(Return of the Mack tune….)
I like what Square Enix have been doing with Final Fantasy XIII. Instead of giving us something we’ve tried and played before, they’ve tried to be innovative. Giving me a reason to try their new game out.
In Final Fantasy XIII they gave us the ATB system which allowed us to change strategy and even actions during the battle. This empowered us to reflect on the current situation and act. Something very little RPGs offered in the past. It is more realistic in that it’s like a real fight – although you also have the idiots who don’t know any better and just charge in regardless of situation. It can only be enjoyed if you realise this. It’s the difference between someone understanding frame advantage in a fighting game and one that is just mashing buttons. It is quite complex so to give you lots of time to practise – the whole game you’re learning about the system. At the end, you can test yourself against many of the mission challenges available.
In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Square Enix gave us the ability to tame monsters and redo parts of the game using it’s time travel capabilities. They made the game easier by letting gamers get an easy advantage. Unlike the predecessor though, the advantage has been toned down but it was still a big enough advantage to win 99% of the time. Making games easier seems to be what Western gamers want/need these days. I like the inclusion of DLC and the having monsters fighting along your side. The ability to change leaders altered the strategy. In FFXIII, you were unable to change your leader during a fight, which meant you had to take everyone’s abilities into account before heading into battle. In FFXIII-2 you can change leader during the fight, you must however, plan which monsters you will take into battle with you. So as you can see the sequel was quite a different game.
Although still in the early development phase Square Enix have released some concept presentation footage to the public. I thought this was a cool and refreshing way to announce a game. We listen to what the team wanted to achieve and some of the ideas they want to include. One such idea is the “world-driven” concept. Where the game is no longer driven by story but by it’s environment. Basically, Lightning’s world is facing armageddon and you get to play the final moments of it. I’m intrigued in how that will work out.
The most interesting idea they had is on time. The time to armageddon can be influenced. They said that certain actions can speed up time (bringing a quicker end of the world) and there are also actions which can delay and possibly even rewind time! This essentially means no two play through will be the same – unless you play it the same.
This is a lot better than getting the re-released Final Fantasy VII. Many people disliked FFXIII because it was different but that’s exactly why I like it. RPGs are stories and an interactive experience, so the more different it is, the more it feels like a new story. I look forward to seeing more of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.