Mankind was blessed by its protectors, the benevolent fal'Cie, and believed that tranquil days would continue forever.
Their tranquility was shattered with the discovery of one hostile fal'Cie.
The moment that fal'Cie from Pulse—the feared and detested lowerworld — awoke from its slumber, peace on Cocoon came to an end.
Final Fantasy XIII is the thirteenth game in the ball-crunchingly popular Final Fantasy series and first entry of the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy series of games.In the lore of Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, humankind lives alongside a race of god-like beings known as the fal'Cie. Those who are chosen by the fal'Cie for a greater purpose are known as the l'Cie ("luh-see"), with each one given a special mission called a Focus and magical powers to help accomplish it. Legend states that failure to accomplish one's Focus will transform the l'Cie into a hideous monster, but success will grant "eternal life".Final Fantasy XIII takes place in Cocoon: a futuristic utopia created and operated by the fal'Cie. Not only does Cocoon provide a life of comfort and ease, but it protects its inhabitants from the savage and hostile world of "Pulse" that lurks outside its walls.When a Pulse fal'Cie is discovered within the walls of Cocoon, the ruling government- fearing the creation of Pulse l'Cies- take drastic measures by quarantining the entire district and ordering that everyone within be exiled. Seeking to rescue her missing sister from the chaos of this "Purge", a young soldier known only by the codename "Lightning" rebels against the government and breaks through the military blockade to the Pulse fal'Cie.There, Lightning and a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits are branded against their will by the Pulse fal'Cie and transformed into l'Cie. With an unclear Focus and the entire world of Cocoon turned against them, Lightning and the others must figure out a way to fulfil their new-found fate... or a way to defy it.Final Fantasy XIII is the first part of the "ten year project" known as Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, which was envisioned as a series of Final Fantasy games all sharing a common mythology. Unfortunately, development was plagued with problems: the two biggest being an excessive amount of time spent developing the game engine, and a general lack of a cohesive vision amongst the development team. While the game received a generally good critical response, the fandom reaction was mixed (with criticism mostly stemming from the perception that the game was "too linear"), and while both sides made criticism about the story and characters and had different opinions on the battle system, the graphics, voice acting and music were praised by both sides.A direct sequel was later released, directly addressing many of the complaints that were thrown at XIII. A third game is set to be released in 2014 and complete the trilogy.
Provides Examples Of:
Aborted Arc: At the end of Chapter 11, Dysley reveals he's resigned as Primarch and appointed a revived Raines in his place to sow tension on Cocoon in preparation to cause mass panic. Ten minutes into Chapter 12, Raines is killed, and his influence on events is non-existent.
For all the Narm you might expect in a JRPG, you do explore the feelings of a single father whose only son is taken away from him by The Government, as well as those of a woman who loses her younger sister and of a man who loses his fiancée (same person) to a fate even worse.
What about Hope's father? His wife and son go away together for a nice little holiday, then suddenly they've been boarded on a train to Pulse (hell on earth or so the Fal'Cie would have you think); the train has crashed, and all escapees are being killed/rounded up for execution. Think about how he must have felt when he found all of this out. Oh - and when you do finally go see him, he has about two minutes to digest the fact that his wife's dead before the army attacks and his son is forced to flee.
Aerith and Bob: Perfectly normal names like Serah and Claire Farron come from the same town as Snow, Gadot, and Maqui. In fairness, it's a pretty big town, but still.
Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The 'Lindblum' and the 'Palamecia'. The 'Palamecia' looks like the big brother of the Aigaion in Ace Combat 6, and it even has a docking guidance system that resembles the ERS from H.A.W.X.
All There in the Manual: The datalog, which is required reading if you want to have a full understanding of the backstory and terminology. The plot summary in said datalog even fully explains the characters' motivations that are either implied or vague in game. In other words, you'll find yourself reading the datalog after nearly every cutscene.
Always Save the Girl: Fang outright states numerous times that she'd tear down the sky if that's what it took to keep Vanille safe. Same for Snow, but in more of a self-sacrificial way. His sole focus throughout the entire game is getting Serah back and marrying her, even if it means abandoning the group, after he said they should stick together.
Amusement Park: There is one inside Nautilus. It also holds a farm where series-favorite Chocobos and adorable smiling lambs live.
After Combat Recovery: Your party is restored to full health after every battle — which is good, because some of the bosses and enemies are seriously hard.
Ambiguous Robots: So the military creates biological weapons from wild creatures, but it's difficult to tell whether the resultant... things are metal, meat, a combination, or neither. Then you have the fal'Cie.
Anachronic Order/In Medias Res: The first half of the game (up to Palumpolum, at least) flows this way. Flashbacks to the thirteen days prior to the Purge help to develop the characters and the plot. The flashbacks themselves are done in Anachronic Order, and often plot elements set up in one flashback will be paid off in another (like the real story behind Lightning's hunting knife that's in the inventory).
An Adventurer Is You: Although each of the characters is The Jack thanks to having up to 6 roles they can shift between, each role fits neatly into an archetypal class role.
Sentinel (AKA Defender) - The Damage Sponge
Medic - The Healer
Ravager (AKA Blaster) - The Magic User and Nuker (increases Break Meter on enemies)
Commando (AKA Attacker) - The DPSer
Saboteur (AKA Jammer) - The Debuffer, with a hint of Mezzer thanks to skills like Pain
Synergist (AKA Enhancer) - The Buffer
And I Must Scream: If you are turned into a Cie'th, your body is twisted and covered in crystals, and you're barely recognizable and unable to interact with anyone. In more advanced stages, you turn into a Cie'th stone, which is the same, but you're an immobile Living Statue. Never mind that the rate in which you turn Cie'th only increases the more panicked and distressed you are on your Focus. Cie'th are practically the game universe's equivalent to the undead, with names like "Ghoul", "Ghast", or "Vampire".
Anti-Grinding: The Crystarium levels are blocked off from you until you finish certain chapters (and beat the game). This was likely done to encourage players to beat bosses and King Mooks with their brains rather than minmaxing, but most people just end up spending hours spamming Death on Adamantoises to max out their CP totals anyway. It also doesn't stop people grinding anyway, and just saving up CP so that when the next tier unlocks they can make instant good progress with it.
It also doesn't stop anyone from grinding weapon and equipment upgrades, which can in some cases be more important than a few more Crystarium levels.
The most CP you can store at one time is 999,999.
Anti-Villain: Yaag Rosch is sympathetic to the fate of the Pulse l'Cie, but feels that protecting Cocoon is more important.
Arc Number: 13. The story is punctuated by flashbacks of various events taking place over a span of thirteen days before the game begins. The game's plot is divided into thirteen chapters, and there are thirteen Analects found through side missions later on.
There are a lot of minor ones as well. Just some examples: The game begins on Aerorail Trussway 13-E. L'cie brands (from both Pulse and Cocoon) go through a total of 13 phases. All the analog clocks go to 13 rather than 12, and there are even a total of thirteen retail networks to shop from.
Artificial Stupidity: Your party will move closer to one another just as an enemy is about to unleash an area-of-effect attack. Your designated Ravager also tends to alternate between physical and magical attacks, which takes about twice as long to execute as as straight-up physical or magical assault, although alternating between them does charge up the chain gauge faster.
AI-controlled Saboteurs start by casting the left-most debuffs (like Deprotect and Deshell) on an enemy's Libra screen and working their way toward the right (like Pain and Fog), provided they know those skills. This is more of an inconvenience, given that most battles end quickly. Fortunately, Snow only learns the debilitating debuffs, making him a very useful Saboteur.
Additionally, Saboteurs and Synergists prioritize defensive actions (reducing enemy damage and increasing allies' defenses) over offensive ones. While this does help the party to survive, it can make it much harder to get high ranks on shorter fights.
Synergists have the problem of often only casting one buff at a time even if they have the ATB charge to cast more. Though normally this does give the advantage of not having to wait to charge the ATB for the next buff, once they learn Haste, which charges the ATB faster, this is just a waste of time. They're also liable to cast buffs like Faith and Bravery, which boost magic and strength, on characters which may not be able to use attacks of that type.
And sometimes AI healers will focus on healing annoying but mostly harmless status ailments over recovering HP. Which can be a problem when the party leader is low on HP and the Medics are removing things like Deprotect.
Commandos are the only role that will refuse to target the same enemy as the party leader if there is more than one Commando in the paradigm at a time. This often greatly limits the usefulness of paradigms like "Aggression" and "Cerberus", as the AI Commandos will waste time attacking different enemies, instead of concentrating their attacks on the ONE you need them to.
