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Twenty Questions: Final Fantasy XIII - Chapter 10 Sam's avatar
 
Spoiler Warning:
Don't look down!
Having broken the Guinness World Record for the longest amount of time holding up on the analogue stick, I arrived at the end of Chapter 10 of Final Fantasy XIII in an enlightened state. Being both a gentleman and a philanthropist, I will attempt to convey some of my new found knowledge to the unwashed masses in today's Twenty Questions because let's face it, Square Enix have a lot to answer for.

Will I find out what the fal'Cie actually have in store for Cocoon?

Yes - Although Primark Dysley Galenth does his best to explain the events of the first nine episodes before his impromptu transformation into the fal'Cie Barthandelus, Chapter 10 sees the questions he answered immediately replaced by fresh enquiries. Predictably, answers are only a few dingy corridors away as a couple of hours into the chapter Cid turns up with Final Fantasy XIII's big reveal in tow. Up until this point, the game lacked an fundamental objective but knowledge that the fal'Cie intend to sacrifice humankind for tea and biscuits with their god should provide the necessary motive for a more defined plan.

Does Snow continue with his sickening optimism for the entire game?

No - Although not as candid as the loyalty missions found in Mass Effect 2, each chapter of Final Fantasy XIII tends to focus on a single member of the team and how they overcome their personal issues. Chapter 10 is no exception, with the habitually cheerful Snow facing a major crisis of faith after finding out that despite Serah's wishes, his focus once again involves the destruction of Cocoon. Although Cid's martyrdom brings Snow out of his strop shortly after it begins, there are a few delightful moments where he throws his toys out of the pram and skulks around like a teenager on the way to Grandma's.

Is the journey to Gran Pulse enjoyable?

Yes - Although the random discovery of a transportation portal to Pulse in the base of Chapter 9's Ark seems just a little bit too convenient to be anything other than a hastily cooked up plot device, the cut scene that follows is probably the most impressive that Final Fantasy XIII has offered so far. There is something inherently realistic about the motion of the characters as they plummet through the sky, which has probably got a lot to do with how detailed the movement of their hair and clothes is. Regardless of the arrival method though, the epic scale of Gran Pulse's flora and fauna of Gran Pulse certainly whets the appetite for Chapter 11.

Are my team members limited to the three roles they had in Chapter 9?

No - As soon as Chapter 10 begins, a tutorial screen pops up to explain that all characters can now spend Crystogen Points to pursue whichever of the six roles catches their fancy. Although some people have argued that this functionality should have been available from the start of the game, being given full control of roles before gaining experience of Paradigm Shift system could easy result in a situation where six jack-of-all-trades would struggle with mandatory encounters. At approximately thirty hours in, it appears the game's tutorials have finally come to an end, ironically on embarking on a mission into a training facility.

Does the game get any harder in Chapter 10?

Yes - Aside from the refreshingly challenging battle with Cid Raines halfway through the chapter, which requires some tactical Paradigm Shifting and possibly the last gasp aid of an Eidolon, the difficulty level remains roughly in line with the rest of the game. As with previous chapters, the hardest encounter is Fang's Eidolon battle with Bahamut, with the first attempt almost certain to end with the doom timer running out. Although a second attempt usually ends with success once the Gestalt Meter requirements are known, it seems a little mean spirited to expect players to die unless luck has it that they have the right role combinations.

Is there any sign of the game becoming less linear?

No - Sadly, Chapter 10 features series of zones that are so monotonous, they put the inside of the Channel Tunnel to shame. Although there is something about the atmosphere that invokes a memory of Final Fantasy VII's mako reactors, the geometry and textures are reused to such a degree that the chapter seems to linger far beyond its welcome. Following suit, the Crystarium continues to offer little choice when it comes to spending Crystogen Points, with little reason to deviate from the pre-defined branches, other than to learn new abilities slightly earlier in exchange for specific attributes.

Can I make Hope a Sentinel and Snow a Medic?

Yes - At first glance, the expanded Crystarium appears to give full control over the roles each character can assume from Chapter 10 onwards. However, further scrutiny reveals that such preferences are merely illusions as the sheer number of Crystogen Points required to improve strength by an infinitesimal amount is equal to several hours of dedicated toil. Although possible, there seems to be little reason, other than chasing down trophies by embracing this thankless grind, for spending so long improving Snow's bedside manner and teaching Hope pain suppression when then are specialists who can do the job at a fraction of the cost.

Is the equipment advancement system easily managed?

No - As with any Final Fantasy equipment advancement system, resorting to pen, paper and GameFAQs becomes a necessity sooner rather than later when upgrading weapons and accessories. With the Collector's Catalogue (available from the Moogleworks shop halfway through Chapter 10) increasing the frequency of receiving components, keeping track of what items can be converted into becomes vital for anyone making an attempt on the Treasure Hunter trophy. With the process itself being straightforward though, it is a shame that Square Enix haven't found a way to effectively track the progress of item upgrades within the game.

Should the Loremaster trophy be gold?

No - Obtaining a gold trophy should be a case of blood, sweat and tears, usually in the form of racking up two-thousand headshots with a Nerf gun or playing through a thirty hour JRPG seven times using only white mages. Therefore, it comes as a big surprise, especially for a Final Fantasy game, that the Loremaster trophy requires minimal effort to attain, with the occasional use of Libra enough to ensure it will probably unlock sometime during Chapter 10. However, any residual feelings that the trophy is obtained a little too cheaply can be swiftly dissipated by investigating the insane requirements for the Treasure Hunter award.

Have you purposely only answered ten questions when you promised twenty?

Yes - Twenty Questions is more of a concept than a literal statement of intent, originating as a parlour game in the USA during the 1940s. Popularised by a string of radio and television shows across the globe, the phrase has become synonymous with nosiness and seems a fitting name for the piece considering the attention to detail the article provides. If any further justification than this is required then tough, it's my site and I'll analogise if I want to. Tags: final-fantasy-xiii, square-enix, twenty-questions