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Final Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy XIII Logo
Fainaru Fantajī Sātīn
Developer(s) Square Enix
Publisher(s) Square Enix
Release date PlayStation 3
JapanDecember 17, 2009
North America/CanadaMarch 9, 2010
EuropeMarch 9, 2010

Xbox 360
North America/CanadaMarch 9, 2010
EuropeMarch 9, 2010

Genre Role-playing game
Game modes Single player
Ratings CERO:BAges 12 and up
Platform(s) PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
"The future belongs not to those who wait..."
Final Fantasy XIII Game Trailer

Final Fantasy XIII is the thirteenth installment in the Final Fantasy series, and is the first of the series to be released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Unveiled at E3 2006, the game is the flagship of Square Enix's Fabula Nova Crystallis project. The game will run on Crystal Tools (formerly known as White Engine), a proprietary engine built for Square Enix's next-generation games. The game was released in Japan on December 17, 2009, while the North American and European release dates are both set for March 9, 2010.



Combat in Final Fantasy XIII, showing Oerba Yun Fang attacking an enemy.

The battle system, called Command Synergy Battle in game, has been described as "More tactical than Final Fantasy X, faster than X-2, and almost as seamless as XII." The enemies are visible in the field. When the player runs into them with the playable characters, the screen lights up and the scene switches to a vast, blank battlefield, marking the start of a battle. In the battle, the player can control only one character out of a party of up to three, but after some point in the game that character can be switched. The progression in the game will be chapter-based. In each chapter, you'll see the story through the view of different characters.

Experience points are not featured in the game, and characters grow in power in a system similar to the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X called the "Crystarium System". Characters win Crystarium Points (CP) in battle, and can use these CP to purchase stat boosts, spells and other abilities on a circular chart. The skills a character learns affects their ability to learn other skills and open new paths on the chart - learning Fire, for example, opens a skill path that leads to Fira and other spells.

The Active Time Battle bar returns in the battle system, but this time it is divided into sections (different screenshots show three and five sections). Each command available to the battle party has a numeric value referred to as "ATB Cost" next to the name indicating how many of these sections it will take up. This allows the player to input several commands per turn. The next turn comes up sooner if the ATB bar is only partially used.

The available commands vary from character to character, but series staples such as Attack, Summon, Fire, Blizzard, and Cure make a return, along with new commands such as Radial Strike, which causes area-of-effect damage, and Ruin, a new non-elemental spell. Magic and summoning are only available to characters that are l'Cie.

Because of the "ATB Cost" points, there is no MP in the game. Also, since magic cannot be used outside of battle, the party's HP is completely restored after every battle. At Gamescom 2009, it was revealed that there are no Limit Breaks because of the unique summoning powers, and that there is no way to escape from battles once they're initiated. There are items that can be used to avoid battles, though, and each enemy is marked by its difficulty level with a symbol in the field as the player approaches them. If a battle ends in defeat, the player has the option to either try it again or return to the previous save point.

Save points in this game allow the player not only to save, but access a shop in which items can be bought or sold.

A new element called the Break bar is added to the battle, as well. It is specific to each enemy, and it depletes as the player performs attack combos marked by a percentage. If the combos continue, "Break Mode" is entered, where even more damage can be done. Enemies in this mode can be launched in the air and juggled with attacks. When a battle is won, a victory screen pops up, giving the player a one-to-five stars ranking on how they did in the battle, as well as showing how long the battle took and the number of chain and break attacks. This information is linked to the Trophy and Achievement systems of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, respectively.

Paradigm Shift

The Paradigm Shift system

In the battle system of the game, the player can only control one character at a time. The other party members' actions can, however, be affected by a system called the "Paradigm Shift" ("Optima Change" in the Japanese version), which was explained by Motomu Toriyama at Gamescom 2009.

Paradigms are described as "stances" or "classes" that the characters temporarily take during battles to define the abilities they use. However, they are more strict than job classes; for example, the character with a Healer's role equipped can do nothing but heal, while the Attacker's role forces the character to only attack with physical and magical strikes.

The paradigms can be changed at any time to suit the situation at hand. However, they cannot be changed individually to each character, only for the whole party at a time. Thus, a paradigm is a combination of three roles. Possible paradigm variations count up to hundreds. The roles used are shown as colored abbreviations next to the characters' names in the battle screen.

