The Final Fantasy XIII Buyer's Guide

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Final Fantasy XIII goes on sale in less than 24 hours, location depending. Is it any good? Which version--PS3 or Xbox 360--should you buy? What about the midnight launches? Did you preorder the game? Want to know what to do if you didn't?

Answers and tips below!

How many editions are there again?

In the US, just one, which sells for $60, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Square Enix is selling an international (non-US) collector's edition for PS3 and Xbox 360 that includes a slip-cased soundtrack, hardback art book, exclusive art prints, and a decal for £60 suggested retail (about $91 at the current exchange rate). If you're hardcore, you could always import a copy--PS3 games are region-free, though several Xbox 360 games aren't--but you may pay dearly. The collector's editions are only available in limited quantities, and the secondary market sellers are already price-gouging. (Tip: See eBay UK for the best deals.)

Microsoft's selling a $400 bundle version of its 250GB Xbox 360 that comes with a copy of the game, two wireless controllers, and "exclusive download avatar items." They're also supposed to be selling a Final Fantasy XIII faceplate designed by Square Enix's Tetsuya Nomura, but it's only available "promotionally in fixed quantities across select retailers in Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand." (A few sellers have it listed "in hand" on eBay US.)

What about Sony? The company offered a limited edition PS3/Final Fantasy XIII bundle in Japan, but--perhaps because the Microsoft bundle is exclusive--hasn't announced one stateside.

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Has anyone broken the street date?

Yes, or at least yes-maybe based on photos posted to blogs, message boards, Twitter accounts, and calls to a few retailers. But no, no one's officially broken the street date, and read my lips: No one will. Square Enix and Sony have all sorts of future press releases banking on Final Fantasy XIII's first day sales figures. Confuse customers by changing the target date at the last minute and you compromise those figures.

Can I get a copy at launch if I didn't preorder?

Maybe. Check with your retailer. Chances are yes, you can, because you almost always can. The prelaunch availability hype is just that. Some retailers offer standby lists, in the event presell customers don't pick up their copies in the first 24 hours.

Also: Online retailers like Amazon offer release day shipping. If you order a copy today (Monday) before the online ship deadline, chances are you'll have a copy in your mailbox tomorrow. Just make sure you pay close attention to ship guarantees and shipment options at checkout.

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Who's offering midnight launches?

The usual suspects, including GameStop, the odd Best Buy, and...yeah, mostly GameStop. Check with your local retailer either way, just to be sure. It's always possible Mom 'n Pop's Videos Games Emporium has something in the offing.

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