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? Ben does, as he probably won’t be the final reader to review Square Enix’s RPG.

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 Ben Carey. If you’ve played Final Fantasy XIII, or just want to ask Ben more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)

Ever since I finished Final Fantasy XII my mouth has been watering for the next instalment in the series. Three years later, it’s finally here. But, the million dollar question is: was it worth the wait?


Paradigm Shift: The paradigm shift system is freakin’ awesome because it adds another layer of strategy to combat. Although it’s a little irritating setting up paradigms in the first half of the game, where your teams keep switching, when you are finally able to pick your team and set them up the way you like them it’s a godsend.

Visuals: The graphics are amazing. Although that’s what we were saying about Final Fantasy VII wasn’t it? (‘Wow, it’s so lifelike.’) The cinematics are particularly breathtaking, especially when they deal with water-based events or fight scenes.

Longevity: This is the first game in a long time which took me longer than two days to finish. Although most won’t clock the 100+ hours it was so easy to do in the previous games, it still has a solid 50-60 hours worth of gameplay, which is rare in this generation of games.


Dialogue: The dialogue is severely lacking, especially in comparison to Heavy Rain and Uncharted 2, which both have such impressive writing. Half of the dialogue is cheesy and makes you cringe and the other half you’ve heard a million times before.

Linearity: The game is painfully linear. The entire thirty-odd hours you spend on Cocoon are linear. The only free-roaming section is when you arrive on Pulse, and even then, your choices are limited: grind, take on a mission or follow the story. This linearity, to me, seems like a severe step backwards. Think back to VII and VIII where they allowed you to run, and fly, freely around the world map. In X this ability was restricted somewhat with the integration of universal scale, but then XII opened it back up again with its huge in-game world.

Lack Of Side Quests: One of the most infuriating things was the lack of side quests and mini-games. VII had The Golden Saucer (Chocobo racing, Battle square, that Motorbike game etc); VIII had Triple Triad, an immensely fun and universal card game; X had Blitzball (possibly the best mini-game of all time); and although XII didn’t have mini-games it had Marks, which were pretty fun.

The salt in the wound, however, is that they introduce you to the Nautilus Theme Park (Golden Saucer 3000) and go ‘Hey look at all this cool stuff’ and then chuck you into a battle and never let you explore the park. That is just plain cruel.

All in all, if you can overlook the bad dialogue and seriously sketchy storyline and focus on the visuals and the engaging new combat system then you will have fun with this game. If narrative and character development are dear to you, then this is not the game for you.

Reviewed by: Ben Carey

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.


  • BLITZBALL THE BEST MINIGAME OF ALL TIME? You sir, are stone crazy. I nominate blitzball as the most infuriating and incomprehensible minigame this side of a japanese rape sim.

  • I was talking to someone recently (I forget who or where, I drink a lot these days) and he said that Blitzball was his favourite game EVER, even though it was technically a game inside a game. So I guess some enjoyed it.
    Personally, I hated every second of it.
    My fave mini game would be pazaak

  • I’ve not played this game at all, but my instincts tell me it will be like every final fantasy game since FFIV (Our FFIV, not Japans).
    Storyline is People verse the Planet OR Rebels verse The Empire or BOTH.
    There will be the effeminate male, the quirky masculine male, the hot chick, the annoying chick, and the optional goth who never gets any play time.
    Even the wimpiest of characters somehow jump into battle with massive monsters at the drop of a hat.

    The Battle System is still based off the old 1994 Random-Encounter-induced ATB system. The menu system is ludicrously convoluted to get through, requiring 3-6 selections just to get to vanilla attack.

    The graphics look great, but everyone wears too many belts and/or zippers. Soundtrack is excellent. There are tons of minigames, but only the most frustrating ones actually contribute to the game in any significant way.

    The final boss represents a “dark mirror” of the main character in some way.

    How am I doing so far?

    • The answer to your question is in the review.
      You obviously didn’t read it so I’ll give you a hint…you are mostly wrong, and that’s why a lot of people who’ve played and loved all the FF games so far are less than impressed with XIII.

  • Not sure i understand the complaints about the game being linear, iam not a big fan of ff13 but complaining about it being linear seems a tad redundent considering the genra.

    • I understand what you mean, however, like I said VII, VIII, X, and XII allowed a lot more freedom. I’m not saying they are sandbox games, only that in contrast XIII was far too strict on where you could and could not go. Especially for a so-called “evolution” of the genre.

  • The upgrade system is driving me insane, it feels completely random. I think I’m going to have to look at a FAQ which I hate doing on the first playthru.

    • Basically, there are three types of components: organic and man-made upgrade parts, and elements which act as catalysts.

      If you sort your components using the “categorise” command the organicones will be at the top followed by the man-made and finally the catalysts.

      What you need to do is use the organic parts to get your multiplier to x3,and then use the man-made parts while the multiplier is at x3. The organic parts raise the multiplier but the man-made ones lower it, so use as many of a man-made part at once as you can to maximise effectiveness of the multiplier. Perfect Conductors and later, Particle Accelerators are probably some of your most efficient.

      Once something is upgraded fully to a star rating, you can then change it to a different, usually better piece of equipment using a specific catalyst.

      Hope that helped a little. I agree that it’s a lot random and definitely frustrating. I broke my own rule of not looking at a FAQ on a first playthrough, so hopefully I’ve helped enough that you don’t have to.

      • Thanks strange, that was really helpful man I really appreciate it 🙂

        Pity they couldnt have squeezed a simple explanation like that in somewhere in that massive in game journal!

        • lol. I know, every time you take a damn step it updates the journal. Way to background the writers!

          I found the upgrade systems in VIII and X to be totally awesome. Which they were more like that. Like weapons shouldn’t just get experience, you should be able to imbue them with elemental effects etc.

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