I was lucky enough to get the chance to check out Final Fantasy XIII in action on the PS3 yesterday, as well as speak with director Motomu Toriyama & producer Yoshinori Kitase.
Well, I got to check it out eventually.
I was kept waiting for over 30 minutes thanks to an insane level of security surrounding the game's demo disc, which had to be fetched by a Square Enix employee from Sony - who had it under lock & key - and then personally escorted from one end of the convention centre to the other.
And when he eventually got there? Yup. Firmware update.
Finally, we got things moving, and after that agonisingly long wait were treated to a demo that lasted all of 4 minutes.
One battle, and that was that.
There was some punching, there were some minor magic attacks, then BAM, it was over. Disappointing.
Still, it wasn't a total loss. During the battle, Toriyama - who was controlling proceedings - was able to not only summon Shiva, but also switch her into gestalt mode.
And her transformation showed Square Enix have lost none of their flair for the flamboyant.
When triggered, her gestalt transformation involves Shiva and another Shiva (her "friend"? "college roommate"?) dancing around each other, before gently holding hands, continuing their dance, then...spreading their legs and bolting together at the hips, Voltron-style, to form a supernatural motorcycle.
It was pretty awesome.
Aside from that move, whose display seemed the sole purpose of the demo, there wasn't much more to be seen that we didn't already know. The only other thing I could pick up is that the game, already notoriously long in development, at least has an excuse: the level of polish being applied to the game.
There wasn't a stray polygon in sight. The tassels on Vanille's boots each swayed individually when she moved. Background textures looked better than many other game's foreground textures. And other visual effects, like the lighting, were just as impressive.
I'm yet to see a better-looking PS game than this.
Kitase did mention something interesting during our short Q&A, however; pressed on the difficulties Square Enix may be facing squeezing the game onto the Xbox 360, he said that it's in the company's best interests to keep it on as few discs as possible, as the more discs it ships on, the more expensive the game will be for Square Enix to produce.
And that as far as the PS3 version of the game goes, it's guaranteed to be shipping on a single Blu-Ray disc. If they can cram a Japanese language track in there for Western fans, great, if they can't, sorry, they'll have to leave it out.
UPDATE - To help out with the imagery of the "coupling", here it is in action, courtesy of Square Enix's merchandise booth.