I was supposed to add some Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers videos to my collection a year ago, but didn’t get around to it until this month. Whoops. Ever since finishing the game, I wanted to share some footage to help address a certain aspect of the gameplay. In the link you’ll find some videos demonstrating the primary mechanics as I mess around with NPCs and give monsters “the business”.
(DivX video link at end of post)
Let’s make this clear: the manual camera is a huuuge part of the gameplay.
In terms of perspective, I treat the camera like a primitive FPS camera, which incidentally allows me to steer where Layle walks [forward] just by changing the camera’s direction. The action doesn’t demand the camera to be very fast nor precise, so the D-pad works fine for this purpose. After some awesome manual cameras in major action-adventure games the past couple generations, Fistal Bearers’ camera shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll notice I ran around with the camera spinning around madly. Why? Just because.
In a few bits I flip/center the camera behind me using the Zelda-style Z-trigger. It’s good it was included cuz it’s sometimes useful, but it’s hardly compatible with the flow of combat.
In this game, I tend to be more concerned with keeping important objects in-view than where I am exactly (if running anywhere keeps me from getting hit, then things are OK). Most actions, especially combat, do not take place next to Layle – this isn’t Zelda (nor is this Final Fantasy), he’s not going to swing a weapon around, so there aren’t many good reasons to stand close to enemies, especially when some love to surround and blindside you. What’s important is to keep a manageable distance (maybe with lots of running) and make sure you can easily identify stuff you’d want to grab or throw at. I run circles and figure-eights with the help of the camera out of habit; it helps avoid danger, keeps the targets visible, it simply looks cool, and makes you feel like a pro (do soulless achievements compare to rewards like this?).
In short, this game is all about grabbing distant things with the cursor and steering the camera manually to find/watch everything you might want to point at…
Using an automatic camera would be absurd (no-one asks for “guided” first-person shooters, for fuck’s sake). Without dumbing-down the game into a zoomed-out isometric or top-down view, how would an auto-cam keep up with you and all the enemies in all directions? How would it know that you want to turn the screen “a bit” so you could point at something useful?… Would Z-targeting help? Not only is Z-targeting an invitation to get flanked, would you really put up with toggling thru a screen full of enemies, typically forcing you to just fight the closest ones most of the time?… Would binding the camera to the cursor be any good? Well, then we’d have a broken third-person shooter – the constant camera shifting would be busy and irritating compared to the existing RELAXED third-person action-adventure perspective, while the game’s legitimate motion gestures would interfere with the camera every time (people weren’t happy with The Conduit’s melee gesture, no?).
The character, the cursor, and the camera move independently of each other, and the setup works great the way it is. Just do the work.
Note: Screens were taken from compressed videos; videos were made from direct feed 480p source.
FF:CC: The Crystal Bearers, 3 videos (DivX)