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Final Fantasy XIII-2 TGS hands-on

By Janelle | October 4, 2011 at 8:10 am

Final Fantasy XIII-2, sequel to the polarizing Final Fantasy XIII, was on display at the Tokyo Game Show this year. I took a shot at the demo to see if anything’s changed.



The demo opened with an almost-slapstick slow-motion shot of Serah, Noel and a moogle flying sideways out of some sort of time gate. Unnoticed by the surrounding group of soldiers, they wandered around, only to stumble on the glowing hand of a giant (robot?) called Atlas, which attacked.

The battle system was mostly the same as Final Fantasy XIII‘s, with Noel and Serah being able to switch between preset combinations of Paradigms like Attacker, Blaster, Defender and Healer. Battle commands could be manually chosen, but the time-saving auto-battle function filled the queue with well-chosen commands. Different attacks would fill the enemy’s Break gauge, which would weaken its defenses when filled. The pace of the battle for the demo was just right, with a little bit of challenge that rewarded smart Paradigm choices.

A new addition to the battles were Cinematic Actions, a type of in-battle quick-time event. In the middle of a battle, a cutscene might play on the enemy’s turn and the player will need to hit a specific button to succeed. Success might mean avoiding damage, or dealing extra damage to the boss. Unfortunately, while the game made it easy to prepare you for the eventual button prompt, the interface for the button prompts themselves wasn’t great. On one occasion, I missed the prompt because it wasn’t obvious that the button needed to be pressed repeatedly.

Something else new showed up called “Blood Damage,” which might be a cousin of Scratch and Direct damage from tri-Ace’s Resonance of Fate, where Blood Damage makes all the other built up damage permanent. It wasn’t explained in the demo, but as far as I could tell, that was how it worked. Some types of damage would highlight the HP bar in red, but wouldn’t be counted as actual damage until some Blood Damage was received.

After that story sequence was over, the demo let players run around the area freely for a while, which may have been Square Enix’s not-so-subtle way of proving for the record that this game really does have actual, honest-to-goodness towns. Sort of. Players could run around a townlike military outpost, which transitioned seamlessly into a dungeonlike area on the outskirts of the map. There were buildings and wandering NPCs and a branching map that consisted of more than just corridors, which made the area actually feel like something to explore instead of just a series of tubes.

The town exploration felt a little unpolished, though. For example, I talked to a woman who had a sidequest available, and she asked if the gang could retrieve some documents on a desk somewhere. The animations of her talking and reacting looped over and over again awkwardly, and it was so unnatural I had to laugh. Another thing that didn’t seem well thought out was the ability to jump. It was possible to push a button to make Noel jump, but jumping was largely pointless. He got hung up on small barriers a lot, and couldn’t clear obstacles due to invisible walls. In the one place jumping was actually useful, there was a blue circle on the ground to point it out anyways, like in the first game.

My demo timer ran out as I was moving out of the town into a monster-filled area. There was a new system for avoiding wandering monsters, but I didn’t get a chance to learn how it worked.

This demo was fun enough, and allowed players to sample a wide variety of situations from the actual game. It had a few awkward moments, but overall it was a satisfying experience.

Topics: Final Fantasy XIII-2, Previews, Tokyo Game Show 2011