Final Fantasy Versus XIII
|Final Fantasy Versus XIII|
|Developer(s)||Square Enix 1st Production Department|
|Series||Fabula Nova Crystallis
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, third-person shooter|
Final Fantasy Versus XIII (ファイナルファンタジー ヴェルサスXIII Fainaru Fantajī Verusasu Sātīn ) is an upcoming action role-playing video game that will be published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 3. Its concept is a heavy departure from other installments in the Final Fantasy series, providing a darker and more realistic atmosphere that focuses on human emotions and believable characters. The game features expansive environments and a seamless and customizable battle system, which gives players great freedom regarding their preferred play method.
The story is based on the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology, but has no direct relation to the other games in this series as it features a unique world, visual design and different characters. Its main protagonist Noctis Lucis Caelum is the prince of a Mafia-like royal family which protects the last remaining crystals in the world and rules over a technologically advanced city-state. The plot centers on the invasion of a Medieval war nation that tries to conquer the crystals. During the course of the game, Noctis meets the aristocratic and kind Stella Nox Fleuret who shares his ability of seeing a mysterious "light" connected to a goddess of the dead.
Unveiled in May 2006 alongside Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0, Final Fantasy Versus XIII started production shortly before its announcement. It is being developed by a team within Square Enix's 1st Production Department and directed by Tetsuya Nomura, who also designed the characters and conceived the concept and base story. The game's long development time and absence from the public eye gave rise to several rumors concerning its possible cancellation or shift to another platform.
Concept and presentation
Final Fantasy Versus XIII is an action role-playing game with third-person shooter elements. The player character is seen from a third-person perspective that will be adjusted depending on the weapon currently equipped. The game's environments among others include kingdoms and villages and allow for much freedom and interactivity: for example, objects can be destroyed and different ways may be chosen to reach a destination. The world map is a wide, open field that the player can traverse on foot or by using a car, an airship or a chocobo. A day-and-night time system affects the appearance of monsters on the world map. Final Fantasy Versus XIII uses interactive cutscenes in the form of real-time events. The player keeps control during them as the gameplay is not interrupted, which will result in natural progressions and storytelling that is similar to that of first-person shooters. However, the game also features uncontrollable pre-rendered full motion videos (FMVs) for scenes in which player control would have little effect. The ratio of real-time event scenes and pre-rendered FMVs is 7:3.
The game's party-based battle system is a realistic version of the one seen in the Kingdom Hearts series: the player selects a command such as "Magic", "Item", "Summon" or "Ex-Arts" and the characters will then perform the desired move. There are also other actions such as double-jumping. The party comprises a maximum of three members and control over them may be switched during battle. The team is initially assembled by the game, but players can choose their preferred party members later on. However, the main protagonist Noctis is permanently present and the only character that can equip any weapon, while others are specialized in one type of combat. Weapons include swords, axes, lances and guns, offer various attacks and may be customized or used as shields. Magic takes on different forms depending on the party member that casts it; for example, Noctis' magic emanates from his weapons. Attacks may change into chain combos by switching weapons or having several characters charge at opponents at once. In addition to the regular offensive tactics, mechas and tanks can be stolen from enemies and used against them. The battle scenes are seamlessly integrated into the environments with no load screens or transitions. Animated portraits in the bottom-right corner of the screen indicate the characters' movements and emotions even if they are separated from the party leader. Enemies have specific jobs such as dragon knight or summoner assigned to them.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII is based on the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology that revolves around a struggle between divine beings and the l'Cie, servants chosen by these gods and granted magic powers to fulfill a predetermined task. However, the precise impact of these concepts on the story is not known. The game is set in modern times, but the city-like home country of protagonist Noctis is the only technologically advanced location, otherwise surrounded by Medieval nations. The reason for this divide is a cold war waged over crystals that only the modern country holds. The other nations used to have their own crystals, but lost them due to ongoing conflicts. They have since focused their efforts on the development of weapons rather than on the progress of their culture, which left them in their regressive state. Just as the cold war ends and a treaty on the peaceful use of crystals is declared, the nation Niflheim unexpectedly invades the modern city-like country, forcing Noctis and his friends to escape.