Confirmed paradigms include Aggression, All for One, Dualcasting, Overwhelm, Peacemaker, Relentless Assault, Slash & Burn, The Ettin, Decimation, Smart Bomb, Tireless Charge and Vanguard.

The roles within the paradigms are:

Japanese English Description
Attacker (ATK) Commando (COM) Build attack chains more easily with enhanced strength.
Blaster (BLA) Ravager (RAV) Charge enemy chain gauges with concentrated attacks.
Defender (DEF) Sentinel (SEN) Shield allies from enemy attacks with enhanced defense.
Enhancer (ENH) Synergist (SYN) Support allies with an array of magical enhancements.
Healer (HLR) Medic (MED) Use healing actions on yourself and allies.
Jammer (JAM) Saboteur (SAB) Inflict status ailments on the enemy.

According to the developers, this system was added later in the development process to give more strategy and depth to the battle system.


Summons return in this game as Eidolons, linked with the powers of the l'Cie. Playable Eidolons include Shiva Sisters, Odin, Bahamut, Alexander, and two new summons Brynhildr and Hecatoncheir, while Ifrit, Carbuncle and Siren appear in Final Fantasy XIII but are not playable. All Eidolons have been given futuristic designs and the power to change their shape. The Eidolons are used both as a gameplay feature and as plot devices in cutscenes. Each character has only one Eidolon, and Eidolons replace the other party members besides the summoner when called.

Eidolons are summoned by the use of "Tactical Points" (TP), which is won after battles. Also, instead of HP, Eidolons use "Summon Points" (SP) to indicate their health, but SP also slowly decreases over time. Inital SP depends on the TP level used to summon the Eidolon. Once SP is completely depleted, the Eidolon will disappear, and the other party members will return. Additionally, each l'Cie must win the "approval" of their respective Eidolon by defeating them in combat.

Lightning and Odin's Gestalt Mode

In addition to summoning Eidolons to fight alongside them, each Eidolon can transform into another form that combines them with the summoner. This takes place in a mode called "Gestalt Mode" ("Driving Mode" in the Japanese version), where combat becomes more action-oriented, with the summon being able to perform various special attacks with certain button combinations. Each Eidolon's Gestalt Mode also includes a powerful finisher move that will end the summoning after being used. How often and for how long the player can activate this ability is again determined by TP.


When in Pulse, there will be several points marked by large crystals where the party can acquire "Missions." These are similar in function to the Hunts in Final Fantasy XII and involve battling one of the many large monsters around Pulse. They are not part of the main story, but players can experience Focuses of other l'Cie. These l'Cie failed to complete their assignments, and thus their targets are still alive. It is up to the player whether to defeat the specified enemy, some of which have been compared by staff to mountains towering above the party. It is unknown whether there are other objectives than killing certain monsters.

By completing these tasks, the party can gain materials and items to improve their equipment. The main difference between the Hunts of Final Fantasy XII and the Missions of Final Fantasy XIII is while every Hunt can only be completed once, the player may take up each Mission multiple times.


Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. (Skip section)
A railway system in Cocoon.

Thirteen centuries ago, a fal'Cie, preternatural being formed by the crystal residing inside it, created a floating, Utopian continent in the atmosphere of a planet known as Pulse. The fal'Cie willed that the continent be completely isolated from the crude and brutal wilderness known as the Gran Pulse below, and commissioned machines to be the guardians of the citizens. Barriers were subsequently set up all around the continent, and as such was the metropolis granted its befitting name: Cocoon.

Concept art of the world of Pulse, and Cocoon floating above it.

Having lived secluded from the outside world for many years, the citizens of Cocoon are now becoming anxious of what Gran Pulse really holds. Recent contact with those from the world below has caused people to question one another and their ways of life. Wised up to the word on the street, the Sanctum of Cocoon have decreed a new edict: Any individuals suspected to be in contact with the world of Pulse are to be banished from the continent unconditionally and cast into the harsh environment of the planet below.

With this order of the Purge, PSICOM round up residents and visitors of the town of Bowdam, who were allegedly tainted by the fal'Cie that slept within the nearby ruins of Lowerworld Vertigo. Their attempt to capture the first visible l'Cie, Serah Farron, failed when the renegade Team Nora, led by Snow Villiers, Serah's fiancé, rescued her and attempted to escape skywards towards the Pulse fal'Cie. However, they seperated when Serah was entangled by the fal'Cie's silver tendrils, and Snow, pursued by PSICOM, was forced to retreat to Hanged Edge, where the Purge continued.

