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Preview: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
by Sean Engemann
Game Information

Basic information
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
Developer: Square Enix PPD 2
Publisher: Square Enix
Expected: February 2010

Where to find more
Official Homepage
Wikipedia article
After first being announced way back at E3 2005, followed by years of virtual silence, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: the Crystal Bearers has been off the radar for some time. However, it is finally hitting U.S. store shelves on December 26th, with the European release set for early February 2010. The apparent lack of focus on the game’s development has taken much criticism, but hopefully the extended creation time has allowed it to be polished and prepared for anticipated gamers.

The story takes place a thousand years after the Great War, the premise of the first game in the series released on the GameCube. While other games bear the name Crystal Chronicles, Crystal Bearers would likely be classified as the sequel to the first game, tying in many story elements that follow the natural progression of its predecessor. While the game is chalk full of colourful and interesting characters, as is common in nearly every Final Fantasy, Crystal Bearers lacks the capacity to control an entire party. You take the reins of a single character named Layle, a Crystal Bearer from the Clavat tribe, one of the four clans which make up the world.

The progressive Lilty tribe defeated the dissident Yuke tribe during the Great War, shattering the Yuke Crystal and supposedly annihilating the Yukes. A theory in the game is that after its destruction, fragments from the Yuke Crystal attached themselves to individuals all across the globe, granting them special magical powers and thus labelling them as Crystal Bearers. This game’s timeline is more industrial, with machinery in the forefront, and magic seen as a taboo ability all but lost except by the few Crystal Bearers, who are feared and scorned by the public. Although young, Layle is a world renowned mercenary who has been hired by the Lilties to escort their newest airship called Alexis, a technological marvel and symbol of Lilty superiority. However, during its maiden voyage the airship comes under attack by monsters and Layle confronts a nemesis who was thought to have vanished.

Crystal Bearers combines gameplay elements of both the first Crystal Chronicles game and of traditional Final Fantasies, and yet is an original game in its own right. While you might think this to be a standard turn-based RPG, it is actually better classified as an action game with some platforming and even on-rails shooter facets. As Layle, you take control of his telekinetic powers, harnessing the ability to manipulate objects, enemies, and even townsfolk, often against their will. As you progress, you will learn new combinations and methods of using your powers, and obtain accessories to even further enhance them. In addition to defeating foes, you can use your abilities to shake chests, grab onto ledges, and seal enemy producing vortexes, among other things.

As expected, the controls for this game are unique, utilising the capabilities of the Wii remote to interact with the environment. The Nunchuck attachment is used to control Layle’s movement, while the Wii Remote is used to target and manipulate much of the world and its inhabitants. As the story unfolds and new obstacles emerge, players will discover new ways to use the gravity based magic. Since the Wii lends itself to more action based gameplay, Square Enix wanted to give as much freedom to the player as possible, allowing innumerable ways to dispatch enemies. So use your creativity, and enjoy the expansive and interactive world.

As mentioned before, Layle can purchase different accessories to increase his gravitational powers, but also to improve his defenses, and other upgrades such as expanding his reticule to influence a greater number of targets. Along with shops to purchase items, you can also collect materials from defeated enemies and other sources, and take them to the workshop to create your own rings, amulets and earrings. This allows a nice level of customization for Layle, to tailor his abilities to the player’s liking.

Although the graphics will never be as awe-inspiring as in Final Fantasy XIII for the PS3 and Xbox 360, this game definitely looks gorgeous, and is quite possibly the most beautiful-looking game for the Wii thus far. The characters are full of detail and expressions, and the world is colourful and inviting. It will be interesting to see after playing the game how the camera will react to Layle’s movements, and how well the frame rate is when combating multiple enemies.

The musical score sounds great, and it is refreshing to finally have the script voiced on a Nintendo console, rather than the typical “subtitles with grunts”. However, from the trailers and videos viewed, the script and voice acting seem to be of moderate quality, but I will reserve that judgment for the full review.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers looks to give a fresh take on the venerable series; much like the Wii did for the video game industry. With a gamut of interesting characters, a huge world to explore, and a (so far) engaging storyline, Crystal Bearers is on track to revitalise Square Enix’s audience of Wii owners. Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for the full review.


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- Sean Engemann

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