The entire world doesn’t even have the 12th installment of Square-Enix’s massively popular franchise, but that hasn’t stopped the company from hyping the (un)lucky 13th iteration at this year’s E3. Before I go any further, I need to mention that Final Fantasy XIII is only the primary name of what is going to be a compilation of 3 games: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3), Final Fantasy Agito XIII (Mobile), and Final Fantasy Versus XIII (PS3). All three games together are called the “Fabula Nova Crystallis”.
I’m still not clear on the relationship between the games, as the trailer was only about 10 minutes long and didn’t provide much in terms of exposition. What is known is that the world FF13 takes place in is heavily influenced by the Crystals, mystical artifacts that grant power and technological advancement to those who tap into them. In Final Fantasy XIII, we are introduced to a sprawling world with a high-tech train system, suspended thousands of feet above the earth in a tube-like rail system. One particular train comes under attack, and the soldiers guarding it suddenly find themselves being assaulted by a beautiful and deadly woman who wields a machine gun that also folds up into a wicked looking short-sword. This woman also happens to be exceptionally gymnastic, as she flips and deals death in short order. Most of the trailer depicts this carnage, ending with a close-up of the woman’s face and the words “Final Fantasy XIII”.
In Final Fantasy Versus XIII, the story is a completely different one. A young king (or possibly prince) sleeps lazily in his throne while we are informed that his kingdom is not only isolated, but one of the last remaining kingdoms int he world who hasn’t tapped into the technological power of the Crystals. Waking suddenly, the young man gets up and walks out of the room; in fact he walkks out of the castle entirely, to the front steps, where he is greeted by a massive army from a neighboring kingdom. This kingdom, with their newfound wisdom from the Crystals, has come to invade. Their soldiers are dressed in traditional plate mail, but wield machine guns. As the young man slowly descends the steps, they begin to fire upon him. The young man, however, has a shield protecting him, and once the bullets stop, he transforms the shield into a whirlwind of bladed weapons, finally grabbing one out of the air, ready to confront the attackers. This ends the presentation of FF13, leaving more questions than answers. but one thing is abundantly clear: the graphics are an absolute force. Everything is clear and crisp; polygon edges are non-existant. The textures on surfaces are so detailed, they look like reality. For example, the leather gloves that the young man of royal blood wears in FF Versus 13 are so detailed, you can actually make out the creases and wrinkles in the leather itself, and those minute imperfections have depth to them. Square-Enix has some of the best CG artists in the gaming industry, and they showcased their talents on the powerful PS3 system at this year’s E3. If nothing else, Fabula Nova Crystallis will be beautiful. In the meantime, keep an eye out for Square-Enix’s next-generation RPG project. -UE
For more on-site E3 coverage, check my daily convention journal over at the General Discussion boards of ocremix.org