Say goodbye to your life
For the first time Square Enix are bringing a new original Final Fantasy adventure to the next gen consoles with Final Fantasy XIII and, as most people reading this will already know, the game is nearing release and is looking absolutely gorgeous. It is not usually difficult to distinguish between game play and video cut scenes but when it comes to this game both cut scenes and game play look equally well done with everything looking polished to a shinning gleam. The player can expect to be taking control of amazingly detailed looking characters through breathtaking environments throughout the game. I can not speak yet for the sound and voice acting in the game but I am guessing that it will be equally as high a quality as the graphics.
So as not to spoil the game for potential players, I wont go into the story details and rumours that I have read and heard here, and say only that the story revolves around a small band of heroes fighting against the falâ€™Cie, and the l’Cie who are the human slaves of the previous, for the future of Cocoon, a utopia in the sky.
The game play follows the tried and tested style of previous Final Fantasy titles in that the player controls the main character as they explore the scenery, much as you would expect from most third person games. Then, when you encounter an enemy, you are taken to the battle screen where the character you were controlling is joined by the others in your party and are displayed along with any enemies encountered before combat begins. This is where things are all change for the Final Fantasy Series.
Gone is the traditional turn based combat of previous games in the series, giving way to a new combat system. With a more real time element, players select and queue actions by spending points from an Active Time Battle Gauge, which increases over time, and then selecting the enemy you want too attack. Throw into the mix Gestalt Mode and the Paradigms.
Gestalt mode is a way for the player to have their party members combine their powers to summon entities, who can then attack the chosen targets and inflict massive damage. Paradigms are a way for the player to assign roles to party members on the fly during combat, be it a medic or a commando for example, and that party member will then fill that role. A party member set to medic for example will automatically heal injured characters.
So, with all of the above in mind, what the player has is still a turn based combat system but with a lot more of an action element to it, giving the player more to do during combat.
As you would guess if you are a fan of previous Final Fantasy games, the story will be a sprawling epic and the game will be cut scene heavy. It has been stated that the cut scenes can be skipped but surely that would defeat the purpose of a story, robbing the player of what will surely be a riveting tale as epic as the game itself.
Another point on the cut scenes is that Square Enix have not skimped on the conversion from the Japanese version too the European version. Rather than just placing English voice acting over the Japanese animation, they have redone the animation to give the cut scenes in the European release a much more finished look, rather than the look of watching an episode of Monkey from the 70â€™s/80â€™s. I may be showing my age a little bit there.
The games developers have also stated that players can expect the main story mode of the game to take around fifty to sixty hours to complete, with around ten hours of that play time being video cut scenes. But they also go on to say that players who are looking to do everything possible in the game, including all of the side missions, can expect an experience of around one hundred and twenty hours, which makes a refreshing change from some games that go all out on the looks side of things and sacrifice the length of the game.
The game is so big in fact, that the Xbox360 version is coming on 3 discs, and both that and the Playstation 3 version hit the stores on the 9th of March and it is definitely another game that I am that I am looking forward to playing this year.