Posts Tagged ‘Final Fantasy XIII’

Final Fantasy Versus XIII Lets You Play the Cutscenes

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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Rating: 4.2/5 (5 votes cast)

Video Game Pin Ups: Oerba Yun Fang

Final Fantasy is known for having both attractive females and men who look like attractive females. In fact we’ve already shown one Final Fantasy girl as a pin up. But we’re gonna do it again. Final Fantasy XIII alone has its fair share of attractive women to gander at. In fact every female party member could make most guys run a stop light if they were standing on a sidewalk waiting for the cross walk.

Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy XIII

She does know how to accessorize doesn't she?

In the world of Pulse however there is one L’Cie that shines above the rest. I speak of course of our wonderful blue silk dress wearing, Australian accent having, spear wielding bad ass that is Oerba Yun Fang. What makes her hotter is that her exact relationship with her Pulse companion is left up to some debate, however we do know that something potentially awesome is going on.

I personally am a fan of a girl with a little bit of ink, so that angry looking tattoo she’s rockin on her left arm there just makes it all that much better.

Oerba Yun Fang wakes up with little idea whats going on but she starts whoopin’ ass and doesn’t look back. You gotta give her some props though, waking up from being turned into a crystal has to be hard. I mean I have a rough enough time getting out of bed in the morning, let alone waking up after a thousand years as a crystal. However I do want to whoop some ass when the alarm goes off.

Few heroes truely have the ability to rock not only the Australian accent, but also the leather sandal boot things, and a blue silky sarong, and a sports bra quite the same way that Final Fantasy XIII’s Fang can. I am pretty sure the only other one would be Mad Max. Damn, now I am going to have to go watch Beyond Thunderdome. Either way Fang snag’s this week’s Ass Stamp of Approval and lands herself in our Pin Up Gallery.

Ass Stamp

I could make a joke about sinking my teeth and Fangs here...but I won't

And since you almost never see a Fang by itself:

Oerba Yun Fang - Final Fantasy XIII

What do you call that? Giant robot turkey...thing?

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Rating: 4.2/5 (5 votes cast)

Final Fantasy XIII: The Review

I’m a huge fan of the entire Final Fantasy series. I’ve played almost every one since the first (I know, not ubber fan) and I’ve been mesmerized each and every time. My fiance refers to the release of a new Final Fantasy as “The Vanishing” since I disappear and only occasionally pop my head out and say hello.

Oerba Yun Fang - Final Fantasy XIII Party Memeber

Nothing says lets take on an army like blue silk and a sports bra

I’m going to try to sum this up without giving away any spoilers so wish me luck:

Final Fantasy XIII takes place in a world governed by a militaristic force that is ruled by a magical being/force called a fal’Cie. The game begins as people are being “exiled” on board a train. Suddenly all hell brakes lose and some chick with sword/gun starts picking a fight with a group of soldiers. Behind her is a man with a bird in his hair.

This is how we begin Final Fantasy XIII. From here out there is never any down time. The entire game is a fast paced adventure through a foreign world where innocent people get branded by a magical being (the fal’Cie) and have to complete a specific goal (or Focus). If they don’t succeed then they turn into a monster, if they do they are granted eternal life. Pretty easy decision, gimme the eternal life.

Our party is one such group of people, for whatever reasons brought them together on a journey to meet the Pulse fal’Cie what binds them together is their common Focus.

While they attempt to complete their Focus they are constantly sought after by the Sanctum military PSICOM. Wherever they run to they are pursued by an army until they decide they just have to bring the army down.

Final Fantasy XIII: Graphics

Graphically Final Fantasy XIII is no slouch. It is outstanding beautiful to the point that my non-gamer fiance even stopped and exclaimed amazement at what was before her eyes. From the minute the game starts up you are left to look upon the most visually stunning Final Fantasy to date.

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Final Fantasy XIII: Gameplay

Many people have a problem with the lack of towns in Final Fantasy XIII but, honestly, they simply wouldn’t fit. You are a fugitive attempting to stay ahead of an entire army. Either that or you’re running through a base/airship/military campaign attempting to accomplish…something. Quite frankly I wouldn’t have the time to stop and chit chat with the townsfolk and sip sweet tea if I were in this position. Who am I kidding. I always have time to sip sweet tea. To that end there really are few townspeople to interact with thanks to the military occupation. The lack of mulling around in towns helps to create the sense of urgency that Final Fantasy XIII is all about.

The lack of MP is a delight for me since it now means I will actually take the time to use and develop my magic. I mean really, I don’t use points when I have to heat up soup, or cool off my coffee. I don’t use points for any action I’ve learned. Never have I ever had to drink something in order to have enough juice to open a can of beans. For that reason I shouldn’t have to make sure I have enough MP to make lightning appear out of nowhere.