In general the game's AI is often a poor judge of when it's appropriate to use single-target attacks vs. multi-target attacks. Especially annoying when you preemptively strike a large group of enemies, and then the AI chooses single-target attacks for everyone, instead of trying to stagger as many enemies as possible with area of effect moves.
Thankfully, the two above examples are fixed in the sequel where you can choose if your AI companions attack separate targets, or go after the same enemy as the party leader you control when you customize your paradigms.
Artificial Brilliance: On the other hand, the AI will automatically adjust to the needs of the current battle: Synergists will buff you with the right elemental protection to suit an enemy's elemental attacks and also with elemental charges to your attacks to hit the enemy's weaknesses, and they don't waste time using such spells if they wouldn't help. Ravagers will never use something an enemy is strong against or absorbs, and will even follow your lead on whether to use single-target or area of effect attacks; if the enemy's strengths and weaknesses are unknown, they'll experiment with different attacks to formulate a strategy from there, because the game is liable to take note on its own the enemy's elemental properties. Medics will adjust healing based on how bad everyone's hurt/what statuses there are, etc., with first priority thankfully going to the party leader unless someone else is about to die. The battle system gives you very little direct control, but the party's smart enough to do its part without you needing to micromanage it like in Final Fantasy XII.
Oh, and Synergists always make casting Haste on everyone, starting with themselves and other Synergists, their first priority.
Attack Its Weak PointFor Massive Damage: Most things that don't die in one turn must be staggered first to actually take hits properly, or in the case of Eidolons, a special battle order must be filled. The exception tends to be things with excruciatingly high or slow charging stagger gauges like later Behemoth line enemies — these will probably be slain with a lot of attacking in a paradigm like Aggression, with Instant Stagger weapons, or by ambushing them.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Chapter 10 spoiler: Cid Raines and Galenth Dysley/Barthandelus. You'd think this would apply to PSICOM, but Lightning explicitly notes (after easily dispatching a whole squadron in the first chapter) that PSICOM's only real advantage is their superior equipment, and that the majority of PSICOM is made up of inexperienced recruits. As the game progresses, though, you fight more experienced troops until you're eventually fighting the Home Guard: the last line of defense who — because they're hardly ever needed — spend all their time doing combat drills and training. That said, the Homeguard isn't there long, since PSICOM replaces them again. Even though the Homeguard has been supposedly prepared fora Pulsian invasion of Eden for centuries.
Awesome, but Impractical: Pretty much all of the Tier 3 weapons, due to requiring an extremely rare component that can only be bought for obscene amounts of Gil or won off the Adamantoise-type enemies. Since most Adamantoise varieties are stronger than the final boss, this means the Tier 3's are only really good for killing more turtles and wrapping up the last few marks. In fact, several players have posted videos on YouTube showing that a sufficiently leveled party with well-developed Tier 2 weapons can get a five-star rating on the final Bonus Boss.
Said components, Trapezohedrons, can be multiplied by using them to build a particular few types of weapons, level them to maximum, and then disassembling them. So for roughly the same price as it costs to buy one (up to 30% less if you do some cost/benefit experimentation beforehand), you can turn one Trapezohedron into three. Still does not mean they're actually that useful...
Another limiting factor on the Tier 3 weapons is that as you and your weapons become stronger, the time limits for fights and missions are tightened. In some particular cases, it becomes next to impossible to 5-star a particular mission because a strong party would have mere seconds to finish the fight.
On another note, some of the Full ATB Skills (a.k.a. Limit Breaks) can be seen as this. While these moves certainly look pretty, may do a lot of damage, and fill up the chain gauge quickly, it has to be considered whether this is more effective than having six separate moves instead of this one, as it takes up every ATB point available. However...
Awesome yet Practical: Fang's Highwind Full ATB Skill. The area and damage of the attack actually makes up for the cost of an entire ATB gauge.
Sazh's Cold Blood limit break is also of note. Using it on an already staggered target raises the stagger gauge by ~10-12% per shot. He fires 14 shots. You do the math.
Vanille's Death spell has a chance of working on most enemies, and deals a ton of damage even when it doesn't. Spamming it is the easiest way to farm Adamantoises. Its damage also increases the more you spam it.
This also happens to Yaag Rosch a few chapters earlier in Palumpolum — after giving an impassioned Reasons You Suck Speech to Snow, it looks like you're about two seconds away from fighting him when he goes down in a hail of gunfire and you have to fight a flying tank instead.
Later, one of the Cie'th Stone Missions has you facing off against one of the fearsome Undying Cie'ths... only for it to get shanked from behind by a Tonberry, which is your true opponent. Fortunately, the sequel has a proper battle against it.
The last enemy you face during Titan's trials is one of the Undying, which kills the behemoth Titan had intended for you to fight.
Bag of Sharing: No matter how far apart the split parties are or what they are doing, they all have access to the same items.
Bare Your Midriff: Vanille, Fang, Lebreau, and Lightning (although it's not as obvious).
Batman-Gambit: Barthandelus' plan to manipulate the l'Cie into fulfilling their Focus and destroying Cocoon amounts to pushing them past the Despair Event Horizon and letting nature take its course.
Battleship Raid / Colossus Climb: While you do not fight the entire structure, Anima was actually the entire Pulse Vestige. This is most apparent in one of the flashbacks when the face of the Vestige roars. The boss that the game and Datalog call "Anima" was actually just its core.
Also, the entirety of Chapter 9, which fits the trope more closely, but no boss that can be fought is actually involved with the ship itself.
Beehive Barrier: The protect spell manifests as this when a player is hit, and Galenth Dysley has one.
Big Bad: Galenth Dysley/Barthandelus acts as the primary antagonist throughout the game. It is revealed that he is actually in a Big Bad Duumvirate with his fellow fal'Cie Orphan, whom he collaborates with to ensure the destruction of Cocoon.
The Big Guy: Of all the fal'Cie seen in the game, the aptly-named Titan absolutely dwarfs them all. He can swallow an Adamantoise whole.
Bilingual Bonus: Lightning's real name being Eclair, which is French for 'lightning'. It was later changed to Claire, which is French for 'light'.Despite this, both are referenced very frequently in-game.
Paradigm is the Greek word for pattern (though technically, it's also an English word for pattern).
Bishounen: Cid Raines is the youngest and most attractive Cid so far. Hope will qualify in a couple years, if he doesn't already.
Bittersweet Ending: On the upside, Cocoon is saved, Dajh and Serah are freed of their crystal stasis and reunited with their loved ones, and the party are no longer l'Cie. On the downside, Fang and Vanille are turned to crystal after they become Ragnarok together and stop Cocoon from falling. The bitterness is slightly sweetened by the knowledge that they're at least in crystal stasis together, but it's still a Tear Jerker.
Bizarre Alien Biology: The fal'Cie all appear to be biomechanical in nature, but are separated into two groups based upon their world of origin: Cocoon fal'Cie and Gran Pulse fal'Cie. Cocoon fal'Cie (like Eden and Carbuncle) are distinguished by their smooth, statuesque designs. Gran Pulse fal'Cie (like Titan and Atmos) are distinguished by their rough mechanical and utilitarian designs. Motomu Toriyama calls them "god machines surrounding the crystals". Whatever that means.
Blessed with Suck: Becoming a l'Cie — chosen of the gods. You leave your family and home to carry out your god-given task. Your options are to A: be continuously crystallized and uncrystallized as the fal'Cie feel like using your services again, for eternity or B: turn into a Cie'th stone and spend forever not only trapped in one place but constantly awake and thinking only of your task, unless someone finishes it for you. It's totally possible that your task will involve killing a loved one who has become a Cie'th. A major theme in the story is why most l'Cie still choose to continue on despite the risk of a much worse fate.
Bond One-Liner: The characters occasionally have a voice response after killing an enemy. They range from charming (Sazh's "Tough times, huh?") to outright disturbing (Fang's chuckle).
Bonus Boss: Most of the Undying, most notably Attacus and Vercingetorix. Also, the Oretoises who have insane Strength and Health, the exception being the Adamanchelids.
Boss Bonanza: The game ends with Orphan's Cradle. Travel to successive areas of the Cradle requires teleportation, which drops you in a room with a powerful monster and no explanation before taking you to your destination. You end up fighting three bosses because of these teleports (including a Dual Boss), in addition to the Final Boss.
Break Meter: Beat enemies down to put them into Stagger status, which makes them take more damage. Every enemy has its own break point, after which damage jumps from x1 to whatever the combo chain percentage is. The bonus caps at x9.99, and it is occasionally possible to reach the cap.
Breather Episode: The way that the plot comes to a screeching halt, to show us a parade, and put us into a petting zoo, you know something bad is going to happen...
