Some leaked screens and impressions from Square Enix’s (mini) Closed Mega Theatre

Today and tomorrow people will be able to attend a small closed mega theatre (Standing room with 100″ hd tv) where people will be able to see exclusive footage of Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy Agito XIII

Some people were able to leak some screenshots. It is unknown which game they belong to but most people are thinking it’s all about Final Fantasy XIII:

SETGS

Furthermore we have some (a lot) impressions from GameFaqs:

FF Versus  XIII
On the big screen they showed about a minute or so of early Versus footage. I confirmed:

– Cities with lots of people walking around that reminded me of FFXII. (Walking animations and pathfinding were totally broken though).

– Day/Night cycle (people are inside at night, streets are barren).

– A weird box on the bottom left corner that shows the main character’s face at all times, I am wondering what this means.

– Huge creatures in the environments, like dinosaurish things that are much taller than the main character. He was running around and everything was seamless. There was no combat or attacking, but the monsters did kind of swoop in a bit and show off how huge they were.

– There was some KH UI on there, but a little bird told me that the gameplay isn’t running around and hittings things like Kingdom Hearts, it has more menu type stuff. I don’t know more than that though.

Final Fantasy Agito XIII – Looks much more polished, battles are very active like FFXIII. It looks like you can do combo attacks if you time the button presses correctly. The world in the game is well realized.

View the full article to read some impressions about Final Fantasy XIII

Impression 1

Okay, so I got to play both the Lightening and Snow versions of the demo. By the end of the day there wasn’t even a line, Thursday business day is good stuff.

I’m also well up on the latest info from the last few Famitsu, which from some of the conversations I’ve seen on the board a lot of people aren’t. Having said that, I’m not following the board or what information has made it into English so some stuff in here may double up.

I’ll start with some points I found interesting. Note I only know the Japanese names for everything. Text in ” ” are paraphrased from developer info in Famitsu.

* TP is used to cast Libra as well as perform summons. Ally AI will change tactics (improve) according to the information recieved from Libra, and using it multiple times on the same enemy gives further info. This info can be viewed at any time during battle and looked pretty comprehensive.

* TGS demo difficulty is reduced over the finished game. “The battles will be tuned so that you have you have to change Optimas to win.”

* When on the map presssing one of the left triggers opens a small side menu from which you can instantly use field items without having to open the main menu. These can be used to recover TP or give the party pre-battle boosts before the next battle starts. “These items are to help beginners, so the lower your rank for winning battle the more likely you are to recieve them as rewards. On the other hand, higher rank means you are more likely to get rare items.”

* I’m sure you’ve seen / will see this in vids soon but the full screen, short FMV clip of each character that plays when you open theri stats in the menu was really cool.

* Characters make a lot of comments as they walk around. A subtitle appears at the bottom of the screen but the game doesn’t stop, they just talk a bit as they walk along.

* Optimas : Only really felt the how the system will really work when fighting the boss with Snow. I bascially *had* to use Snow as an attacker and then two Blasters in order to get a break and start doing actual damage.

* The demo suffered from mid-point RPG demo effect, just as the PS3 demo suffered from being the very start of the game (and was just lacking overall compared to this demo anyway). The TGS demo gave you a load of skills and things you can play around with and not enough time to get accustomed to it all, so the battles tended to come down to just selecting the auto attack option and then watching the fireworks.

* Took Driving Time for a spin with Odin and Shiva. Luckily I read up on the system in Famitsu first so I was able to make the most of it – basic flow is to build up the Driving meter before transforming by chaining attacks with your summon. The amount of guage you accumilate then turns into a number after transformation, and each attack requires a certain number of these points to be performed, with a final big attack that uses up all the points you have left. The TP guage seemed to fill up fairly quickly; “in principle the TP guage only increases according to the results of each battle, but there are also items that can recover it.” The demo was nice enough to give you one of these so I used the summon twice each time I played the demo.

* Story Time Line – something I was wondering about, covered a bit in the new Famitsu although there are still some holes.
* Thireteen days before the game starts a lot of incidents start to happen. Some of these will be covered in the middle of the game, others in the short stories that are going to go up on the Japanese site.
* Sara is the first person on Cocoon to become a Pulse Lushi.
* The fireworks / bike scene is after Sara has become a Lushi – so this is not distant past.
* Sara then gets absorbed by the Falushi and the Falushi is taken to Hanged Edge. Snow and the others are selected for the Purge.
* This links in to the start of the PS3 demo, and explains why both Lightening and Snow are looking for the Falushi there.

