Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Final Fantasy XIII: First Impressions, Battle Mechanics

After a short disappointment of the contents of the "Limited Collector's Edition" it's time to get to the first impressions of the first hour down on the table. Once you start your new game you're greeted to an immense view of the world of Pulse and I have to say it's impressively detailed, once again Square-Enix have proven themselves the leaders in the quality of graphics. The camera pans down on to a train traveling along a lone rail between the fissures of the land, this is very reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII but it gets better, the action kicks of straight away inside the train as our heroine Lightning starts to pull of some amazingly choreographed punches and kicks against the armed soldiers, again the amount of detail in each shot is just unbelievable. All this commotion eventually leads the train into a city where in a full out war seems to be taking place, a giant bird like machine descends and attacks the train, this is your first enemy.

Here the game takes you through the batttle system, the tutorial is quick and imformative, the battle system is a more exciting version of previous systems. You can see the enemies on the screen and once you approach them you can choose to fight them transporting you and your enemy to another "dimension". Starting with your characters facing the enemy you have a bar which represents the time you have once the bar is full you can take action but with this system it's a little different, you only control one character during battle and each action you choose has a value that equates to time on the bar counter so for example; when you start out you have the value of 2 actions on your time bar, a plain attack equates to 1 and Lightning's special attack "Blitz" equates to 2, meaning during a turn you can either choose to attack twice normal or use one special attack. As the battle animations play characters run around the battlefield making it more interesting to look at. This system is pretty much a mix of VII/VIII's and XII's battle mechanics and it works! It's a little fast paced but you soon get used to it.

(The Stagger Bar in the top right, and actions in bottom left)

During battle your enemy also has a guage showing the "Staggering Meter", a new mechanic which once the enemy has taken damage this bar begins to fill up, once the bar is full it enters "Staggering Mode" which means whilst you're attacking you'll inflict more damage, whilst this sounds great you have to keep the barage up as the meter is constantly tick down and once it's in "Staggering Mode" you'll have to weight for that bar to deplet before you can push your enemy into staggering again. This is a nice addition which should make boss fights slight easier especially for new players to the series. Two more features included are replenished health after each battle, again most likely to ease new players into the series and another is a rating system at the end of a battle. You recieve points and a star rating out of 5 depending on how well and quickly you defeated all of your opponents, this is a nice idea but I can't figure out what it's purpose is yet and if it's benefical to get higher scores of not.

(The long bar in the lower middle screen is your active time bar, it gets bigger as you level up)

The layout is also quite pleasing as it it doesn't distact from whats going on in the screen and fits well into the aesthetic of the world of Pulse with it's smooth mechanic design motif. Whilst battles can seem very quick this actually helps to keep the game fast and exciting most likely for the purpose of keeping new player's attentions focused, the system itself flows really well and loading times between screens is barely noticable making in seem more streamlined, this is a well polished and deigned features that welcomes both new and experienced players, the inclusion of replenished health at the end of each battle is a nice feature but at the same time it makes things a little easy (at least at this stage) but perhaps as the game progresses players will thank the developers for this feature.

So far this is turning out to be sleek and exciting addition to the core Final Fantasy franchise, the idea to have a Staggering mechanic is one that has me trying to get that staus from enemies as I play and only having to worry about controling one character during is much easier, that said you should still check on their health during battle. The Active Time Bar makes the turnbased fighting a lot more strategic and has clearly been throughly designed for optimum effectience. Overall there's nothing wrong with this battle system, weither you like it or not will be down to your own presonal preferance.

(It can seem a little full-on at first but you quickly adapt)

Check back as next time I'll be looking at the Characters of Final Fantasy XIII


  1. Nice impressions. Must get back to playing the game though. You'll enjoy it when the difficulty spike comes! Hope you're keeping up with the pace of the battles. Good game but not without its hiccups here and there (and certain character's voices that can't decide which country their accent comes from! Aargh!)

  2. P.S The first hour has you play through an area on COCOON. You certainly don't start in Pulse as your party would die instantly in each battle (no joke).