The Call Knows Where You Live: Boy howdy is there a lot of collateral damage when Vanille remembers her focus, but feigns ignorance to keep both Fang and Cocoon safe.
Cap: For those who have been playing for a while, you will notice that many enemies after a certain point, especially bosses, have something on the order of millions of Hit Points. Thankfully, these large numbers are irrelevant, because the game has no defense stat, and careful manipulation of the Break Meter means your characters can deal damage in excesses of 50,000 damage per hit (and you can chain up to six attacks, more with Sazh and Fang.) As an example, the final boss has six million hit points, but can be beaten in less than five minutes. The normal damage cap is 99,999, which can be reached in normal playthrough through Stagger-ending abilities (Smite and Scourge), Fang and Snow's character-specific attacks with a Staggered enemy and a full break meter, or liberal use of positive and negative status effects. A hidden item allows you to break this cap, allowing damage up to 999,999. With Fang's Highwind, 1.5 million damage is far from unheard of. Summons can also occasionally break this cap.
Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Literally in Lightning's case. Her superior officer, Lt. Amodar, tells her to stay away from fal'Cie business, but Lightning almost immediately sets out to kick ass and ask questions later.
Chekhov's Gunman: Subverted: Snow's NORA buddies turn up during the siege of Eden at the very end of the game after a near 20-hour absence and... open a locked door. They promptly disappear again and aren't seen again until the sequel, where they're just as useless.
Rygdea, on the other hand, plays it straight when he reappears for the first time in nearly 10 hours and puts a bullet in Cid's head—upon his request, mind you.
Class and Level System: Outside of Summons and Full-ATB moves, characters do not have their own skillsets, nor do they even level up as per traditional JRPGs. Instead, you level up your Roles, and role combinations in battle (aka Paradigms) determine your effectiveness in fights.
Colony Drop: The fal'Cie's plan to destroy Cocoon is to have it fall and crash into Pulse. They believe that this mass killing will summon The Maker.
Ironically, this does happen, but the killing is on the fal'Cie side: the game ends with Cocoon perched atop a crystal structure, at the cost of Fang and Vanille becoming Ragnarok and then turning to crystal.
Colour Coded For Your Inconvenience: The Palamecia's colored security codes in Chapter 9 don't make any sense. First an intruder alert causes Code Red, which later escalates to Code Green, and after the prisoners escape to Code Purple. Hope wonders aloud what the heck it all means, and then it's completely lampshaded when Jihl Nabaat starts having her epic Villainous Breakdown, shouting "This means we have a Code Blue! Or maybe Code Yellow. Or maybe Code Orange. If it was Code Orange that would mean...?" But then Primarch Dysley puts an end to it and remarks that "Desperate times demand flexibility: [beat] CodeWhite!"
Combination Attack: Part of the entire basis of the gameplay is coordinating attacks, since combos boost attack strength and enemies after Chapter 5 or so start packing millions of hit points.
Cool Horse: Odin transforms into one in Gestalt mode.
Cover Drop: The logo spoils the ending, depending on your interpretation of it, though, and if you don't know what it represents it won't actually spoil anything anyway.
Crapsaccharine World: The world of Cocoon is a very happy and beautiful place to live... as long as you're not a l'Cie and you don't know the real reason the people are being kept happy and complacent.
Creepy Child: Orphan, a several-thousand-year-old fal'Cie with abandonment issue and a death wish.
Curse Cut Short: When Snow finds out that Barthandelus was pretending to be Serah in Chapter 11, his response is to punch his face in with a very pissed off "You son of a-!" Per Running Gag, he's cut off before he can finish either action.
Cursed with Awesome: Pretty much every main character due to the benefits and downsides of being an L'Cie. Sure, fantastic powers are great and all, but when they end up with you dead or eternally trapped as a living statue? No thanks.
Cutscene Power to the Max: During the FMV interlude between final bosses, when the two of them are combined together, one of your party members knocks them right down with four Fire spells. From off-screen, no less. (Possibly justified in that the two bosses might never have combined before, and were quite clearly preoccupied with evil gloating at the time. Still, when they have millions of HP, you'd think...)
The l'Cie's Eidolon's count too. In-game, their combat effectiveness varies, depending on how much your party has progressed (becoming impractical at the highest areas). In cutscenes though, they do some pretty amazing things, and contribute to several of the game's cooler moments.
Damage-Sponge Boss: Most of the bosses and quite a few of the regular enemies can take a lot of damage before they will die.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: The game doesn't even have a "flee" command, because you can just as easily "restart", which, like dying, just takes you back to before the battle, as if you never engaged the enemy. This, however, is essential because unlike other Final Fantasies, you lose very easily, and because the world is full of these one bosses and demonic spiders. Eidolons, anyone?
Death Seeker: Every single one of the Cocoon fal'Cie. Vanille as well, although it's less evident.
Death World: Gran Pulse. While not quite as dangerous as the Sanctum claim (if only because they claim it's Hell), it is still full of creatures that would be quite happy (and fully able) to make you their next meal.
Demoted to Extra / Trailers Always Lie: Jihl Nabaat was given a lot of focus in the trailers and amassed a following prior to the game's release. Unfortunately, she is killed off rather unceremoniously by the Big Bad about halfway through the game without making much of an impact.
Deal with the Devil: Snow offers to become a l'Cie if Serah gets turned back into a human. It's not clear whether the deal is accepted, or if Anima just curses him out of hand. After all, he did just help beat the crap out of it not two minutes earlier.
Despair Event Horizon: If a l'Cie descends too close to this point, they conjure an Eidolon subconsciously to either snap them out of their funk or kill them off quickly. Every party member does this without exception — Sazh's method of invocation is covered in Mood Whiplash, listed below.
Lightning has one right after Serah gets crystallized, and gets even worse before she has to fight Odin.
Despair Speech: Most of the l'Cie just before their Eidolon battles, notably Hope at the beginning of Chapter 11.
The Determinator: The Undying Cie'th. They were so angry at the fal'Cie that forced them into servitude that instead of eventually turning to stone like other Cie'th, they have managed to continue existing through nothing but pure hatred.
Deus ex Machina: The ending sequence is full of these. Lightning, Snow, Sazh, and Hope get turned into Cie'th (or trapped in an inescapable illusion) but manage to turn themselves back into humans through willpower. Moments later, they fight and destroy Orphan despite the knowledge that this will doom Cocoon and that they have absolutely no plan to avert this. The only reason that this doesn't become a Downer Ending is because Vanille and Fang pull a double Heroic Sacrifice to turn into Ragnarok, erupt a lava flow, and then crystalise the whole thing to stop Cocoon's descent. Then once Lightning and the remaining party hit Gran Pulse, they immediately go into Crystal Statis due to technically fulfilling their focus in destroying Cocoon, since it fell from the sky. Then, the party, except for Fang and Vanille, are instantly freed from their crystal statis for no apparent reason, and Serah and Dajh are freed aswell. This last part is explained in the sequel though.
Fang's initial Ragnarok rampage being stopped and her and Vanille being put in crystal stasis 500 years before is implied to literally be the result of divine interference.
Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: This is exactly what Barthandelus and Orphan want to happen — by killing Orphan, Cocoon will lose power and crash into Gran Pulse, and if the party doesn't want to kill him, they will find other methods and pawns to do the deed. Ultimately, this is precisely what happens in the ending, Orphan is killed and its death causes Cocoon to fall, though the party still saves the day.
Difficulty Spike: Chapters 12 and thirteen can be rather hard if you didn't grind a lot in chapter 11, as almost all the enemies are suddenly much harder than what you're used to.
There's also one mid-chapter once you get halfway through the final dungeon and the bosses you fought minutes ago start showing up as regular enemies.
Fang and Vanille's gasps together during their saving of Cocoon.
Related, but neither sexual in context, nor fun at all: Undesireable people getting herded at train stations, put on trains to an unspecified far away destination, and told they get their personal stuff back once they get there? Thankfully, Lightning and Snow got the hint.
Dual Wielding: Lighting does this during Odin's Gestalt mode. Sazh does this normally, and also hits twice for every attack he makes. Fang gets in on the action with the fifth attack in her attack combo.
Elemental Powers: As always with the series, in this case the notable example is the Eidolons: Fire, Ice, Lightning, Earth, Holy, and non-elemental.
Elemental Tiers: While Aero has the same power as other basic spells, Aerora and Aeroga are stronger than other -ra and -ga spells. Aerora is as strong as -ga spells of other elements, and Aeroga is even stronger. However, they also cost more ATB meter, making them slower to cast. Most characters can't even cast Aeroga until 3/4th of the game.
