- Final Fantasy Versus XIII may not turn out to be a very good game, but it's going to damn fun to watch.
That's not to criticize the game or take a pessimistic view -- it's just that, well, Square Enix hasn't shown a single frame of gameplay footage since its debut at E3 2006. So we don't know what the game is about, or how it plays, or even what genre it will belong to. But its FMV could best be described as smokin' hot, eclipsing Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children or even the real FFXIII.
The new Versus trailer shown behind closed doors at this year's TGS seemed like a sad rehash of the video-only trailer that's been shown for the past year and a half... for about ten seconds. And then the new stuff kicked in.
Set to a rousing operatic score and punctuated by random phrases in Italian, the new Versus clip shows the outcome of the previous trailer (in which the mysterious white-haired protagonist rose from a throne in a city to confront a small army of gun-toting soldiers, himself armed with an arsenal of mystical weapons). The outcome goes like this: He totally kicks their asses. Using the magically-suspended swords and blades, the unnamed hero (or not?) slices through the troops as their bullets ricochet off what appear to be magical shields. At one point, the battle takes to the air as he runs down a wall, stabbing his foes mercilessly, and somewhat bloodily. But the outcome isn't entirely certain -- one soldier takes aim with a rocket-propelled grenade and fires, catching the hero off guard... end of scene.
But there was much more to the trailer, including the revelation of other characters. The white-haired man stumbles wearily into the streets where a young woman in a short skirt is standing, waiting, silhouetted in front of a full moon. The two seem to recognize one another -- and when the scene is reprised later in the trailer, it becomes clear that the recognition isn't entirely friendly. The girl has the ability to materialize weapons as well, and she summons a red rapier as he calls forth his own sword. The two are last depicted deadlocked in a tableau.
The third character is a fugitive, a young Han Solo wannabe -- he wears a white shirt under a black vest, for crying out loud, and he totes a stubby pistol. He seems to be an ally of the white-haired man, although their interactions suggest theirs is an alliance of necessity.
The trailer claims that Versus is "a fantasy based in reality," and the game's setting really does resemble the modern world, or maybe a slightly futuristic version thereof. Doors part to reveal a high-ceilinged palatial meeting room in which people in business suits sit, their leader a slim older man with a thin beard and a pinstriped suit. The white-haired man is shown several times in a sleek black luxury car sporting ornate silver ornamentation; first as a passenger in a convoy, then later with the young fugitive on a desert highway lined by downed phone lines -- a scene from something like the post-apocalyptic American West. The two bring their car to a halt at the end of the trailer and look in wonder at a sight that is slowly revealed to be a massive flood cutting the desert in half.
We're not really sure what Versus has to do with the far-futuristic world of Final Fantasy XIII, or with any concept of "Final Fantasy" as we know it. But the CG elements certainly look great, and the masterfully-crafted cinema makes it impossible not to be at least a little excited to see how all these intriguing scenes play out -- regardless of how the game itself plays.