I’ve always been a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series of games, even though I’ve not played any of them before FFVII. My favourite FF game in terms of playability and battle structure is Final Fantasy XII; my favourite FF game in terms of characters is Final Fantasy VII and my favourite FF game in terms of storyline is actually Final Fantasy VIII. Mash them all together and you’d have a brilliant game… or a crappy on. Anyway, I did play Final Fantasy XIII when it came out as I pre-ordered it. I played the game straight until I got stuck and then dropped it for a long time before picking it up again last year. I was glad to be able to move forward in the game but as usual, that dreaded moment appeared when I decided to put the game down and ‘continue to play later’ and ‘later’ never came. So I actually haven’t finished the game.
There’s a lot of hoopla around the next version – certainly this is not the first time a single FF title has had an actual sequel (for those of you who do not know anything about Final Fantasy, despite being numbered from 1-13, they are all independent games and are not continual sequels or ‘next episodes’ in the series.) Final Fantasy X was the first title to have a sequel, though I’m not really sure why as the first game wasn’t all that great. It wasn’t an awful game, none of them are, they all have their ‘oooh’ and ‘wow’ moments but unless they have a storyline that keeps you wanting to play or a battle system that gives you reason to enjoy the game, then it ends up being a rather empty and unsatisfying experience. FFXIII hasn’t had great reviews and I personally was not as keen on it as I was on XII, but it was playable and the storyline was interesting. Character wise, it was kind of a mixture of whining characters from VIII and over-confident characters from X. For me right now I have my interests in the maybe-late-than-never-if-at-all-ever game of Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Its a darker version set in similar type of world to the XIII game but… darker. And no its not a sequel/prequel or anything otherwise, its still an independent game, just using some similar parts to the other story. Anyway its in development and has been for years now (they obviously thought it would be better to do a 2 instead of work on this one to get it out). Regardless, I have my interest piqued at this game but not enough to do a pre-order of it… yet. I have really only got until this coming payday to work out if I want to spend the money on it or not so of course when I heard a demo of the game was out I immediately grabbed it.
Played it yesterday and while there are similar tactics, particularly in battle, to its prequel, there are some differences. For example there’s this whole “Cinema sequence”. Basically it just starts out of nowhere, or perhaps something happens to trigger it. I think it only pertains to boss fights and not the little fights as it definitely doesn’t happen there. Anyway, I wasn’t prepared for it but a series of commands pop up on screen and with all that’s going on you’d be forgiven if you miss them. The screen imagery was going full on with lots of eye-candy and in the middle of it you just manage to see the command sequences and its like “Whoops! Too late I missed it!” If you do manage to watch for them, once you learn about these ‘sequences’, then you can probably get the right combination and it will deal quite a lot of damage to the enemy. Another aspect that is different is that you no longer can see the enemy in the world, they just ‘appear’ out of nowhere. You then have something called a “Mog Clock” and this large circle around you. If the enemy is in that circle you can attack them. While the Mog Clock is still in the green zone when you attack, it means you get the upper hand when the battle starts with a pre-emptive strike. If its yellow, then its a normal battle. I’m not sure what colour it is if it ends up that you are disadvantaged but during the demo I played it didn’t happen. There were instances, however, when I couldn’t be bothered fighting… mainly because the fights happened like every three or four steps (reminds me of the earlier versions of FF that I played) and usually you have the option of running away so long as you move quickly and make sure they are no longer in your ‘fight circle’. There were some instances, however, that rendered it impossible to run away, mainly because the enemies just landed on top of you and the fight started immediately. Tough luck I guess. Another new part is the ability to grab one of the enemies at the end of the fight. In the booty that you sometimes win at the end of a fight, you can gain a crystal which apparently is a monster. Its usually the monster you just fought. With having only Serah and Noel in your party you can be at a disadvantage with just two characters so having these monsters in your inventory can be handy. Remember the Paradigm Shifts? Now you can add a monster into them! They can have the same roles as Commander, Ravager etc so you can still create the same paradigms as the previous game but this time you have a monster fighting with you. A bonus to it is when they fill up their “Feral” guage (lol) and once its full you can hit the button to command them to unleash a multi-attack on the enemy. Its pretty cool and usually guarantees either a take-down of the enemy or at least getting them to their stagger point. You’ll also discover you have a ‘mog’ with you although they don’t call it a mog. He basically has the ability to see things in the other time shifts (this game is all about time and changing futures). You can actually see them too though its just a shape you can see as its invisible. In order to be able to access the item, the mog (I forgot its name already) will find it first and you can get it to reveal the item to this time so that you can grab whatever booty comes from it. Usually treasure or something like that.
So anyway, the demo starts you out at the Bresha memorial site. There is an attack by this creature however its just its arm, as the rest of it is in another time-space. So into action Serah and Noel go. Once you take it down, or at least get it to a low enough level, the soldiers intervene and try to take it down too (though I wasn’t quick enough with the commands). Noel is now determined to find the rest of this huge creature so you’re then left to your own devices to wander around the dig site which looks like a small city. You can talk to a lot of the people around to find out information, and another new thing you can talk to some soldiers and end up with additional assignments. They are optional and you have the choice to accept or reject them but since its only a demo you may as well accept all that you can. The first one was finding some medicine caplets which were fairly easy once you wandered around enough. The second assignment was to fight off a Cieth – which hadn’t been seen in years – and while the battle was a bit longer than I would have liked, I managed to get it done. You also receive tips and updates from another character whom isn’t revealed to you during the demo but I believe is quite a young character who is also very knowledgeable about the events and the dig site. Anyway, you suddenly come to a choice – fight the boss head on or go and find this device to see if it can control it. You are given the option of asking mog, asking Serah or making up your own mind. I asked Mog but she/he was no good they just said they liked Serah better than Noel… oooh-kayy. Anyhoo, any help is always welcomed so I headed for this device. Only thing is you’re thrown into some sort of time paradox where you have to solve a series of puzzles in order to escape. You have this path laid out before you and you have to work out which part of the path to take in order to get all the crystals but without cornering yourself. See the path disappears as soon as you walk/run over it. The first two runs were easy, the third one was only hard because you cannot see the top part of the screen where there are more crystals and how the path is formed. If you just run and don’t think you can end up ‘falling off’ when the path below you becomes unstable after you’ve run onto it and don’t make a move. I finally worked it out and we all returned to the room. The device worked, it somehow brought Atlas’s HP down quite a bit (that’s the boss we’re fighting), however that’s where the game ended for me. I’m not sure what I was doing wrong but I think I’ll have to invest in those “wound” potions. That’s another new aspect of the game. If you are up against an enemy that has a pretty strong attack, you can not only be hit and lose HP but you can be wounded. There are two figures that will appear, the HP that you lose and the red “Wound” numbers. Now using lots of potions will not heal you, not even curing you will heal you. Eventually the wounds will be so great that curing will not work at all. The only trouble is wound potions are 300 each.. and that’s a lot of moolah for when you don’t have a lot on you. So in the end I gave up after dieing for about the 4th time straight. If I do pick up the demo and try it again, I think I really will invest in some wound potions as I think that’s the only way to keep everyone alive.
Anyway, I’m interested in the game just for the storyline (I like stories about time and changing time etc) but I’m not sure if I’ll do a pre-order thing or just wait until after it comes out and buy it. At the moment the only pre-order I will be doing is for Mass Effect 3, which comes out in March (not long now!) and then there will be the second Starcraft 2 game, and of course Diablo 3. Its a busy gaming year this year!