End of an Age: The end of the game, and also the War of Trangression, 500 years ago. The former changes things for the people of Cocoon, and the latter was a massive shake-up for the people on Pulse.
Even Evil Has Standards: When Yaag Rosch relinquishes war zones and gives orders to fire at will in order to destroy the l'Cie, just about every soldier protests because civilians are still evacuating.
Everything Trying to Kill You: Once you get to Pulse, like you knew you were going to eventually, you can come across the somewhat large turtles known as Adamantoise. If you engage it in battle, it will stepon you.
Lampshaded in a skit done by Snow and Lightning's voice actors.
Lightning: "... What have you gotten us into."
Evil Old Folks: Dysley is considerably older than most other main antagonists in the series. Of course, considering that he is the leader of the fal'Cie, he is likely even older than he appears.
Fake Difficulty: Certain enemies will never give you a preemptive strike opportunity unless you are shrouded, even if you're practically rubbing their butts in your face. This is particularly noticeable with large enemies.
Fire-Forged Friends: At the start, half the playable cast is at each other's throats. Originally Hope wants to kill Snow because Snow caused his mother's death, Sazh almost shoots Vanille (albeit at her request) because she was responsible for Dajh becoming a L'Cie, and Lightning's antipathy for Snow is obvious from the beginning. By the end, however, all of these things are forgotten as the group unites.
Five Stages of Grief: Thematically, the party members save for Fang wrestle with one each in the first half of the game, either over the loss of their loved ones or their fate as l'Cie. Lightning and Hope get Anger, just wanting to focus on fighting something to keep themselves going. Snow gets Bargaining, believing that if he tries hard enough there must be some way to put things rightnote Though in a way he's also in Denial, as this belief is due to the fact he doesn't want to admit that there may not a way. Vanille is in Denial, acting cheerful and happy to repress her guilt and despair about the truth. Sazh shoots right up to Acceptance, resigning himself to execution. Then they all get a turn with Despair sooner or later.
Foil: Lightning and Fang, right down to the Eidolons — which transform into a white horse and a black dragon.
Lightning is the foil of every main character for at least part of the game, although she becomes less of one as the group's purpose becomes more unified. During the section with her and Hope, her strength contrasting his doubt and fear is the driving force of the plot. For a while later, Vanille's optimism is constantly clashing with Lightning's anger and cynicism.
Foreshadowing: After the party crash lands in the Vile Peaks, Sazh asks Vanille (about her ignorance) "What, did you sleep through history or something?" Vanille laughs and answers, "More or less."
The vision that the party has of their Focus at the beginning of the game essentially shows what happens at the end of the game. Whether this is foreshadowing the events of the game or is simply a generic representation of Ragnarok destroying Cocoon is up to your interpretation of the dream.
Each character starts the game with two ATB slots, gaining a third when they are turned into l'Cie. Vanille, on the other hand, already has three long before the party is transformed.
Fridge Horror: What's with Oerba turning into a desert, anyway? Well, after Fang and Vanille failed to destroy Cocoon during the War of Transgression, the Gran Pulse Fal'cie started turning larger and larger numbers of the population into L'cie, giving them random and often impossible focii. Failed L'cie become Cie'th. Eventually, Cie'th become Cie'th Stones, and after even more time passes, they crumble into crystal dust. The dust covering Oerba is so incredibly fine that you can see it hanging in the air; either hundreds of years of normal weather patterns or some Fal'cie in charge of keeping ecosystems stable blew the final remains of the entire planet's population into a single location.
And the crystal dust may or may not still retain some level of consciousness.
Another gag dub was performed by Ali Hillis and Troy Baker themselves.
Gameplay and Story Integration: Doubles as Foreshadowing — everyone begins with two ATB bars and gets their third when they receive their l'Cie brand. Except Vanille already has her brand and thus she begins with her third bar already.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: It's odd seeing Hope contemplate killing Snow during a cutscene in Palumpolum and then heal him in the very next battle. Addressed when Hope defends Snow from a monster in a cutscene — he doesn't want Snow to die because then Hope doesn't get his chance to confront him with what he's done.
The entirety of Sazh's Eidolon battle. After a heartwrenching scene between him and Vanille where he holds her at gunpoint for getting Dajh turned l'Cie, his Eidolon is summoned and he throws himself into the fight declaring if it wants to kill him, bring it on. During the fight however, their chatter is the same as always, Vanille cheerfully calling "don't give up" and Sazh thanking her for healing spells. The battle ends as always with the Eidolon's Gestalt Mode sequence, during which Sazh is smiling and looks to be having a blast.
Genre Savvy: Everyone except Lightning act happy as clams after Barthandelus has been beaten once and for all, even though even they should understand that maybe something much worse is on the way.
Sazh has this from time to time, especially how he correctly guesses that the Sanctum is not being entirely honest about Pulse.
The entire group gets genre savvy after the Big Bad's villainous monologue — the only reason why he'd tell them his Evil Plan is to manipulate them, and it's not like they can believe a word he says anyway.
The Ghost: Eden. You do see an avatar in Orphan's Cradle (three of them, in fact), but the fal'Cie itself remains unseen.
Ghost City: Hanging Edge and the city seen near Lake Bresha in the cutscene where Sazh escapes PSICOM jets are both devoid of citizens. There are four cities that are visitable on Gran Pulse, one for each corner of the Archylte Steppe, and all of them have been reduced to ruins in various states of decay, thanks to the War of Transgression. The city in the southwest area is so far gone, it doesn't even have a name, and all that's left to remind people that civilization used to be there is a couple of archways and spires.
Ghost Planet: The only things living on Gran Pulse are monsters; no humans, only the skeletal remains of cities and landmarks.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Most of the enormous mecha bosses have some sort of explanation. Then there's the final boss of Chapter 5: a big metal robot-bug. It is clearly not part of the local fauna, and the military zone that you walked through was made to develop biological weapons, not mechanical ones.
The Chapter 5 boss is actually a literal example- it's huge, it's inside an orb that in geostationary orbit, it's an actual bug, and there is never any explanation as to where it came from. It is a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere.
Glass Cannon: At maximum stats, Hope has the best Magic and worst HP. Lightning has the second worst HP but the second best strength, and ties for second best Magic with Vanille.
Global Airship: Sort of; you can briefly ride mechs that will keep you safe.
"Good Luck" Gesture: Vanille crosses her fingers whenever she is worried things might go wrong. She does it a lot of times throughout the game.
Götterdämmerung: The intended outcome of Barthandelus's Evil Plan. It works — just not in the way he intended it to. Eden, Barthandelus, and (possibly) all the other Cocoon fal'Cie die right along with Orphan, but humanity survives Cocoon's (literal) fall.
Gratuitous English: Sunleth Waterscape's lyrics in the Japanese version are in fluent, grammatically correct, but nonsensical English. The western versions replaced them with similar but slightly more sensible words.
Gun Fu: Used by Lightning in some of her fight animations.
Hammerspace: Most of the characters' weapons are kept on their in-game models. The exception is Hope. It's especially obvious on his battle-ending animation, when he shoves a collapsible boomerang as long as his arm into his back pocket. Somehow.
Fang and Vanille, who crystallize Cocoon and themselves to prevent it from falling after Orphan's destruction.
Heroic Willpower: The game beats you over the head with the concept of free will being the key to ending the fal'Cie's power and saving the world. Certain humans, when manifesting extreme amounts of independence, can even become something that is stronger than an ordinary human, but not quite a l'Cie or a crystal being either, such as Cid Raines.
Hollow World / Floating Continent: Cocoon is this and (according to Word Of God) is roughly the size of the United States. The fal'Cie Phoenix serves as its sun, and it is essentially floating in the upper Pulsian atmosphere. In addition, the floating city of Eden is located high up in Cocoon's sky, being a floating city in the center of a floating continent.
Hollywood Spelling: A pointed aversion, when Hope mentioned "Operation Nora", Lightning says "Nora?", but it's rendered in the subtitles as "NORA", the name of Snow's group. Hope then tells her that Nora was his mother's name, and the true meaning of the operation becomes clear to her.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: To the extreme with Snow and Serah. Serah's about average height (5'5"/164cm), but Snow is over a foot taller than her (6'7"/200cm).
Human Resources: All of Cocoon's population are either slaves or sacrifices to the fal'Cie.
Humans Are Special: According to the fal'Cie Orphan, this is why the fal'Cie use l'Cie. fal'Cie are created for a single purpose and can never rise beyond that purpose or act outside it. Humans, on the other hand, have limitless potential for growth and adaptability, so the fal'Cie seek to borrow that power to do what they cannot.
