Final Fantasy Games Reviews

Final Fantasy XIII – Game Review

Final Fantasy XIII – Game Review

    Last Updated on June 8, 2023

Final Fantasy XIII is a 2009 role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles. It is the thirteenth main installment in the Final Fantasy series and was released in Japan on December 15, 2009, and in North America and Europe on March 9, 2010. Although it was rare back then for console Final Fantasy games to be available on PC, Final Fantasy XIII got a Microsoft Windows port in 2014.

Final Fantasy XIII received mixed reviews upon its release. Critics praised the game’s graphics, music, and battle system, but criticized its linearity and lack of exploration. Nevertheless, the game was a commercial success for Square Enix. Despite fan backlash and disappointment, the game sold 10 million copies worldwide.

So, what really is Final Fantasy XIII? Was it really a bad Final Fantasy game? Does it deserve the hate from both casuals and series fans? Read on and find out! Here is our game review of Square Enix’s black sheep, Final Fantasy XIII.

What is Final Fantasy XIII?

Final Fantasy XIII follows Lightning. She’s a former soldier who sets out to save her sister Serah from the Cocoon fal’Cie. The fal’Cie is a powerful being that has imprisoned Serah and forced her to become a l’Cie, a human with a Focus, a task that must be completed or the l’Cie will be turned to crystal. 

Lightning is joined by a group of allies, including Sazh Katzroy, a former Guardian Corps pilot who is searching for his son; Hope Estheim, a young boy who is struggling to cope with the death of his mother; and Vanille and Fang, two fal’Cie rebels who are trying to stop Cocoon from destroying the outer world of Pulse.

The game was the first installment of the Final Fantasy franchise into the PS3 and Xbox 360 console generation. As a matter of fact, it is the only Final Fantasy game to ever be available in the particular generation. However, that is not the only “first” this numbered FF title got. To this day, Final Fantasy XIII is the only FF game to have 2 direct sequels. Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns.

Final Fantasy XIII Story

The story of Final Fantasy XIII takes place in the world of Cocoon, a floating artificial world created by the fal’Cie, ancient mechanical beings with godlike powers. The Sanctum, the ruling government of Cocoon, uses the fal’Cie to control the population and keep them safe from the world below, Gran Pulse.

Lightning, a former soldier, is on a journey to save her sister Serah, who has been branded a l’Cie by a fal’Cie from Gran Pulse. L’Cie are marked with a crystal and given a Focus. Serah’s Focus is to destroy Cocoon, and the Sanctum intends to do everything to stop her. Meanwhile, if Serah fails to do the task, she will turn to Crystal.


Lightning teams up with a group of other l’Cie, including Snow Villiers, a former Guardian Corps soldier who is in love with Serah. Sazh Katzroy, a pilot who is searching for his son, Dajh, who’s also an l’Cie. And partners, Vanille and Fang, two l’Cie who has been on the run from the Sanctum for years.

Together, the group sets out to find Serah and stop her from destroying Cocoon. Along the way, they learn more about the fal’Cie, the history of Cocoon and Gran Pulse, and the true meaning of free will.

The story of Final Fantasy XIII is a complex and emotionally driven one. It explores themes of love, loss, sacrifice, and free will. While some of its twists and turns will keep you guessing, there are also some elements that totally miss the mark. For one, the pacing is atrocious at times, confusing gamers to the point that the story becomes uninteresting.

As interesting as the Final Fantasy XIII story may look at first, the deeper you look the more you’d realize that it is one of its weakest points.

Detailed Review of FFXIII

Graphics and music

The graphics in Final Fantasy XIII are some of the best in the series in our opinion. The game’s world is beautifully rendered, and the character models are well-designed. The game’s music is also excellent and features a variety of orchestral pieces that perfectly complement the game’s atmosphere.

Battle system

The battle system in Final Fantasy XIII is a departure from previous Final Fantasy games. In previous games, battles were turn-based, but in Final Fantasy XIII, battles are more real-time. This means that players have to be quick on their feet and make strategic decisions in order to win battles. While it retains the classic ATB (Active Time Battle) principle previous games similarly use, it is much more complex here than before. 

FFXIII Battle System

The battle system also features a focus on strategic positioning. Players can position their characters in different ways in order to maximize their damage output and minimize damage taken.

Story and characters

The story in Final Fantasy XIII is a bit convoluted, but it is still engaging. The game features a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique personalities and motivations. Some characters are memorable, and the player gets to know them over the course of the game. However, others are just bland and uninteresting. They might as well just be a blank wall. 

Sad as it may seem, Final Fantasy XIII’s cast of characters and story failed to captivate gamers as much as previous FF games managed to do.

Linearity and lack of exploration

One of the biggest criticisms of Final Fantasy XIII is its linearity. The game is very linear, and the game often forces the player to follow a predetermined path. This can make the game feel restrictive and boring at times. The game also lacks exploration. There are very few optional areas to explore, and the areas that are available are often small and uninteresting.


FFXIII Lightning

Final Fantasy XIII is a serviceable game in every sense of the word. It certainly has its strengths but its flaws are just way too profound for it to warrant a high review score. The game’s linearity and lack of exploration are major disappointments, but the game’s graphics, music, and battle system are all excellent.

If you are a fan of the Final Fantasy series, checking out Final Fantasy XIII may not be such a bad thing. However, if you are looking for a more open-ended and exploration-focused RPG, then you may want to look elsewhere.

Written By
Eidervan Frago

A gamer his whole life. Can go the whole day talking about everything gaming-related. He now mixes his love for writing and passion for gaming to create informational and helpful articles for all.

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