This article serves as a first impressions of the game Final Fantasy XIII by Square Enix... as I progress through the game I will edit this until I make a full review of the game - if you wish to keep up with this then keep checking back often. This may contain spoilers as with any type of review so if you don't wish to spoil it for yourself then please do not read.
First of all, the game comes on three discs which obviously means the game is a long one. I am almost 10 hours into the game so far on it's first day of release and I am already at the start of Disc 2 - but as you can imagine it will only get harder from here on out.
To some extent, it is true what some people have said about the game holding your hand all the while through the game, even 10 hours into it I still often have to view some tutorials on how something works - but without them it would be tough to figure it all out for yourself so I suppose I don't really mind. It is all very linear at the moment but hopefully this will change - it has started to slightly but with the lack of towns and villages to explore fully like in previous games, that aspect of the series is no longer available anymore - and it will be missed if so.
The first few hours of the game can be a little dry, all you do is just attack, use potions, attack and so on - because that's all your characters know. But as you progress and the story starts to unfold, your characters learn more abilities such as that of magic, summoning eidolons and developing themselves using some sort of crystal sphere grid type thing. Once you learn this stuff then things start to get interesting and the storyline definitely picks up.
Aside from the characters often splitting up into unusual combinations, each character can have a persona - such as commander who leads the group, medic who heals, ravager who uses magic and so on, whilst you can only control one character in battle at a time, you can pick the combination of roles to best suit the situation - weak enemies may call for a full on assault whereas tougher enemies might call for someone to take a back seat and heal the party often. This is entirely your choice but you can get help.
There is a common option in the battle system and that is to automatically attack the enemies, what this does is let the computer decide what attacks are best suited for the enemy, and the ability to do so is increased by certain abilities which let your character sum up a foes statistics. Of course, you can manually control the characters but sometimes it is viable enough to just let it do it for you.
To fully explain the battle system, your character has an Active Time Bar which can be anything from 2 or more bars. Each attack or ability takes up a certain chunk of that ATB, meaning you can string together more than one attack so long as you have the ATB bars left to do so. Repeatedly attacking enemies in a combo can lead to them becoming staggered, which means the take more damage and attack slightly less. This is the key to defeating large enemies.
As you progress also, each character learns to use a summon ability - this allows them to call upon an Eidolon to aide them in battle... you can control them or you can let them do their own thing whilst you battle alongside them.
The storyline plays out much like any Final Fantasy would, you control one character at a time running around the world of Cocoon/Pulse often followed by comrades, this time though you can see your enemies before battling them and if you can get behind them, you get to attack first with a pre-emptive strike which near enough staggers every enemy.
The graphics are visually stunning, and probably the best seen on any Xbox 360 game to date. The music could have been a tab more epic since that is what fans of the Final Fantasy series are used to but at least the voices are okay.
I will expand on this at a later date, I will add character bio's and a host of other things as I progress.