The term "paradigm shift" is one of those things you often hear politicians, CEOs, "analysts," pundits, and others who like to spin things and hear the sound of their own voice discuss. We're going to experience a paradigm shift in the way we use energy. We're going to experience a paradigm shift in the way microchips are engineered. Paradigm shift this, paradigm shift that. We respectfully submit that in the coming months you're going to hear "paradigm shift" used in a different and completely more fun manner. And that is because if you want to play Final Fantasy XIII, you're going to need to learn all about paradigm shifts.
Blogcritics Gaming recently got the opportunity to lay our grubby little mitts on a playable demo of the upcoming (in the West anyway) Final Fantasy title, and the first thing we had to learn all about was the paradigm shift. Of course, as the demo we were playing was relatively late in the game, there was a whole base of knowledge we had to acquire instantly as well (kind of step zero, with step one being the paradigm shift).
The battle system in FFXIII is incredibly fast, something you've undoubtedly noticed if watched any of the trailers, and consequently in a battle you only control one character. In a battle said party consists of up to three members with you controlling the leader. While you don't choose whether the others in your party attack, defend, use magic, heal, etc. in individuals turns in the fight sort of – and it still is a turn-based system – you can, tell them what they're going to be doing – and that is because of the paradigm shift.
Let's step back a minute, shall we?
Before battles begin – which is to say anytime as long as it's not the middle of the battle – you can setup several different paradigms for your battle team in the menu. There are six different roles each player can take on: Commando, Ravager, Sentinel, Synergist, Saboteur, and Medic (kind of like the jobs systems that have appeared in the past), and different paradigms are created by mixing and matching different roles for the three members of the party. In a battle one can switch between paradigms, that would be a paradigm shift, thereby changing what characters will be doing even if those characters aren't being controlled individually.What role should you be assigning characters? Well, remember the sphere grid in FFX? This game has something called the Crystarium System which is very similar. Players have certain roles that they may be better at, but all six roles are available in the Crystarium System and different attributes can be upgraded within it with the use of Crystarium Points (CP) which are earned after battles.
Let's leave all that aside though for now and discuss the actual demo that we got to participate in, shall we? Picking up the controller we found ourselves on the planet Pulse, that would be the lower world of the two in the game, on an open plain with monsters both great and small roaming around. FFXIII will feature, as has happened occasionally in the past, monsters that are readily visible – there is no being attacked by creatures you don't see until the battle has commenced.