What Final Fantasy 12 Should Have Been
by Shadow Wave
©2009 Ben Cadwallader:
The wait is finally over (kind of) for some lucky and smart Australians who have managed to import the Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children Complete Blu Ray Edition, which came bundled with the sought after demo of Final Fantasy 13. I was lucky enough to borrow a copy off one of these people, and I got to sink my teeth into the first High Definition Final Fantasy.
The second the opening sequence began, I felt shocked and amazed at just how beautiful the CGI looks on a 1080p HD screen. Everything looked as good, if not better, than the actual Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children movie. The attention to detail on the cliffs, forest and rocky surfaces was beautifully done, and it just made it so much more immersive on the screen.
• Final Fantasy 13 Trailer & GamePlay
The intro consisted of showing the main character; Lightning take out some enemies on a unique looking train that made its way into an underground city, where a battle was raging. Eventually the train crashed, but of course the hero was unscathed and ready for battle.
Then the lengthy intro CGI sequence ended, and the true game began. First of all the in game engine looks simply amazing; it definitely reminded me of the Metal Gear Solid 4 engine for some reason, I’m not sure why, but it did look THAT good.
I was greeted to a short in-game cut scene that delivered the goods just as much as the CGI scenes did, it seems Square-Enix is not leaving all the intense action sequences for the CGI, as throughout the demo there were some VERY impressive in-game cut scenes.
The cut scenes introduced me to Lightning, and some African-American guy with a baby chocobo living in his afro!
Im not quite sure what all that means, since I can’t understand Japanese, but judging from sound effects the characters made, It sounds like Lightning is going to be a character full of courage. And this other man will be more the clumsy, scared character.
Speaking of the story, while I couldn’t really understand a word of it, it seems like Lightning and the other main characters are members of some Resistance group fighting against the government-type organisation. Hmmm… I wonder how many twists and turns this adventure will take us through…
So finally the cut scene ended and I was free to move, hooray! And once again “Wow” is all I could say as I saw the true in-game engine. The graphics were crisp and smooth, with not many jagged edges to be seen. Around me as I ran toward my objective, I jumped over large piles of rubble doing some wicked flips in the process. The area really felt like a battlefield as there were explosions in the distance and planes flying over me. It felt like you were a small part of a large war, until I saw some soldiers running towards me… then battle time!
After one quick battle I came to a quick conclusion… this is what Final Fantasy 12 should have always been; ditch the random battles, but still keep true to its RPG roots and have a similar but still unique battle system.
Unlike its predecessor Final Fantasy 13 goes back to fighting in a menu-like system. Although this is like a turn based system on drugs, it’s still crazy! Battles are fast and intense.
For the first time ever in the series, I felt like I could perform the actions I saw in the CGI cut scenes from earlier.
It felt like my character was truly powerful and skilled. By using the new combo/chain system, a gauge splits up into 3 parts and fills up quite quickly, each part corresponding to 1 move. So the longer you wait and let the bar fill, the more attacks you can perform at once. Attacks do not only look awesome, but they are somehow much more entertaining than attacks in all of the previous titles. Frequently when using a chain attack you will knock your opponent up into the air where you will jump right up there with him and continue your attack. You also have stronger moves which damage more than one enemy which uses more than one part of your gauge.
It’s all very faced paced, so you have to be on your toes. It’s hard to call it a turn based RPG, but that’s the best description I have for the moment.
I could only control Lightning, or another character who wears a bandanna (who you play as during the second half of the demo) But during battles you were only able to control your main character, the others just attacked by themselves. Square-Enix commented saying that control will be given to other characters as well. But to be honest I felt like there was no real need to. The battles were so fast paced I had barley any time to even manage one character!
To me this feels like exactly the right direction for Square-Enix to head; it works really bloody well.
It fixes up everything that was wrong about the slow story and horrible gambit system that Final Fantasy 12 had.
Judging from the dialogue of some of the characters I saw, I can only imagine what their future English speaking voices will sound like, and I’m a little worried. Our African-American character was screaming and wailing quite often and I just hope the voice chosen for that character at least fits the part, but isn’t too annoying.
Secondly, when running on the field Lightning has her sword sort of sitting really low on her back, well.. essentially sitting on her ass. When running the sword just gets flung around all over the place. While this is very,very minor I just found it a tad irritating to constantly watch it bounce around everywhere.
I think even the true turn-based RPG haters might enjoy Final Fantasy 13. It’s a completely new and fresh take on RPG fighting, and I think it’s a turn for the best.
It’s quick, intense and above all entertaining.
While the demo consisted of essentially everything we have seen in trailers over the last few years, actually playing and living it in your lounge room was a totally different experience and gave me a true appreciation of the design qualities and presentation. This game is going to deliver the goods… let’s just hope it’s this year and not next!
E3 is only just around the corner, so hopefully Square-Enix will unveil much more in depth information about Final Fantasy 13, with hopefully an English-version release date!
(Apologies if some of my references seem a little vague, such as other character names, as I am intentionally avoiding news and info about the game to avoid spoilers)