Category: Final Fantasy Versus XIII

It’s not very often we get to talk about Final Fantasy Versus XIII and quite frankly that’s just sad. To look around the internet at anything related to Final Fantasy XIII you will find a myriad of gamers complaining about the linearity and lack of engagement and you will find other gamers praising it for its beauty and combat system. It really has gamers split. While we tend to fall into the former rather than the later we have been patiently waiting and holding out hope for some glimmer of news to break about Final Fantasy Versus XIII that would have us jump up and down yelling “Holy s#*t this is amazing.” It looks like we have some of that news.

I am not going to lie: I actually stopped playing Final Fantasy XIII. I got distracted by other video games that were released. The game’s grasp on my interest was only tenuous at best since I felt no real connection to the characters other than I too wanted a baby chocobo to live in my hair. Final Fantasy has been criticized for its overwhelmingly large volume of cutscenes since Final Fantasy X. I can actually vividly remember buying it in college and having the guy behind the counter say “I didn’t feel so much that I was playing a game. It felt more like I was watching a long movie. It was kinda boring.” While this does not constitute scathing professional criticism it was enough for me to take notice of the cutscenes in every subsequent Final Fantasy video game.

final fantasy versus xiii noctis

So Square Enix is telling us that we will assume direct control...where have I heard that in an RPG before?

But this sentiment must have caught the attention of Square Enix as well. Siliconera is reporting that in Final Fantasy Versus XIII you will in fact be able to control Noctis (your character) in the cutsenes.

There are apparently multiple character models that Square Enix is working with in Versus XIII, the gameplay models and the event scene models. Events are rendered in real time and are said to be the same quality as the pre-rendered cutsenes. But since they are rendered in real time they afford you the ability to maintain control of your character.

You may be asking yourself at this stage “What is the difference between the high quality event scene character models, and the lower quality gameplay models?” Well Nomura explains that there is little difference but noting that the hair is more detailed in the high quality character models.

My mind keeps going back to the trailer below. In this epic scene of Noctis’ total badassery and display of “I have weapons, but I’m so awesome I don’t have to hold them to use them,” and hoping that we may actually get to control that scene. Coupled with the rampant teleportation and general ass kickery my level of fanboy glee just spiked.

Given the attention to detail typically displayed in a cutsenes for Final Fantasy I cannot wait to see how this plays out. My only question is will it go on autopilot if we don’t interact or can we actually die if fail to do something? Additionally what will this do to the future of cutscenes in video games? Will this ramp them up to more playable and interactive experiences? One can only hope.

It’s no big Secret that Square Enix has been steadily declining over the years focusing on churning out remakes and sequels that didn’t quite live up to the original. While not all of them were poor or sub par it always seems that they never quite live up to our memories. While it may not be fair to blame Square Enix for our placement of our historically favorite video games on a pedestal, they sure aren’t doing much to win favor. But the dilution of the Final Fantasy VII brand with each subsequent outing we find ourselves getting infuriatingly frustrated that Square Enix has lost its way and that they may not be listening to the wants and desires of the fans.

While “interactive cutsenes” are by no means something that the fans have been clamoring for it does put up a notice, albeit a small one, that Square may in fact be hearing the fans, but by giving us what we want in a totally new and innovative way. The reason we haven’t been asking for it is simply because most of us never even considered it.

We want to feel connected to our characters again. We will stand up and say “the story seems to have taken a back seat to character design.” We want to be able to live in their world and walk a mile in their shoes. We will declare that “we don’t want to watch a game play itself, we want to take part in it more.” This is really what they have done. Their plan is just another way to do that without sacrificing control time for story telling. Square may have found a way to make their visions come to fruition while still giving the gamers our there what they want.

While performance is always more important than speculation and intent we can’t help but feel a renewed excitement for what will come when Final Fantasy Versus XIII is eventually released. But we can say that it appears that Square Enix is making steps to make the video game experience more personal and engaging once more.

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