem to push every single pixel to the limit. XIII is no exception, and is one of the first games where I’ve had to actively squint at the screen to see when it cuts from FMV to gameplay.

Play That Funky Music: I’m not gonna lie – I got all teary eyed when Nobuo Uematsu left the series. But Masashi Hamauzu is a worthy successor, and punctuates the game with some beautiful background music that always seems to add to the scene, but never distract. Tracks such as ‘Ragnarok’ catapult this over the shoulders of XII and X with leisurely ease.

The Active Time Battle Is Actually Active: One major gripe I’ve had with the series is the ATB has never seemed too… well… active really. I mean have you ever seen a real person simply bob up and down in a fight, waiting to unleash their fury? Luckily, XIII builds on XII’s somewhat ‘free range’ ATB and allows you to manage one character in a battle, while still telling your teammates what to do (heal, attack, assist). More pew = happy gamer.

Those Graphics (again): Seriously, damn. I mean just… damn.


The Linearity: I know there’s been a lot of debate on whether the extreme linearity imposed on the player is a good thing or a sign of the apocalypse. For what it’s worth, I think it’s not a bad thing per se, but eliminating villages, NPC interaction and forcing you along one path for so much of the game seems like a departure from the series for no real reason at all.

The Voice Actors: Seriously, can we find a male voiceover artist who doesn’t sound like Nolan North? I keep expecting Snow to pull someone off a cliff and make a comment about boobs. For some reason, there are also Australian accents. I don’t know why, and frankly, it frightens me.

Overall, Final Fantasy XIII is better than average. Far, far better than average actually. Sure there are some problems with it, but I defy you to find one Final Fantasy without it’s own issues (Wakka, anyone?). Perhaps a tad too linear, but the gorgeous visuals and brilliant music more than make up for it, and ensure it will be remembered for a long time to come yet.

Reviewed by: Chris McCulloch

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 500 words – yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


  • I seem to be the only one that hates the new fighting mechanic. FF to me was the strategy of pause, weighing up your options, then attack rather than this streamlined approach they keep pushing. I don’t want it faster! I want it more strategic, and switching between modes of ‘fight/fight/fight’, ‘fight/heal/heal’ etc dont really suffice.

    • Personally I grew tired of the whole turn-based “my turn, your turn, my turn etc” battles of previous FF games and so many other JRPG’s in general. I tend to appreciate any game that does things differently (eg Tales of Symphonia).

        • I think Micheal meant that in RELATION to other JRPG’s where Turn-based was the norm.

          Tales and Star Ocean were the first few JRPG’s that went for the real time combat approach. Grandia’s system was a nice compromise of turnbased and actual positioning system from those two.

          Besides complaining that TaoS of is copy and paste as previous Tales games is like whining all FPS are the same >.>;;

  • Not sure why an Aussie would be frightened by Aussie voiceovers. Do we hate our own accents that much? 😀

    They haven’t bothered me yet at all. Vanille bothers me not for the accent but how terrible the writing is.

    Great game though!

  • i dont know why people consider timed battles a bad thing. personally i think stuff like finalfantasy X to be the best ever.

    seriously i hope ff15 has that battle system… and hte sphere grid.

  • There is an extremely good in-game reason why those two characters have a different accent to everyone else, and why the Australian accent is a good fit.

    • And much like 13 seems to be doing, it divided the community’s opinion on it.

      Which is quite annyoing, I think the only way I’m going to know if I want to play 13 is by actually playing it… Most games I can fairly reliably tell in advance these days using review and other gamers opinions.

  • What’s wrong with choosing Australian or NZ accents for a change? I think Vanille is difficult to listen to, but not because of the accent.

  • You’re… complaining about a mainstream game having Australian accents? Would you prefer every single character to have American or British accents like every other game ever?

  • There is a difference between choosing Australian accents and a put on Aussie accent. Her’s, was horrible, cringe every time she speaks.

    • Agreed. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even realise it was an Aussie accent till someone mentioned it on this site.

  • yeh im sorry, terrible review man. ffviii was awesome and saying its not is just trying to be cool – i doubt you’ve even played it. the fmv is quite clearly distinguished from the rest of the game (at least on my 360 it is). as pretty as the game is it still has draw-in issue ala daytona from the 90’s. shortest review ive seen as well. lastly, just what do you mean by this: ‘the games all set like hot cakes in a fat camp, leaving it up to the individual to decide whether a purchase is necessary’???? ps. agree the aussie accent stuck out like camel toes, but wakka rocks the cosmos

    • Actually no, your reply is terrible. I agree with 90% of the review, except for the Australian accent bit.

      Final Fantasy 8 was not awesome, it was a terrible follow up to #7. It was about a clone protagonist of Cloud, except more boring and lifeless. It had beautiful CG cutscenes, but it also had some of the most forgettable FF cast in history.

      The reviewers not trying to be cool, you’re just being dillusional.

      ps. Wakka is shit
      pps. Like many other posters, i agree: The aussie accent doesn’t bug me. The fact that the aussie voice is also the voice of an annoying, childish, cute-wannabe character does bug me.

