Final Fantasy start screen / Start new game / Viera
The graphics are amazing! The camera pans over the country of Dalmasca and shows incredible detail. The aircraft, the people... wow!
Asura and his wife / Asura / Asura again
One of the first characters that we're introduced to is Asura. No idea on the romanisation, but he's the one you've seen in the parade in the adverts, next to his wife.
A flying thing
Having got married, he declares he will fight in the war and goes off with someone who looks like Basche, although his name is never said. Asura gets shot with an arrow and dies.
Rex / Basche
The next character is, uh,
...I bet his name is Rex. Or Wrecks... Or Lecks... Or...
Edit: It's Reks.
In any case, he looks just like Asura. He wakes up and is helped to his feet by Basche.
Anyway, after about twenty minutes of footage and credits, you get the inevitable tutorial. This includes the 'twiddle the right and left stick' in turn so that you can change the camera angle and move, not to mention 'talk to me' and 'talk to him' and 'open that door'. Whenever an '!' appears above your head, it means that you have to look for something; when you get an '!!', it means there is something you can operate.
Basche and Rex / Basche and Rex / Rex / Tutorial / Whenever you see this sign, you can operate things / Rex / The back of Basche's head / Bache / The battle system.
At that point, you get to fight. No one seems to have talked much about the battle system, but basically, you press the circle button and a blue line goes out to your opponent. You click 'fight' (たたかう) and then you choose which opponent you will fight (even if there is just one). A bar appears at the bottom of the screen, which is the time you have to wait until your attack. Until then, run around and get a good position. Of course, at the same time, a red line is coming from your opponent. A pretty cool battle system, I think, once you get used to it. I kept clicking and clicking at first, oblivious to the bar.
Anyway, you fight a big monster and then a couple of guards. There are at least two treasure chests to be found, as long as you don't follow your party. Then, and only then, will you be shown a save crystal by Basch.
Then you're on your own to fight three more guards. At the end of this, I think the save crystal has vanished. In any case, I hurried around looking for it and completely failed. After that, I had an 'oops, I'm REALLY CLOSE TO DEATH' moment and tried to use one of the potions. It wouldn't let me. Eventually, I just gave up and went onwards.
On reflection, that was probably what I was meant to do. I met no guards and, once I arrived at the door I was meant to go to, I was greeted by a cut scene.
I really, really liked Basch after this cut scene. Looks like he slaughtered everyone, including the king. Much love, Basch. Basch tells Rex that the king was a traitor, but then guards arrive and beat them...? Kill them...? Rex blacks out or dies, at any rate.
After that, we're introduced to Vaan, who's busy slaughtering rats. You get another shot with the battle system, and I finally understood it at this point. Then he goes to meet someone whose name I'm guessing romanises along the lines of 'Miguelo'.
Vaan in the market / Vaan / Vaan / Vaan / Vaan and Miguelo
This happens in a huge market, where you can talk to almost everyone. Sooner or later, everything starts to look the same and it will drive you insane. You won't find a save crystal either. You will go insane all over again. However, if you talk to a few people, it soon emerges that Miguelo is in his shop. You will go insane looking for the shop. Eventually, you'll find the shop in an area that you know you've already searched thoroughly. There is a map if you press select, but I'd forgotten that by then.
Next you meet up with Vaan's friend in a bar, who tells you about the licencing system. From what I gather, you can buy things with licence points. I guess. Looked a bit like the sphere grid system in FF10, which I didn't understand particularly well, either. Anyway, he tells you to go to the East Gate.
This can be found, after wandering all over the place (and going insane), through a passage across from Miguelo's shop. At least, I think that's where it was. It might have been an area that just so happened to look like it. After that, go to the east door. The guards will let you through once you show them your licence. Outside, finally, there's a save crystal.
After that, you head out into the desert and try to find a tomato. He(?) can be found by heading stright for the peninsula ahead of you. However, there is also a camp out there and, if you look around it, you'll find small amounts of gil sparkling on the ground around it. The '!' icon will alert you to them if you don't notice them immediately. They are such small amounts, that it probably doesn't matter if you get them or not, but I wonder if it adds to game completion? Hmm.
Having reduced the tomato to half its hitpoints, it jumped off the peninsula. So I just walked around and finished it off. The most difficult part is not the fruit (it's a very easy enemy and yes, tomatoes are fruit), but the wolves that follow you. There were also dinosaurs, but I don't know if you can fight them. I certainly didn't try. I also found out how to use potions at this point. You don't go via your inventory, as I had been trying to do, but you click 'item' (アイテム) in the battle menu and use the potions from there.
Anyway, I ran back to the city just in time for a cut-scene. A new character is introduced, called Vayne. He gives a speech to everyone, and then tells Miguelo to just call him 'Vayne' (note the lack of prefixes or suffixes), which is important because he's now in charge. I can't remember the details, since it was about 3am at that point.
Vain's hair is very pretty, but not unusual enough. So we (myself and kuroe) are debating whether he's one of the key villains or not. Also, we can't take our eyes off his nose.
So, those are my first impressions. I'm still looking forward to meeting Balflear, I think. :) And, of course, finding out what's going on!