System stuff aside, I loved it. Almost all of the characters seem to have one they get along with and then hate everyone else, which is going to spark a lot of drama, not least of which is Hope blowing Snow up. Battle system was fast, loading times were fast, graphics were great. The character animation seemed to flit a little between “wow this looks like it is mocapped for this scene” and “slightly wooden ‘now I’m emoting’ stock animation” but the quality of even the second type was high.

From the PS3 demo Iwe were still left waiting to see what the actual game would be like. Having actually seen a proper slice of it, and only going on ultimately what you can tell from a short demo like this, it is going to fit nicely among the ranks of other FF titles. Anyway…

Impression 2

You can use up your stocked attacks earlier by pressing Tirangle. I guess it is only really worth it if you know the enemy is going to die or you desepartely need to keep the combo going right away.

I think the movie shown inside the booth was a little different from the version they were showing outside, because I’m sure the rather attractive new brunette Luchi who is working with the military had another line of dialogue in that video. Anyway, also in that vid there is a shot of the party running across the outside field with a *massive* dino like monster roaming in the background. In Famitsu they said really hard monsters are going to be mixed in with the weak ones (like Last Remnant, actually) but they won’t really come for you; you have to take the fight to them if you want to.

There is also a battle “do-over” command, although I forgot to check if it was in the TGS demo. At any point during a battle you can choose to start it again from the beginning, or even leave the battle and look for another route around it outside. If you die you continue from before the battle anyway, and there are no healing or MP recovery items involved, and so once you consider these points this system makes total sense.

The direction they seem to have take this time is to make each battle an interesting challenge that requires some thought and Optima changing to get through. I loving what I’m hearing about the system and I’m loving what I saw in the demo.

One the staff in Famitsu said “Most of the cast don’t really get along with each other until they resolve certain issues.” There’s gonna be all sorts of drama at the start of this one. In regard to Sera being a party character, I know in English they have said no, but all it says in Famitsu in Japanese was “That’s… a secret.”

Impression 3

Optima These are the “strageties” used in battle. You can set them yourself, and do not really seem to be limited to a certain number – or if there is one, it isn’t low. Pressing L1 in battle opens the Optima menu from where you can change your Optima at any time, from a pre-set selection created by you in the field main menu. The name of the Optima is derived from the Roles selected for each character. Which brings me to…

Roles These provide the meat of the Optima system. Think of them as extreme versions of jobs that can be changed on the fly. When I say extreme, I mean it – the Healer role *cannot attack*. That’s right, it cannot attack at all. Here are the roles currently known about –
Attacker – Initaites attacks on enemy. Offers attack % up not only to attacker but also party members.
Defender – Has skills like taunt that are used to protect other party members.
Healer – Has healing magic. No attacks of any kind.
Enhancer – Deals with buffs and debuffs. I don’t know if this one can attack or not.
Blaster – Concentrates on chaining, that is following up other characters attacks against the same target.
Note that “Black Wizard” etc. do not appear to exist. Attacker has access to attack magic.
Each character is more suited to some roles than others, but after passing a certain point in the story you can set any character to any role. Just to make this point totally clear when in each role a character only has access to skills for that role. It doesn’t matter if they have the ultimate attack spell in another role, they can’t use it if they are a Healer.
Also, each role levels up, and the skills learnt for each character are not identical. Man, there is some character growth fun going on right there!

How Optima Work One in reason for these extreme job types is AI control. You need to be healed, but in other games with AI allies can you always rely on them to do so? Here, change to an Optima with a Healer in it and *all they can do is heal you.* You are going to get healed. But they can’t attack, so you can’t afford to keep an Optima with a Healer in it in play all the time. You need to bring the Healer in when needed, then change back again once healed. That is what you are doing in FFXIII combat, making those decisions, not clicking through menus to actually acviate the spell yourself.

To really understand the point of Optima in an attacking sense, you need to fully understand the Break system. This is in the PS3 demo but I’ll spell it out again here. As you attack an enemy a gauge at the top of the screen fills up, and a % increases. If another attack is performed on the same enemy before the guage runs out then a “chain” starts. So long as more attacks are performed before the guage runs out the chain will continue and the % will increase futher. When this % reaches a certain value (different from each enemy) the enemy will go into Break. This is when they can be lifted into the air, and attacks cause massive damage during Break compared to other times.

