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    E3 2009: Final Fantasy Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers in-depth hands-on impressions

    by Janine Dong on Jun 7, 2009 at 10:24 AM
    the crystal bearers final fantasy chronicles logo

    At the 2009 Electronics Entertainment Expo, Square Enix debuted a playable demo of the latest chapter in its Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series titled The Crystal Bearers for Wii.

    Staying true to the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series, FFCC:TCB features real-time combat in place of turn-based tactics. The game stars a rambunctious young mercenary named Layle who wields the unique magical ability of telekinesis that has earned him the name of crystal bearer. FFCC:TCB takes place thousands of years after the events of the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and the destruction of the Yuke Crystal during the Great War resulted in the victorious prosperity of the Lilty tribe. With Yuke tribe being unfortunately and seemingly annihilated, a new age of science and reason began to flourish in the world. Thus, beings with any magical powers have been branded ‘crystal bearers’ and their abilities cause them to be feared and scorned by the public.

    One of the main reasons I was drawn to Square Enix’s Final Fantasy Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (FFCC:TCB) demo station was due in part to the fairly attractive young blonde main character, Layle, that graced the banner. Not only is he one fine looking specimen but he also packs quite a punch, literally.

    The Breakdown

    In the demo, I was able to experience Layle’s mysterious abilities in an assortment of different environments. During battles, players will utilize the WiiMote by moving it to collaborate with the onscreen targeting point and pushing the B button to commence its appropriate action. This could be anything from telekinetically controlling a Gatling gun to Swiss cheese oncoming avian enemies, to targeting chasing enemy Chocobo knights and tossing them from their steeds in an attempt to flee.

    In city andtown areas, Layle is able to interact with different objects and people. This is especially interesting since in order to progress through further locations in the town, certain quests must be completed. Another interesting aspect of the game is the fact that the NPC’s are affected by Layle’s movements an actions. If Layle is running through a crowd, each person he runs past is either knocked back or caused to fall on all fours. Not only can Layle bum rush helpless crowds of people, he can also manhandle him whith his telekinetic powers. Players will be able to target any of the townsfolk like they do with enemies, elevate them in the air, and then drop them. Besides contributing to the delinquencies of youth, Layle can pick up any gold coins that these poor persons may drop. Certain victims may also retaliate by running over to Layle and hitting him.

    Many members of the community also have symbols that appear over their heads which display their level of affinity for Layle. Unfortunately, since this was an early demo of the game, all NPC dialogue was missing. However, it seems as though Layle’s actions may affect this.

    The Play-by-Play

    The demo begins with our young hero sloughing off on the job only to be scolded by his partner Keiss. They have been hired to escort the new passenger airship Alexis, a symbol of the pinnacle of current Lilty technology and a symbol of its dominance. As to make sure that Layle doesn’t fall asleep on the job, an attack by strange flying beasts commences on the Alexis. Here’s where Layle first gets to display his powers as a crystal bearer.

    The main objective in this portion of the game is to gun down as many avian enemies as you can without taking too much damage. The WiiMote is the primary controller in this portion of the game and players must point at the screen and once the avian enemies have been targeted, the B button must be pushed commence Swiss cheesing. All the while, Layle is in a free fall amidst a vast blue sky while hordes of bird beasts fly toward him in attempts to clip off his pretty little head.

    At one point in the game, Layle collides with one of the monsters and he loses hold of his weapon. However, there’s no need to worry because the player is quickly instructed to aim the target point at the lost weapon and Layle is able to once again take hold of it telekinetically. From this point on, Layle continues to attack the onslaught while remotely controlling the firearm. At the end of the segment, the results of the player’s accuracy is tallied and it’s too early to say but I speculate that acquiring better results will probably achieve better rewards.

    Soon after, a cut scene is triggered which introduces the captain of the Alexis who looks to be a rather disgruntled Lilty considering his ship is currently being attacked. While on the ship’s outer deck, he disapprovingly watches the chaos while caught in his own thoughts considering the situation. He is interrupted by a young female photographer who stumbles out onto the deck taking pictures of the mess. Then, a mysterious female Yuke appears on board the deck. Everyone is taken aback because Yukes were supposedly to have become non-existent since the Great War. However, Layle is unphased and attempts to attack the Yuke, but only manages to extract an enigmatic crystal from the being who soon disappears into the thin air from whence she came.

    Something happens that results in Layle taking control of the massive airship and in this portion of the demo, players must use the Wii Nunchuck to skillfully steer the Alexis through impending crevices. During this demo, there didn’t seem to be any consequences for causing the ship to collide numerous times with the jagged sides of the chasm except the incessant screams Keiss and the young female photographer which went something along the line of ” Aggghhh! Get me off of this ship now!’.

    The Alexis is quickly reaching its destination at an incredible speed and Layle’s idea of breaking hard is to collide with an unfortunate statue. Even though Layle’s method is destructive and brash, it proves to be rather effective since the airship crash lands just short of a huge city structure.

    The crew disembark and Layle is left to his own accord. The city’s main gate is shrouded by a huge tapestry and, therefore, players must target it and flick the WiiMote upwards. Doing so causes this massive carpet to fall away and reveals the game’s primary title for the first time.