Noctis Lucis Caelum (ノクティス・ルシス・チェラム Nokutisu Rushisu Cheramu ) is the main protagonist of Final Fantasy Versus XIII. He is a prince and son to the king of a Mafia-like royal family that has protected the crystals for generations. Noctis possesses a special power; unleashing it changes his eye color from blue to red and enables him to control several swords at once via spontaneous teleportation. Not an outspoken person, Noctis' body language is more expressive than his words although he just tries to conceal his shyness with this taciturn manner. Three friends are at Noctis' side: the military tactician Ignis who wears glasses and wields a katana in battle, the scarfaced melee fighter Gladiolus and the blonde-haired gunner Prompto. Early into the game, Noctis meets Stella Nox Fleuret (ステラ・ノックス・フルーレ Sutera Nokkusu Furūre ), the daughter of a prestigious family from the kingdom of Tenebrae. Her upbringing has made her a polite and well-behaved young lady, but she is not cold or stiff in any way. She is described as a sincere person who faces her problems rather than running from them. Noctis and Stella can both see a mysterious "light", which legends describe to appear when the goddess Etro opens the gate to the realm of the dead. As this ability has both positive and negative effects on said persons, the protagonists handle it differently: Stella readily accepts it while Noctis seems troubled by it.
The production of Final Fantasy Versus XIII started shortly before its unveiling at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade fair in May 2006. Director Tetsuya Nomura conceived the game's concept and base story and designed its characters. Shinji Hashimoto and Yoshinori Kitase are producing, Kazushige Nojima is writing the scenario and Yoko Shimomura is composing the soundtrack. The game is currently being developed by Square Enix's 1st Production Department, with the Kingdom Hearts II team in charge of the in-game action and the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children crew handling the pre-rendered movies directed by Takeshi Nozue. In February 2008, Final Fantasy Versus XIII was stated to use the Crystal Tools engine specifically designed by Square Enix for developing their seventh-generation console and PC games. Three and a half years later, however, this was contradicted when the game was explained to be built on a proprietary, action-oriented engine and to use the lighting technology of the company's new Luminous Studio engine.
Nomura intended Final Fantasy Versus XIII to be a heavy departure from his lighthearted Kingdom Hearts series. He attributed this move to his "love for extremes" and explained the direction he took as closer to his personal taste and completely different from what producers had requested him to do in the past. Nomura said that the concept and thinking behind Final Fantasy Versus XIII was unfitting for a regular numbered Final Fantasy installment. He wanted to make the game "about man in the real world" and thus included less fantasy elements, resulting in what he described as the darkest entry in the series. He acknowledged that a story focus on human emotions may narrow the target audience, but considered the time right to take such a risk and conceived the characters as believable humans one could meet in real life.
Nomura had wanted to use a present-day setting for a Final Fantasy game ever since this idea had been considered but abandoned during the development Final Fantasy VII. As such, some of the designs in Final Fantasy Versus XIII are based on real-world locations such as the districts of Tokyo or the Piazza San Marco and St Mark's Basilica in Venice. The city Noctis hails from is specifically influenced by the lively Shinjuku, Tokyo area which houses the headquarters of Square Enix and which Nomura passes through every day. The highway and tunnel seen in the game are almost exact replicas of the Shuto Expressway and a tunnel in the Ginza district, respectively. The team created these by driving down the real-world locations repeatedly during their research.
Another factor in development was the design of vast and seamless environments. They were meant to enable e.g. levels in which the player character was shot at from a great distance, or in which a battle would change scenes between the outside and inside of a building. This corroborated Nomura's intended action-oriented system with more intuitive game controls. He instructed his team to study third-person shooters for reference, "not in simplistic terms, like controls or mechanics, but in the way they create tension and mood and incorporate the action within that". The implementation of interactive real-time event scenes had two reasons: Nomura felt that regular storytelling cutscenes in other games interrupt the gameplay and that many players skip them for this reason; furthermore, the development frame of Final Fantasy Versus XIII could be shortened as there was no need to create high-polygon character models from scratch to use only in cutscenes. However, seamless transitions of these events into the gameplay were hard to achieve and instead increased the time that had to be invested by the team.
Because of the game's long absence from the public eye, specifically following its trailer in January 2011, industry commentators labelled Final Fantasy Versus XIII as vaporware. A rumor reported by Kotaku in July 2012 suggested that it had been quietly cancelled by Square Enix, and that an official announcement would not be made. However, Wada denied this a few days after the article had been published. A separate rumor proposed that the game had been redesigned and moved to the PlayStation 4 in 2011, now co-developed by Sony and re-branded as Final Fantasy XV. This was compounded by Square Enix's announcement to have a PlayStation 4 game in development. The Japanese fashion designer Roen, who had been contracted to design clothing for Noctis and Stella, listed Versus XIII as "Final Fantasy XV (planned)" on its website. This was later reverted to the Versus title, with Roen issuing a statement that the labeling was a mistake.
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- Official website (Japanese)