Final Fantasy XIII Hands-On and Trailer Impressions

We get a chance to play the Tokyo Game Show demo of Final Fantasy XIII two weeks before the actual event.

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Today at the Final Fantasy XIII premiere party, Square Enix gave us a brief chance to spend some time with a playable demo of Final Fantasy XIII. This was basically a sneak peek at what's coming up at the Tokyo Game Show floor later this month. It gave us a chance to play as both protagonists, Lightning and Snow, in different areas. The publisher also showed us a new trailer, which will be displayed to the general public at TGS.

Lightning and Snow; our two protagonists.

The Lightning demo took place in a vibrant harbor town with a strong military presence. Futuristic-looking trucks were parked around, and there were PSICOM soldiers lurking and searching. It felt almost a bit like a Metal Gear game, except with a more colorful, fantasy atmosphere. There were places where we could walk through drained pipes to explore the area. This was a special demo, so our character had buffed-up stats and didn't have any trouble fighting through the enemies as we made our way forward. It could have gone very differently because Lightning only had one other member in her party. She had a blond boy named Hope Estheim with her who was previously seen in the cutscenes of the FFXIII trial disc from April.

The Lightning demo gave us the first chance to actually play around with the summons in FFXIII, which are quite a bit different from anything in past FF games. First and foremost, each character in FFXIII is partnered with a particular summon. For instance, Snow has the power to summon Shiva, while Lightning can summon Odin. This apparently has to do with the storyline where summons are a power that gets handed only to those who are chosen.

The summons in FFXIII function a bit like a limit break, except with more flexibility. There's a new bar called the TP meter added to the bottom of the screen where your party's life bars are displayed, and you'll need to build it up to a certain amount to call your summon. The TP meter rises bit by bit when you attack your enemies, and you can also replenish it by using recovery items like an elixir. We've also been told that the TP meter has to do with your summon's life when you call it out, which can be done normally from the command menu, just like selecting a magic.

Lightning's demo allowed us to summon Odin, which began with an extravagant summoning sequence. Lightning would take out a pink crystal, break it, and a rain of rose pedals would fill the screen. As the rose pedals fell, the mighty Odin appeared as an imposing figure standing on foot.

Odin in FFXIII looked a bit different from previous games due to a huge design overhaul. He now looks more like a huge mech robot than an ancient Celtic warrior, though it kind of fits in with the look of the game. He was also missing his old horse Sleipnir, so he was standing on his own and running around while attacking.

When you call out your summon, it'll temporarily trade places with all your other party members. So in the case of Lightning, it'll be Lightning and Odin against all the enemies, which isn't anything to fret about because of the strength of the summons.

Say hi to Vanille and Hope.

As you fight with your summon and do chain attacks, you'll build up a bar at the bottom of the screen called the Gestalt meter, which is used for the new feature called Gestalt mode. By pressing the square button at any time while your summon is called out, your summon changes into a vehicle and you ride around on it, beating up on the enemies on screen. Shiva changes into a motorbike, and in the case of the aforementioned Odin, it turns out that he doesn't have his horse because, well, he transforms into it.

During Gestalt mode, the menu at the bottom of the screen switches to something that resembles a car speedometer, and you use the analog stick and buttons to select various attack commands. You can't control your character around the screen like in an action game (or at least in the current stage of development). The Gestalt mode is pretty powerful, but it can only be executed for a limited time, which is determined by the buildup of your Gestalt meter.

Snow's demo gave us another glimpse into FFXIII's game system and took place in an area that looked like a beautiful large ruin with giant pillars. He was teamed up with Sazh and Vanille, and we got a chance to try out the new paradigm shift system.

The paradigm shift system is basically a fancy name for changing the way that your party member acts during the battle. The system lets you pick from a number of "roles" that you can set to your party member, such as an offensive role, a defensive role, or a healing role. You can change your character's role freely in the middle of the battle by pressing L1. If that sounds a bit too convenient, it's because the paradigm shift is a core part of FFXIII's battle system, and you'll need to make good use of it to beat your enemies strategically.

