Final Fantasy XV Re-Emerges at Tokyo Game Show 2014
The gaming world, and particularly the Final Fantasy fandom, has been growing increasingly restless with each subsequent tradeshow whereat Final Fantasy XV fails to materialise. Final Fantasy XV has not been seen since its unveiling for the PS4 and Xbone at E3 2013, so it is fortunate then that the pressure valve was released this week when the title made its bold return to the limelight at TGS. Final Fantasy XV was shown off in two forms; as an epic trailer comprised of all-new footage, and as an on-stage tech demo presented by Hajime Tabata [director], showcasing some of the stunning graphics technologies that have gone into producing the game.
The first thing that immediately becomes apparent when watching the trailer is that we have been given several pieces of new music from the OST; two sumptuous original tracks, and a delightful rendition of the prelude – a series mainstay that was sorely missed during the franchise’s thirteenth outing. Another thing that immediately jumps out to viewers is the sheer size and scale of environments and enemies, particularly the Adamantoise which is so large that it cannot even fit within the frame. Hajime Tabata has confirmed that it is the actual model of an enemy monster that players will be able to fight in the game. Probably the most important detail which stood out from the trailer was the degree to which the car is to be integrated into gameplay. While the editing of the trailer is too fast to actually confirm direct vehicular control, it nevertheless seems to heavily imply that players will be able to enjoy having full control over the car, which makes sense given that Tetsuya Nomura has often referred to the game as being like a road trip. In that sense, Final Fantasy XV might be set to become the Half-Life 2 of JRPGs, where players will be at liberty to explore the highways of Noct’s kingdom from the wheel of a car, with the occasional prompt to pull over to the side of the road in order to interact with a point of interest. Beyond this, the trailer also allows viewers a fairly good sample of flavour dialogue, with perhaps the most significant line being:
“It’s been a long time coming…
While it is perhaps ill-advised to read too much into a line of dialogue [particularly in a Square Enix trailer], it nonetheless looks as though this line has been deliberately chosen to suggest that the game will likely see release sooner rather than later – meaning that it may very well see a holiday 2015 release [in Japan].
In contrast to the trailer, the tech demo conveyed less about the design of the game, instead focusing on the technical make-up that players will be able to experience with the finished product. The two technologies front-and-center were variable time of day and variable weather conditions. The variable weather conditions were particularly noteworthy, as viewers were shown that the arrival of rain would quickly lead to puddles forming, and characters themselves becoming wet [much like in the Uncharted series] – though oddly it would seem that character hairstyles are immune to any such saturation. Another thing that viewers of the tech demo were shown is that Noct’s ability to teleport to the location of his sword has now been fully implemented into the game, and that the combat system is starting to look mature and polished. Noct’s sword teleportation abilities were on show when Final Fantasy XV debuted at E3 2013, yet one got the distinct impression that such scenes were manually scripted as an artist’s interpretation of how the move might work once it had been implemented. Now the teleportation mechanic is clearly part of the battle system, and viewers are able to observe the appearance of a reticule over objects which Noct is able to teleport to using his sword.
Square Enix Unveils Other Final Fantasy Plans
While Final Fantasy XV certainly stole this TGS, it was by no means the only Square Enix game on show. Square Enix’s next big Western release is undoubtedly Final Fantasy Type-0 HD for the PS4 and Xbone, a game that never made it to America in its original PSP format. The big news out of TGS has been that Final Fantasy Type-0 HD has been confirmed for a March 17 release date in North America, and not only that – each copy of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD will ship with a playable demo of Final Fantasy XV; this is beginning to feel a lot like the fifth and sixth generations.
TGS 2014 has also marked the first time that the public has been able to see Final Fantasy Type-0 HD in action, and, well, the results are kind of mixed. The game is a definite graphical improvement over the PSP version – the HD visuals look much tidier than the low resolution jaggedness of the PSP original, and the added lighting and high resolution textures definitely make a difference – yet anyone who has played the game on PSP will immediately find the game recognisable. At its heart Final Fantasy Type-0 HD remains visually similar to its PSP origins. This is perhaps no surprise given that the game is not being developed by Square Enix themselves, but rather by Hexadrive – the company which worked with them on The 3rd Birthday, and has also been behind such high profile ports as Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD [great], Okami HD [great], Zone of the Enders HD Collection [terrible], and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D [terrible].
