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Every time a new Final Fantasy releases, the clones are soon to follow. From production values to straight ripping the latest landmark's combat system, Square Enix has been there to pave the way. And, this time, with Final Fantasy XIII it looks to be no different.

Role-playing traditionalists would be quick to point out: "But, well…it plays itself!" and "Where, Square, might your overworld be?!"

Quibbles that, while valid in certain respects, become only apparent when you sit down with FFXIII and decide to dissect every piece and fiber of its existence. In a lot of ways the game lays down the ground work for a more accessible RPG.

Essential in a post-Mass Effect 2 world where the fun is in the mechanics of playing the game, not in finding the perfect sword/magic combo/whatever to defeat Chaos. Or his antagonist follow-ups.

While Western RPGs have been liberal with changes to their presentation and mechanics, it's surprising that a Japanese company would play with the tried-and-true format they've been employing for the last 20 years.

Sure, every iteration of the Final Fantasy franchise has had a new combat system to play with, but none let you "Auto-battle" your way through it. FFXIII sets up actions in the most effective way to take down your foes…and you can mash on "X" through all of them.

The combat boils down to — mostly — staggering your enemy, managing your health, and changing your party's offensive/defensive formation, or "Paradigms," according to how the battle unfolds.

Action games? Shoot, manage health, and adapt to the dynamic of the battlefield.

There's still strategy in FFXIII but it is boiled down to its most essential functions. Not to mention that most non-event battles are optional. Grinding? For. The. Lose.

Further down the changing route, Square Enix strips away a sense of "downtime" with the lack of sleepy town hubs. RPG fans treat this as a hindrance on the game and its "kind," but I contend that when the action is as constant as it is in FFXIII, the break comes in saving and shutting off.

I understand you want a break during your hours-long stretches of playing the game, but there comes a time to breath and step away, no? As wrong as I may be in the minds of some RPG fans, I appreciated the brisk pace FFXIII took me through its linear world-saving trek.

Now, the combat and pacing I can defend in regards to FFXIII. The story, on the other hand, is typical of what you can expect from Final Fantasy.

"I told you, didn't I? Moms are tough."

Shortly after, the mom in question meets her untimely demise. Very tough, indeed.

Via HawtWired