“It looks like Square Enix lifted some sort of Final Fantasy XIII-2 embargo on the Japanese press today. Famitsu.com, Impress Watch and 4Gamer all delivered impressions from a thirteen hour play through of the game’s first three chapters.
Here are some points of note in the writeups, as summed up at Game Jouhou.
- Recap of the original
The title screen lets includes an option for viewing a narrated recap of the story of the original FFXIII. If you have a save file from the original, you’ll also get to see a digest showing scenes from the original.
- Item Sales
Where do you get your items and accessories while traveling through time? There’s a girl named “Chocolena” who wears Chocobo themed clothing. She appears in all time eras and locations, and will sell you goods.
XIII-2 has towns. However, there’s no transition from field to towns. You’ll just seamlessly enter areas of safety where people reside.
You can freely speak to the people you encounter. You’ll very often be presented with subquests, including such things as seeking out lost items and defeating special monsters.
- Interactive Dialogue
The game has an interactive conversation system called “Live Trigger.” Based of the selections you make, the story may develop differently.
The game’s time traveling component makes experimenting with Live Trigger easy. In the Historia Crux screen, you can close gates that you’ve previously opened. A closed gate resets to its default state, allowing you to try different selections.
When you clear quests or defeat bosses, you’ll get Fragments which include things like information about the world, and notices from the members of Nora. There are around 160 of these fragments.
- Event Scenes
It was previously announced that the game has mostly realtime rendered event scenes this time. The impressions say it’s about 90% realtime. However, it does seem that there are overall more event scenes compared to FFXIII.
For those who want to get on with things, because the event scenes are real time, you can quickly skip through the dialogue.
- Load times
The load times are short, and you can save anywhere you like, allowing for a stress free experience. The only complaint in this area appears to be about crossing time periods in Historia Crux as the load times here are a bit on the long side.
- Character Growth
You build up Serah and Noel in a Crystarium, but different from the original FFXIII, which had a Crystarium for each role, each character now has just one Crystarium that’s used for all the roles. The roles have exclusive growth routes on the Crystarium.
As you expel your Crystal Points to advance your position to new slots on the Crystarium, you’ll gain the status upgrades associated with the slot, and will also be able to make a role level up. You get to select which role gets the level-up.
Monsters level up not through Crystal Points, but through growth items. These can be obtained in battle and from shops (including Chocolena).
As a monster levels up, it will learn new abilities. These abilities are retained across all monsters of the same role (unlike the characters, whose roles can be changed in real time like in the original FFXIII, monsters’ roles are fixed).
- Accessories & Equipment
You initially have four accessory slots for your characters. By grouping accessories, you get special effects (some of these were detailed when the game’s bonus items were announced a few weeks back).
Accessories have cost, and you’re limited in what cost a character can hold. For example, if Serah has maximum cost 50 and you equip cost 30 and cost 20 accessories, you can’t equip any additional accessories.
For the monsters, you’ll find some that some equipment are just used for making changes to physical appearance with no effect on ability. There are many of these items.
The game has so many accessories that one of the players complained that there’s a feeling of not having enough Gil to buy it all.
If you want to make a monster join your party, you don’t need to throw a Pokeball or anything of the sort at it. When you defeat a monster, it will just sometimes turn to crystal, making it a part of your collection.
Each monster has unique special skills which can be unleashed when you’ve built up your Synchro Drive. These moves are done using the game’s cinematic quick timer events. Depending on how you do in the QTEs, you’ll end up with greater or lesser damage.”