Unknown to him, Lightning and Sazh Katzroy have disguised themselves and taken over a train full of Purgees traveling towards Hanged Edge, in the hopes of infiltrating Lowerworld Vertigo and finding Serah. Upon its crash, the two enter the ruins and begin to search. Snow, meanwhile, joins with other members of Team Nora and attempts to lead the stranded Purgees against Sanctum soldiers. The plan ends in tragedy when the platform they were standing on collapsed, killing many people, including Nora Estheim. Her son Hope Estheim joins with Oerba Dia Vanille, another Purge victim, and steal Gadot's vehicle, following Snow towards Lowerworld Vertigo.

The three groups eventually unite after fending off hordes of Cie'ths, and make their way towards an inner chamber illuminated with l'Cie marks. They find Serah unconcious there, unknowingly fulfilling her Focus to lure potential l'Cie further into the ruins. Serah crystallizes and leaves behind a teardrop-shaped jewel for Snow; Lightning and Snow fight over her glassy form, eventually deciding to confront the fal'Cie Anima that gave Serah her mission. They only succeed in awakening Anima further, who imbibes all five of them with the l'Cie mark and blasts hanged Edge to shreds, crystallizing the entire area and sinking it into the depths of Lake Bilge.

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Web novelization

The official Japanese website revealed a web novelization titled Final Fantasy XIII Episode Zero: Promise. It contains a series of short stories written by Jun Eishima, leading up to the events depicted in the actual game. The first story is called "Encounter", and it focuses on how Serah Farron became the first Gran Pulse l'Cie in Cocoon for a long time. The second story is called "Friends", and it focuses on Hope Estheim's life with his family and friends before his mother's death. The third story, "Family", focuses on Sazh Katzroy and his son, Dajh, detailing how Sazh came to own the Chocobo chick and how Dajh fell into the clutches of Sanctum.


Main article: List of Final Fantasy XIII Characters
The main characters of Final Fantasy XIII.

According to director and scenario writer Motomu Toriyama, Final Fantasy XIII will not have one prominent main character. In a similar vein to Final Fantasy VI, the story will focus equally on the cast, though Lightning is the protagonist. The main playable characters are all l'Cie.

Main Playable Characters

  • Lightning (ライトニング Raitoningu) — The protagonist of the game, Lightning is deemed an adversary of humankind, having been chosen by the fal'Cie to bring about the end of the world. She is an agile fighter, who wields a sword that can transform into a gun, called "Blaze Edge". She is described as a female version of Cloud Strife.
  • Snow Villiers (スノウ・ヴィリアース Sunou Viriāsu) — Leader of Team Nora and a l'Cie, Snow Villiers is a sturdy man whose mannerism is reputed to resemble that of a cowboy. He is blonde and has a well-built body. Snow uses his bare hands to fight, but his weapon is actually his coat. In battles, patterns will appear on his coat.
  • Oerba Dia Vanille (ヲルバ=ダイア・ヴァニラ Woruba Daia Vanira) — A young and spirited girl, Vanille is a citizen of Pulse and ostensibly a subject of great interest to both the Sanctum and the resistance group led by Snow Villiers. She carries a heavy burden she is not initially aware of. She wears a savannah-style outfit, and her weapon is called the Bind Rod, which has a head piece that looks like a pair of antlers. Its body contains four long wires with hooks that deal damage to enemies by latching on and pulling.
  • Sazh Katzroy (サッズ・カッツロイ Sazzu Kattsuroi) — A middle-aged man with dark skin and afro hair. He owns a baby Chocobo that lives in his hair. He is described as a gentle person who is easily reduced to tears. He fights with two pistols that can be combined into a rifle.
  • Hope Estheim (ホープ・エストハイム Hōpu Esutohaimu) — A young boy with silvery-blonde hair who along with his mother belonged to the group of exiles carried in the train that Lightning stopped. He blames Snow for his mother's death. He wields boomerangs in battle.
  • Oerba Yun Fang (ヲルバ=ユン・ファング Woruba Yun Fangu) — A wild-looking dark-haired woman with a large tattoo on one arm and a mark of the l'Cie on the other. She initially works for the Sanctum, and uses spears as her weapon of choice.