    Whilst roaming through the town, players will notice a poor person trapped under a massive rock. The idea is to be a good Samaritan by removing the overbearing piece from this persons back with the Layle’s magical abilties. Of course, since the NPC dialogue was not included in this demo, I’m not exactly sure what this triggers. But, I’m hoping it’s good assuming by the laws of the greater karmic wheel of life. Shortly after this area, Layle will find himself in another city square where the gate no longer works due to a malfunctioning clock. In order to release this gate that bars further exploration of the bustling communal area, Layle find the shoddy time keeper and by once again flicking the WiiMote in an upward motion, he magically makes everything right in the world again.

    This new area leads to a transportation terminal where Layle can board a train to reach another part of the city. Once aboard, Layle is free to do what he wishes while awaiting arrival at the destination, be it conversing with or harassing fellow passengers.

    Once Layle exits the train, he descends short flights of stairs where a small white thing quickly scurries by. At first, you wouldn’t think much of this rodent, but after the next cut scene, players will suddenly feel the urge to want to strangle this little bugger. There’s a scene where the little white ferret playfully pilfers the stone that Layle had acquired earlierand it quickly jets off in another direction. Apparently, the rodent is a ferret who belongs to a young Lilty female wearing glasses, Althea. She asks for Layle’s assistance in capturing her renegade pet and control of Layle is once again returned to players as they must navigate the noisy area to try and nab the furry little thief. It seems as though depending on the size of the object, Layle is forced to come into close proximity of it in order to be able to grasp it with his crystal bearer powers. Since the ferret is small and quick, I had a rather difficult time ensnaring it. Now, I’m not sure if this was intentionally programmed into the game, but after about 3 minutes of me running back and forth with unsuccessful avails, the ferret ran itself into the corner where I was able to easily capture it.

    Upon doing so, Althea runs over and both apologizes and thanks Layle for the situation. Althea takes a sudden shine to Layle after finding out about his magical abilities and she insists on treating him to tea. They are soon interrupted by the young female photographer from earlier as she’s being chased by the town’s guards for some unknown reason. Having spotted Layle in amongst the crowd, she runs over to hide behind him. The guards charge after her but are halted in motion thanks to Layle’s powers. This causes an outcry from the townsfolk causing Layle and the photographer to flee the city. However, close on their heels are the much more mobile Chocobo sentries. The two fugitives hijack a chocobo-drawn cart in order to outrun the ensuing followers with Layle’s female friend at the reigns and Layle stuck at the back of the cart charged with the responsibility to take care of the enemies.

    At this point in the game, Layle must thwart the Chocobo sentries in order to successfully get away. During this segment, a gauge appears at the top left of the screen which lessens if enemies successfully land an attack on the two. In order to prevent this, players must take out each soldier one by one for the duration of this portion of the game by either tossing the riders off their chocobo or reacting quickly to environmental cues that pop up rather unexpectedly. Layle is only able to grab the enemy chocobo riders in order to throw them from their ride at a certain proximity and if he doesn’t do this in time and allows the enemy to get too close, the two enter into a deadlock where players must move the Wiimote frantically back and forth in order to break it. Unfortunately, I can’t comment about how the environment can aid Layle in his escape because my reflexes are apparently about as quick as a snail.

    I had a particularly difficult time targeting the moving enemies however. I’m not sure if it was because I was panicking or if it was because I kept holding the B button down. I guess you aren’t able to target any new enemies so long as you hold the B button. Thanks to my ineptitude, my life meter had depleted completely. Thankfully, when that happened, the demo did not immediately end, but it did give me a choice as to whether I wanted to repeat the whole scenario again. I promptly selected the “no” option which triggered the next movie clip.

    One of the Chocobo riders catches up to Layle’s female companion and happens to knock her unconscious with a strike from his spear. Layle unfortunately doesn’t notice until it’s too late as the two, the chocobo, and the cart continue to run over a cliff. Literally leaving you at a cliffhanger, the demo ends.

    The Conclusion

    After having played the rather lengthy demo of FFCC:TCB, I can happily say that I am anticipating its release. Based on the demo, it features just the right amount of action and I was simply itching to see more. I’m very interested into just how much of the environment Layle will actually be able to manipulate when he’s on a bigger field map.

    One thing I would like to see improved is the variation in motions when utilizing the WiiMote to interact with objects. While playing the demo, all I was doing was simply flicking the controller in an upward motion as instructed by the onscreen instructions. However, it would be nice to see a little more creativity be put into this action since it starts to not make sense and get quite boring after a while. For example, after Layle picks something up and wants to throw something, the player could actually use a tossing motion instead of using the upward movement trend so prevalent in the demo game already.

    Regardless of that point, though, as to be expected, Square Enix delivers another worthy addition to the Final Fantasy series that sports unique and gorgeous character models (that for some reason remind me of those found in Kingdom Hearts) and environments (at least the town was pretty intricately detailed since that was the only area I was able to explore). Not only do the graphics push the Wii to its limits, but Square Enix introduces you to another set of unforgettable personalities as well as an intriguing storyline that draws you in at the start of the game.

    I don’t normally play RPGs on the Wii, but I’m definitely ready to change my current gaming habits when The Crystal Bearers is finally released.

    Read [GameSpot] Read [Gamertell: E3 2009] Site [Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers]

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    • James said:

      “I don’t normally play RPGs on the Wii” That’s because there’s virtually no good ones.

    • Jenni Lada from Chicago said:
      Avatar for Jenni Lada

      @ Janine: I’m so jealous! It sounds like you had so much fun playing the game!
      @ James: You should check out Opoona and Fire Emblem. 😀 Plus Phantom Brave’s coming soon.

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