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10 Things You Must Try In Final Fantasy XIII

Essential tips that are anything but fantasy...

Despite a rich history of sprawling adventures, this latest outing for the Final Fantasy series is as linear as a taut string.

But even without the expected wealth of side quests, there's plenty you could miss if you're not paying attention. By disc three the difficulty really steps up, so take note of the following advice...

1 FLANK YOUR FOES
The only way to win certain battles is to stagger your opponents by landing a pre-emptive strike. Hang back from the bigger foes and only attack once their back's turned. If you surprise them, they'll begin the fight in a near-staggered state.

2 STUDY
When you face a new monster be sure to cast Libra or use a Librascope. Once you've deduced your enemy's weaknesses, your team will automatically switch tactics to use the most effective attacks in their set classes: casting Water on a Fire-type creature, for instance.

3 TWEAK YOUR GEAR
Most of the items you obtain can be improved dramatically, so meld them to your weapons and accessories at any save point's upgrade shop. In fact, upgrading health-boosting accessories is a fast method of boosting HP totals and magic effects.

4 GO FARMING
You'll find you can earn mountains of Crystarium Points (CP) earlier on in the game by spending a few hours on the Palamecia's weather deck (chapter IX) or by repeatedly slaying the two titans in Gran Pulse field's northern-most corridor entrance (chapter XI).

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5 DEODORISE
Field sprays (potions accessed by pressing LB when running around) aren't in great supply and are worth keeping hold of. When you encounter a tough boss their effects can be stacked. Use two or three in quick succession before initiating a fight for a huge boost.

6 BEFRIEND A CHOCOBO
When you reach Gran Pulse (chapter XI) complete the twelfth Cie'th Stone mission and then take on the fourteenth. Protect the chocobo to use as a ride. Now you'll be able to dig up treasure and use the jump points denoted with yellow circles.

7 GO COMMANDO
Trigger the Stagger bar against tougher monsters. When you're building up the meter, place a Commando in your team. They'll ensure the bar depletes slower than usual. Once topped off, they'll launch most stunned creatures into the air to stop counter-attacks.

8 SPREAD THE WEALTH
Even if you're sure you want to upgrade one major combat role for each character it's well worth plugging CP into their other two native jobs. Activating these lower-ranked crystals will unlock health, strength and magic bonuses.

9 TIME YOUR STRIKES
You needn't wait for your ATB gauge to fill before unleashing a move. Pressing Y will activate moves early - crucial for hitting an opponent before their Stagger bar runs dry, to heal a squad-mate or to keep launched opponents from falling to the ground.

10 GO MANUAL
The auto-battle button is tempting but rarely picks the optimum attacks. So find your most effective ability manually and spam it to fill your ATB gauge. On your next turn, press right when Abilities is highlighted to access the Repeat option for quicker inputs.

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