I had a choice of playing either Final Fantasy XIII or Final Fantasy VII International on a tablet using Square Enix’s newly-announced streaming service, Dive In. Seeing as how Final Fantasy XIII’s gameplay is a lot more fast-paced than that of Final Fantasy VII’s, I was interested to see how the game would play on a mobile tablet.
Things start off smoothly enough; we see Lightning and Sazh in the opening cinematic of the game and the visuals look gorgeous on the small tablet. One small issue with the streaming service is that the game’s resolution is extremely inconsistent. While the cutscenes themselves look fine, the resolution seems to take a massive plunge once we’re back to gameplay. It’s not clear if this is a result of limited bandwidth at the convention center, but it certainly is a persistent issue.
In addition to that, the user interface is pretty cluttered due to the fact that there are more buttons used on modern game controllers. As shown in the image above, all of the Xbox controls have been fit into the tablet’s screen. The two boxes at the bottom of the screen are used to control the left and right analog sticks. However, I found that the controls were rather unresponsive. Not only is there a slight delay in button inputs, controlling the analog sticks themselves also proved to be a challenge.
The beginning stage of Final Fantasy XIII is a pretty linear path, but even then, I experienced some difficulty in trying to get Lightning to run straight. Moving the camera around also posed a challenge and it was rather frustrating to try to sneak up on enemies and failing miserably. Simply put, if you’re going to stream Final Fantasy XIII to your tablet using Dive In, you can forget about getting preemptive strikes on your enemies because it is next to impossible to do so.
I didn’t get a chance to try out Final Fantasy VII with the streaming service but I imagine it’d be a much more bearable experience, considering that there are no camera controls and no need to try to get back attacks on your foes.
Dive In is a great concept, but its execution is lacking, and I can see this becoming a problem especially for Square Enix’s modern games where the gameplay is a lot more reaction-based than their older ones. Final Fantasy XIII looked fine on a tablet, but the gameplay experience was atrocious. No one in their right mind would ever choose to stream the game in that state on their tablet, no matter how convenient it may seem, when they have the option to sit comfortably at home with a good, responsive controller in their hands.
Dive In has been announced for Japan on 9th October, though Square Enix has yet to announce if the service will be coming to the west as well.