      • well i actually disagree with most of the review. i loved final fantasy viii as did alot of people. and it got awesome reviews at the time. so i think your being a little dillusional here. just because you didnt like it doesnt mean millions of other people didnt champ.

        personally HATED the battle system in this one and i am glad to say i have finished it and i will never play it again. had the most forgettable cast of annoying/sterotypical/boring characters.

        and i thought the graphics were great but i didnt fapfap over them anywhere near as much as this guy… did you not play heavy rain or god of war 3?

        the opening 30mins in gow3 are the best visuals ive ever seen in any game ever.

        • Word to the wise: Dont reply to people’s messages or post anything on forums when drunk like I did earlier. Otherwise you get silly little troll ramblings like mine.

          Kyle: Touche. In regards to FF8, different strokes for different folks I guess. To be completely honest every iteration of FF, besides maybe FF7, seems to polarize people. I’m really enjoying the battle system and also really like the main character, Lightning. Everyone else is meh.

          Agree with the visuals in Heavy Rain, a lot of it comes down to camera placement in the scenes. It can be very cinematic and moody. The intro to God of War 3 is mind blowing, but I have to say I wasn’t so keen on the rest of the game.

          Again, different strokes for different folks.

  • FF VIII Is my favorite. XIII is an excellent addition it has all the cool rad stuff I love with a simple interface (too simple for me).

    The ATB is VERY active so fast for slow pokes like me that like time to brood over choices, in this one your scrambling to swap to heals then back to massive pew pew so often and fast its fun!

    I get why its linear, it certainly doesn’t stay that way, once you get to chap 11 it opens up a lot more imho.

    The reason for the accents is to show that they are from a different area to the others. They are aussies, from a tough rugged place. You’ll also notice the music on Pulse also has a lot of aussie influence on it 🙂

    All in all I’m loving FF13 Its one of those games though to bring out a lot of the hidden magic you need the guide (which is gorgeous too)

    • Dude…spoiler much?

      Anyway, “For every massive high (VII), there is a less than stellar counterpart (VIII).”

      I found it hard to keep reading after that.
      I also liked VIII better. The rest of what was said in the review is pretty spot-on though.

  • In regards to all the comments asking why I disliked the Australian accents, it’s purely because they’re so incredibly ocker, that you end up just waiting for Alf from Home & Away to pop up with them. I’m all for international voice casts, but if they’re going to use Australian voices, natural accents would be good in lieu of the pathetically forced ones we’ve got with Fang and Vanille.

    As far as FFVIII goes, I didn’t despise it, but coming after VII it was nearly impossible to live up to it’s predecessor. And yes, I have finished it, which I think deserves a medal for putting up with 60+ hours of Squall being more of a whiney brat than Shinji Ikari and Hope put together.

    • Were there any likeable characters in NG:E? Shinji you’ve pegged; Asuka was a brat; Rei and Kaworu were either boring or creepy..
      At least Squall had a supporting cast: quirky friends and a kick-ass rival. VIII doesn’t get enough love.

  • Prior to buying the game, I had a quick look at a review stating one of the characters (Vanille) had an annoying voice, I didn’t really pay attention to the review but very early in the game I understood. I like Australian accents but wow the voice was so…out of place.

    As far as the game goes, I agree with this review. Pulse looks great (especially when you see Titan off in the distance, now that’s a giant) but I hated how linear the game was, there was very little to actually explore and no world map at all, there was very little in the way of geography on how Cocoon or Pulse, very little indication on where each location was.

    No mini-games = bleh, I liked the card games from VIII and IX (if memory serves)
    Little to no interactions with NPCs = bleh
    Very little to do after killing the story end boss (missions aren’t that exciting)
    Was not a fan of the XP/CP system, progression felt fairly bland. Granted FFXII license system wasn’t particular exciting (especially end game).
    Item upgrades was also bland, gil wasn’t easy to come by and it didn’t feel like progress to use x99 items to upgrade a weapon to max. I really missed the FFXII weapon upgrade style.

    A cool game nonetheless but not something I’ll re-explore or think of fondly.

    P.S. I hated the end game cinematics, graphics were great but I couldn’t pay attention to the voice overs.

  • For every final fantasy game, there is a lot of people that like it, and a lot of people that dont, even people that dont like RPG’s at all come take a look and find themselves ranting about the crappy final fantasy they just played.

    FFVII have haters, VIII, XI, X…all of them except the nes and snes ones, because you cant beat nostalgia.

    I loved FFXIII, it became my favorite FF ever. loved everything about it, and then read this kind of stupid reviews. A guy ranting “uh uh I didnt liked the game, so it sucks, dont buy it, uy this one that I did like”, why ?. A review should give me information about the game, but the enjoyment and apreciation of it should come from my own experience.

    whatever, I hope this Professional trolls reviewers slowly disappear as more and more games have demos before.

  • Also, in my game, for some reason, Hope got pixeltated and stayed like that. (I cried because he was my favorite and it wasn’t going back to normal…I deleted all of my memory too… Still didn’t do anything…) It also happened to a place too. (If anybody knows how to fix it or shares my pain, PLEASE let me know!

  • I think it`s foolish to compare a final fantasy with others ff since they are all so different, also I really loved it and I definely reccomend it. (By the way I thought the story great and sad).

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!