Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blog Post: Final Fantasy 13-2 announced. Could really go either way

Well played, Square-Enix, well played. Almost. Your domain name registration a little while back gave you away, but until then, I don't think many people saw this coming. This is normally not the type of thing I'm a fan of, (doing a direct sequel to a Final Fantasy game,) but I think there are a few differences between this and the "let's pretend it never happened" Final Fantasy 10-2.

*SPOILER WARNING: (Debut trailer for Final Fantasy 13-2) ....we'll see how long Square-Enix keeps this link up....don't watch if you plan to play Final Fantasy 13, as this is loaded with spoilers.*

With Final Fantasy 10, we had a game that much of the fanbase loved and felt ended in such an incredibly perfect way. Doing a sequel with J-pop and a Charlie's Angels-style presentation seemed insane, and sure enough, it was a really bad idea. Final Fantasy 13-2, on the other hand, follows a game that many felt didn't live up to its full potential, a game that had room for more. Final Fantasy 13-2 can, in theory, provide that. I think though that this will depend entirely on the type of game Square-Enix plans to make.

Final Fantasy 10-2 was clearly not a game designed with the intention to be better than the original. It was a light and fluffy, non-linear game with a rather throwaway story and multiple endings and a short 12-15 hour main quest. If Final Fantasy 13-2 plans to just do this again, then my hopes for it aren't too high. If this game is going to be developed, though, as a full-scale RPG, a game trying to be the best RPG of this gen, then I think it really can be. The developers of Final Fantasy do listen to fan feedback and they do take this into account: they know what fans didn't like about Final Fantasy 13, just like they knew what fans didn't like about Final Fantasy 12.

Some things that I think should definitely be done:

*Returning the RPG elements to the series: towns, npc interaction, and sidequests should be available. I'd actually prefer if the game had a linear narrative, (unlike FF10-2) but the gameplay should definitely allow for more exploration than was provided by Final Fantasy 13.

*Bring back Massashi Hamauzu as composer. Neither he nor Uematsu returned for FF10-2, which resulted in it feeling too different from FF10 and making it seem 2nd rate. Get the same composer back.

*Focus this one strongly on one character, preferably Lightning. Final Fantasy 13's "no 1 main character" approach worked for that game, but if we're going to come back to this world, I think it would be best to focus on a main character, (Lightning) and really delve into her personality. The other characters from FF13 can play small roles, but this should be Lightning's story.

*Put some thought into the story. This has the potential to be very similar to FF10-2 in the whole "keeping the peace as they try to rebuild the world" thing and this really needs to feel like something new. Hopefully the developers are working on setting this apart and giving it a reason for existing, something that I don't think Final Fantasy 10-2 ever achieved.

And that's pretty much what I'm hoping for with this. At this point I'm cautiously optimistic that this can end up being a great game. I'm not going to get my hopes up too high, especially with its comparatively short development time. But we'll see. I'm definitely interested to see more. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is releasing this year (!) in Japan for both the PS3 and 360. So we'll probably get it Spring 2012.

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