Masashi Hamauzu
Final Fantasy XIII: Original Soundtrack


5.0
classic

Review

by Brendan Schroer CONTRIBUTOR (197 Reviews)
November 9th, 2021 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I may never play Final Fantasy XIII again, but the music will never leave me.

We all have that one album or song that defines us more than any other. It may be a widely celebrated piece of work, or it may be that one little secret you refuse to share because it’s too personal to you. Well, I’m not sure if the soundtrack to Final Fantasy XIII really fits in either category. It’s the soundtrack to one of the most polarizing games in recent memory, and while the music of the game was praised quite a bit, it generally isn’t regarded as highly as many of the classic tunes that Nobuo Uematsu composed for the classic games in the series. After all, this was the first Final Fantasy soundtrack that Masashi Hamauzu composed on his own after working with Uematsu on the tenth installment of the franchise; perhaps fans were of the mindset that he hadn’t fully proven himself yet.

However, the power of nostalgia never ceases to amaze. As strange as it is to admit, my first Final Fantasy game wasn’t VI, or VII, or X. It was Final Fantasy XIII. Yes, the most love-or-hate entry is the one I started with. And, as equally strange as it is to admit (especially today), I absolutely loved it back then. The problems people had with it - the linear game design, the paradigm-based combat system, the cheesy dialogue, the confusing plot - were of no issue to me as I traversed the stunning land of Cocoon. To be honest, I’ve actually been resisting the urge to replay Final Fantasy XIII again out of fear that my entire perception of the game will crumble as I uncover how flawed it really is. Just let me have my 2010 memory, and don’t give me a reason to set myself up for disappointment.

But one thing is still true: I’ve gone back to the music too many times to count. These pieces have never left my mind, from the beautiful piano work of the title theme to the bombastic symphonic moments that score the battle sequences, not to mention the unique themes for each main character (though much of this is applicable to the other entries of the series, of course). What always drew me in more than anything else was the atmosphere; for all of Final Fantasy XIII’s faults, it truly created a world that you wanted to live in for its visual splendor and scenic locales. And as with any good Final Fantasy game, the music accompanied this beauty perfectly. The increased use of electronic elements was icing on the cake, as it added a more otherworldly vibe to quite a few tracks.

More importantly, however, this was the soundtrack that made me want to become a composer and songwriter in the first place. I wanted to have the ability to put people in a different world with music, whether as an escape or out of a love for exploration. It’s the reason I started falling in love with music by Bjork, Joe Hisaishi, Ko Otani, and other artists whose music I felt as though I could “inhabit” if only temporarily. There’s something about the power of a medium that you can’t see or watch that’s always been captivating to me, as you can imagine the scenery of a book, poem, or musical composition as you see fit. The paragraphs or lyrics might have a setting in mind, but you can still envision it in your own way. As amazing as Nobuo Uematsu’s work is (I do still see him as the superior composer), the way Hamauzu can create a setting with just a few piano notes is extremely impressive.

The Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack wasn’t ground-zero for me musically, but it’s what made me want to pursue music as my main hobby and, eventually, my career. All of those hours spent sitting on the floor playing the game on my gen-one Playstation 3 created so many memories; they were simpler times, and listening to the soundtrack unleashes those old couch-potato daydreams as if I were opening up a time capsule I buried a decade ago. I may never play the game again, but the music will never leave me. Rest in peace, Final Fantasy XIII, and thank you for helping me carve out my path in life.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2021


13135 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, so it looks like I picked the wrong version of the album to review on here... I don't know why there are two entries to begin with!



Anyway, I've been having difficulty writing about new releases lately, so I decided to get the creative juices flowing with possibly my most self-indulgent and least analytical review ever. But I already knew it was gonna be like this. I love the soundtrack so much that it was eventually gonna come out as more of a personal story than a review. Still, I'm glad I put it out

Tundra
November 9th 2021


6867 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

goated

Tundra
November 9th 2021


6867 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Yeah, so it looks like I picked the wrong version of the album to review on here... I don't know why there are two entries to begin with!"

oof, well it doesn't really matter I guess

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2021


13135 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

lol, it's all good. I just asked Sowing to merge the entries (or to possibly take out the other entry and slap the artwork on this one)



Aaaand there we go. Thank you!

Tundra
November 9th 2021


6867 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

heck yeah

SteakByrnes
November 9th 2021


25979 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing soundtrack, okay game

Digging: Kaizo Slumber - The Kaizo Manifesto

MyMentality
November 9th 2021


266 Comments


I love this soundtrack, I completely agree. Final Fantasy VII pips it mainly for nostalgic reasons, but this has some beautiful tracks for sure!

MyColdShoulder
November 9th 2021


191 Comments


Really glad this got a review, and it's a great one at that. I actually played through this game for the first time last year, and I must say that I really enjoyed my time with it. Didn't really care about the narrative, but the combat system was super fun. Also the music is amazing, but that's obvious

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2021


13135 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice to see so many positive opinions for the soundtrack! As I said, this was my first numerical FF game (although my first altogether was Crisis Core) so there's always gonna be a sentimentality attached to it for me

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
November 10th 2021


26864 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really great soundtrack, aaah brings back memories.

Digging: Tomb of Annihilation - End of Time

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
November 10th 2021


13135 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

So many memories :D

GmemberKills
November 10th 2021


3861 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty much hated this game after getting a a few chapters in, but my mind changed after picking it back up later on. My feelings overall are still mixed though. The battle system is super engaging in the latter parts of the game, and it probably has some of the most beautiful graphics & art/sound design in the whole series.



I just hate the linearity (please just let me explore a town, do some small side quests, and talk to npcs a bit) and stupid amount of hand holding in the early parts of the game. The overall story is pretty interesting as well I just think the execution of it is somewhat convoluted.



All that said I do still really like this game I just feel if they had changed a few things it could've been a all time classic. I feel like more people are finally coming around to it though and seeing what's great about it. I'd love to see Square re-release this with some small QOL improvements or a new game plus.





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