Final Fantasy XIII-2: Tokyo Game Show Hands-On

Square-Enix invited us earlier to an off-site presentation for their upcoming line up. Along with other games press, we were allowed to sample titles such as FINAL FANTASY XIII-2, FINAL FANTASY Type-0, Kingdom Hearts 3D, THEATRHYTHM FINAL FANTASY, and Army Corps of Hell.

As a part of our Tokyo Game Show coverage, we’ll be bringing you the latest on those games and others. To start things off, we revisit FINAL FANTASY XIII-2.

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Before we began, Square-Enix had prepared both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the title, giving us a choice as to which one to play. Takahashi-san, our Japanese associate, decided to test the PS3 version, given that was what she was most familiar with. The demo once again features a battle with Paradox Alpha, as seen in the E3 and PAX versions.

Now then, from the outset, there is an event scene in which Mog, Serah, and Noel fly out of a mysterious gate and begin a battle with Atlas.

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During the battle, you can switch roles with the Paradigm Shift system. Cinematic Action sequences now also cut into the middle of combat. By timing your button press during those scenes, you’ll receive a “Perfect” bonus, which translates into bigger damage to the enemy. The Paradigm Shift system has been included from the previous game, furthermore, with the added QTEs, it combines these elements to give the player a rhythmical feel of an action game. It might seem difficult at first, but in time you should get the hang of it.

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After the conclusion of the Paradox battle, you take control of the player character and explore a rain-filled town. The presentation of the rain drops on screen is very beautiful.

There are many soldiers placed around the town, with which you can chat with. One soldier, who spoke in a worrying tone, was able to provide a sub mission. This is interesting, because unlike the previous game, defeating monsters will not be the only objective this time.

“Dead bodies which have not appeared for the last several years have turned up,” one soldier says. “There must be something happening, please go inspect this occurrence.” These sub missions are very much involved with the story. The more you find and do, the more you will understand of the game’s world.

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In the demo, you can continue to explore around the town area. The Mog can be used to search for items. If you walk near a hidden item and stop, his body will glow. From time to time, you’ll be able to find items in places you never would have thought of. Mog is even able to find things that the search ability (using R1) could not. It ended up being an important item, so I thought that was neat.

Outside of the town, you will encounter monsters. Before entering battle, however, the Mog Clock will activate. There are still a lot of unknown things about this system, but the clock does have an impact on battle length, as well as battle performance. As the battle concludes, you’ll notice that some monsters drop very large crystals. These rare items are sometimes dropped by defeated monsters. These crystals are necessary, as collecting them allows you to add them to your party.

That’s right; monsters can join your party in FINAL FANTASY XIII-2. To broaden the balance of the party, as well as battles, monsters can be used for different battle strategies, and can use different magics. Switching out monsters is tied to the Paradigm Shift system. The pointer at the bottom will be used for this function. If you need healing, for example, there are specific monsters which can fill that role.

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Once you move further away from town, Atlas appears on the field. New character Alyssa warns us through a communication device, “There must be something here that’s controlling Atlas.”

At this point you can decide to confront Atlas, or take another route. To the left is a tunnel area in which I decided to explore. Moving along the tunnel, you’ll see a mysterious device that’s emitting light. An event triggers, and Noel and Serah get thrown into an “alternate dimension,” leaving Mog behind.

Within exists a series of red tiles floating in space. By gathering each crystal in succession, you’ll be able to complete the puzzle, and return from which you left. The difficulty of these puzzles will depend on level. As you level up your characters, the puzzles will become harder and harder. If you fail the puzzle, don’t worry—you can retry as many times as you’d like. There is a possibility that later on, however, more difficult puzzles will limit retries.

By stopping the glowing device, Alyssa sends over a message saying, “Atlas is moving.” By returning to the open field, you can finally fight him. When you start off, Atlas is now in a weakened state—his HP bar at around 10% full. Even so, the battle was still extremely hard. Although I used the Paradigm Shift system and continuous recovery items here, I was not able to keep up with Atlas’ attacks, and thus ended with a Game Over here.

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Atlas is very strong; there won’t be many people able to beat him on the first try. All in all, I thought the FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 demo was very fun and entertaining. I was very satisfied with the systems and world.

Lastly, I asked the PR representative, Laura Shiraishi, a question. “Will there be significant visible differences in the graphics between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version of the game?” We were able to see the two hardware versions side-by-side to confirm. “What do you think, are there any differences?” we were asked. “There’s almost no difference between the two,” I replied. Laura continued to explain, “Unlike the first installment, we’re using a lot of real time technology for the sequel. Compression for the pre-rendered scenes has also been improved. If you really look, you might see some differences in the hair [dithering], but during play, both versions will provide beautiful graphics, so there’s not much to worry about.”

That being said, for those with both systems, the PlayStation 3 version of FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 did have an edge over its counterpart. Although, the gap might not be nearly as wide as its predecessor‘s  was.

With nearly three months to go until its domestic release, we'll be interested to see how FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 holds up in the final game. As such, please look forward to our import review in the future.

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