The Snow demo featured three selectable roles, which were called attacker, blaster, and healer. It was essential to make good use of them to beat some of the tougher enemies, especially the boss (unless you played through the game using elixirs and summons). For example, a character assigned as a blaster would perform attacks that raised the enemy's break meter on the screen's upper-right-hand side. However, the meter would start to fall again, and that's where the attacker would come in--moves performed by an attacker would stop the meter from draining. Needless to say, you need to make sure you don't die by switching some of your characters to healers every so often.

The battle menu in today's demo was full of features, and it didn't seem to be missing anything. Aside from summoning and using magic, we could also use such familiar items as potions and elixirs. Also, on the field, we found a phoenix down in a treasure box while exploring through the ruins, so that's another traditional item confirmed in FFXIII.

If you're not too good at fighting in role-playing games, there's a new system in FFXIII called field items. Field items are power-ups that you can select with the L1 button during the field screen, and using them will give you a boost for your next battle. For instance, you can have support magic cast on your characters before starting. Field items can be obtained after battles, and you'll have a higher chance of getting them if you're not playing very well.

At the end of today's event, Square Enix showed off a fresh trailer that gave some new insight into the game's storyline. The trailer started out with a young strawberry-blond girl named Serah, and she turns out to be the young sister of Lightning. What's more, it's a romantic scene at nighttime with fireworks in the background, and she's together with Snow. We find out that they're engaged. However, things are not all as happy as they seem, as we also find out that Serah is cursed to be chosen as a L'Cie--an enemy of mankind just like Lightning and Snow himself.

After a brief cutscene with the blue-haired lieutenant Yaag Rosch and his army, we saw a landscape view of the vast wilderness of Pulse and its huge dinosaur-like creatures.

Combat is looking sweet so far.

A quick montage of in-game scenes were then shown, many of which have never been presented before, such as Sazh Katzroy's Ifrit summon, which turned into a red-hot race car in its Gestalt mode.

A slew of dramatic movie scenes followed. There was a scene where the main character reveals that she became "Lighting" to protect her sister Serah. We watched as Sazh gets captured by the holy government and caught a glimpse of the blond lieutenant Jihl Nabaat. An air-combat scene followed, where Snow and Serah were flying away from Yaag.

A long scene where Snow is half naked with bandages around his body followed. He shouts at Yaag that he wants to save the Cocoon as well, but Yaag shouts back, telling Snow that his existence simply brings millions of civilians into danger.

The scene changed to an icy landscape. Snow is being taken away by soldiers, and we see a new girl with tanned skin who's apparently a L'Cie. But unlike other L'Cies, she's working for the holy government.

The trailer ended with a scene where Serah is being hugged by Lightning on the ground. Lighting accuses Snow of not being able to protect Serah, but Serah asks that they save the Cocoon. As she closed her eyes, the screen faded.

Discussion

428 comments
Kou-Nurasaka
Kou-Nurasaka

I already pre-ordered FFXIII a month ago, and its looking to be a good game. Square-Enix is really bringing out all of the stops this year. FFXIII, FFvsXIII, KH: Birth by Sleep, SO IV: International. Its a good year to be a JRPG fan.

Astatine_17_05
Astatine_17_05

All this hype about jrpgs going to be great.....white knight chronicles didnt do quite well with the review, star ocean seems to be getting mixed reactions. I just hope ff13 lives up to the hype cos I've been saving up for this game. Hope ff13 will be a great jrpg that can be added to my collection cos I dont think there are any good jrpgs for the ps3 other than demon souls which is not really my cup of tea since it does'nt have much of a narrative.