That being said pausing after each battle really detracts from this goal. The battle summary (while entertaining and useful) continually causes an otherwise hurried event to be stopped and mulled over.

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Final Fantasy XIII: Controls

The controls are exactly what you have come to expect from Final Fantasy. They don’t throw anything new at you here. You have your attack, your technical abilities, and your items. Nothing new. What they do give you that makes it exceptional is the Paradigm system. Being able to set and combine Final Fantasy party members’ roles until you find that perfect unstoppable match is fantastic. That, coupled with the fact that you can swap Paradigms on a whim to fit your need whenever you need to make battles a fast and exciting display of reflex and quick thinking.

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Final Fantasy XIII: Story

Eh, what can I say. It’s a Final Fantasy. It’s not the best I’ve seen, but it’s a damn site better than other’s I’ve played. To be honest, I really don’t give a rats ass about Hope and find myself wishing from time to time that Lightning would have left his ass when she had the chance. He’s really the only one though. Every other character has something interesting to say or contribute.

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Final Fantasy XIII: Overall Score

I just can’t bring myself to give it a perfect score. It’s missing that certain….something that compels me to declare “Best Final Fantasy EVER

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Don’t like this review? Feel free to voice your opinions below.

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Rating: 2.5/5 (2 votes cast)

Final Fantasy – Possible Main Character in Final Fantasy XV

In recent years Final Fantasy protagonists have been traveling down a path that can almost lead us to predict the exact personality of the main character in Final Fantasy XV. Before I share this conclusion with you, let me state that I am a huge Final Fantasy fan and pretty much love most aspects of every game ever since I put the original Final Fantasy cartridge in my old 8-bit Nintendo. They are an enjoyable escape into a color world of magic and turmoil with rich stories and characters.

Typical main characters have a personality that is rather reflective of a stereotypical teenager because in most instances they are in fact teenagers. They are angst ridden uncertain individuals who undergo a great change. Essentially we watch them grow from adolescence to adulthood through great struggle and personal reflection.

Cloud Strife - Final Fantasy VII

So much angst

With Cloud Strife we saw someone lose all identity. He was a SOLDIER 1st Class who helped bring justice to the one responsible for the tragic events at Nibelheim. Through out his journey we find him wrestle with the facts that he isn’t who he believed himself to be. He was never a SOLDIER 1st Class, he was never a hero he believed himself to be, in fact he was really little more than grave robbing sword stealing materia junkie (and you thought Yuffie had a problem with materia).

Once he discovered that he was not a hero, could not even save a flower girl, and may in fact be a clone he pretty much lost all grip of who he was. He lost touch with himself, with his friendships, and almost helped in destroying the world. He became full of self doubt, self pitty, and self deprecation. My god he became annoying. Throughout the entire middle portion of the game you just wanted to take away his oversize sword with fear that he may cause oversize slits in his wrists.

Squall Leonhart - Final Fantasy VIII

Oh so much angst

Then we have Squall Leonhart who can best be summed up in one word: “Whatever.” The other party members even mock him in-game for this being his signature catch phrase. He never shows much emotion throughout the course of the game. He typifies Emo and gets to carry around a large sword attached to a revolver for a mercenary army. Apparently they don’t have mandatory psychological evaluations in the army.

Throughout his journey we come to learn that he’s an orphan who suffers from Guardian Force induced amnesia and is prone to narcolepsy . What makes it even more fun is that he has some form of super narcolepsy that causes those around him to fall asleep. In college we called it Economics. Perhaps I’m wrong and it wasn’t a contagious disease but merely his party members attempt to escape the ever vibrant personality that was Squall.  When asked about this Squall responded with:

Whatever

When we first see him (before we even get to take control of him) we see him get beaten by his rival Seifer Almasy who was a confident, gifted, natural leader that was not afraid to make tough decisions. He was charismatic, sure of himself, and would take on any challenge that came his way. He was a man with goals and with vision and, more importantly, the gumption to see it through to the end. All in all a much more interesting fit had he been chosen as the main character.

Zidane I’m going to skip over. I never really finished nine. Yes I know, Vivi was awesome but I just couldn’t handle the sickeningly cute money man with shirt cuffs with a sleeveless shirt. I still wonder why this fashion trend never caught on.

Tidus was a promising character. He was a popular athlete on a popular team. Sure blitzball was a strange game that left me wondering either 1.) where were their gills and 2.) how long could they hold their breath but it’s still a popular local sport so it gets credit. But then a few minutes into the game you come to find out that he has serious daddy issues. Yes Jecht was a horrible father who verbally abused his son and abandoned his family, but come on…he became a monster that tried to destroy the world. That’s gotta count for something right?

