Regular non-gaming-industry Joes will have their first crack at Final Fantasy XIII in only three weeks, once Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete hits stores in Japan. Kind of crept up on all of us, didn't it? The epic RPG, due out before the end of the year over there, looks to involve everything people love and hate about the series -- and if the battle system (first revealed in full this week in assorted Japanese magazines) is any indication, fans don't have much really new to worry about.
The battles in Final Fantasy XIII are basically realtime; you can see enemies on the game map and fall into battle when you come into contact with them. Your party has a time gauge that fills up over time, and once it reaches a certain level, you can execute commands. This is sort of like the "Active Time Battle" system we saw up until Final Fantasy IX, but unlike before, commands can be executed even if the time gauge isn't complete full.
You see, the gauge is divided into sections; when each one fills up, you are able to execute one command, such as "Fight" or using an item. When the gauge is full, you can input several commands in one go and watch as your party executes them all at once, with the results depending on the sequence of your orders.