Humans Need Aliens: Barthandelus invokes this, telling the party that humans are foolish, cowardly and easily deceived, and "without [our] help, death is all of which you're capable". Delving into the backstory reveals that it is largely due to fal'Cie influence that humans have thrived.
HP to One: The final boss has an extremely annoying attack that reduces everyone's HP to 100. When coupled with the poison status ailment he loves casting, this spells nearly instant death for any party member so afflicted.
The attack with the blade? Put a Sentinel in your team before the light orb reaches Orphan. To add insult to injury, this attack also resets its stagger meter.
Side note: Unless you have good armor equipped, that attack will deal Over Nine Thousand damage easily. You can lower this by equipping magic resistance. Also, enter the battle with a Sentinel and two Medics to recover fast.
I Am the Noun: Barthandelus, upon revealing himself to be the head fal'Cie. "L'Cie? You mean me? Oh child, perish the thought. I am more than that! I am fal'Cie! My name is Barthandelus! Voice of the Sanctum, and Lord-Sovereign of the Cocoon fal'Cie."
I Cannot Self-Terminate: To become free of the fal'Cie's strings, Cid Raines asked to be shot by his right hand man, Rygdea.
Immune to Fate: White l'Cie brands manifest from extreme displays of free will, and with them, they can take as long as they want to complete their Focus. Fang has hers because she held back from vaporising Cocoon like the Pulse fal'Cie wanted (although wiping a third of the planet off the map satisfied her fulfillment for "destroying" Cocoon). The rest of the party gets theirs from breaking Bart's illusion and their belief in wanting to save the planet in the face of all else that was occurring at the time.
Improbable Weapon User: Snow uses his coat and fists against automatic weapons - and is specifically powered-up by the patches sewn or ironed on his jacket. Vanille uses a multi-hook 'fishing' pole. Gunblades and giant boomerangs would be considered exotic in any other game series.
In a Single Bound: Some of the jumps you make whilst moving around maps are awesome. There are valleys and chasms and the railings of an airship.
Indy Ploy: As Snow says, "Heroes don't need plans!" The rest of the party really take this to heart in the last few chapters.
Infinity–1 Sword: The final weapon of each characters' set is NOT their ultimate weapon; since weapons can be augmented, it is best to constantly upgrade weapons that come with some form of stat benefit (such as Vanille's Belladonna Wand).
Infinity+1 Sword: Averted, as mentioned above, due to augmentation in this game. You build your Ultimate Weapon from roughly six to eight different templates, each with their own plusses and minuses, and suitable for different playing styles. Thus, you can also choose not to build an Ultimate Weapon, and complete the game with everyone's starting equipment. It isn't as hard as it sounds.
Ink-Suit Actor: Not invoked for the English dub, as the actors were chosen well after character design was done, but a few coincidences. Georgia Von Cuylenburg is short, cute, cheerful, and skinny. Ali Hillis is slim and classically beautiful. Troy Baker is a tall blonde guy with plenty of enthusiasm.
Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Although it's less obvious thanks to the fact that the party can jump over numerous obstacles, given the heights and lengths the characters can jump, there are many obstacles they really should be able to go over and areas they should be able to reach that they can't.
It Began with a Twist of Fate: Four out of six protagonists are forced on an adventure by pure chance of being in New Bodhum when the Pulse Fal'cie Anima awakened near the city. What followed was a chain reaction of events that either killed or crystallized their loved ones, driving the four into an ill-fated attempt to rescue/avenge them.
Jack of All Stats: Lightning. She is considered the best Ravager, arguably tied as the second best Commando, has access to the Medic role for most of the game, is an adept Synergist (she is only missing Veil, Bar-, and the two -Ra), and can fill the roles of a Sentinel and a Saboteur. She has both the second highest strength stat and second highest magic stat (which she is tied for with Vanille.
Jerkass Gods: Although they are not technically gods, the fal'Cie are pretty large and in charge, and largely regard humans as either pets or tools, as Hope cheerfully mentions later on in the story. They're so detached from normal morality that they practically run on Insane Troll Logic — the very concept of becoming a l'Cie is that they give you an objective to fulfill, which they may not even explain to you clearly, and your "reward" is to be turned into a crystal statue until they revive you to give you a new Focus. You're also given a time limit to complete this objective, regardless of if they explained it to you or not, and failure to complete it before time runs out turns you into a zombie.
Justified Trope: Say what you will about the lack of "traditional" towns, and not being able to really interact with the NPCs, but from a thematic standpoint it makes sense. The party members are basically fugitives and the general population is terrified of them. On the other hand, Welcome to Corneria is deconstructed.
Killer App: Or, it was supposed to be. Its absence for the first four years of the PS3's lifespan, as well as its hop to international multi-platform release, has blunted its impact. Total sales of the game are more-or-less on par with Final Fantasy XII (which is no mean feat on the Playstation 3, which has the lowest userbase of the Big 3 consoles of this generation.)
Land Down Under: Gran Pulse. It's a world of unending wilderness, and powerful beasts and dangerous creatures roam around it. It lies underneath Cocoon, analogous to Australia's geographic location being southwards, literally being the "Land down under" from the above world of Cocoon. Throughout the storyline, Gran Pulse is also depicted as being an inhospitable Death World full of danger and horrible monsters. Fang and Vanille also have Australian accents. As they are both the last remaining survivors of Gran Pulse, it can be assumed the people who once lived there also had similar accents. Notably, the ruins of Gran Pulse's cities depict modern technology and buildings, with concrete, steel, and oil rigs.
Lazy Backup: Even worse than most games with an Arbitrary Headcount Limit. Not only will the non-active party members not lift a finger in battle, but if your lead character dies, it's game over. No matter who that lead character is or whether or not any of the other party members know any revive skills.
Leaked Experience: All characters gain the same amount of CP, regardless of whether they are in the battle or even in the party at the time. Justified, especially in the earlier chapters, by the game not allowing you to change your party and often shifting viewpoints between characters without warning — if CP didn't carry over, you would be very liable to get thrown into a tough boss battle with severely underleveled characters and no way to grind them.
Limit Break: Changed in this game, instead you get "Gestalt Mode," where you pilot a vehicle/summon around to do heavy damage.
Characters also have true limit breaks, which use an entire ATB bar. These either sharply raise the chain meter (Sazh and Lightning), nuke a wide area and moderately raise the chain meter (Hope), deal heavy damage while clearing the chain gauge (Fang and Snow), or have a chance to cause instant death while dealing damage that increases the more you spam them (Vanille).
Literal Genie: The party saves the world on a technicality: Anima, Bart, and Orphan simply tell the l'Cie to "destroy Cocoon." They never made mention of what they should do after they accomplish this...
Didn't Think This Through: Anima's plot may still be partly uncertain, but Barthandelus and Orphan planned on summoning the Maker with the apocalyptic fall of Cocoon. Ragnarok's suspending Cocoon via a massive crystal pillar could be seen as a hundred middle fingers aimed at the two of them, courtesy of Vanille and Fang.
Loophole Abuse: During some longer attack animations, especially Full ATB Skills, you can still change Paradigms and thus your party's passive skill adjustments. Doing this allows ATB Skills used in the Ravager role to benefit from the Commando's damage buff bonus by switching once they begin the attack.
Lost Forever/Broken Bridge: With the exception of the ones on Gran Pulse, every single treasure chest in the game is lost once you leave the dungeon it's in. Fortunately, most of them don't give out things that are all that rare. There are a few weapons and accessories you can't buy in stores found in chests, though.
There is also one point in the game where if you don't fight an optional boss that is way too strong for the party at normal progression, you'll have to choose between two treasure chests. The one you don't pick will be lost.
The final dungeon won't allow you back into its main bulk after you reach the end, so much for the level grinding.
If you don't find all five parts to repair Vanille's pet robot, Bhakti, before fighting Barthandelus, then they disappear, and you lose out on a bunch of useful items.
Low Fantasy: Believe it or not, the story fits most of the criteria listed on that trope page. Humans take center stage in the plot, no Five Races other than the Fal'Cie, natural magic is treated as the ultimate evil and artificial magic is largely used as a military weapon, war is largely depicted as pointless, all-out destructive, and waged for an unclear goal, etc.
Luck-Based Mission: Getting five stars on the Gigantuar fight. Either you get a lucky instant stagger (with very low odds) or the battle takes too long, regardless of your stats.
Lightning does all manner of acrobatic things, and the camera doesn't care. This is because she wears black modesty shorts.
Serah's miniskirt always protects her modesty, regardless of what she does. Interestingly, in FFXIII-2, we learn that Serah also wears black Modesty Shorts.
