|Dev: Square Enix|
|Pub: Square Enix|
|Release: TBA 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Becky Cunningham
"This is a fantasy based on reality." Square Enix's tagline for Final Fantasy Versus XIII signals that it is going to be a different kind of Final Fantasy game. With a setting that evokes the modern world, action-based combat, and themes based on current world events, Versus XIII may appeal to gamers who don't traditionally play the Final Fantasy series. With a long development time and a particularly slow drip of information about the game from its developers, Versus XIII is perhaps Square Enix's most elusive game. However, thanks to a recent spate of presentations and interviews, we are beginning to get a clear picture of what the game will be like.
Versus XIII is set in the same world as Final Fantasy XIII and the other upcoming games from the Fabula Nova Crystalis series, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Final Fantasy Type-0. It will share mythological themes with the other games, and the story will revolve around powerful crystals coveted by the various kingdoms in the world. However, director Tetsuya Nomura has a specific, alternative vision for the world in this game, which can be seen in the trailers and screenshots released thus far. The cities resemble modern Japan, and the vehicles look more familiar and less fanciful than usual. Characters also wear modern-looking outfits, devoid of the bizarre belts, fringe, and other trappings worn by the characters in other recent Final Fantasy games.
The main character of Versus XIII, Noctis, is the prince of a kingdom that holds the last great crystal of power remaining in the world. The crystal has granted this kingdom a great deal of power and prosperity, creating a First World versus Third World situation between it and the other kingdoms. The game begins near the end of a lengthy Cold War over the use of the crystal, during which time Noctis' kingdom had isolated itself from the rest of the world. It is unclear what begins Noctis' adventure, but there appears to be plenty of potential for conflict in this setup.
Noctis is described as a shy and timid man who hides his introversion behind a facade of coolness. Noctis possesses a hereditary power that has been seen in some game trailers, in which he summons and controls a veritable army of flying swords. He also has the ability to see souls ascending into the afterlife, an ability shared by the game's female lead, Stella. Stella and Noctis become reluctant antagonists during the game, though it is unknown if she eventually allies with him or becomes a love interest.
Noctis travels with a posse of young men, who have a brotherly relationship with him despite respecting him as their prince and leader. The first, Ignis, has stylish hair and glasses, and appears to be the driver of the group. The second, with slicked-back hair and a scar over one eye, is named Gladiolus and appears to be the oldest member of the group. The third, Prompto, is blonde, a gun specialist, and apparently a fugitive. Overall, Noctis and his group possess an air of rebellion, though it remains to be seen what exactly they are rebelling against.
The battle system in Versus XIII is fully real-time with action-based combat. Up to three party members can be in the field at once, and as the game progresses, the player will be able to choose who is in the battle party. Players will be able to switch freely between the characters, creating multi-character combo attacks. Although Noctis will be able to wield any weapon in the game, other characters will be specialists in specific weapons and will have unique abilities. For example, Prompto the gun specialist is able to enter a sniper-style aiming mode with his guns.
Noctis and his friends will face off against well-equipped armies as well as dangerous beasts during the course of the game, and will have to battle mechs and armored tanks. Luckily, he will be able to steal and control some of this technology for himself. He will also have access to various vehicles throughout the game, including cars, airships, and the ubiquitous chocobos. These vehicles will carry the party through a sprawling and seamless world, with loading occurring only between very large areas. Although the world is not completely open, Nomura says it hearkens back to earlier Final Fantasy games that sported large overworld areas. Thus far, trailers and screenshots show everything from a city full of skyscrapers to a decrepit gas station in a desert to a lush wild land crawling with dangerous monsters. Adding to the diversity of the world is a system that allows randomized events to happen in the player's vicinity, such as a plane crashing into a building or an ambush by a group of monsters.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII will be the last game in the Fabula Nova Crystalis series. Nomura has suggested that gamers should not look for it to come out in the near future, as the team is working to perfect complex features such as the event system. Based on the information we know, however, Versus XIII is going to be worth the wait. The impressive graphical quality, the fast-paced battle system, and a sprawling, diverse world promise a great RPG experience. Look to see if the game lives up to that promise in late 2011 or 2012.
CCC Freelance Writer