It is finally here. I knew this day would come, but I didn’t think it would be here so quick.
To start things off, I did not pre-order. This is due to waiting to the bitter end for a collector’s edition to be announced in the US. But things worked out, since I have a Wal-Mart right next to where I live — and since this is a college town, everyone is gone this week for Spirng Break. I couldn’t asked for a better situation.
11:45pm – Snuck up on me around last night, and when I got to the electronics section, there were a few people standing around. But, no visible line.
11:50pm – I stood next to the cash register (I saw the box of FF XIII’s).
11:59pm – A line formed behind me, fifteen to twenty people long then curled around the movies aisle.
12:01pm – First fanboy to have it in my hands in Potsdam, NY!
12:07pm – Opened the door to my place, grabbed the blu-ray disc out of the already opened case, threw it in the PS3, and rocked.
5:02am – Decided to force myself to sleep for work at 11:30am.
6:50am – Actually went to sleep.
The start of the game quickly brings you in to the action. The graphics are astonishing during the CG scenes. Full 1080p resolution on my 37″ LCD 1080p Philips. I’ve never seen anything more gorgeous running on my PS3 or any computer. The 360 version must be blown out of the water for this part, only being able to output 720p.
Now, let me tell you this. I have seen the intro of the game at least 50 times. But after watching it on my screen directly from the Blu-Ray disc, it seems that I have never seen it. I was completely blown away at how lifelike all of the motions are. Every facial expression, every individual hair strand, every separate finger and toe motion, they all flow so smoothly in CG scenes. The Spirits Within and even Advent Children have been surpassed by a video game.
After the CG intro, the loading screen shows up for 6 seconds. Bearable. You are thrown into battle with your first fight. Manasvin Warmech greets you with a grim smile. The battle system starts now. There is a ATB that fills up continuously. As the bar fills, it is split into segments. Starting off with two segments, and working its way up to probably 5 segments near the end of the game? Just guessing of course, as I’m only 4 hours in. Lightning has two attacks to choose from. The simple attack, and an AoE attack called blitz. The simple attack costs one segment of the ATB bar, while the AoE attack, blitz, costs 2 segments. While the ATB bar is filling, you choose how you want to spend your two segments. In essence, queueing them up — followed by choosing your target. Everything is happening in real time (default config set to active). Lightning is moving around the field, waiting for her chance to strike. Then the ATB bar fills, and she completes the task I had set up for her. Two attacks. They are both executed one after the other, animated smoothly. After she completes this, you are given the option to repeat what you just did, or make another queue. There is also the auto-attack button that randomly generates a set of attacks. Items are also different, since you only control one character, they simplified potions. A potion is now a mega potion! Hell yeah! So when you use a potion, everyone’s HP goes up 150 points. Best part, the ATB bar is not used for items.
An Early Prototype -- The ATB bar was more quantitive, giving a specific number instead of just the chrono cross esque bars
The camera control takes some getting used to. But this is the first FF where you are able to specify X and Y axis Inverts. So everyone is happy; at least after you get used to how loose the camera is. To keep with the smooth style, the camera moves smoothly. Other than that, after a few hours, it just feels natural. I consider it a big improvement from Final Fantasy XII’s camera.
In my opinion, the story is also a big improvement. It almost feels like they’ve gone back to the PS1 era of story telling. The number one aspect that I was worried about is character development, and making you love the characters. I can tell you this: in my first four hours of gameplay, I feel aeons closer to Lightning and crew than I ever did with the crew in XII… Balthier is the exception. If you can get past the clich’e cookie cutter character roles… which I no doubt can, and see them for who they are, then you will feel the same as I do.
Shiva is the first Eidolon (pronounced Eye-'Doh-Lon) you get, and she/they rock
One last thing. The Music. Fast paced, trumpets of war. Simply put, the music matches the action. I will condone that there was one piece of music that is sticking to me, I will find out the name of it. Mainly because of the use of high pitched viola’s playing with their bow. Very smooth and pretentious. Similar to the score found in Chrono Cross‘ battle music. There is a theme song that is played quietly during key moments… I believe it is the Eternal Love theme…? There was also a touch of FF12 in one of the tracks while I was traversing through the frozen lake/waves. I really enjoy FF12, but I do not like 80% of its music. I’ll report more in my review.
Lightning and Vanille, two of the four main females in the game.
Overall, this intro is very reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII and Crisis Core’s intro’s. Train. Resistance Group. Fast paced. Thrown right into the action without initially knowing why. No doubt, the story telling has at least returned to whence it came from in the PS1 era. Still hoping that the characters make me fall in love with them. Their voice acting is really good so far. I don’t care what the janapophiles say… this is top notch voice acting in america. You aren’t reminded that you are playing a game anymore from little flaws; especially since their lips sync up perfectly!
Overall first impression –> Must Buy!
And so the story begins