One of the most decisive games of recent times and certainly the one that divides Final Fantasy fans the most, is also one of the biggest sellers of the year so far. This makes Zavvi's price of £26.95 a really very hot one and when you take into account their £2 voucher code (which can be used throughout April), it becomes a fantastic deal. The next best price is £29.85 from Shop To so buying from Zavvi will save you nearly £5.
To get the game for just £24.95 use the promotional code: APRIL2
Final Fantasy XIII is the tale of a group of people who suddenly find their lives changed forever in the course of just 13 days. The cosy world of Cocoon is shaken massively when a creature, known as a fal'Cie, from the world below is discovered. Those who have had the ill luck or poor sense to come into contact with it find themselves marked and indelibly altered and with this branding comes the threat of exile and terror from all those around them.
The story is, as is typical for the series, entirely baffling at times but then surprisingly simple once the game finally decides that the player has earned the right to know what the heck is going on. While it is marked with a few glaring holes, it is nonetheless an enjoyabe and well-spun narrative, populated with characters that actually show growth and development along the course of the tale. These characters will probably fill you with ire at the beginning (especially the horrifyingly chirpy and bizarrely accented "Vanille") but there is a good chance that you will grow very fond of this motley crew of personalities and find yourself rooting for them by the story's end.
Less satisfying is the decision to tell this tale through the means of vast swathes of near-irremitent cut-scenes, interspersed with periods of pressing forward and the action button. The random battles (disguised as non-random battles) often actually feel like a relief as here, at least, you are able to take a limited decision-making role. The game, of course, would prefer you not to and therefore handily provides you with an "auto battle" button but thankfully you can ignore it this once.
Eventually the game does open out a little and allow you to run around a while but it's not long before it straps the reins back on and steers you back down the corridors.
It is certainly a pretty spectacle (though if this is your reason for purchase, I heartily recommend that you opt for the PS3 version instead) but personally I do not believe that the graphics are quite as amazing as they are touted to be. Apart from the absurd FMV sequences that is, which are, at times, truly dazzling.
It's hard for me to judge Final Fantasy XIII. I have a fondness for it and it certainly has some shiny qualities in the "pros" column but I just cannot help but think of what a wasted opportunity it represents. Those beautiful FMV scenes are dazzling for sure but I would gladly trade those in for more robust gameplay, NPCs that I could actually interact with (instead of simply eaves dropping in on their inane chatter) and, perhaps most importantly, moogles!
Looking for a second opinion? Check out Matt's full review here.