While looking for more news, notes, and whatnots of the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII (FFXIII), I came across this great article on the DigitalFoundry blog (EuroGamer) that takes us inside the math, art, and science of FFXIII. I don’t think I have every come across an article that goes to this length, with this much detail, comparing the PS3 demo of FFXIII against the actual Japanese release of FFXIII. If you are interested in this type of technical details, this article is definitely worth a read.
For me two things stood out, neither of which are part of the detailed technical feature analysis.
Overall, the leaps made by Final Fantasy XIII over its predecessors are mostly visual in nature and that’s clearly been the focus of this tech analysis. However, bearing in mind the four-year gestation period Final Fantasy XIII has had, it’s disappointing that all the key improvements have been in the audio-visuals.
Of course, these are hugely important factors in FFXIII’s make-up, but gameplay-wise this feels like it could’ve been done on PS2. Clearly, there’s much to enjoy in the nature of sumptuous visuals and what is clearly the best-quality CG we’ve seen on a Square-Enix videogame, but early importers of the Japanese version of the game are divided about the merits of the actual game underneath.
To be completely fair, I think this can be said about many of the games in this generation. They are just visual upgrades over their PS2 and Xbox predecessors.
The other item of note fills the entirety of the last page of the three page article, covering speculation on the potential compromises made to port the PS3 originated title to the 360.
However, porting the game across to the 360 must have been a daunting proposition. Taking a look at the structure of the Blu-ray disc, we see an absolutely colossal 32.6GB of what looks to be pre-rendered movies, while the actual gameplay content itself is a more reasonable 6.8GB. Co-incidentally, 6.8GB is also the maximum usable space developers have on the dual-layer DVD (yes, Xbox 360 games theoretically have less storage available than PS2 and Wii titles).
The article mentions that 360 users will only have to switch games at two points in the game, so that does not seem to be much of a burden. I also doubt that 360 owners will care (maybe not even notice) if the movies are not pre-rendered, if they are compressed, or if the sound is compressed. I also think that dual system owners will pick up FFXIII for the PS3 over the 360. In the U.S., due to its larger install base, 360 numbers will slightly surpass the PS3, but elsewhere FFXIII will lead the charge on the PS3.