Fang and Vanille, during many events where they should give people a view, have their skirts still cover themselves. However, they are many quick blink-and-you'll-miss-it examples that don't follow this trope.
Magical Security Cam: The "security camera" footage from inside the Euride Gorge power plant showing how Fang and Vanille's actions turned Dajh into a l'Cie is made to look like video with noise and scanline effects, but features dramatic camerawork shot from angles that would be impossible from the viewpoint of security cameras (even the floating ones seen elsewhere in the game, as they are not evident on wide shots of the same scene).
Magitek: All fal'Cies are a mysterious combination of magic and tecnology. Members of Cocoon's military also have access to equipment that lets them use magic (before becoming a l'Cie, Lightning uses one such device to fly through the air). PSICOM also uses "militarized" monsters like a cyborg behemoth.
Mana Meter: Almost completely averted. While you do have the fast and powerful Techniques that use Tech Points, everything else is based on time.
Manual Leader, AI Party: The player controls one party member at once and has the option of customizing the AI of the party.
Meaningful Name: The l'Cie's plain English names and their meanings may be obvious, but there are other examples. The Undying, for instance, are all named for people who commanded armies against ancient Rome.
Hope spends a lot of the game battling between holding on to hope or giving into despair. Lightning even lampshades this at one point.
Hope: There is no hope. Not for l'Cie.
Lightning: There's you.
Hope: It's my name, not who I am.
In the Japanese version of the game, many of PSICOM's gunships and war machines have German and Chinese names.
Mêlée à Trois: This game allows you to join in three-way battles. Depending on whether you're spotted doing so or not, both sets of enemies may join forces to wipe you out, or not notice you're even there and continue to fight each other while you annihilate all parties. Regardless, you need to be the victor.
And then there's the awesome three-way fight you can perform on the Archlytte Step with a Behemoth King and a Megistotheran. Both of them are extremely powerful, and even Hope comments that it's awesome to watch them duke it out, on top of this being a very good grinding spot.
Mind Screw: The last dungeon. If you have any idea where you are, if you're making progress, or what your objective is besides hitting the next checkpoint, you're lying to yourself.
Morton's Fork: If you're branded a l'Cie, you've got two possible fates in store for you: complete your focus and turn into a crystal forever, or do nothing and turn into a Cie'th zombie forever. This is your first hint that the fal'Cie are nothing but a bunch of pricks. Your second hint is that focuses are only ever about as clear as half-remembered dreams anyway.
According to some dialogue from the sequel, turning into crystal isn't as bad as it seems. Serah sometimes mentions the happy dreams she had while she was crystallized, which isn't as much of a punishment as turning into a Cie'th.
And even if you do complete your focus and turn to crystal, that doesn't necessarilly mean you can rest for eternity either. If the fal'Cie decide they have further use for you, they can de-crystalize you, essentially drafting you into another round of service for them, as was the case with Vanille and Fang.
Mood Whiplash: Holy hell is chapter 8 a shining example of this. A carefree festival scene gets interrupted by PSICOM. That might have been expected, but the mood keeps going down from there once you defeat the boss and Sazh's toddler son wanders onto the scene, apparently completing his Focus and getting encased in crystal. Terrible secrets are revealed when Nabaat punts the dog into orbit and poor Sazh can't decide whether he should kill Vanille, who had been trying to keep his spirits up the whole journey. By the end of the entire scene, Sazh has a summon and a gun to his head.
More Dakka: Sazh's method of using Guns Akimbo seems to be "spray enough bullets in your target's general direction and maybe some will hit". Particularly, see his version of Blitz and his Limit Break, Cold Blood.
His Blitz's unique mechanics (he sprays bullets forward instead of doing a Spin Attack like everyone else) make it pretty powerful against larger enemies. Each bullet does half to three-quarters what it would in a normal attack, but he fires each gun a half-dozen times at least; if you're facing an enemy large enough to get hit by most or all of them, or if a moderately sized enemy is right in his face, it'll do considerably more damage than just having him Attack.
Morph Weapon: When Sazh gets his fourth ATB level, make him a commando and have him attack. On the fourth hit, his handguns leap into the air, transform, then merge into a rifle before he takes a shot — for no reason, apparently, but style. Also, Lightning's gun-sword-whateverthehellitis.
Multi-Platform: The news of this being the first game in the series to do this (and the first for the Xbox 360) was a big announcement.
Although the advent of a PlayStation 3 price drop has cooled off some of the initial fire from earlier on.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It's one of the main themes of the game. The party's mere presence as Pulse l'Cie is making the civilian population panic and the government resorts to increasingly extreme measures to capture them and restore the peace, and as l'Cie the party members can either fulfill their Focus to destroy Cocoon, or refuse it and turn to Cie'th. They come to believe there must be a way to Take a Third Option, but in the meantime they evade capture, mow down enemy soldiers, show off their l'Cie powers in public, and in general constantly escalate the already thick tensions of the people. A good portion of NPCs, and briefly some of the party members themselves, are of the opinion it would make things easier on the world if they just stopped trying and died. As for specific examples:
Cid attempts to free himself of his Focus and save the world by killing the party, only to end up defeated and ripe for ressurrection by the Big Bad as a puppet that goes on to fuel discord and destruction on the streets of Cocoon.
Snow doesn't bother covering up his Pulse l'Cie tattoo, so he ends up causing the exact kind of panic that the party went back to Cocoon to prevent!
The party defeat Barthandelus, causing him to be assimilated by Orphan for usage as a shell in the subsequent battle.
Pretty much everything the party does for the whole game, up to and including killing the final boss, is exactly what the Big Bad (said final boss) wants you to do.
Nobody Poops: Specifically, that chocobo chick never seems to make a mess in Sazh's hair.
No Endor Holocaust: The act of Cocoon dropping had to have killed a hell of a lot of people, especially everyone on Eden. But no deadly aftermath is ever shown, so it can be assumed everyone on the planet had parachutes or teleporters.
Averted as of the sequel. While no explicit numbers are mentioned, it is stated that people died. But either way, the survivor's are dead now, due to the time crash occuring 500 years after the ending of XIII.
Nominal Importance: Even if you haven't been spoiled going into the game, you know damn well Hope's mother is doomed when the game's subtitles only refer to her as "Mother." She has a name, but it's not revealed until long after she's dead.
Non Standard Skill Learning: Most skills (including basic Attack) are represented by nodes on the Crystarium. The exception is the characters' Eidolons, which are obtained during the storyline and stored in the inventory.
Not a Game: An exchange between Lightning and Sazh.
Lightning: Keep running—it's die or turn Cie'th. There's no place for l'Cie to hide. No…they want a fight? Let's take it to the Sanctum's door!
Sazh: This isn't a game!
Lightning: No. That's for damn sure. It started with Serah. The fal'Cie took her. Now I'm a l'Cie. And the Sanctum's hunting me, an enemy of the state. But who's pulling their strings? A fal'Cie. Eden. Cocoon's sustainer and guiding light. It probably ordered the Purge, too. Pulse and Sanctum fal'Cie? They're all the same. And we're all the same to them: expendable. I'm not dying a fal'Cie slave.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Prior to the game's release, many people suspected that the aged Galenth would be nothing more than a powerless figurehead. Then he started frying masses of people with magic blasts...
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: To the average American player, Vanille's accent sounds a little... flighty compared to Fang (Ironic considering Vanille's voice actress is Australian...and Fang's is not). However, to the average Australian player, Fang's accent, whilst mostly above average, slips into some very New Zealand sounding vowels and the odd American twang.
This is more of a situation from the American audience perspective as for them natural accents do not sound "authentic" to them, and need to be done over-the-top in order to sound "real" or "authentic". Another victim of this is Leliana of the Dragon Age franchise, whose voice actress Corinne Kempa (like Georgia van Cuylenburg (Vanille's voice actress) in regards to using her Australian accent) was accused of her accent being "unauthentic" and "fake", was merely using a native Parisian accent.
Organic Technology: Cocoon has amazing wonders such as iMac-styled Behemoths, snake mechs, cyborg dragons, and tree beasts with radiator grille faces.
Our Zombies Are Different: Cie'th. They're zombies who grow crystals (and bigger) and eventually turn into statues, or fall apart.
Panty Shot: If Fang does a jump when the battle ends, if the camera focuses on her victory pose, you can catch a glimpse of her panties. They are black. Also, during the Highwind move, there's a fair chance of it.
Party in My Pocket/All in a Row: Both are played with, the party members generally just do their own thing and act like NPCs while on the field. However, only the active party members are visible in the field, any not participating in battle play the pocket trope straight.
