Previews: FF XIII Versus
A glimpse at the new video of the mysterious FFXIII spin-off.
By Jeremy Parish 09/19/2007
This is a preview from TGS 2007. To see all our coverage, screens and
videos from the show, check out 1UP's TGS.1UP.COM hub page. Final Fantasy Versus XIII may not turn out to be a very good game, but it's going to damn fun to watch. That's not to criticize the game or take a pessimistic view -- it's just that, well, Square Enix hasn't shown a single frame of gameplay footage since its debut at E3 2006. So we don't know what the game is about, or how it plays, or even what genre it will belong to. But its FMV could best be described as smokin' hot, eclipsing Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children or even the real FFXIII.
The new Versus trailer shown behind closed doors at this year's TGS seemed like a sad rehash of the video-only trailer that's been shown for the past year and a half... for about ten seconds. And then the new stuff kicked in.
SCREENS: Click the image above to check out all FF Versus XIII screens.
Set to a rousing operatic score and punctuated by random phrases in Italian, the new Versus clip shows the outcome of the previous trailer (in which the mysterious white-haired protagonist rose from a throne in a city to confront a small army of gun-toting soldiers, himself armed with an arsenal of mystical weapons). The outcome goes like this: He totally kicks their asses. Using the magically-suspended swords and blades, the unnamed hero (or not?) slices through the troops as their bullets ricochet off what appear to be magical shields. At one point, the battle takes to the air as he runs down a wall, stabbing his foes mercilessly, and somewhat bloodily. But the outcome isn't entirely certain -- one soldier takes aim with a rocket-propelled grenade and fires, catching the hero off guard... end of scene.
But there was much more to the trailer, including the revelation of other characters. The white-haired man stumbles wearily into the streets where a young woman in a short skirt is standing, waiting, silhouetted in front of a full moon. The two seem to recognize one another -- and when the scene is reprised later in the trailer, it becomes clear that the recognition isn't entirely friendly. The girl has the ability to materialize weapons as well, and she summons a red rapier as he calls forth his own sword. The two are last depicted deadlocked in a tableau.
The third character is a fugitive, a young Han Solo wannabe -- he wears a white shirt under a black vest, for crying out loud, and he totes a stubby pistol. He seems to be an ally of the white-haired man, although their interactions suggest theirs is an alliance of necessity.
The trailer claims that Versus is "a fantasy based in reality," and the game's setting really does resemble the modern world, or maybe a slightly futuristic version thereof. Doors part to reveal a high-ceilinged palatial meeting room in which people in business suits sit, their leader a slim older man with a thin beard and a pinstriped suit. The white-haired man is shown several times in a sleek black luxury car sporting ornate silver ornamentation; first as a passenger in a convoy, then later with the young fugitive on a desert highway lined by downed phone lines -- a scene from something like the post-apocalyptic American West. The two bring their car to a halt at the end of the trailer and look in wonder at a sight that is slowly revealed to be a massive flood cutting the desert in half.
We're not really sure what Versus has to do with the far-futuristic world of Final Fantasy XIII, or with any concept of "Final Fantasy" as we know it. But the CG elements certainly look great, and the masterfully-crafted cinema makes it impossible not to be at least a little excited to see how all these intriguing scenes play out -- regardless of how the game itself plays.
Previews: FF XIII Versus
Square offers a first glimpse of the game in real-time.
By Jeremy Parish 08/02/2008
The news from Square Enix's DKS3713 event this weekend that a trailer for Final Fantasy Versus XIII will be included on the Blu-ray version of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete is a put-up-or-shut-up moment for the publisher. They've been recompiling and tweaking the same game footage since Versus was announced more than two years ago at E3, slowly adding new bits of CG with each successive showing. Now that everyone will have access to the game's trailer, they'll actually have to show us something new. Fortunately, there's hope, as the 10 seconds of new footage in the latest cut of the trailer apparently consists of in-game, real-time footage -- which means they actually have a game engine now. The scene in question is extremely brief, and consists simply of the game's sullen main character in a natty black suit (whose real-world counterpart is on display at the event) walking up a grand stairway onto an observation platform looking out over a nighttime cityscape, strongly reminiscent of the Tokyo Skyview in Roppongi. (The trailer does say it's a fantasy based on the real world, after all.) At the top of the stairs is a blond woman who turns to face him and smiles enigmatically.
SCREENS: Click the image above to check out all Final Fantasy Versus XIII screens.
It's not much, but that sequence definitely has a different look to it than the rest of the trailer -- the main character seems slightly lankier and less detailed than elsewhere, and the woman's hair falls about her face in a way that isn't quite consistent with the hair of female characters in previous scenes. It's a subtle difference, but as many times as I've seen this trailer now, it's definitely noticeable. But after watching some of the documentary sequences on display around the show floor, I realized that this sequence doesn't depict a drop in the quality of Square's CG output -- it represents a real-time cut-scene whose visual quality vastly exceeds any video before. What would be slightly disappointing as a prerendered sequence is utterly astounding as live 3D footage, assuming they haven't faked it.
Not that there's necessarily any reason to fake it -- Square's graphical output, at least with the Final Fantasy series, tends to fall into three tiers: prerendered CG, real-time cut-scenes, and gameplay sequences. Typically the real-time cut-scenes are a step above the game portions, since they omit factors like enemy AI and game mechanics, but well below the quality of the CG. With Versus, the developers appear to have brought the in-engine story sequences nearly up to par with the prerendered visuals. Most likely the actual gameplay won't be too far behind.
Of course, no one actually knows what that gameplay will be like; even after all this time, Square Enix hasn't said a single word about Versus' mechanics, systems or even its specific genre. It's destined to be a long wait -- but at least we'll have something pretty to look at when it's all said and done.