I was going to write a post about the eBook reader application I downloaded for my iPhone and the free books I’ve downloaded from the Gutenberg Project but instead I am going to talk about Final Fantasy XIII seeing as I have been playing it for six and a half hours today.

FF13 has been getting some fairly average and in some cases bad reviews due to some fairly major departures from series traditions.

One major sticking point is the games linearity. Rather than Fallout 3’s vast open world FF13 forces you to take a straight path through the game. I don’t really care about this. Every other FF was pretty linear – except for the illusion of openworld-ness presented by the world map. Linearity has been a feature of JRPGs since the 80s and it’s only due to modern western RPGs such as Fallout and Mass Effect that people put such importance on choices and multiple paths. Anyway… I found that whilst playing Mass Effect 2 I chose to follow the story and ignore the majority of the side missions because I wanted to see how the game played out.

The battle system in this iteration has been dramatically redesigned. I won’t go into these changes as anyone with any interest in this game has probably read a little about the battle system. I will say that I find it to be a breath of fresh air and rather than dreading battles as I did in previous games I am actually quite enjoying them. MP has been done away with and after each fight your HP is replenished. This gives the game a bit of an RPG lite feel but after recently playing FF3 and FF4 on the DS where ethers are few and far between and cost the earth it is a pleasant feeling to just be able to get on with the game and focus on the story.

The voice acting has been top notch although there are some really cheese-tastic lines such as ‘I told you… mums are tough’ that make you cringe. This is the first FF I have played since 10 (which only really had voice acting in the main cut scenes) so it feels a whole lot more immersive having voices throughout. The characters are all pretty likeable and the cut scenes look amazing. You can tell, however, that they have had to compress the full motion video to fit on the DVDs. I imagine that the Playstation 3 version with its Blu Ray looks stunning.

So that is a quick summary of my impressions so far. I am hoping the gradual difficulty curve will continue as I am not a fan of having to grind to increase my level just to beat a boss that is 10 levels higher than anything else I’ve faced. This has been the main obstacle in the way of me completing most of the other FFs.

Sad fact – I have actually only completed Final Fantasy 7 and 8… have I been kicked out of club nerd now?.