Final Fantasy XIII review

  • Focused, streamlined action; no BS filler
  • Prettiest console graphics OF ALL TIME
  • Lots to explore on Pulse
  • Summons are kind of weak
  • Lightning is a boring character
  • First half may be too linear for some

Oh yeah, the story

In typical Final Fantasy fashion, the story oscillates between complete clarity and total convolution at various points, but aside from some potentially confusing terminology to sort out – l'Cie, fal'Cie, Cie'th, Sanctum, PSICOM – FFXIII's story is surprisingly straightforward.

Without spoiling too much, the basic gist is this: The small, floating society of Cocoon lives in fear of Pulse, the mysterious planet below. This fear is perpetuated by the all-powerful government, which is actually controlled by ultra-powerful higher beings called the fal'Cie. Fal'Cie exist on both Cocoon and Pulse, and they exert their power by branding humans as l'Cie, servants to carry out their bidding. L'Cie are bound to carry out the mission given to them by the fal'Cie (called a focus), and if they don't complete it within a certain amount of time they'll turn into undead monsters called Cie'th. If they do complete it, their fate isn't much better – they're turned into lifeless crystals indefinitely. Lightning and company have all been turned to l'Cie, and unclear on which side they should be fighting for, they struggle with the dilemma of whether to complete their focuses or attempt to fight against their fate.  

Above: Sazh is easily the most likable character, and his story is the most heart-tugging. Vanille grew on us too

Since FFXIII has eschewed a more traditional format in favor of a more controlled experience for the sake of the narrative and pacing, we have to point out that the opportunity to tell a truly compelling story feels like it's been squandered in some respects. To be sure, Lightning's story isn't uninteresting by any stretch, but it certainly isn't above and beyond what we'd typically expect.

In a way, a JRPG plot with no melodramatic scenes, no navel gazing exposition, and no overly sappy romances is a refreshing concept. Lightning's team is on a mission, and they don't stop much to share and learn and grow with each other. Because of that though, some of the characters come off as one-dimensional and boring, especially Lightning herself.


Ever since FFVII, the series has been known for gorgeous CG cutscenes, and finally playing a Final Fantasy game where the in-game graphics aren't distractingly uglier compared to the CG cutscenes is pure joy. The in-game graphics are so good that it's not always obvious whether a cutscene is CG or in-game. You can still tell of course, but we often found ourselves checking for indicators like hair movement to figure it out.

The graphics are the most instantly apparent aspect of FFXIII's polish, but there are so many other indicators that point to an absolutely meticulous attention to detail. For one, the menus are the most gorgeous menus of all time for any game ever. We dawdled around switching back and forth between character status screens admiring their beauty, and it never got old. Beyond that, it's amazing that in a game of this scope, we found absolutely nothing even remotely buggy or glitchy, something that's fairly rare to be able to say about a current-gen game. 

Is it better than…?

Star Ocean: The Last Hope? Yes. We love Star Ocean's cool science fiction story and aesthetic, and its real-time battle system was engaging and still surprisingly strategic despite being so fast-paced. But after awhile its ridiculously few and far between save points and overly huge, tedious dungeons and grinding were enough to weary even the most diehard JRPG fan. 

White Knight Chronicles? Oh hell yes. WKC had an ambitious vision, but the final product feels completely unfinished, bland, boring, and even buggy at times. It might be going too far to say that the short, cliched story campaign was a piece of crap, and that the online multiplayer took that piece of crap and barfed on it, but it was certainly a disappointment. The custom avatar you create at the start of the game feels awkwardly wedged in during the story mode (the other characters don't even acknowledge him/her), and the multiplayer mode (the whole reason the avatar creation was necessary) doesn't even allow you to use knight powers, taking away the only remotely distinguishing feature of the game.

Final Fantasy X? No, but it isn't worse. Ack, don't make us choose! Both have excellent battle systems that each improve on the ATB base. FFX has some better characterization in the relationship between Tidus and Yuna, but then again there's no one as annoying as Wakka in FFXIII. People who loved the romance aspect of FFX will be disappointed that FFXIII lacks a strong romantic element.

Just for you, Metacritic!

The streamlined, focused structure eliminates potential tedium without dumbing anything down, and the battle system strikes an elegant balance between strategy and fast-paced action. Stunningly beautiful graphics and a pervasively meticulous level of polish throughout only add to the experience.

Mar 4, 2010 

More Info

Release date: Mar 09 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Mar 09 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Square Enix
Franchise: Final Fantasy
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Suggestive Themes, Violence, Mild Language
PEGI Rating:


  • evelien-van-raaij - October 27, 2013 11:55 a.m.

