Share & Connect
FB – Let’s Be Friends
With the continued promotion of Final Fantasy XIII-2 (FFXIII-2) and the eventual launch at the end of January 2012, fans are wondering if this game will be any different than past iterations of Final Fantasy. Known for stunning graphics and unconventional storytelling, Square-Enix needs Final Fantasy XIII-2 to do really well on the American market or risk losing veteran fans completely.
Fans lament the disappointing venture of the last two Final Fantasy games to hit American consoles, Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII respectively. A great deal of hype was amassed for the launch of both titles, with similar fan expectations of another epic 3 disc adventure. While both games were fairly lengthy, the feel of the games hadn’t changed very much from the last decade beforehand.
Final Fantasy XIII had the unfortunate habit of pushing you forward and nowhere else. One of the best elements for RPG fans is to earn their items, to build a newer better weapon or to find that extra sword in a town with cave full of monsters nearby. What Square-Enix had removed was the human role of the Role Playing Game and substituted it with purely cinematic cut scenes and character back story.
This isn’t entirely a bad thing but in a series as renowned as Final Fantasy, it stops the player from engaging their character, and from stepping into that character’s mighty and loveable shoes. What you were left with is a sympathetic character being played on a screen in a living room.
Early footage courtesy of Square-Enix does reveal some good changes to the game, most likely owing to fan complaints. Players from FFXIII were notoriously known for telling their friends to still support the game, saying that it would get better as they played when it was more likely that players just played for the sake of playing.
Many veteran fans remarked that previous generation console Final Fantasy games were great and engaging from the very onset of the game and required no break in time at all. This has been a primary concern for fans of the newest game and it is a strong argument against the Square-Enix series.
The general feel of the graphics is expected to be quite cinematic as usual, with a healthy helping of bright colors and fantastic shading. Whatever players may gripe about with each new game, Final Fantasy is sure to deliver on the eye candy. The visuals are something that SquareSoft and now Square-Enix do very well, with stunning textures and fantastical creatures that are out of this world but still familiar to fans. Ifrit by any other name would still be red, have two horns, claws and an affinity for fireballs.
Long time fans that have played any number of Final Fantasy games will recognize the Active Time battle system and the Paradigm Shift system, which is both a blessing and a curse. The issue stems from the repetitive game play that emerges at the onset of the game, leading to eventual stagnant button pressing that isn’t even close to interactive.
The feel of the combat system has changed very little from years past since veteran players have already been using character roles for support, fighter and healer on their own long before the labeling of the Paradigm Shift System. Giving it a title and streamlining the process for XIII helped, but it didn’t seem to be enough for veteran fans last time around. Will it be enough this time?
The game design doesn’t seem to have evolved a lot, which is also a mixed blessing. Both characters and environments designed so far look to be classical Square-Enix fare with what is most likely linear storyline and wide training fields. The back-story for the cast of characters will be familiar to players from the first title with the hunt for Lightening being the focus that drives the game forward.
Hopefully, unlike another Final Fantasy game with a dash two at the end of the title (Final Fantasy X-2), these characters haven’t gone downhill. One of the newest playable elements is the use of a time travel component to change up the game, which if done well can elevate the game play.
Players from Final Fantasy VII (Cloud) and VIII (Laguna Loire) will find this feature reminiscent of those games, using playable flashback scenes to open up the storyline further. History is apparently a major corner stone of this Final Fantasy game and fans will hopefully praise rather than curse this new gameplay facet.
Thus far trailers have revealed larger maps that aren’t linear and a combat system that is familiar, but, hopefully, will be different enough for players. The characters are vibrant, relatable and accompanied by stunning visuals that should at least continue the series decently.
Despite the ‘classic’ feel of the game with the addition of the new Time Travel feature, XIII-2 needs to have a good balance of high and low moments with slow and fast pace changes, otherwise the game will be another vapid freight train on a collision course with the end of the story.
The straight and narrow is not a fun line to walk. It’s more engaging to step off that line and than to find your way back later in the game, which Square-Enix hopefully will not ignore this time with XIII-2.