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January 28 2010
Final Fantasy XIII - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
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Square-Enix's gorgeous looking FFXIII!
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Final Fantasy XIII English version screen.

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Characters in FFXIII looks stunning.
With sales of 1.85 million units in only a month of release in Japan, Final Fantasy XIII is a big title, but perhaps ever so slightly disappointing with the fifth week on shelves only generating 17,711 sales placing it 12th on the Japanese charts for the week ending January 17th, 2010. Still, that's one copy of the game for every 2.5 systems sold in Japan, and that is impressive. Fortunately for RPG and Final Fantasy fans outside Japan, and there's a lot of them/us, we will see the game hitting shelves on March 9, 2010 - on both PS3 and XBox 360. Anyway, let's get stuck into the preview...

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Another gorgeous cut-scene.
Final Fantasy XIII is set in Cocoon, a utopia in the skies where the inhabitants believe their world is a paradies and under the Sanctums rule has been living in peace and properity for many years. Mankind was blessed by its protectors, the benevolent fal'Cie, and believed that tranquil days would continue forever. Their tranquillity was shattered with the discovery of one hostile fal'Cie from Pulse - the feared and detested lowerworld.

To go on any deeper would be, well, confusing and time consuming as this is a game to experience with the massive number of stunning cut-scenes and detailed plotlines. In short, you'll be controlling a group of good guys, battling a series of bad guys - pretty much like any RPG really.

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Enemies are lined up to attack!
Final Fantasy XIII is a third person JRPG. Again the Active Time Battle System has been carried over, and expanded, from previous games and give players the ability to execute numerous commands in a single turn with the multi-slot ATB gauge. Whether inputting singular commands in each slot for consecutive attacks, or expending multiple slots at once to activate a devastating blow, itís up to the players to respond effectively to the battle conditions at hand.

One new game mechanic is the Paradigms which enables players to assign roles to their party members at any time during battle, shifting between combat paradigms. Consisting of various combinations of the game's six roles, ranging from Commando, the offensive specialist, to Medic, the quintessential healer, paradigms allow players to respond and adapt instantly to any given situation to turn the tide and seize victory.

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Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII.
Final Fantasy XIII also includes an all-new Summon System called the Gestalt Mode. In Gestalt Mode, characters and their transformed Eidolons fight as one, dealing massive damage to enemies through simple button commands.

Sadly this is a single player game with no online components, not any side quests, data sharing or leaderboards. If you want to play Final Fantasy online then don't dispair because also due in 2010 is the absolutely gorgeous looking Final Fantasy XIV. The good news is that while Square Enix producer Yoshinori Kitase has stated in the past that there will not be any downloadable content for Final Fantasy XIII that seems to have changed of late with the producer confirming in January 2010, the day after this preview went online that DLC is being worked on.

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Another gorgeous screenshot...
Visually this game is nothing short of spectacular and this is in-part due to the 1080p visuals on the PS3. Square-Enix has also confirmed that while the PS3 version includes uncompressed visuals and audio on the PS3 thanks to the Blu-Ray format the XBox 360 version will contain inferior visuals and audio due to the required compression. Of course the in-game visuals are very impressive, not doubt about it and characters look fantastic from what we have seen, but Square-Enix are known for their stunning CG cut-scenes and you can expect plenty in this game too.

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Square-Enix have, again, set CG benchmarks.
While the game will be released in a Standard Edition for $AU119.95 there will also be an Limited Collectors Edition in PAL territories for only $AU20 more (or £59.99 in the UK) which includes a Soundtrack CD with tracks selected by composer Masashi Hamauzu, World of Final Fantasy XIII Hardback book with artwork, 3 exclusive Art prints and a collectable decal. This Collectors Edition will apparently only cost around

If you like RPG's then there's little doubt that Final Fantasy XIII is likely at, or very close to, the top of your 2010 game shopping list. With sales of almost 2 million units in Japan alone this massive production needed these sales in order to recoup the massive production costs (which haven't been disclosed but north of $US50 million is quite likely). We love the Final Fantasy franchise and this game is one we're dying to get our hands on. Expect a release, worldwide, on PS3 and XBox 360 on March 9, 2010.

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Showing some tenderness...
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A screenshot from Japanese FFXIII.