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Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII Demo Second Hand Impressions

Developer interview coming next week!

Artwork from Lightning Returns. Square Enix has yet to share official game screens.

The Nico Nico live stream of Square Enix's Lighthing Saga presentation cut off just before the best part: an actual first look at the gameplay in Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII.

After high level introductions to the game from Motomu Toriyama, Yuji Abe, and Isamu Kamikokuryo, which you can see here, Square Enix turned off the cameras, told everyone in the audience to do the same, then showed a first trailer. This was followed by a gameplay demonstration.

Famitsu.com and Dengeki PlayStation delivered summaries of the trailer and demo.

The trailer provided an introduction to the game's world and its time progression system. One sequence showed a time counter: "00/02:54:23." Famitsu speculates that by clearing quests, you can increase this timer.

Another sequence showed Lightning, dressed in a new outfit, in pursuit of the criminal in a murder incident. She pursues a group of suspicious people, making use of cover actions -- hiding behind walls, for instance. During the presentation, Toriyama explained that you can perform some sneaking actions using simple controls.

The demo play segment, performed live on the PlayStation 3, showed a battle sequence. You can customize Lightning's weapon, shield, costume and abilities. These customizations can be stored and switched between as you battle. The combinations also have names -- Blast Witch, or Holy Liberator for instance -- and there seems to be a visual transformation sequence. All this makes the customization combination system sound like the Paradigms of past XIII games, but it's not clear if the naming is the same.

Like your typical FF game, the battle system has an ATB gauge which fills up as time progresses. But there are some action-style elements here, as you can now assign skills to buttons. Famitsu also says that you can assign some actions, including an evasion action, to a button.

Larger enemies appear to have multiple "break" states. The earliest such state is "Knockdown." This lets you steal from the downed foe. The final break state is Overclock. This freezes time. The demo play demonstrated Overclock by freezing a Behemoth that Lightning had launched into midair. Lightning then pummeled it with attacks.

As we reported earlier, the demo version was based off an alpha build. The textures and voices were all placeholder (the voices were from the development staff).

Famitsu says that it will have an exclusive interview with the development staff in its September 6 issue.

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