I realize that the Xbox 360 version is the port and as such, the graphics do take a hit. That said, the game is a work of art. Every location is beautiful and sometimes in the middle of my adventure I would stop and simply swirl the camera for several seconds to take it all in. Up close there are some muddy textures to be found but from most angles the details are really easy on the eyes with the typical Final Fantasy floating specs of light here and there. The characters all animate very well, never hitting the uncanny valley effect of Heavy Rain or Mass Effect and noticeable their lips move in gorgeous sequence to their English voices.
The CG cut scenes are, in typical Final Fantasy style, breathtaking. I do notice some artifacting on bright scenes with long draw distances and I can't help but feel that this is the area where the "shoddy Xbox 360 port" rumors got their start. Gameplay
Not exactly a veteran but not quite a newbie to the series, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect here and this caused the biggest pre-purchase lump in my stomach. When I finally had the controller in my hands and managed to get about 30 minutes into the game, I was hooked.
For a person like me, who admittedly is interested in more direct, action/platformer titles, the linearity issue never even occurred to me. The game controls like a well oiled machine and I have yet to experience any sort of slowdown or lag.
ATB combat is seamless, fun and was well described as "easy to learn, tough to master". By the end of the third Chapter it had replaced Tales of Vesperia's EFR-LMBS to become my favorite RPG battle system. Audio
The quality of this game's sound is absurdly high and nestles itself right in among the very best that the Final Fantasy series has to offer. Every location comes alive and breathing with all the wonderfully orchestrated compositions. Even now the battle music is pulsating in my mind, calling me back down to my basement for another all-night gaming session.
The character dialog is generally a delight to listen to. The voice actors go above and beyond conveying emotion in perfect detail. The one character most people seem to be complaining about is the uniquely squeaky Vanille. I have to admit, her personality combined with the voice of a female chipmunk on helium can pinch a nerve or two at times, but if you're a fan of any sort of Japanese media, you'll be used to the type by now. Story
This is a game I've been following since the announcement trailer and I will admit that the plot never made any sort of sense to me. It seemed convoluted and filled with terms that simply should never be spoken in the English language. It was a whole different thing when I started playing and piece by piece the story actually clicked with me! It does a great job of feeling grandiose without ever breaching that pretentious line that is so common in many JRPGs. Overall
Buy. This. Game. On any console you prefer, too. Both versions are wonderful. What you're getting is amazing in value and is quickly becoming one of my favorite games of this generation. I had every reason to be going into this adventure with a little apprehensiveness. The quest has only just begun for me and it has made me a believer. At last a game crafted from the fabric of the soul.
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