Patrolling Mook: Most Pre Existing Encounters who aren't nailed to a particular spot are this. They are usually easier than stationary enemies because you can get a preemptive attack on them while their back is turned.
Peninsula of Power Leveling: On Gran Pulse, there is a specific area on the Archlyte Steppe where a behemoth and a giant wolf are fighting next to a canyon. (It's unavoidable because the plot steers you towards this area.) Engage them (the encounter will almost always be a Pre-Emptive Strike), kill the behemoth, kill the wolf, run into the canyon until the spot they stood in scrolls off the screen, come back to the spot, and they're there again. Doing this gets you about 13000 CP (with the Growth Egg, which doubles CP) in roughly two minutes, and almost a million within an hour. As you get stronger, the minutes can become seconds.
Once you know the Death trick, Mission 63 becomes one for both CP and gil. (Adamantoises give 40000 CP and have a 25% chance of dropping Vendor Trash that sells for 150000 gil, and you get a guaranteed Gold Nugget (60000 gil) every time you complete the mission)
Phlebotinum Rebel: Two types: Your party, who use their powers to defy their Foci and battle the fal'Cie, and The Undying, people who resented their fate as l'Cie, ignored their foci, and became immortal superbeings kept going on nothing but pure spite.
Planet of Hats: Every single one of Cocoon's uncountable number of fal'Cie are evil and in on Barthandelus and Orphan's plan to summon the Maker via mass sacrifice, even though it would also mean their deaths. Even the ones in charge of operating the automatic doors.
Power Tattoo: The l'Cie brand. It also serves as an abstract Magic Countdown to Cie'thdom. It goes through thirteen stages, becoming more complex each time until it fully develops and the bearer becomes a Cie'th. If the l'Cie manages to complete their focus, they get a cool "ruined" brand like the one Fang sports for the entire game.
Practical Taunt: This exists as a Sentinel skill. The default tank, Snow, just waves the enemy forward and says something like "Well? Come on!!" or "I can take it!"
Programming Game: Paradigms are more or less simplified Gambits, only the AI isn't as rigid (mainly because they have less options to choose from all at once.)
Puzzle Boss: The Eidolons do not yield to you based solely on pure strength. Better pay attention to what Libra tells you and act accordingly, that clock isn't slowing down.
Railroading: The vast majority of the game is spent on a single path it's impossible to stray from. This is naturally a major point of contention with the franchise's fans.
Randomly Drops: Thanks to the game's aversion of Money Spider, the only ways to accumulate large amounts of Gil involve fighting enemies that drop valuable components designed to be sold, but which often drop at rates of 25% or worse. You will need millions of Gil to upgrade weapons, and millions more if you want to go for the trophy for having all of the equipment. Enjoy doing the same 5-10 minute fight three or four times without getting anything.
Recurring Riff: A melodic line from one of the vocal tracks appears in several other pieces throughout the game.
Surprisingly for a Final Fantasy game, only one of the classic FF tunes appears in its entirety, the insanely catchy vocal J-pop rendition of the Chocobo theme. The series Prelude can be heard briefly in the game's original prelude, and the Final Fantasy theme (the one that usually plays during the credits) can be heard in the track "Miracles". Then again, this is somewhat typical of Masashi Hamauzu, who very rarely if ever pays tribute to Nobuo Uematsu's old musical cues. See: Dirge of Cerberus (scored by Hamauzu), which is bereft of any of the original Final Fantasy VII leitmotifs, compared to Crisis Core (scored by Takeharu Ishimoto) which borders on Continuity Porn in its reuses of FFVII melodies.
On a more minor note, Blinded By Light can be heared in Lightning's theme, and it gets a Dark Reprise later.
Recurring Boss: Many bosses are fought at least twice during the game. The Proudclad (piloted by Yaag Rosch) and Barthandelus stand out.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: The military career Lightning with her cold and professional demeanor, and the tribal Fang who is flirty, hot-headed, and impulsive. The colors are inverted though - it's Lightning who wears the red, while Fang wears the blue.
It's not a complete inversion, though; at their first meeting, it's Fang who tells Lightning that she should cool that head of hers. Fang is in the end more easygoing then Lightning.
Redemption Equals Death: For Yaag Rosch, although his sacrifice only takes out a couple of monsters the party should have been more than capable of taking on at that point.
Redundant Rescue: Sazh and Vanille orchestrate their own escape by utilizing the distraction provided by their rescuers, meeting up with the rest of the party just as they were running into trouble.
Replacement Goldfish: Some of the party members' relationships are forged this way. Lightning (replaces Hope's mother, Nora) and Hope (replaces Lightning's sister, Serah) to each other, and Vanille (replaces Sazh's son, Dajh) to Sazh.
The Right of a Superior Species: At one point, Lightning realizes that to the fal'Cie, humans are nothing but pets whom they keep for amusement and some housekeeping chores they don't care to do themselves. It is eventually revealed that humans and fal'Cie are related species in the sense that both were created by the same creator deity but fal'Cie were made infinitely stronger, so when the creator has left the building, things went south for the humans.
Ruins of the Modern Age: There's hints of this scattered all over Gran Pulse, but it really hits home once you make it to Taejin's Tower, and more importantly: Oerba.
Scenery Porn: Detractors would be hard pressed to find anything bad to say about the graphics.
Lampshaded by Sazh in the Sunleth Waterscape. "Where's a camera when you need one?"
Screw Destiny: The party, naturally, which in turned inspired Cid Raines as well, but that wasn't a good thing for the party. Or Raines.
Indeed, it's practically the theme of the game's story. Our heroes are told over and over again that as l'Cie, it's their destiny to fulfill their focus or suffer a Fate Worse than Death. In the end, however, they all decide they're going to make their own fate.
Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: Dysley tries pulling one of these on Snow and Lightning by taking Serah's form, even using Lightning's real name (Claire) on her. He gives up after about a minute and puts his trollface back on because he knows he's got the party wrapped so tightly around his finger they're going to do what he wants anyway, so why waste the energy screwing with them?
Slave Mooks: L'Cie are only motivated to do their boss' job by the threat of being turned into one of the zombie-like Cie'th.
Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: It is stated that fate is undefeatable. However, later, it is not only revealed that can fate can be fought, but that humans are the only ones with true free will —- something not even the fal'Cie had. Hence the reason fal'Cie create l'Cie, to use their unlimited potential (free will).
Sole Entertainment Option: Nautilus, a huge entertainment city on Cocoon that is full of little spherical transports, the Pompa Sancta parade, lots of lights (of course), an amusement park, and a chocobo and sheep petting zoo, among other things.
There's also a Grand Prix track near the end of the game. Sadly, you don't get to participate.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Getting pummeled by monsters to the sound of vocal trance or bossa nova has never been so much fun!
Lebreau, easily the worst offender of the three, actually receives commentary from Lightning in the novella.
If the blue-haired man could be said to have a lot of decorations, this woman could be said to be showing a lot of skin. Either one was not wearing clothes that someone who uses a gun would normally wear. All of those decorations hanging down would just get in the way of a gun fight. And a large gun like that heats up easily. With that much skin showing, she wouldn’t be protected from burns. Amateurs, she decided.
Spell My Name with an S: Orphan, despite all the references (name, the changes between its forms, its music, its dungeon, thirteen orphans, etc) is called Ophan often, because it also alludes to the type of angel, Ophanim. Of course, the English release confirms "Orphan" as canon.
Galenth Dysley's true name is another matter of contention. Most agreed that he was named Baldanders after the mythological creature, but they Latinized it to Barthandelus in the English release.
Some of the names in the Spanish translation are slightly different, like Baldanders instead of Barthandelus (as referenced above), Paals instead of Pulse, and luCie instead of l'Cie. Whether they're truer or not to the original Japanese is arguable.
Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: The crux of the plot is Orphan's incredibly convoluted attempt to Rage Quit the universe. As one would expect, when the party finally confronts Orphan itself, it acts like, well, an insane child.
Taken for Granite: L'Cie who fulfill their focus skip the zombie part and go straight to being a paperweight.
Take Your Time: Although the plot largely tries to avert this — the entire story takes place in the time frame of about two weeks (one month if you include the Thirteen Days), and makes an explicit point that ignoring their Focus runs risk of the party turning Cie'th — once you get to Gran Pulse, you can spend as much time as you want killing King Mooks and riding chocobos around.
Tech Points: Two Types: Crystal Points (CP), which are similar to Final Fantasy X's AP, and are given out at the end of combat. CP are how you move along the crystarium level up system. Technique Points (TP), which are a form of Mana, are rewarded at the end of combat if you finish combat quickly, or during combat if you wait until your action bar is full — essentially, wait to do a full Beam Spam type attack.