Vaan - Final Fantasy XII

Less angst just more annoying

Now we have Vaan. A boy raised in the desert, who lost his parents to the plague and his brother to a war. By rights he has every reason to be upset, but instead of being all angsty and annoying we find him optimistic and full of hope…and annoying. I spent most of the game asking myself why the underage boy wouldn’t put a shirt on and wishing that he would. Thank you Square-Enix for adding Balthier because otherwise I may have stopped playing.

Vaan signature flaw is that he was very childish. He wanted to be a sky pirate (which he just wouldn’t shut up about) and live free and because of this he tended to distance himself from all attachment. He had a wonderful friend in Penelo who was willing to overlook his thievery and life of crime and befriend the person that was inside. She could see the dreams and the hope and she liked what she saw. Perhaps it was the fact that her other close connection in the game was the lizard man who gave them work and by comparison Vaan is a refreshing breath of fresh air, but she stuck by him though he attempted to isolate himself to a life of piracy.

Looking at the four characters we have mentioned we have very specific characteristics that bring us to the modern Final Fantasy Protagonists:

  1. Lost family on all four accounts
  2. Isolation
  3. Angst
  4. General unpleasantness
  5. Fleeing some form of authority/army/group
  6. Are/were a soldier in an army

If we combine them we have:

Lightning - Final Fantasy XIII

Lighting is a culmination of Squall, Cloud, Tidus, and Vaan. On a side note – Square-Enix next time please make the adult female the one in the open vest, not the underage boy. I spend my time in this game hoping Snow and Fang come back soon. They are caring, thoughtful characters who have a clear goal and desire to help others. Lightning is an unpleasant bitch who tells Hope, a whiny weak recently orphaned child with what appears to be a rather substantial Oedipus Complex, that he’s a burden and she’s going to leave him.

Her sister (and last surviving family member) tells her “I’ve been chosen to be an L’Cie, oh yeah and I’m also engaged” and her response is essentially  “If you have been chosen to be an L’Cie then I’m going to kill you”. She then choses to verbally and physically abuse her future brother in law for attempting to keep her sister alive and well. We see this all go down on Lighting’s birthday where her sister gives her a knife and she channels her inner Comic Book Guy and declares “Worst birthday ever”. I really hope she undergoes the signature Final Fantasy transformation into adulthood soon because she is really starting to get to me.

But where does this take us? Well Lightning is a little too abrasive. They attempted to combine aspects of all characters that they thought would work but they overdid it. They need to scale it back a bit for the next one. This can only lead us to one logical conclusion. The next main character in Final Fantasy (not Noctis) will be:

And for those keeping score, yes, I said that Kim Jong-il was a scaled back version of Lightning.

Let us know what you think the next Final Fantasy Character is going to be like. Bonus points to anyone who makes a Kim Jong-il character in the upcoming MMO Final Fantasy XIV

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Playstation Home Improvements: Take a lesson from Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy Chocobo

"Wark!"

WARNING: Marketing Idea Below. Hey at least I warned you.

With the release of Final Fantasy XIII people who are interested can pick up the PS3 version and apply to take part in the upcoming beta of Final Fantasy XIV – an MMORPG set in the wondrous world of chocobos and mages. While not everyone will get accepted into the beta, those that apply will receive a free in-game item for Final Fantasy XIV.

Since they have yet to announce if the game will be available for the XBox 360 all of the 360 owners currently receive are some avatar items. This creates a bit of a disparity between XBox 360 and PS3 owners. That’s fine by me, I mean 360 owners have been getting great things while PS3 owners are left to sit back and wait to buy their 360s.

But what’s important is that PS3 owners are doing something to get something. Playstation needs to take a lesson from this and use it to help themselves out. As of yet (at least to my knowledge) Playstation Home is relatively useless. You can play a game or two but nothing has yet to keep me coming back for more. The single most interesting thing they did in my eyes was Xi. They have all of these game specific spaces and all they really have to offer is “Hang out and chit chat!” Sorry Sony, not my thing.

However, imagine if while hanging out in Playstation home you were tasked to find things, or solve puzzles, or…well…anything engaging. When you solved the puzzle, found all the items, or whatever the task may be then you were eligible to receive an in-game item, map, tenting video, or some form of compensation to make us WANT to spend time in Home.

Now Sony, you and I both understand marketing and product placement. Imagine having a space that users flock to in order to receive special items and upgrades that are otherwise unavailable. Why I do believe you have some available ad space.

Just think of it. Someone comes in after searching for all 50 Golden Chocobo Statues to unlock that special sword to kill 50 wolves and get that special “You Killed 50 Wolves with the Sword of Home” Trophy and in the background they see a logo/image/video for a new game/movie/book/shoe/whatever. It’s like going onto a blog and finding a commercial for Final Fantasy XIII at the bottom of the post:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCgaTNm5jLo]

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