|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Square Enix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: TBA||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
January 13, 2009 - There is no doubt that the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII project is nothing short of epic. Spanning three games already, this project looks to take the Final Fantasy franchise in a whole new direction with multiple game releases, each with multi-faceted gameplay. The series anchor, Final Fantasy XIII, will be a traditional RPG-style game, while its counterpart, Final Fantasy XIII Versus will focus more on Kingdom Hearts-style action. The third and final game in this new series will be Final Fantasy Agito XIII, which will be a PSP exclusive, RPG-style game.
While details regarding the actual plot of the game are sparse, we do know that the entry will deal with a large cast of students who have suddenly been thrust into a war when their main city is attacked by the ever-present Cid, who now resides in the neighboring Milities country. The attack destroys a crystal important to the country's security, and the quest to restore this crystal seems to make up Agito's narrative backbone. The story in Agito has been described as not relating directly to the events of Final Fantasy XIII or its Versus counterpart, but instead occupying the same universe and reiterating some of the same themes from the two console games (most notably, the protective crystal theme.)
Agito will have a large cast, which will feature at least twelve different characters, each of varying importance with different inherent strengths and abilities. The battle system in Agito works much like the battle system in Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, as it will be active rather than turn-based. However, one big difference is that players will have a larger amount of control over multiple characters. The control will use a mixture of menu-based attacks and single-button, shortcut-style special-attacks. Agito's battle system will also have a heavy summoning focus, and each character will have a specific summoning creature assigned to them.
However, instead of just appearing for a turn or two, summoning beasts will allow your character to leave battle using a special substitution ability. Once your character's beast is summoned, your character will disappear, and their menu-based attacks will be replaced with those of the summoned beast. Several familiar creatures from the Final Fantasy universe have been confirmed to be in the game, including Odin and Ragnarok. It is unknown whether these specialized summoned beasts will have independent battle statistics, or will be able to be leveled up.
One of the most interesting features that Agito will offer fans is an online co-op experience. This is fairly exciting simply because, while the Final Fantasy series has had online-centric entries like Final Fantasy XI and local co-op modes in the Crystal Chronicles series, it will be the first time there will be online co-op modes. The game is rumored to support the PSPs new Infrastructure mode, which will allow ad-hoc multiplayer modes to become online-enabled through a PS3 connection.
Although there is no official word as to how many people can play at one time online, early screenshots have shown a maximum of three simultaneous co-op players. It is unknown whether the co-op facet of this game will be incorporated into the story mode or will be part of a completely independent campaign. Many facets of the online component are still shrouded in mystery at this point, but fans have been clamoring for this type of online experience for quite awhile, and the prospect of being able to link up with friends worldwide to play Final Fantasy without the need to pay a fee or deal with all the other trappings of the MMO genre sounds very promising.
Another promising aspect of Final Fantasy Agito XIII will be its graphics. While the Final Fantasy series has been known to produce stand-out visuals, especially on handheld titles, Agito looks to really push the PSPs graphical capacity. Early trailers show razor-sharp animation and some amazingly detailed settings. Although the Final Fantasy "style" is still very much intact for this title, characters sport very light shading, which helps to give them a little bit more depth than usual.
Although the two Final Fantasy XIII console games may be at the top of everyone's most-anticipated list, Final Fantasy Agito XIII is definitely a title worth getting excited about. Agito is the first Final Fantasy game to have a true online co-op mode, which makes it unique among its peers. The fact that it is exclusively for the PSP makes this an even more interesting gameplay facet. There is no official release date, but Final Fantasy Agito XIII is expected to launch in the US in late 2009 or early 2010, after Final Fantasy XIII has been released.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor