Rumor Killers: Final Fantasy XIII-2, Gran Turismo 5 & Move, DS 2 Details

Disclaimer: Rumor Killers is a speculative opinion piece and is by no means intended to disclose as fact whether a rumor is true or false – even though the Rumor Killers team are usually right (usually…)

Final Fantasy XIII sequel?

It’s only just arrived, many of us still traversing our ways through the expanse of its world, yet already there’s rumors abound of a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XII.

Final Fantasy gurus Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama stated in an interview with WriteAboutGames that they would be interested in doing a sequel to Final Fantasy XIII. As Kitase puts it, "If we could do a XIII-2, we could direct all our attention to the story and refine what we have already built." That sounds pretty good to me.

However, they then state that it all hinges on how well Final Fantasy XIII fares in the West commercially. There are already a fair few games set in the same Fabula Nova Crystallis Saga which Final Fantasy XIII is set in, with Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy Agito XIII on their way, so would another Final Fantasy XIII game be worth a look?

In Japan, Final Fantasy XIII sold 1.5m copies in its first week, with a million of those selling on the first day alone. There’s a similar tale in the West according to VGChartz, who believe it sold 1.2 million units in its first week there. It’s currently riding top of the UK games charts and seemingly everyone is playing it.

However, critically it hasn’t fared so well. Despite an average rating of 83 on Metacritic, consumer opinion seems mixed. Notably the game suffers from an extremely slow beginning, making the first 20 hours reputedly difficult to get into thanks to an unusually strictly linear experience. But maybe Final Fantasy XIII-2 offers an opportunity to rectify these problems and provide a more rounded experience?

A direct sequel to a Final Fantasy game has only happened once before: Final Fantasy X-2. This installment of the series managed combined sales of over 3 million in its first nine months. Not bad at all for a game that only required a production team a third of the size required for its predecessor, this possible thanks to much of the groundwork already being completed. However, despite commercial and critical success, general views of it have been somewhat less flattering with many Final Fantasy fans disappointed by its change of focus. Final Fantasy X-2 followed on from X, arguably one of the best Final Fantasy games of all time and certainly one of my favorites. Final Fantasy XIII-2 could build upon the sound structure of XIII and become something great. It’s also worth noting that Toriyama was the director of Final Fantasy X-2 and XIII, so the link is certainly there.

As Kitase pointed out, it took his team three years to create Final Fantasy XIII. Surely they’d be hesitant to throw away all that work on only one game? Final Fantasy X-2 only took a year to develop thanks to so much already being implemented through Final Fantasy X’s production. Throw in the smaller production team required and a good track record for commercial success and Final Fantasy XIII-2 becomes a very attractive proposition for Square-Enix.

I think there’s a pretty strong chance of seeing Final Fantasy XIII-2 at some point in the future, most likely sometime in the next 12-18 months or so if Final Fantasy X-2 is anything to go by. The sales figures are very strong and there’s no denying that the likes of the Paradigm system and other game mechanics work brilliantly, making a great basis for another title. When it could happen, I’m not so certain, but I know I’m already excited about its potential.

Jen’s Verdict: True

Gran Turismo 5 to use PS3 Move?

So we know now that the Wiim… Move is coming to the PlayStation 3 very soon. There’s the usual launch games expected to implement it with the likes of Move Party! and Sports Champions, but how about Gran Turismo 5? If the leak on the official PlayStation Move site proves accurate, it looks like Move support will be a new part of Sony’s hit racing series.

It could just be a mistake on Sony’s part, or the site simply listing Gran Turismo 5 to give it some extra marketing. But there’s plenty of speculation nonetheless. We know Mario Kart works well enough with the Wiimote providing you have the very glamorous plastic wheel to slot it into, so could this happen for Gran Turismo 5? Then again, wouldn’t hardened racing fans prefer to use a ’proper’ steering wheel instead? Split Second and ModNation are already listed so maybe it’s a push by Sony to have Move functionality in as many racing games as possible.

I’ve no doubt that it could work quite well, akin to Mario Kart Wii’s wheel presumably, but the question remains: do gamers want it? In the case of a more mature racing game I’d prefer to stick to the traditional controller or steering wheel but there’s nothing wrong with having more choice. Having said that, maybe Move would be used for other things: track creation possibly? It could work as a form of mouse in order to make creating a track simpler than using a conventional controller.

Could Move even be one of the reasons behind Gran Turismo 5’s continued delay? In January Polyphony Digital CEO’s Kazunori Yamauchi declared that the game was 90% complete and suggested that ‘polishing’ was all that was left to complete. He then went onto discuss the potential of motion technology, could this be why the further delay? Hopefully not as surely avid Gran Turismo fans wouldn’t be happy to hear that their beloved title has been delayed even further by an intelligent marketing move by Sony. It’s certainly possible though as previously it looked like Gran Turismo 5 was all set for a March release in Japan until Sony unexpectedly delayed it due to ‘production-related matters’ that were never fully disclosed.

Sony is clearly pushing PlayStation Move hard and understandably so. It won’t want to pigeonhole its peripheral into a world of minigames and childish nonsense so Gran Turismo 5 is the perfect opportunity to bring it to the more enthusiast gamer. Players not interested can always avoid it and stick to the controller method, although I can see a backlash emerging if it turns out that the game was delayed to implement Move. All I can say is that there had better not be even more delays as patience levels seem to be extremely strained now amongst fans. However, do expect Move functionality when Gran Turismo 5 eventually hits our console later in the year.

Jen’s Verdict: True

DS2 more details emerging?

We all pretty much know that the Nintendo DS2 is on its way. My Rumor Killers partner-in-crime Martin Gaston talked about it last month after Shane Bettenhausen, former executive editor at 1UP and now Ignition Entertainment’s Director of Business Development hypothesizing that the DS2 will be announced at E3. Plus we heard about the dev kits being sent out to developers and the motion controls. Now we’ve got the most concrete evidence yet to show that not only will the DS2 be announced at E3 but there’s even a slim chance of its arrival before the year is out.

Raymond Padilla spent his time at GDC tracking down various pieces of information regarding the possible DS2 and has come up with some interesting results. According to his sources the system will have two screens, like the DS, but with a higher resolution and bigger size. Crucially the gap between the two screens will be negligible meaning that the screens can be used as one screen if required by the developer. Much like the iPhone and seemingly all the future cool things, the DS2 will have an accelerometer enabling motion control functionality (which would make CVG correct in its original story). Best of all the dev kit is supposedly similar to the GameCube meaning that developers are finding it simple to use if they’ve previously developed GameCube or Wii games. The power involved also sounds rather impressive considering the likes of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Metroid Prime managed to do just fine with the GameCube’s technical prowess. Finally, the various unnamed developers that Padilla questioned stated that their games would be finished by the end of the year making the likelihood of an E3 announcement very strong. Could this also mean an arrival of a new console in time for Christmas?

There’s no smoke without fire and there’s been so many rumors regarding the DS2 that it’s clearly coming. Even God himself, Shigeru Miyamoto, has pretty much confirmed it. How plausible are these rumours regards the further details, though? Granted Raymond Padilla has a history of tech writing over a decade long and has written for the likes of Gamasutra and GamePro but what about his sources? There’s no mention of who exactly they are although as Padilla points out in his article, hopefully none of them decided to mess him around. As far as anonymous sources go, it seems pretty sound.

Are these reputed new features going to actually be any good if they do come to light? I’m still not sure about having two screens on the DS. Although it sometimes works very well, too often the non-touch screen feels more like a place to dump statistics or a map. Perhaps if the DS2’s screens can work in conjunction it would solve this problem and make for a more interesting experience. I’m no fan of motion controls or the accelerometer but plenty of people are and I’ve no doubt it will appeal to many of Nintendo’s core audience, making it a very plausible introduction to the system. The equivalent of a GameCube in my pocket, however, sounds extremely exciting and I can’t wait to see what will be done there. It’s worth noting that arguably the DS’s hardware hasn’t been fully exploited yet but since when did that ever stop a new console launching? The PlayStation 2 wasn’t used fully but that didn’t stop the PlayStation 3’s arrival since, after all, the average consumer likes the idea of a shiny new console to throw money at rather than playing their older console too long.

I really can’t see how E3 can pass by without an official announcement for the DS2. If there’s one thing that’s an outright certainty for the conference, it has to be this. The original DS is over 5 years old now. While it’s still going strong with sales of 125m as of December 2009, it’s about time we saw a proper new portable Nintendo console. Enough is enough with the various revamps in the form of the DS Lite and DSi. Christmas 2010 seems an ideal time for this and will make it, presumably, the only new console to launch this Christmas. A sure fire hit.

Jen’s Verdict: True 

Author: Jennifer Allen