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E3 2011: Final Fantasy XIII-2 Has Lots of Battle Themes

June 13, 2011 | | 9 Comments Share thison Facebook E3 2011: Final Fantasy XIII-2 Has Lots of Battle Themeson Twitter

During our separate hands-on and hands-off demos of Final Fantasy XIII-2 at E3 2011 last week, there was a lot of music to hear. While the game pretty much controlled the same way as Final Fantasy XIII, it sounds like Masashi Hamauzu (confirmed to be working on the title) has a number of tricks up his sleeve to make sure the game’s soundtrack provides something familiar yet refreshing.

We heard a number of pieces throughout the demos, but what stood out most were the battle themes. We heard four in all, and I think you’ll be surprised by what you’ll be hearing. Hit the jump for more!

The demo opened with a battle between newly revealed main character, Noel, paired with Lightning’s little sister, Serah, against an ethereal hand called Atlas Paradox. This is a battle that isn’t meant to be won, and ended at a fixed point after a few rounds, but I was immediately excited by what I heard. Among the groovy bassline and drum ‘n’ bass style percussion was some hip-hop style rapping, almost on the vein of titles like MadWorld. The productive values were amazing, and while it may not sound–at least in words–that it belongs in a Final Fantasy game, I loved every second of it.

While exploring the demo area, I encountered the regular battle theme. It features a more synth rock oriented style with chugging electric guitars, abandoning the strong orchestral rock style that was so prominent in “Blinded by Light” in the original Final Fantasy XIII. I loved the foreboding bell tolls, and Hamauzu tied in a rich Asian influence with some occasional string work as well.

The final battle of the playable demo with Atlas was more ambient in style, sounding dangerous with some ominous synth work and glitchy, clicking percussion. Based on the sheer size of Atlas, the music really accentuated the feeling of being in a dangerous situation, although the overpowered characters in the demo tore threw him in a matter of a few rounds. I did want to mention that the victory fanfare was reused from Final Fantasy XIII, so I am curious to know how much music will be reused in Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Lastly, there was the hands-off demo that was shown behind closed doors, and was not available on the show floor. This featured Lightning in her new plate mail outfit, riding on Odin, and battling a creature called Chaos Bahamat as the camera circled around the action. The music here was much more epic, matching perfectly with the scenario on the screen. I detected a light arrangement of “Blinded by Light,” and for the most part, I’d say that this battle theme sounded like an action hero theme with its bombastic strings.

The last thing I want to mention is sound design. I was a big fan of the way unopened treasure chests whirred as to alert you of their presence in the game’s 3D world, and that element is still intact. A new addition, however, was Serah’s accompanying moogle, who turns into weapons for her to use and provides comic relief in the way of its various “Kupo!” and “Kupo kupopo!” phrases. I have to say that the high-pitched, whiney nature of the moogle’s voice was a bit grating, but we were told in a separate interview session with title director Motomu Toriyama that they’re still decided on what direction to go with regarding the moogle’s voice.

Well, that’s all we heard this time around, but I think there’s certainly a lot to look forward to. For long-time Final Fantasy fans who are into the heavier-handed battle themes, this game is looking to be like a dream come true. Watch for more coverage of the game and its soundtrack as well as our full interview with Motomu Toriyama regarding the game’s audio in the coming weeks.

What do you think of the emphasis on new battle themes in the Final Fantasy XIII-2 demo at E3? Do you want more of the same from Masashi Hamauzu, or are you excited about his new direction?

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