You’ve probably read a lot about this game from various members of our staff – myself included – in the past. However, sad to say, this was the first time I actually got a chance to go hands-on with it, since I didn’t make it to E3 or New York ComicCon last year. While I’ve had faith in the development team and their assertions that they are taking just about all fan complains in relation to FFXIII into account while designing this sequel, nothing has really confirmed it for me until I played the demo, which just went live on the PSN and XBL yesterday.
Instead of deconstructing the entire demo, which took me about an hour and a half to play through (yes, I explored every little nook and did everything I could in the demo), I feel the need to point out a couple things that, if someone still hasn’t heard about them, are certainly worth checking out when FFXIII-2 hits store shelves on January 31st.
First off, one of the things I was most surprised by is how “BioWare” the game feels. This game is totally and completely different from a BioWare RPG, except for a couple things they added in that really make the world come alive and make you question what you’re going to do. First off, as soon as you clear the first encounter with Atlas right as the demo starts, you can mingle with a bunch of NPCs in the Bresha Ruins area (which is an eerily gorgeous area in its own right, and kind of gives off a rather depressing, yet hopeful, vibe). While there are a lot you can talk to, you also pick up on nearby conversations happening and you waltz by, and are even chatted up by your comrades. This gives me a very distinct BioWare RPG feeling that twas rather refreshing in a Japanese title, which don’t often include such things.
Secondly, you have choices. As you make your way through the ruins, you’re eventually presented with a choice – face the fully-emerged Atlas head-on, or check out this odd machine that may be able to help in your battle with him. Your final destination is Atlas, of course, but there are several different paths you can take to that goal, which is a refreshing change from the previous title, even if I didn’t think its linearity was a negative aspect of the game.
I also really appreciated the visual upgrades. While it may not look a whole lot different than FFXIII, there are a few things here and there that stand out to someone with a sharp eye. First, the rain. The rain falling, splashing on the ground and sticking to the “camera lens” of your screen all really adds a lot of atmosphere, which is something you didn’t really see in the previous title. Also, the character models look sharper and more fluid – both Serah and Noel.
While I’m not “reviewing” the demo by any means, I just have to say, as well, that this is what a game demo should be. It presents many of the “selling points” of the game all in a good chunk of time. You can’t clear the demo in 20 minutes if you really want to see everything. It’s well worth the hour it took to download and certainly should be checked out by anyone who is willing to give the game a chance (which I hope is the vast majority of those of you who are reading this) and those who may be of the mindset that they won’t play anything Final Fantasy-related after they were so disappointed with FFXIII.
I do think FFXIII-2 will be a vast “improvement” for those who were disappointed previously, so it’s certainly worth checking out. Keep an eye out for our own review here on DualShockers once the final game hits on January 31st. I know I can’t wait to play the full product.