Tech Tree: A variant. The game uses a system called the crystarium, which is most similar to the AP system seen in Final Fantasy X. However, each character has 1-3 out of 6 different crystarium boards open initially, and each one has a different progress bar and different unlockables — they are basically this game's version of a character class. Skills and spells are only usable when you are in that tech tree, but passive bonuses to HP, Strength, etc. are permanent. All the areas of the boards are locked out until you progress far enough into the plot.
That Makes Me Feel Angry: Characters have a habit of lapsing into this, where they'll talk about their emotions and epiphanies rather than just, ya know.... emote.
That's No Moon: Gran Pulse has no visible moon aside from Cocoon, which floats in its lower atmosphere.
Theme Naming / Stellar Name: Sazh's weapons are all named after individual stars or star systems, except for his last weapon, although it is named after a celestial event.
Hope's weapons count as well; they're all named after some kind of winged mythological beast or deity. (Or is capable of flight in general)
Theme Park Version: Parodied in-game. With The War of Transgressions re-enactment during the Eidolon parade. Which happens at Nautilus, which is one big theme park.
The Social Darwinist: Titan's entire reason for existing is to create new, strong species to inhabit Gran Pulse, and let them wipe out the weak ones, unless he feels like doing it himself in which case he will. However, he's relatively reasonable about it compared to usual instances of the trope, as he conducts such acts to strengthen all the races of Gran Pulse. His trial missions have briefings worded in a way that invites the party to die at the hands of a superior foe if they are unworthy or unwilling to live, and when the trials are complete, Titan acknowledges their power and that they are worthy of living.
The Three Faces of Eve: Vanille has a childlike innocence and serves as the child. Fang is forward and flirtatious as the seductress, and Lightning acts as a mother figure to both Hope and Serah in different ways.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lightning gives one to Hope early on, calling him out on his uselessness. She ends up accidentally calling her Eidolon, Odin, who wastes no time in trying to cut Hope in half.
The title of the last Analect in the Datalog is Fabula Nova Crystallis. Fittingly, said entry makes mention of the goddess Etro.
Token Nonhuman: Averted for the first time since Final Fantasy VIII. Or subverted if you look at it in another way: the game could be the first in the series to have no human playable characters, as everyone in the party becomes a L'Cie. Which means in the first two chapters of the game Vanille is the Token Non-Human in the group.
Touched by Vorlons: L'Cie are created when humans come into contact with a fal'Cie. The l'Cie then gain abilities that transcend that of normal humans, such as the use of "natural" magic instead of "artificial" magic produced by a Manadrive and the ability to summon Eidolons. Basically, they become Player Characters, or in the case of Cid, Bosses.
Trailers Always Lie: Jihl, Yaag and Cid Raines were quite prominent while Dysley was shown little, and only Raines lived up to his implied role. The trailers also implied Fang was a traitor, showing her capturing Snow and raising her lance against the party without context for her actions, and implied Vanille was the one responsible for Serah being branded, showing her apologizing profusely when she sees her mark.
Transformation Is a Free Action: Subverted. When you paradigm shift, the combat doesn't pause, leaving you open for attacks. Especially aggravating the first time in each battle, when the party members do the animation one at a time. Fortunately, they will shift simultaneously for the rest of the battle.
On the other hand, savvy players who need to conduct a Paradigm Shift can use launch periods to circumvent this flaw. Enemies will attack whether you're shifting or not; why not shift when they're done attacking?
Transformation Sequence: When a l'Cie is crystallized (i.e. Serah and Dajh). Or uncrystallized, as Vanille was — complete with magically appearing clothes.
Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Most, if not all, of the Eidolon battles will need to be retried at least once unless you're using a walkthrough or guide. Fortunately, the game included a convenient retry feature for every battle.
The first time you fight Barthandelus at the end of Chapter 9 also comes down to this. There's no hints or mentions of what you should do when he's preparing to pull off Destrudo, an instant-kill attack that can be subverted if he's lost enough HP while charging up, making this a Guide Dang It moment for the ill-informed after they've had their asses handed to them on a silver platter a few times or so.
Trauma Conga Line: Everyone, to some extent. Vanille might just have the worst of it, though, especially during the last few boss fights.
The Unfought: The players never get the opportunity to give Jihl Nabaat a thrashing. She was more than happy to oblige, but the Big Bad had other plans.
Useless Item: The debuff protection accessories the game throws at you are mostly useless; there are only a few fights where it's worth spending a valuable accessory slot to prevent a status ailment instead of simply curing it after it connects. One of these fights happens to be the final boss, who is one of the few enemies in the game that can cast Death.
Useless Useful Spell: Being a recent game, this is a huge aversion; There are two roles that add buffs and debuffs. They're also the most important roles, since you may not even be able to survive bosses' attacks without being hardened by a Synergist, and some bosses you can't even touch without softening them up with a Saboteur. (Saboteur spells even deal damage and the effects stack!) There's also the Death spell, unlike the all or nothing versions in earlier games, Death actually hits pretty hard even when it doesn't score a One-Hit Kill.
Orphan is susceptible to Poison. The easiest way to beat him is to let Poison tick away at his health while the party keeps itself alive.
Poison, in particular, got a huge buff to usefulness; it drains health from its victim at a constant rate of .32% health per second. Against enemies with especially high HP, like the Long Gui or Vercingetorix, Poison will do more damage than your attacks will.
Use Your Head: The chocobo chick's favorite method of attack. Powerful enough to knock down adults mooks (and Sazh)! Beware: this bird is a freakin' monster!
Utopia Justifies the Means: The motivation of Barthandelus for destroying Cocoon and killing millions. Also Rosch's reason for participating in atrocities like the purge.
Video Game Geography: Square Enix attempted to make its world map of Cocoon conform to the shape of a true sphere, resulting in a kind of exploded map when laid flat.◊ It's interesting to note that almost every pocket of human civilization is on an island, thousands of miles away from the crater in the map's center; an indication that they are that scared of Gran Pulse.
Welcome to Corneria: Deconstructed in Gran Pulse; what would have been NPCs who stand in one spot and repeat a single line of dialogue over and over are literal stone statues that are doomed to repeat the same sentiments for all eternity. Played straight with the human NPCs, however.
On a lighter note, an NPC in Nautilus references the original line as a Mythology Gag.
Galenth Dysley: I am fal'Cie. My name is Barthandelus; voice of the Sanctum, and Lord-Sovereign of the Cocoon fal'Cie.
Barthandelus: That girl ([Serah]) did nothing but assemble the tools for Cocoon's destruction!
"I'm from Gran Pulse. The world below you all hate so much. My partner and I had turned to crystal there and gone to sleep. The reason Cocoon's in such an uproar is the same reason you're here now. Vanille and I woke up."
Lightning's real name, Claire, is never mentioned in the game after Serah (read: Dysley) says it. None of the party members call her by it, deciding to call her 'Light' instead. Not even her own sister Serah calls her that in the ending.
Also, what happened to Hope's dad? You would've expected him to show up in the ending, but he doesn't. However, in the novel, PSICOM appears and tells Hope that his father is with them.
And Lightning's commanding officer, Lieutenant Amodar?
The World Is Just Awesome: The montage of Gran Pulse after the party leaves Cocoon. Hell, just wandering the Archylte Steppe, where you begin on Gran Pulse, can evoke this reaction.
Worst Whatever Ever: Lightning says "Worst birthday ever," in response to Serah announcing that she and Snow are engaged on her birthday. It's hilarious the first time around, but in recalling it after chapter, say, 2 or 3...
You Have Failed Me: Cie'th, l'Cie who didn't finish their job on time and got turned into zombies.
You Have Researched Breathing: Hope, Vanille, and Sazh begin the game with the attack command, then lose it pretty early on when they become l'Cie. Sazh gets it back automatically, the other two have to train to regain it when they unlock the Commando role late-game. Particularly jarring in Vanille's case, since she was a l'Cie to begin with.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Most of the party is quick to rejoice after Dysley has been defeated, but Lightning isn't so convinced. Cue shocked expressions and ominous chanting when his owl flies in...
The looks on the party members' faces, especially Lightning's, when Dysley reveals his fal'Cie form for the first time on the Palamecia pretty much reads "Oh Crap".
Zombify The Living: The mindless monsters Cie'th are considered undead, even though to become one, a human must not so much die as fail a Focus given to them by a fal'Cie. When a fal'Cie feels threatened, however, it can give humans an un-completable "null" Focus, which turns them into Cie'th on the spot, rapidly spawning a veritable zombie army around the fal'Cie.