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Final Fantasy XIII-2 Includes New Casino Area, Chocobo Racing

Final Fantasy XIII-2  - 871007

Though Western gamers eagerly await Final Fantasy XIII-2, the latest installment in Square-Enix's popular RPG franchise, the latest saucy details have been leaked only within the game's home country. Japanese gaming site 4Gamer.net has received a gigantic batch of new screenshots and information, with us here at GameZone forced to rely on the abilities of Google Translate to try and make sense of it all.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is confirmed for a Japanese launch on December 15th, for both the Playstation 3 and the "Three Hundred and Sixty Xbox" (like we said, Google Translate ain't perfect). The plot takes place roughly ten years past the events of Final Fantasy XIII, with the young archer Serah Farron searching out her missing sister Lightning, who fans know as the protagonist of the original game.

This ten year time shift means players will see a lot of environments and characters from the original game, though in an older or changed form. One example is the character Hope Estheim, who though a child in the previous game, now maintains a scientific leadership position within the newly formed Academy, researching the space-time anomalies which feature as a major part of the game's plot. Screenshots showcasing his home city, the New Urban Academy, are quite stunning, the Blade Runner-esque cityscape aglow with neon lights and other futuristic details.

Also within the reveals are some details about FFXIII-2's new casino area, the Labyrinth of Xanadu. This casino in the sky definitely brings back memories of FFVII's Golden Saucer, especially since it also features Chocobo Racing as a major attraction.

It does seem that a new level of complexity has been added to  Chocobo racing, each of the bird mounts featuring a wide variety of possible stats, as well as special skills that will assist during races. More importantly, each Chocobo expends their stock of race points by competing, forced  to retire once their stock of RP is depleted.

Obviously, players will want to breed high ranking Chocobo and continue the lineage, as they can no longer simply rely on a single winning bird. For gamblers unable to master the intricate racing system, traditional slot machines are also confirmed, and it can be assumed several other mini-games will feature among the casino offerings.

The sparse dungeon areas of the original FFXIII were cited as a disappointment to many, and Square is apparently looking to spice them up a bit.  Perhaps the biggest feature of the new dungeons will be the Labyrinth of Time, whisking player to a dimension outside of time and space and tasking them to escape some deviously clever puzzle rooms. In one spotlighted puzzle, players much combine differently colored crystals, trying to find the right pattern to unlock the exit. In another, players move about a giant crystal clock, arranging the numbers  to try and restart the mechanisms. The details behind these various puzzles are unknown, but judging from screenshots, they look like a ton of fun.

Another exciting new feature briefly touched on in the latest reveal are support monsters, where players can earn the favor of certain baddies and bring them into battle to fight as allies. This had been mentioned as a feature before, though we now knew that creepy lantern-carrier Tonberry is confirmed as a support monster, and there are surely many more to come.

Overall, this glut of new FFXIII-2 information has us rather excited for this ambitious sequel, which looks to fix some of the missteps taken by the original. Hopefully Grandma hooks us up with a sizable giftcard for Christmas, as we'll be sure to purchase this one when it drops January 31st in the states. 

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Vito Gesualdi GameZone.com Senior Editor, DraftMagic.com Editor-in-Chief, NoNoComedy.com Contributor, and the hardest working man in show business. King of video walkthroughs for new games. Follow me on the twitters @VitoGesualdi.
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