Too fast, too furious: Battles at FFXIII

By Karen Flores, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Apr 01 2010 02:35 AM | Updated as of Apr 01 2010 10:41 AM

A battle in FFXIII starts when a leader (the character you're controlling) comes in contact with the enemy.

Unlike most RPGs where enemies just pop out of nowhere, opponents in this game can be seen roaming around the dungeons and forests, which means you can literally escape battles if you don't get noticed.

The game even provides shrouds, or aerosols which can help you scout an area undetected by enemies or boost your stats before battles.

Once engaged in combat, players are transported to a new battle screen. The Active Time Battle (ATB) system, as seen in Final Fantasy VII, returns with a whole new look -- you can now stack multiple commands into slots per turn, which will all be released at the same time to form a combo.

Fortunately, makers of FFXIII decided to do away with magic points (MP), which means you no longer have to hold back on your spellcasting. Instead, you get to use cost points, which correspond to the number of ATB segments a certain command is going to take up in the gauge.

If you've watched the animated film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, fight scenes there are exactly how battles in FFXIII look like. Characters run, jump and do all sorts of moves simultaneously -- a far cry from the "attack once and stay back" method seen in most role playing games (RPG).

A successful chain of attacks will make an enemy reach a "stagger state" -- yet another one of FFXIII's best battle features. Here, the enemy glows orange and players can inflict high amounts of damage. Depending on the enemy, the stagger bar will get depleted within a certain amount of time.

All about speed

It's always good to aim for an enemy's stagger state -- which can be done by exploiting its weaknesses -- to get higher ratings after every battle.

Yes, you read that right. FFXIII rates your combat performance after every battle, with the highest grade of 5 stars for slaying your enemies in the shortest span of time. Pre-emptive strikes (or striking an enemy from behind) get bonuses too.

A random battle usually lasts for about a minute or two. Sounds tough for a 3-member party that does all sorts of attacks at the same time? To make things less complicated, creators of FFXIII decided to let you control the actions of only one character in battle -- the rest are taken care of by the computer.

The game even gives you the option of using "Auto-battle," stacking up the best commands it thinks is best for your current situation, so you can just sit back and watch the action.

Don't be too complacent, though -- battles are so fast in FFXIII, you can't just stick with one strategy. With the game's "role" and "paradigm" features, changing battle plans can be done with a touch of a button.

Roles, paradigms and crystogen points

If you've played Final Fantasy Tactics, "roles" in the game are a lot like "jobs" -- these determine which abilities are available to characters in battle.

Certain skills are restricted to certain roles. In FFXIII, there are 6 roles -- Commando (attacker), Ravager (black magic user), Sentinel (defender), Medic (healer), Saboteur (enemy debuff user) and Synergist (ally buff user).

Only one role may be used by a character at a time, and a combination of the party members' roles is called a "paradigm." During battle, you may switch between roles by pressing the L1 button (if you're using the PlayStation 3).

Up to 6 paradigms may be stored in the Paradigm deck through the main menu, but this can only be done outside of battle. You may choose to create balanced, offensive or purely defensive strategies for your party to cater to different battle situations.

All 6 roles are not available to all characters at the start of the game. Skills for specific roles (as well as stat increases) may be attained through the Crystarium -- a system similar to the sphere grid of Final Fantasy X.

To make your way through the Crystarium, you must collect enough crystogen points (CP), more like a typical RPG's experience points, which are gained after every battle.

This article is part of When a game's better off not being called 'Final Fantasy XII,' which can be viewed here. (When a game's better off not being called 'Final Fantasy XIII')

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For comments and suggestions, email the author at karen_flores@abs-cbn.com.