PS3 Demo Impressions – Final Fantasy XIII

April 21, 2009 Written by Anthony Severino

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The impressions you are about to read come from a long-time Squaresoft and Final Fantasy fan. I have been disappointed as of late by Square Enix, and wasn’t exactly thrilled with the new battle system that Final Fantasy XII offered. I pretty much went into demo with low expectations. Does this small glimpse of FFXIII live up to the franchise? Or is it yet another Square Enix disaster?


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The demo starts off with a cut-scene, and as you would expect from a Final Fantasy game, it’s very cut-scene heavy. In fact, of the hour or so that the demo lasts, at least half of it (maybe more) is comprised of cut-scenes. However, doesn’t take away from the experience as they are usually over pretty quickly, and the graphical prowess is enough to hold your attention while you wait until the gameplay resumes.

Speaking of graphics, the game is beautiful. It’s one of the prettiest games that the PS3 has to offer, so don’t worry about the Xbox 360 port harming the PS3 version’s graphical quality. Square Enix looks to have kept development for the two versions separate.  There is one particular scene where you see a young girl’s vibrant red hair, and it is absolutely stunning to look at.  The level you play in is rather dull looking; you’re running around a bridge that seems to be encapsulated in this mini-world. Jets, and aircraft that look like dragons zoom about as you explore the terrain.

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The PSI-COM soldiers have red eyes reminiscent of Killzone’s Helghast. The rest of the enemies are sadly a bit boring. The over-the-top characters you are allied with are just what you would come to expect from a Final Fantasy game. One character’s hair even serves as a nest for a baby Chocobo. You start the game playing as the female lead character Lightning, whom you’ve no doubt seen before, accompanied by Sazh, whose weapon of choice is a gun. Most of the characters on display seem to be donning a firearm of some sort. This isn’t your normal Final Fantasy. For the second half of the demo, you play as Snow, the mysterious blonde rouge who relies on his fists as weapons.

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The gameplay itself is actually more traditional than I had expected. It’s a variation of turn-based JRPG’s from the past with a large dose of action mixed in. Don’t get too comfortable with hearing the phrase “turn-based” as your enemies WILL attack you while you choose your commands. Your normal “attack” is really a chain of 3 different attacks. You can switch it up on the fly by selecting the different commands using Circle, and hitting Triangle to execute. Of course, there is the option to use spells.  Cura, Firaga, and Blizzaga are the spells available for use in the demo. This is disappointing since the best thing about the FFVII demo packaged with Tobal No.1 (from way back in the day) was being able to witness the amazing Leviathan summon that the game offered. I don’t know about you guys, but in all previous FF games, summons were always some of the most memorable moments. And to not see what the next generation has done for summons was disheartening.

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The musical score is what you would expect from a Final Fantasy game, the orchestral music gives you a feeling of wonder and enchantment. The tempo picks up during battles, and slows during cutscenes to fit the mood and level of intensity.

With my demo play-through finished, I can say with great pleasure that Final Fantasy XIII is a day one purchase for me. It offers enough of the Final Fantasy’s of old to keep fans of the series happy, while bringing in enough of a new look and feel that it should keep things fresh. I look forward to when this game finally arrives in the US.  Rounding out the demo, you get an extended trailer for FF Versus XIII, and another for FFXIII Agito.  Of course you get the FFVII Advent Children Complete Blu-Ray that the demo is packed in with as well. Let’s not forget about that.

If you still haven’t purhased Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Blu-Ray Complete for this Japan exclusive first print demo, you should do so this very second by clicking HERE. Act quickly because, as mentioned above, this FFXIII demo is packed in with the first print only and is selling at a very fast rate, so you may not have the chance to pick one up much longer.

If the fact the demo is in Japanese is holding you back, HERE is a walkthrough complete with translations of each cutscene. That should help you on your journey.