With this year's Tokyo Game Show in the can and a nail-biting three-day countdown concluded, the latest Final Fantasy XIII trailer is finally live over at Square Enix. It's surely something to behold, whatever you think of this Japanese-style (nee Wagnerian) role-playing series. Pull down the 720p render and you're treated to a gala spectacle of sound and light as beautiful people in Alexander McQueen-style attire dash around Episode One-inspired alien landscapes exuding "cocky," "distressed," and "chic" simultaneously.
You'll have to wait for someone more linguistically credentialed than me to render English subtitles, but the basic beats are all in evidence: The tearful romantic prelude against a Roger-Dean-inspired backdrop, the draconian sovereign barking orders with hands compulsively clasped behind back, the spasmodic battle clips teeming with stunts, spells, summons, and servo-mechanical enemies. Characters plead, conspire, sulk, reminisce, taunt, beg, and occasionally freak out. Patently illogical actions (see the protagonist's sword-tantrum two-thirds in) occasionally yield improbable results. The laws of physics are subsumed by the maxims of stagecraft, allowing passengers to endure vehicles slung round like toy tops, then leap deftly from them onto soaring perches like circus hotshots with anti-gravity belts.
Be warned, there's a supremely annoying Japanese pop song halfway along that soundtracks the visuals like something time-warped from a glittering disco-ball lounge (From Bach to Bacharach, the Circle of Fifths remains sentimentally indelible.) That aside, the opening bit with ol' blonde and do-ragged romancing a disturbingly young-looking girl plays over a dissonant a cappella piece, presumably by composer Masashi Hamauzu. Promising stuff. For every cornball ballad in these games, there's an avant garde piece (or three) lurking.
Fingers crossed Square Enix offers a version with the Japanese speech and English subtitles when it debuts stateside on Xbox 360 and PS3 next spring (available in Japan for the PS3 alone on December 17th). It's time. With visuals this detailed, pretending the characters' lips aren't flapping out of sync with the voice actors won't pass muster.
If you're in Japan, you can pull the trailer down to your region-respective PS3 in full 1080p.
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