May 12, 2007 - Today at the Final Fantasy Anniversary party in Makuhari Japan, Square-Enix showed-off two new missions Crisis Core missions at the Closed Mega Theatre. Fans lined up for hours to get a taste. We managed to dip in and see for ourselves what all the fuss was about.
In our first Crisis Core hands-on last December, Anoop explain how technically marvelous the game is. Let me piggy back on that by say he is unequivocally right. This is the watershed game that genuinely demonstrates just how powerful the PSP is.
Quick refresher: Crisis Core follows Cloud Strife's famous pal Zack, an elite soldier in the Shinra Corporation who made a brief appearance in Final Fantasy VII. This game is all about his adventures fighting for Shinra in the build-up to FFVII. These are the times when Sephiroth was still a decent fellow, and Cloud was just a rookie trying to get into SOLDIER.
The demo at the show today had two scenarios. The first scenario started-off with Zack in his home base. His commander is talking to him about something I didn't understand because it was all in Japanese. Nevertheless, the conversation got pretty heated and out of no where, bad guys start attacking the Shinra building they're in. Zack heads out to the lobby to find the thugs laying waste to the building. Zack takes them out and heads outside. We meet a few familiar Turks, chat and eventually run into Genesis. He does a relentless job of unleashing this one power attack that make Zack look like a joke. But if you stay on him, he'll go down in no time.
The second scenario starts Zack in the streets again, only it's on the freeway. More thugs are popping-up. It may feel a bit overwhelming, but Zack is a pretty impressive fighter. He take on a mini-boss, kills him and meets up with Angeal. They have an exchange and finally Angeal picks up Zack and flys him (with his one wing) to the Shinra building in the distance. Zack encounters a few robot enemies here, and finds a lab. Genesis is in here and he stirs up trouble by blowing up a reactor of sorts. He flies away so Angeal and Zack go after him. When they catch up with him, Angeal takes on Genesis and Zack has to deal with Bahamut. Now Bahamut is pretty intimidating, especially when he unleashes one of his more elaborate attacks that requires a switch to a CG cutscene. He leaves the planet uses another planet as a weapon to hurt Zack pretty bad. After a few well placed magic attack, this overgrown bully goes down pretty fast.
As our previous hands-on has stated before, Crisis Core is mostly action with menu-based elements. You have full control over Zack when moving around, and can rotate the camera with the left and right triggers. Every now and then, you'll get into a random battle. The battle takes place on the same screen as regular movement, with no transition or loading. At this point, you're still free to move Zack around the battle field, but the right and left triggers are re-purposed to select commands from the command bar in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. You shuttle through the selections with the triggers, and execute the commands by pressing the X button. For attack, have the sword icon selected, then hit X. The same thing applies to executing magic attacks like fire, blizzard, cure and their higher level counterparts. But expect to deplete magic points with each use. There is also a block and roll maneuver.
As it stands now, the blocking function can get a little tricky. It lags behind the button press, so it might not be there to help you protect yourself. But the game is still in development, so that might get ironed out by the time the game releases. But from the looks of things, Zack's attacks are usually devastating enough to take down his enemies before he starts blocking.
Another interesting twist is that the game does a ton of stuff for you, like targeting enemies and unleashing the equivalents of limit breaks. The top-left corner of the screen houses a 3 wheel slot machine that constantly spins. The icons on the wheel itself are the faces of characters you meet through-out the game. When you meet new characters, you unlock their face on the slot wheels. When the wheel decides to give you three of the same face in a row, Zack will attack with an ability based on the character in roulette wheel. This attack can be a wild slashing blitz (which requires it's own event sequence), or a menacing summon. It may sound like having the game decide all of this stuff for you takes the fun away, but so far it doesn't. The unpredictability of it makes for some exciting fights.
Although no American release date has been announced, we're pretty much expecting this one to come to the states at some point. Stay tuned and we'll keep you posted and developments are revealed.