I’m a long time gamer. Since Pong, the 2600, and way before it was “cool”. The Final Fantasy series has always been a big favorite of mine. Here are some thoughts on the new Final Fantasy XIII (affiliate link – make me rich! There’s an Xbox 360 version, too) I shared with a childhood friend (hi, Dusty!) with whom I spent countless hours playing the NES and SNES iterations. For the record, I’m playing on the PS3 in 1080p on a 46″ Samsung LCD.It’s absolutely gorgeous. Amazing in HD. When I was young, I never even dreamed games could have graphics like this. Never in my wildest imagination. The story so far is convoluted and complex and doesn’t make much sense, so it’s a true Final Fantasy game in that respect. The characters are great – you like some, you hate some. Again, a true Final Fantasy game. Battle is the biggest departure from past iterations – it’s all very fast paced and streamlined and automated. The Paradigm system takes a little getting used to, but then, I never played Final Fantasy X, X-2, XI, or XII, so I’m coming at it from the old school turn-based “pick every action that happens on screen” camp. But it’s fun, battles move fast (almost too fast to see what’s going on and watch the animations), and it “feels” like a Final Fantasy game. The character leveling “crystarium” system sounds complex on paper, but it’s really not, and it’s actually kind of fun to do. Every few battles, I go in and spend the points I’ve accumulated, and my characters get new boosts and abilities. The biggest complaint I’ve read about it is that it’s very linear, and though I’m only a few hours into it, so far, that’s true. Almost no exploration or world roaming, though I hear there’s more of that later in the game. Overall, it’s a worthy descendant, and deserves the Final Fantasy name. If you’ve played more than one of the “numbered” Final Fantasy games, you know you’ll want to play this one.