COMMENTARY | I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. Consequently, E3 is an exciting time for me, as well as for all gamers when we get to sit and watch where the upcoming year is going to be taking us in the world of video games. Essentially, E3 is a three-day event of big title announcements, teaser trailers, new product demonstrations, and others that make all of us video game nerds shake with anticipation and, in some cases, cry. During E3 a few years ago when The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was announced and the beautiful trailer was shown, it literally brought some fans to tears. People get that excited for this stuff.
This year’s E3 had some great announcements, as it always does. I find myself most excited about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,but in terms of the games that were announced Thursday, my excitement shifts toward the newest installment in the long-running Final Fantasy series: Final Fantasy XIII-2.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 is set to be a direct sequel to the first installment. There were a handful of issues that I had with the first installment, primarily the linearity of the game. There was hardly any form of freedom until close to the end. While the series has always suffered from not offering as much choice as it seems on the surface, Final Fantasy XIII was especially lacking. It featured no towns to explore, little to no side quests, and essentially stole away the feeling of exploration that, to me, is so vital to the success of immersion into an RPG universe.
This time around Final Fantasy XIII-2 will put players in the same world (“Cocoon”) a few years after the first installment ended. Based on the trailers and descriptions I have heard, the battle system — one of XIII’s strong points — has been upped even higher. Based on what has been released, it appears to be a hybrid between the first installment’s Paradigm system and a Kingdom Hearts II and Resident Evil 5 type actions commands that will help deal more damage and create even more dazzling displays. The potential here is mind-bogglingly awesome; it just depends upon the execution. There are a handful of new features that have been revealed that can be seen here. The game is still in development, so there are other features that haven’t been divulged. However, there appears to be much more exploration potential as well as player choices. But again, many Final Fantasy games have said there will be player choice when in reality the choices are extremely limited.
The entire series has been one of my most beloved over the years, so I always hold a degree of excitement for any release from within the series, but with XIII having many astonishing qualities and only lacking in a few, however key, components (little to no side quests, no towns, etc.), XIII-2 has a chance to become an extremely solid, and welcome, entry for the series. I certainly hope so.