The sequel to the 2010 game Final Fantasy XIII, which recieved a whole lot of mixed reviews when it was released for being too linear and unlike other Final Fantasy games, was first playable ever at the Sony Press Conference and I got my mittens on it.
From what I have gathered, this sequel is set four years after the events of FFXIII, Lightning is supposedly dead and there must be something going on in Cocoon. Everyone has now made the wild lands of Gran Pulse their new home. This demo put me in the shoes of a new character called Noel, fighting along side Lightning’s sister Serah, who was unplayable in FFXIII. She’s looking as hot as ever in this one. In this demo you have teleported on to Cocoon and are attacked by a massive monster called Atlas. The guards of Cocoon, who now support you, are trying to take it down.
The battle system in an FF game is always a key staple of what makes the game. The battle system here is primarily unchanged from what we found in FFXIII. For people who are unaware of the battle system keep reading, for others move on to the next paragraph. You can either choose different abilities from your skillset, such as “attack” or “fire” or hit auto-play which will let the game do what it assumes is most beneficial for you. You cannot have access to all abilities at the same time though; different abilities are tied to different classes. You can assign a set of classes to different people for example Serah as Medic, Noel as Commando and your monster friend to Ravager. This is a paradigm. You can, and must change your paradigms on the fly to keep yourself alive and find the most effective way of taking down swarms of enemies.
There are a few differences from FFXIII’s battle system though. There seems to be some sort of monster companion with you who changes in to different monsters depending on the paradigm you have set up. He makes up the third member of your battle team but doesn’t appear to exist outside of battles. He has his own special “Feral” meter which once filled up can activate a special attack using different context sensitive button presses. While he was a flan he barraged the enemies with torrents of fire. Entering battles is slightly different now as well. When an enemy appears suddenly a clock icon appears at the bottom of the screen, you then have a certain amount of time to approach and hit the enemy to start a pre-emptive strike, if the clock counts down halfway hitting the enemy will result in the battle starting normally and I think that if the clock reaches 0 the enemy has a chance to ambush you. I never had this happen to me so am not 100% certain.
As soon as the demo started I was flung in to a battle with Atlas. After attacking it for a while it went in to a cinematic where Noel climbed on to it and there was a context sensitive button sequence ending with me doing more damage to it. The battle then seamlessly continued. Then the Cocoon guards brought in a bunch of attack ships and bombarded it doing massive damage. There’s something surreal seeing large numbers fly everywhere, but it was cool.
Great news, this game is a lot less linear then its predecessor! I started off in some sort of community in a stunning ravine with the ability to approach different people and chat. I could walk in all sorts of directions and not just forward and there was a delight of hidden chests to find to grab loot. After setting off towards Atlas it was the usual affair of random battles and traversing the land. There is now a jump button so no more of this automatic gravity defying stuff.
When I reached Atlas I was given a choice, I could either approach it and take it down head-on or go into a cavern system and look for a machine which could immobilize it. A choice? This makes a strong change. I went for the head on battle. It killed me in one hit. I’m not entirely sure if there is a choice here, maybe you could kill it if you were a high enough level, but I doubt it in the demo. I decided to head to this machine. After some cutscene stuff I was thrown inside this monster and in to some bizarre realm where I was met with a set of puzzles. The idea is to walk across a set of floor tiles and collect a series of crystals, without stepping on the same tile twice. Made for a nice change of pace.
After immobilizing Atlas I went for an attack. The demo shortly finished after this fight. The demo definitely seems promising but at such an early stage it is hard to tell whether it will be worth your money. Look out for more details at the Tokyo Game Show. This game will release in early 2012.