A great example of this is when I was fighting the boss in the Snow part of the TGS demo. I just wasn’t really doing any damage. Eventually I changed to Snow = Attacker and Sahz and Vanille both as Blasters. The time guage increases more with physcial attacks and the % increases more with magic. Snow put in physcial attacks to keep the guage up and as Blasters my two comrades kept the chain going and puishing the boss to 200%. It still had maybe 1/3, at least, of its life left… and Snow’s next physcial attack killed it.

Impression 4

The Pudding Soliders (Flans) in the Lightening part of the demo are also meant to be a good example of needing to change Optima… or they would have been if I didn’t use the HORSE TRANSFORMATON! to drive right over them. How can I think Driving Mode is a better name that Gestalht Mode? Because that’s what they do! DRIVE! Especially Sahz.

Anyway , when fighting lots of weaker enemies at once you don’t need to worry about Breaking as much; fighting with 3 attackers who all take on different targets and thin out the pack might be better. But against a boss three attackers is pointless, because you are only going to be doing big damage after breaking and you’ll have a tough time getting there without Blasters. That, at least, is the basic theory behind the battle system this time out.

As for items in battle… I’m not sure. I don’t think there are healing items; remember magic is “free,” they want to force you to change Optima to use the Healer and your HP recovers fully after every battle. I’m pretty sure I saw a Phenoix Down. I did see someone else use an item during battle, actually, so it is possible, but not sure on the rules around it.

It will hopefully be very much like Last Remnant in that the next battle could kill you, you could just die right there, and that is something you have to overcome to proceed, but not necessarily by eating a load of stressful Game Overs. The start over option can be used to just improve your ranking, too, if you think the battle isn’t going that well. And yes, one of the development team said “What might normally be considered simple, boring spells like Libra and Protes are going to be very important this time.” The fact that Libra costs TP, the only other thing you can use these for at the moment being summons, highlights how important is it.

You could pick either a Snow or Lightning demo. Snow’s demo had more variety but they were both interesting.

Graphics:

Amazing. Looks much better than the Advent Children demo (Framerate issues, aliasing, any other issues are all gone). Environments in both areas are pretty beautiful, the Lightning Demo has a very nice vista in the background. Effects are heavenly. I skipped all of the cutscenes because I wanted to get to the action. Menus have very short CG clips when you select the characters and navigate through the options, it is VERY slick.

Battle System:

So they revamped a lot of stuff, and overall I think it’s more streamlined and “strategy focused” than the Advent Children demo.
A few points:

You have four general commands:

“Pursuit Attack” – A pre-made set of commands that changes depending on your optima. You can customize the set before hand in the menu. For example, if you have the “Attack” Optima on, your set might be “Rain, Fight x2”, but if you have the “Blaster” Optima active, it might be “Lighting Attack, Thundara, Fira” (At first I thought there were multiple sets of commands per Optima, but after watching some more I believe there is just one per optima set). Select this once, then select your target to attack. The game will wait for the AP to be completely full before executing the attack, even if you press it when you don’t have enough AP. However! If you press Circle to attack and then hit Triangle, you will execute any attacks that you already have enough AP for. For example, if my “attack” set is “Rain, Fight, Area Attack (2 AP)”, if I wait until I have 3 AP and then hit Triangle, I’ll do Rain, then fight, then start charging AP again.

“Command” – You can enter a set of commands manually here, like the Advent Children demo. If you hold Right on the “Command Box” when selecting, you can repeat your last command.

“TP Ability” – As Duckroll pointed out, this has Libra and Summon. I know you can restore TP through items, but I don’t know of any other method.

“Item” – I saw healing pots and stuff here, but I didn’t see any status items.

“Optima Change” – L1 during battle brings up the Optima menu where you can quickly switch between several sets of 3 optimas (one for each character). The default sets were Fighter x3, Fighter:Blaster:Enhancer, Fighter:Blaster:Blaster, Fighter:Blaster:Healer, Blaster:Blaster:Blaster. You can create and customize these sets and what moves they have access to in the menu, but most of the options were locked in the demo.

Enhancer just seems to buff the party constantly, but once you’re buffed I switch it off.

It may be possible that certain characters cannot be certain classes, but it’s completely unconfirmed. In the demo, you cannot make Nom-chan or Hope-chan a fighter, but since they are holding weapons I guess this is just temporary.