EQShaman
EQShaman

This is crack for my eyeballs

Yannakos
Yannakos

This game looks orgasmic

02050muh
02050muh

can my xbox really play this game? i mean,i saw the jap ver played on ps3 and it's really awesome...i think i'm gonna buy it for my ps3..kind of have the feel to it..

magtanos
magtanos

well an action final fantasy, it can;t be bad...

MattyBoii93
MattyBoii93

I heard you can't explore towns. That really bugs me. It's more of an action game then an rpg now.

game-on-man
game-on-man

As long as i've been playing video games(looong time) i have never played one of these games. They look really good though.

Torres_
Torres_

It better be good. I've been waiting for it since the day I got my PS3.

aellis0013
aellis0013

Gestalt mode sounds dumb, summon turns into a vehicle? other than that i still have high hopes for this game

triggercy
triggercy

I've been waiting for this game to come out for quite a while and its seems like its forever. I'm loosing my interest on this game.. But this is just for now. When it comes out, I will buy it for sure.

aliasghar96
aliasghar96

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

aliasghar96
aliasghar96

I'll by mass effect 2 rather than this, if I buy the 360 by the time mass effect 2 comes out

SubHumanTorch
SubHumanTorch

It sounds like their trying to make the combat look more like it does it advent children which i really don't think is bad thing.

Gammet25
Gammet25

The game just sounds more and more wonderful. This game better not fail as its been such a while. Such a while square enix.

Gammet25
Gammet25

Its been so long, I just wanna get this game!!

ArmoredBreaker
ArmoredBreaker

I dont give a f*** if they changed the style of ff games!! i am getting this game!!!!

Dark_December
Dark_December

Man, this Gestalt mode seems out of place... Apart from this, can't wait to see some live footage, then I'll make up my mind.

demonfox13
demonfox13

P.S. I didn't do any spell checks so before any trolls come along, yea, I spelled "forumlas" instead of formulas.

demonfox13
demonfox13

Oh yea, lookswise FF vs XIII looks more promising, granted it can go either way. How I see it, is if $quenix is gonna try new things (meaning straying away from the original final fantasy forumlas in battle), at least use new themes and the Romeo +Juliet darker style (seems Noctis and Stella who fall for eachother also are destined to kill eachother) if done right, may be groundbreaking as the mature audience of the PS3 AND 360 (excluding the angry 12 yr olds in MW2) would appreciate it. It's all been done, saving the world, fighting for the loved one, revenge, etc, so at the very least why not take the existing themes and add a little touch to it, be it darkness as I am sure many would agree with me.

demonfox13
demonfox13

I'll probably get thumbs down for this but this game should have remained an exclusive. At the end of the day I don't care if it would have been a 360 exclusive or a PS3 exclusive. Time and time again multiplats just don't seem to go all the way. Examples: gears of war 1 and 2, halo series (both great ones, then PS3 has uncharted 1-2, kz2, mgs4 (also great ones). Then multiplats:assassin's creed 1-2, MW2, both good games but not as great as they could have been (mw fanboys, mw2 offered little to nothing new and was overrated, I preferred MW1). I say Bungie take the helm and bring back ONI for the 360 at least as an exclusive. P.S. I own a ps3 but let my best friend borrow it once in a while for his 360.

plainpain93
plainpain93

urgh....can't wait! it looks awesome...:D

xbentleyx
xbentleyx

is it just me or do all those flashing numbers take away from the overall graphical presentation? they should have put those above or below the character, not right in the middle of the action. we'll see how it works when it comes out i guess.

Taimanin
Taimanin

Wow, the battle system looks fun!

sir-soto
sir-soto

who is the lead character?

noodles297
noodles297

@ McCreanor20 That's a stupid thing to say. Maybe you should blame your friends for buying a 360 instead of a ps3. Then maybe developers wouldn't spend as much time making the 360 version good (since you know..thats where the money is at) I got both systems and PS3 exclusives (the good ones at least) are far more polished and good looking than 360 exclusives...but the developer isn't cashing in as much without going multiplatform. If it sucks blame Square Enix not microsoft.

VXLbeast
VXLbeast

Looks very good, can't wait. But, is it just me, or does that Gestalt mode sound, well, gimicky? It is like they are tryingto freshen up the battle system, but it sounds cheap...

McCreanor20
McCreanor20

Mc tock your right I don't want it to be a bad game either but if it is bad you can blame the Xbox for that.

Xanth93
Xanth93

Sniper Wolf, I found the futuristic setting to stray away from Final Fantasy, to be honest. For example, I love Final Fantasy I, II, III (though I haven't completed it), IV, V, IX, X, and XIII (even though the last two are a little futuristic). VI, VII, and VIII are extremely futuristic and I find it ruins Final Fantasy. This game looks great; hopefully it's not always this futuristic looking.

McTock
McTock

I'm not sure I should pick this one up, if it turns out to be BAD, well I've never played the others, I wouldn't want a bad game to be my starting point.

ParisSun
ParisSun

I'll most likely pick this up on my PS3 when I get one. I have enough games for my 360.

voidheart777
voidheart777

so far the game looks promising... cant wait for the NA release...

aldovalera69
aldovalera69

This is the 2nd reason (1st is FF Versus XIII) why I chose PS3 instead of Xbox 360 :) (I like Halo very much :( ODST is AWESOME!)

Sniper_Wolf25
Sniper_Wolf25

@viotyers wow. man, this game looks like sooo much fun. XII was good, but I like it that they're going back to what made VII and VIII so great (aside from storylines), a futuristic setting. Its been a long time since it hasnt been a medieval-ish fantasy world, and I, for one, can't wait. plus the return to encounter-based battle system is cool as well. XII's open world gambit system wasnt bad, but I play FF games for the encounters haha. Cant wait, this games gonna rock

Kerushii
Kerushii

i'm a little worried about ifrit turning into a race car... but aside from that i NEED this game

ultimania
ultimania

this is what i was waiting for to get a ps3 ..... now i just have to get enough money for the game and the console :S

hot_shot_9
hot_shot_9

Playstation 2 made all the gaming legends, now Playstation 3 and the 360 are building on them.

Niffirg6
Niffirg6

sweet. this is gunna rock my 360

scarface_dm
scarface_dm

Looks Badass, Im so glade I can play this on the 360, Looks like a Must-Buy to Me :D my 360 is gonna have an orgasm from all the great games coming

dnasim09
dnasim09

the wait is killing me, but i also want some news about versus too

KrzyJoe
KrzyJoe

gestalt mode is just like the combo input system for Sabin,Tifa and Zell

Hakud0ushi
Hakud0ushi

This keep getting better and better!! Woohoo!

HipYoungster42
HipYoungster42

Hope this is able to live up to the FF name. My only concern, though, is this "Gestalt" mode. Seems a bit too...modern...for my taste. Seems kinda' out of place.:( I have high hopes for this game, though, and if I had a 360, I would definitely pick this game up.:D

red-ray
red-ray

awesome, new features reminds me of VII, X and XII

youngsexynerd
youngsexynerd

ohh and because alot of people r bashing the summon transformation thing, i thought i would put in my opinion on that,,, well i think its intresting, it adds somthing new and diffrent to the series so thats always good, and i like how when u transform into a vehicle it goes into an action mode, it could be pretty fun, and 1 more thing snow looks bad ass, not like a duesh, hes lookin like he may be one of my favorite characters!

youngsexynerd
youngsexynerd

ugh ohh, they said the walking around part felt a bit like metal gear, hell yes that means they got that part right, it was the only part i was worryd about, seeing as how in the new star ocean, walking around just didnt feel right, it felt,,,, umm to light, like thined out or somthin, but man im super stoked for this game, hurry and bring it on!

Marmotas
Marmotas

Im.... not very exited about the vehicle summons pseudo transformers part...