    I'm currently playing FF13, but honestly, it's tough to get through... The story is so big, I don't even have time to read all the story stuff in the menu. I'd rather see all of that back in the game.. The characters at this moment are quiet boring, and because the characters themselves do not know which side to choose, it's boring to follow them. Everything looks nice, i agree, but I really miss it to play with all my characters as a normal RPG (like FF8 or 7 or even 10), now it's only the leader of the pack that you're able to act with. Currently i'm also really missing towns and other people to talk to. But hey, I'm going to continue the game and finish it ;) who knows, maybe i'll start to like it in the end.
  • kuntzee - May 19, 2013 2:28 p.m.

    i personally LOVE THIS GAME! amazing graphics. great storyline. great review. and seriously people need to start looking at it in general.people see literally 2 things wrong with a game and they just go ahead and say it sucks. if you are not one of these people god bless you :)
  • Xell1987 - May 19, 2013 4:41 a.m.

    pathetic liar. There is no Pulse. 5 stars for this game? Are you f****ing serious? This dude got paid by SE or he wouldnt see i good RPG if it hits him in the face. I feel malicious joy that FF13-2 did not sold as good as FF13 because many FF fans realised that a piece of shit FF13 was
  • Izzy_Fin - July 24, 2013 2:24 p.m.

    dumbass!! Pulse is the world underneath Cocoon!! the one with the huge map and the stone quests!! Ur F***in` stupid and dont call the reviewer a lier cause you don`t know the game cause U can`t get past chaepter fuckin` 7!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Uve got fuckin` no grammar fatass! U probably live with Ur fat mother all alone cause Ur pathetic!!
  • furankenshutain - February 2, 2011 11:53 p.m.

    2 b honest i like the review but i disagree bout lightning cuz i like her personality. i c myself in her so. other than that great review for a great game
  • kuntzee - May 19, 2013 2:23 p.m.

    i like people like you. other people bullshit around and look at little things that dont even matter.
  • itachithe7th - December 2, 2010 11:40 p.m.

    Its awesome i have completed it if your considering it GET IT
  • SCRubS77 - May 4, 2010 12:33 a.m.

    Just rented it, played the first 10 or so hours, and I love it! I need to buy it.
  • 1Bit - March 25, 2010 3:24 p.m.

    This game is fun. I love farming, maxing all my stats and then ripping a boss a new hole. The hunts are very challenging. I would have thrown this game out of the window if I was unable to start at the point of failure. Died so so many times. The battle system is as smooth as silk and very challenging. After 23 years of gaming this is my baby. Just a pity that the Chocobos did better voice acting than the Female voice behind Vanille.
  • ajknaack - March 16, 2010 10:29 p.m.

    what an incredibly biased review. seriously? a perfect score? squenix must have paid this guy or he got a different version than me. as i play it i feel like squenix's ego has taken on godlike proportions. Nice enough of them to let me ALMOST play their game though. If you'll excuse me now i have to go watch some cutscenes and push a single button repeatedly while this "perfect GAME" does everything for me.
  • linkganon - March 15, 2010 10:39 p.m.

    xbox 360 owners, ouch, 3 disks. ps3 owners only need one. well, you have to get off that couch twice to switch the disk while the ps3 owners sit back and play through the whole game on the same disk. i'd rather get the ps3 version because of that. multi disks are not what i like in my games, unless the extras are on another disk and the actual story mode is on a separate disk.
  • Fata1Stryke - March 9, 2010 3:36 a.m.

    I'm with powerpc, turn-based battles bother me. But the game looks so cool...I'll probably end up having to try it eventually...
  • Thanatos0013 - March 5, 2010 8:42 p.m.

    anyone wanna try doing a no crystarium use playthrough when this comes out? From what i've seen on the jp version it might be possible with some grinding. this guy did a pretty good job without grinding though.
  • Espir - March 5, 2010 8:28 p.m.

    i reserved this game and im dying for it to come out x_x
  • Spybreak8 - March 5, 2010 10:18 a.m.

    I was excited when they announced that FF would be coming to the 360, finally I can play the damn series. Eh I'm not a huge JRPG fan from the start though and all the design choices they've chosen here just make me glad I spent my hard earned money on Mass Effect 2. Great read though.
  • lewis42025 - March 5, 2010 9:18 a.m.

    wow! I definitely didn't expect a 10 outta gamesradar, but it sure is nice to be surprised. Argh, I still don't know if i should pick it up though! I mean I've always wanted to get into final fantasy, but...ah hell, I've got no reason to not get it, I'm just being skeptical despite this glowing review. I'll probably pick it up reCaptcha: chimeras development. That's a little creepy
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - March 5, 2010 4:06 a.m.

    so much text
  • GoldenMe - March 5, 2010 12:26 a.m.

    Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, wait a minute. You think the characters in FFX were good? Tidus and Yuna was the biggist cliche I've ever seen in a FF game. But a great review, truly.
  • garnsr - March 4, 2010 10:04 p.m.

    Why are there so many more comments on the PS3 version than here? I don't remember ever seeing that happen on multi-platform games.
  • drako691 - March 4, 2010 10:03 p.m.

    @ powerpc127 i think FFXII had real time battle systems (it may have been XI though, not sure) XIII looks like a pretty great game, but i think im gonna pick up dissidia and crisis core first

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

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