So here we have our first Demo Spotlight segment. Here we’ll take a look at some of the demos out there for us to enjoy.
Today we’re taking a look at the demo for Final Fantasy XIII-2
The demo features one time/location combination in the game, most likely fairly early on judging by the relative strength of your characters. It showcases some of the new features in the game in both combat and the navigation of the world. You get to experience probably close to an hour’s content, a bit less if you rush a bit more if you take full advantage to explore, including a few side quests, some secrets, and two boss fights, one early and one right at the end. Navigating the world is more satisfying due to the addition of a jump feature – one of the few annoying things about the original ff13 was not having one. Other key navigation related additions are branching paths and secret treasures. I am particularly intrigued by the secret treasures they’ve added, which will require you to watch for your moogle to give you indications that one is near and then have him perform his little search tactic to reveal it. Another neat thing is if you reveal one in a populated area, the NPCs will react to it and say things like ‘Where did this come from?’. Those additions really help to make things feel a bit more vibrant and alive. On the subject of vibrant… the game looks every bit as gorgeous as Final Fantasy XIII did, and that was in my opinion one of the best looking games ever made – so that says a lot. The music within the demo is distinct from the first FF13 but still bearing enough hints of the same so as to make it still feel like it’s in the same ‘world’ without just being the same score.
They’ve also taken feedback regarding the game’s linearity to heart – and we can see it even just in the quick demo. During this demo I found I believe 3 sidequests that were completely optional, as well as at two places where the path branched offering alternative ways to go and even a main quest with two different options to complete it. Whether or not the linearity of the game bothered you(it didn’t bother me), this change is certain to have a big impact on the overall play of the game and one that I hope turns into more hours to invest because I love this world and want to spend more time there. As another somewhat related note, encounters are a lot more random than before. Whereas before you knew exactly where every enemy was, in 13-2 it uses a modified version of the random battle system. You’ll walk into an area, get a queue that there’s a monster there, the monster will appear and you’ll have a few options. You can try and avoid it entirely either by running away or trying to skirt around it, you can just run into it to engage, or you can attack it to initiate a sneak attack. Sneak attacks have less of an impact than they did in FF13, so having it be fairly easy to get one isn’t a big deal.
In terms of combat itself, the game still uses the same brilliant combat system – the Paradigm system – which is good because I’ve been quoted as calling it the most fun I’ve ever had in combat in an RPG. However, they’ve made a few additions to it. First and foremost is the addition of monster combatants. You collect the essence of various monsters and can bring monsters into your battle. Each monster levels independently using various items and fills one role. So when you set up your Paradigms you assign a monster to that Paradigm as your third slot making the Paradigm system even more dynamic as different monsters have different abilities within that role. So you could have a fire based Ravager monster and an Ice based Ravager monster and set your paradigms so that x Paradigm uses the one but y uses the other to get different skills. The other major addition to combat is what they call ‘cinematic actions’ which are essentially quicktime events with a slight twist. Unlike most QTE’s where if you fail you either have to try again or lose entirely, the Cinematic Actions alter the flow of combat. So completing one may cause you to cut off a giant’s arm meaning the fight is easier from then on, or you might block a major spell the enemy is casting. Not blocking it doesn’t mean you lose, it just means that you take damage you wouldn’t otherwise have had to. Which is a very interesting way to incorporate qte’s into a game without making them feel like a burden.
The last thing I noticed was that they’ve changed the Crysarium System, removing a lot of transparency from it. In stead of having separate ‘trees’ for each role and bonuses you can clearly see well ahead of time to allow you to build towards things, the demo showed me a system where all of the different roles shared one tree and you couldn’t see any of the stat bonuses you’d gain for spending your points upgrading any given role – only when you’d gain your next ability in any specific role. The loss of transparency in a system that was so well-crafted is a little disappointing, and I hope that perhaps something in the real game gives a bit more insight into how it all works because as is its very vague compared to the old system.
Overall the demo shows a promising continuation of the Final Fantasy XIII saga, and one that I am even more eager to get my hands on than before. Just another week!!
Written by: Sean