Demo Impressions: Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Asura's Wrath
If you haven't notice, a playable demo for Asura's Wrath and Final Fantasy 13-2 just came out a few days ago on the PS3 and Xbox 360.I gave the two demo's a try on my Xbox 360 to see if any of the two games play any good. One was pretty good and was at least an hour long while the other just left me confused.
Let's start with Asura's Wrath. I'll be honest, I was not pleased one bit. The demo gave me the impression that the game is just one big QTE(Quick Time Events) sequence. The demo provided two fights - One was with this giant fatass and the other involved a one-on-one fight with Asura and his mentor on the moon.
The fight with the fatass was a huge QTE sequence than a boss itself (Not sure if it was a boss really). QTE is short for Quick Time Events; this feature is seen in games like God of War or Heavy Rain where the player is tasked to press certain inputs during a scene(for example, pressing the X button rapidly when the character is lifting a boulder). The fight included some lock-on projectile firing but aside from that, it's just a huge fight scene where you have to press a certain input when the game tells you to.
The next fight with the mentor in the moon gave me a better sense on how the gameplay feels like. Those QTE again are present during the start but then pick up when the opponent brings out his sword. It then felt like games such as Devil May Cry or Bayonetta but minus the flashy moves. You have one button to do light attacks and another button for heavy. No combinations can be done from what I can tell and mashing the hell out of the light and heavy attack was all I need when I saw an opening. There's a red bar on top of the screen that when filled can do a burst move which can be triggered by the RT or R2. This pretty much ended the fight. A wild scene happens and of course it being a demo, they end the demo before the fight was about to end.
The first fight in Asura's Wrath felt like Capcom showing the games visuals more than gameplay. The second fight was more in gameplay but still not that much. It was more on those QTE and those over the top battles that felt like Dragon Ball Z all over again. This is of course a demo and maybe the game comes out better in the full game, but demo's are there to see if the game is for you or not. For me, it didn't hit the right spot. It really feels like its going to be a game that you would rather spend watching than actually playing.
Final Fantasy XIII-2
To be honest, I'm not looking forward to this game at all. but the demo showed that the game improved to some extent. Wasn't impressed with Final Fantasy XIII overall but I will say this - XIII has the best gameplay and graphics in any Final Fantasy out now, everything else though just let the game down. I won't go on how I was disappointed with the first game don't worry, on to the demo.
The demo was pretty lengthy. When the demo ended, my in-game time was at 1 hour and 11 minutes. The demo starts with the fight shown over and over during E3 and other events when Square shows off the game. A fight between an invisible giant with an arm as the target. A tutorial pops up asking if I want an explanation on Paradigm Shifts(gameplay), since I played the first game I said no and started the battle. What was cool is that the gameplay felt exactly the same which is perfect. One of the things they got right in XIII was the gameplay and I was pleased to see that everything felt intact. I easily picked up the game quick and before I knew it, the boss was down. Then what a coincidence, QTE happens to finish the boss. A new feature that I wished they did not add. The inputs required in the QTE were very simple compared to Asura's Wrath. When the inputs were done correctly the boss was down and the demo fast forward in the story and placed me in a part of the game where I can explore.
Changes seen in the demo
The second part of the demo is really where I spent my one hour on. Serah and Noel was on an excavation site and is tasked to deal with Atlus. The starting area of the excavation site had a lot of NPC to converse with, something that was hardly present in the first game. As I was moving around exploring the area, I then head to the menu screen to see the changes done with progressing your character. Crystarium is still present but felt simplified. Instead of picking where to go through the Crystarium in the first game, XIII-2 makes you chose which class to level up. Each time you spend CP(experience Points) on a certain class, that class levels up and your stats increase. At the same time, when you reach a certain level in that class, you learn skills like froststrike for example. I wished they sticked with the old Crystarium, but SquareEnix has this tendency of moving forward and always changing things up.
I left the safe area of the site and entered the area infected with monsters. In the first game, monsters are seen on the screen as you explore, now its sorta like a random encounter. As you walk around, monsters appear near you all of a sudden and to engage them, they either attack you or you attack them with X. If you attack them quick enough, you'll get a pre-emptive strike which makes you attack first really. After the first random battle, I was introduced with the weird feature of having monsters as your third character. Yes, the third slot in your party of three will be infested with monsters. Think Pokemon, but Final Fantasy style.
It's like a third character with the ability to shapeshift really. Compared to Noel and Serah that has multiple classes to shift through, each monster only has one. You can bring three monsters into a fight, and you can change between the three monsters just like how you switch classes for the other two characters. It's pretty interesting since each monster has different stats and abilities. At the same time, you level them up individually and can only level if using specific items which are dropped after a fight. Only way to earn new monsters is to fight them and hope to earn them after the end of the fight. No Pokeball sorry. When a monster is defeated and turns into a crystal, you got yourself a new monster to work with. While the concept is interesting, I still would prefer just a third character in the game.
As I explored the ruins a bit more and after a few fights and tampering with the progression of my character/monsters, I noticed I was enjoying myself. There were a couple of side quests open to me which is a huge deal for me. The biggest problem with the first game is that there was nothing during the first half of the game where I can derail myself out of the main quest for a while and just do something else. It was ride that you could not stop going forward. The fact that they showed sidequests in the demo showed me that they understand that it was missing in the first game.
Exploring a bit more, I find myself fighting Atlus once again. After defeating him, the demo ended with a trailer of the game(Hinting DLC for the game). I actually liked the demo given. Did it get me interested in the game? A bit. One thing for sure though, the game overall feels better compared to the first. Still not sure if I want to play the continuation of Final Fantasy XIII's story which to me got even more confusing. Sorry, the first game just ruined it for me.
If you're worried about the changes in gameplay, don't be. Everything feels perfect in that department. While the Crystarium is different and Square giving us monsters as the third playable character, it was still fun in the end. Fans of Final Fantasy XIII will definitely be pleased with the sequel when it hits at the end of Jan.
This is my impressions of when I played the demo of these two games. Give these demo's a try for yourself and give me your thoughts and if you think otherwise. Migoy played the Asura's Wrath demo on our live feed so check that out when you can in our video archives.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be out on January 31, 2012 for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
Asura's Wrath is coming on February 21, 2012 for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.