There is one other optima I saw in the trailer that wasn’t in the demo, called DEF. In the trailer Snow with DEF was standing in front of the party in a defensive posture with a thick white outline in front of him. Maybe this is some kind of advanced form of cover so that you can protect magic users… or something.

When you make the “Leader” character a “Blaster”, their attacks become very magic focused. I was able to do a Fire, Rain, Lightning, Ice magic combo with 4 AP. Also, blaster characters in the demo have access to “magic attacks”, like Fire Sword. Magic Attacks seem to fill the break bar faster, but they also feel slower and harder to combo with. In contrast, the “Attackers” only seemed to have access to Rain as a magical attack.

Switching Optimas is very fast, if you just finish an attack and switch optimas, by the time it’s done all of your 4 AP will be replenished and you can immediately attack again. I was constantly switching jobs as I played.

“Breaking Enemies” – The Break gauge on the upper right hand corner has been completely revamped since the Advent Children demo. Instead of using magic to fill the gauge, and then getting a high hit count, the gauge now is gradually filled as you attack the enemy, and if completely filled the enemy breaks (with a very cool and informative camera swing around the broken enemy). I am not sure if the number of hits has anything to do with it quite yet. The damage plus percentage below the Break bar also gets into the 300% range when the enemy is broken. However the bar is constantly draining downward, so you have to fill it faster than it drains. I wasn’t able to do extensive testing, but I noticed three big things.

– Magic related attacks seem to fill the bar faster, but if you ONLY use magic it will not fill up quickly enough. It appears that you have to mix up your attacks; I used Rain x4 on an enemy and the first blast filled up the Break Bar a good amount, but the subsequent rain attacks only ticked it up a little bit. I also remember the break bar being bumped up when I mixed up four different magic attacks in a single attack.

– The bar generally drains down pretty slowly, but on stronger enemies/bosses I noticed that after a certain amount of time passes the bar will start draining back down to zero very quickly. I guess you have a limited time to finish the break combo before they recover.

– When you break an enemy they get the aforementioned camera effect, all hits are “critical” and displayed in yellow, and they usually will die very very quickly. They also stagger more from attacks, and they usually won’t be able to heal themselves in time before they die (there are lots of enemies in the demo that like to heal themselves regularly).

– Launch is definitely gone, when an enemy is broken and you use fight on them you automatically launch them and follow them into the air. In retrospect this is a good thing, because A. Launch was useless other than when enemies were broken and B. There is no real reason NOT to launch an enemy,

Other things about the combat:

– Beginning Summon animation and Drive start animation can be skipped with Select button (can’t skip the big attack animation).

– Voice acting during battle. I hope it’s not too repetitive, but whats there is not bad. It’s not nearly as repetitive as something like Tales, they don’t shout out the names of attacks or anything.

– I believe if you’ve libraed an enemy before you can press R1 to see their stats screen when they are selected in battle.

– You can still sort of dodge enemies by doing smaller attacks, but it’s not clearly defined as a core strategy yet. I believe if you perform 2 or 3 attacks, the last one in the sequence for lightning is always a dodge back, but I am not 100% on that.

– Overall the TGS demo was limited in a lot of ways. I wanted to do more customization but the combination of a lack of time and locked menu options didn’t give me much opportunity to test anything. But I can still see that there is a “right” way to play the game that doesn’t involve just mashing XXXXXXX which I am very happy about. Some enemies that constantly heal eachother demand that you understand the break system and use it to your advantage, and people that mash XXX can’t really beat those enemies unless they use some buff items.

Field

“Smoke Items” – You can push L1 to access the items on the field at any time, and it doesn’t pause the game. There are items that boost your characters (haste makes your AP bar fill up very fast and turn red, some give you Atk up or Def up). I think these are the items that help shitty players at the expense of their rank. There are also items that refill your TP so you can use summon again.

– Characters that are with you talk as you walk around, which is pretty cool, and it doesn’t interrupt your exploration. It’s subtitled with their portrait on the bottom.

– Jump/Movement spots are properly labled and easy to use, just walk up to it and it’s done.

– There is some light exploration in the demo but nothing serious. It feels like FFX in that regard. Plenty of chests lying around though.

– If you hit enemies in the back, you get a quick preemptive strike. It’s harder than I thought though, and it seems impossible on some flying enemies.

– I am not sure but it really felt like you could just run past many enemies if you are good, especially in Lightning’s stage. Of course, that’s probably because Hope keeps mentioning that we should be stealthy, but I told that brat to STFU.

 

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