Sanctum Officials

Jihl Nabaat
Yaag Rosch
Cid Raines
  • Jihl Nabaat (ジル・ナバート Jiru Nabāto) — An intelligent but cruel woman with glasses and blonde hair reaching all the way down to her knees, who is a lieutenant colonel of the Sanctum.
  • Yaag Rosch (ヤーグ ロッシュ Yāgu Rosshu) — A blue-haired man who is also a lieutenant colonel of the Sanctum and Lightning's former superior during her military service. He desires peace for all citizens in Cocoon, and as such, sees Lightning and her allies as threats.
  • Cid Raines (シド・レインズ Shido Reinzu) — The Cid of the game. He is a Brigadier in the Sanctum, and is shown speaking to Snow while he is in captivity. Cid calls himself "a slave of the fal'Cie". He appears to be much younger than most previous Cids. He wields a sword-gun in battle, like Lightning.
  • Rygdea (リグディ Rigudi) — A captain working for Cid. He is an ally of Lightning and the rest of the party, lending them supplies when needed.
  • Galenth Dysley (ガレンス・ダイスリー Garensu Daisurī) — The leading figure of the Sanctum.
  • Bartoromy Estheim - Hope's father, a brown-haired bespectacled man who works for the Sanctum. Despite his position, he chose to hide his l'Cie son from the officials.

Supporting Characters

  • Serah Farron (セラ・ファロン Sera Faron) — A teenage girl who wears a red skirt, a white top and her strawberry blonde hair tied in a ponytail. She is Lightning's sister and Snow's fiancée. As a l'Cie marked by the first fal'Cie of Pulse, she is crystallized since the early part of the story. Her destiny is one of the main plot points in the game.
Team Nora
  • Gadot (ガドー Gadō) — A member of Team Nora and Snow's childhood friend. He is a dark-skinned man with orange hair and teal clothes. His design is based on NBA and hip hop fashion. He uses a machine gun in battle.
  • Lebreau (レプロ Reburo) — A woman who has black hair tied in a ponytail and a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder. She is also a member of Team Nora. Her outfit is based on volleyball players, wearing short shorts and a tanktop like shirt with puffy sleeves. She uses a rifle in battle, and is a barmaid in Bowdam.
  • Maqui (マーキー Mākī) — A young blond man with goggles. He wears black and pink clothes and a pair of goggles, in the style of snowboarders. Like the two characters above, the youngster is a member of Team Nora.
  • Dajh Katzroy (ドッジ・カッツロイ Dojji Kattsuroi) — Sazh's sweet six-year old son, who sports a similar afro to his father's, and adores chocobos. The fal'Cie Kjata marked him as a l'Cie by accident, upon which he was taken in by the Sanctum. Sazh's main objective is to rescue him from the clutches of Jihl Nabaat.
  • Yuge (ユージュ Yūju) — A member of Team Nora with feathery blue hair. He and Maqui are two of the more excitable members of Team NORA.
  • Nora Estheim - Hope's mother, exiled with her son during the Purge. She volunteered to fight with Snow and Team Nora, but lost her life in the process.


The soundtrack's limited edition.

Masashi Hamauzu, one of the composers of the Final Fantasy X soundtrack, will be composing the music for Final Fantasy XIII. The game's main theme is called "Kimi ga Iru Kara" (translated to "Because You're Here"), and it is performed by the J-pop artist Sayuri Sugawara. It was originally assumed that the main theme would be composed by Nobuo Uematsu; however, four years after the first announcement of the game, this Uematsu theme still hasn't surfaced in any of the trailers and official sites. This has led to rumors stating that Uematsu's involvement in the project may have been scrapped in favor of a 100% Hamauzu soundtrack, especially seeing how Uematsu is not mentioned anywhere on the official site. Meanwhile Uematsu has announced that he would be composing the entirety of the Final Fantasy XIV soundtrack.

In September 2009 it was announced that Uematsu opted out of composing for Final Fantasy XIII to focus on Final Fantasy XIV. The game has another theme song, titled "Eternal Love."

The Japanese soundtrack will be released on January 27, 2010 with two versions available for purchase. The standard version will contain 4 discs while the limited edition will contain a bonus "drama CD" written by scenario writer Motomu Toriyama which will include the talents of the game's voice actors.

In the Western versions of the game, the winner of the British television talent show The X Factor Leona Lewis will sing the English theme song, titled "My Hands".

Voice Actors

Character Japanese English
Lightning Maaya Sakamoto TBA
Snow Villiers Daisuke Ono TBA
Sazh Katzroy Masashi Ebara TBA
Oerba Dia Vanille Yukari Fukui Georgia Van Cuylenburg[1]
Hope Estheim Yūki Kaji Vincent Martella[2]
Oerba Yun Fang Mabuki Andou TBA
Serah Farron Minako Kotobuki Laura Bailey[3]
Galenth Dysley Masaru Shinozuka TBA
Jihl Nabaat Mie Sonozaki TBA
Yaag Rosch Hiroki Touchi TBA
Cid Raines Yūichi Nakamura TBA
Rygdea Yasuyuki Kase Josh Robert Thompson [4][5]
Gadot Biichi Satou TBA
Lebreau Yū Asakawa TBA
Maqui Makoto Naruse TBA
Dajh Katzroy Shoutarou Uzawa TBA
Yuge Wataru Hatano TBA
Nora Estheim Komina Matsushita TBA


Early gameplay footage with a different appearance of the battle menu.

The game was first revealed at E3 2006. Since then, the battle system of the game has changed several times. In the first trailers, the camera angles and shifts were more dynamic and Lightning had a gravity-controlling ability that influenced the gameplay, lending to a somewhat more action-based and cinematic presentation than the final, more classic battle system. In the playable demo, the battle transitions were nearly seamless as the exploration and battle fields were very similar in appearance, unlike in the more recent videos where the differences between the two fields are much more apparent.

It was revealed at E3 2008 that Final Fantasy XIII will be released on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 in North America and Europe, but will remain a PlayStation 3 exclusive in Japan. The game will hit Japanese shelves December 17th 2009, followed by a later simultaneous release in North America and Europe on both platforms.

A demo version of Final Fantasy XIII was released with Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete in Japan on April 16 exclusively for PlayStation 3. Covering a part from the early stages of the game, the demo aimed to familiarize players with the battle system, while featuring Cocoon and the l'Cies. Only Lightning and Snow were playable, with Sazh, Lebreau and Gadot supporting them during battles. The demo was not released outside of Japan.

A second demo was featured in the Final Fantasy XIII Premiere Party and Tokyo Game Show in September 2009, and it showcased the summons, as well as the Paradigm Shift system. Again, only Lightning and Snow could be controlled in battle, while Sazh, Vanille, and Hope were supporting party members.

Similar to Final Fantasy X, XI, and XII, Final Fantasy XIII will have only English and Japanese sound dubs. Only subtitles will be localized to local languages.

In the latest Famitsu edition, Kitase revealed that the initial project concept for Final Fantasy XIII came in 2004 when the Final Fantasy X-2 International team came up with the idea during a jogging session.


Artwork of the main cast of Final Fantasy XIII drawn by Yoshitaka Amano.

The staff behind Final Fantasy XIII are as follows:


  • The game was originally planned for the PlayStation 2, but was later moved to the PlayStation 3 after the development team discovered the power of the platform.
  • The Xbox 360 version is aimed to be shipped on 3 DVDs.
  • A PS3 bundle called "Lightning Edition" which includes a copy of Final Fantasy XIII is to be released in Japan. It is unknown if this bundle will be released outside of Japan. It contains a Ceramic White PS3 slim set with pink Lightning artwork.
  • A brand of soft drink named "Final Fantasy XIII Elixir" will be released with the game. It reportedly has three times the amount of caffeine as a normal soft drink.
  • Final Fantasy XIII marks the fourth time Square Enix has enlisted a non-Asian vocalist (Leona Lewis) to perform a vocal piece for a Final Fantasy soundtrack, after Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, and Dissidia Final Fantasy.
  • A review from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu gave Final Fantasy XIII a score of 39/40 (10/9/10/10), one mark short of achieving a perfect score of 40/40 as its predecessor, Final Fantasy XII, did.

Packaging artwork

External links

  • Final Fantasy XIII at
  • Official Japanese Site
  • Official North American Site
  • Official European Site
  • Fabula Nova Crystallis Official Site
  • E³ Teaser Trailer at Official Site
  • E³ Teaser Trailer at
  • Final Fantasy XIII Profile Page
  • Wikipedia's entry on Final Fantasy XIII
  • E³ 2009 Extended Trailer at IGN



This article uses material from the "Final Fantasy XIII" article on the Final Fantasy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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