In other Final Fantasy news Final Fantasy Agito is set to receive a Vita port to complement its existing iOS and Android versions. The Vita version will come in the form of a downloadable free-to-play version, and a physical release [which one hopes will be rebalanced to de-emphasise the title’s original free-to-play mechanics]. This Vita announcement could well be the perfect way to play for anyone who cannot stand playing their games with touch controls, but one is still a little skeptical of the game’s free-to-play origins. While we are on the subject of unexpected ports, it was also revealed this week that the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy is set to make an appearence on Steam, with the first game in the series to be released on the 9th of October for $15.99, and the other two installments being released by Spring 2015:
“The FINAL FANTASY XIII trilogy began in March 2010 with the release of the original FINAL FANTASY XIII and continued with its sequel, FINAL FANTASY XIII-2, released in February 2012. The most recent release in the FINAL FANTASY XIII series, LIGHTNING RETURNS™: FINAL FANTASY XIII, launched on 14th February 2014 to critical acclaim. The series has been widely successful, shipping over 11 million units worldwide.”
Square Enix sure do have an interesting notion of critical acclaim, when Lightning Returns‘ metarating currently sits at sixty-six.
Game Journalists Caught Colluding to Present a Uniform Opinion
In the wake of the spate of ‘Gamers are Dead’ articles which surfaced several weeks back, many gamers accused the game journalism industry of colluding together in order to control what kind of messages they allowed to be repeated within game media, essentially fixing the agenda in order to silence their critics. Understandably, this lead to upset gamers being branded as conspiracy-theorist nutters by their detractors, and even many of the industry’s fiercest critics [this author included] saw this claim as just a tad too far fetched for credibility. Well, there is nothing silly about conspiracy theories if people are actually conspiring, and this week conspiracy theory was revealed to be conspiracy fact by Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos, who ran an expose on the 150 member circle-jerk known as Game Journo Pros. Game Journo Pros is a Google group created by Ars Technica’s senior gaming editor, Kyle Orland, for the purpose of having a private forum for game ‘journalists’ to discuss current issues in gaming. The group may not have been established with ill-intentions in mind, but after examining a number of leaked messages it is quite evident that the forum served as one of the most blatant examples of group-think that one could hope to find outside of hardcore political interest communities.
For example, in the wake of a recent sex scandal which served as the catalist for much of this, Kyle Orland thought that it would be perfectly acceptable to strategise about how best to bury the legitimate complaints of gamers, even going so far as to say that he was going to ignore information irrespective of its merit because the situation surrounding it gave him feels.
“At the same time as *that*, I don’t want to in essence reward the jerks doing this by giving their “issue” any attention at all (I’m not even going to give the bullshit “journalism ethics” excuse for these attacks the time of day. Even if there is any merit to those accusations, the sickening facts of these attacks easily overwhelms it)
So what’s to be done? Maybe we should just stick to Twitter to boost the signal on this one, rather than our “front pages.” (***** seemed initially OK with people retweeting her statement (https://twitter.com/TheQuinnspiracy/status/501644035593748481) but then she took down the original Tumblr post, so who knows). Maybe we should get a public letter of support going around decrying these kinds of personal attacks, signed by as many sympathetic journalists/developers as we can. Maybe we should just use this as an excuse to give more attention to her work… I know I’ve been meaning to review Depression Quest since its Steam release.”
Funny how a public letter just happened to turn up after being discussed here. Later in response to someone saying that they were uncomfortable with sending such an intimate message to a relative stranger, Orland goes on to demonstrate that he is not even aware of separation between journalist and subject, referring to a game developer as being a “colleague“:
“There is an ocean of distance between “hi we’re strangers and we’re aware of your dirty laundry” and “Hi, we’re your colleagues, and we appreciate the work you do for our community. Illegitimi non carborundum.””
Meanwhile, Polygon’s Ben Kuchera set about disgracing himself by repeatedly trying to pressure The Escapist’s Greg Tito into shutting down a very well regulated and respectful discussion thread that was mulling over the topic:
“This is the question: People are using your platform to harass a developer. Are you comfortable with that?
Ask yourself this:
1) Does that thread serve your community?
2) Is it making anyone’s life better?
3) Is it actively hurting someone?
4) Is that what I want the Escapist to be?
The answers, are no, no, yes, and I hope not. If using the forums to post hearsay to harass and abuse people isn’t against your current TOS, change your TOS. Don’t sit by and let your community be used to making gaming worse because of a technicality.”
When Kuchera’s repeat efforts proved fruitless, he essentially stormed off in a huff at not being able to silence users of The Escapists:
“Really disappointed in that response, Greg. But I’m going to end the discussion on it here to maintain civility.”
Of course, since then Ben Kuchera has made it quite clear that he is most displeased with the Game Journo Pros leakers for his being quoted as saying the things he has actually said. Perhaps one might consider refraining from disreputable conduct if one fears getting caught? Chin up, Kuchera!