FFXIII's Crystarium system detailed

Plus: big news tomorrow, chocobos, more.

Square Enix is planning to make a big Final Fantasy XIII announcement tomorrow at 3.30pm GMT.

In the meantime, Famitsu has revealed details of the new character growth system, along with Hope's summon and the way the game uses series mainstay the chocobo.

According to the Japanese magazine (partially translated by IGN), FFXIII uses something called the Crystarium system, which the website compares to Final Fantasy X's Sphere system.

The idea is that rather than collect raw experience points, you gather Crystal Points after battles, and these can be used to progress across a chart, selecting which "role" you want for your character. As you improve in this role, you can move onto more advanced Crystarium charts.

Variety will come from choosing different routes across the charts, with progress capped by your overall "Crystarium Level".

Presumably that will all be rendered somewhat clearer by the Japanese PlayStation 3 version, since it's out on 17th December. Slightly easier to understand is the fact that Hope's summon is Alexander, a giant who either punches enemies or, in his Gestalt form, transforms into a fortress and bombards them with cannon fire.

Then there are the chocobos. According to IGN's read of the Famitsu piece, there's your standard Cocoon chocobo (cute, farmy) and the wilder Pulse chocobo, which you can ride around the world at high speed, at least until its health bar has been depleted by stampeding past too many monsters.

As well as being able to hoist you into new areas thanks to its powerful jump, the Pulse chocobo will be able to sense nearby buried treasure, a bit like Peter Molyneux's dog, although a bit more dispensable.

So far, so Final Fantasy, then. Not that we're complaining. The demo released with FFVII Advent Children earlier in the year was beautiful and enticing, and then we learned more about the battle system at E3 (and met Villiers' summon, Shiva), before gamescom introduced us to the Paradigm Shift system and Lightning's summon (Odin).

Look out for more on that big FFXIII announcement tomorrow at 3.30pm, and watch out for our import review around the turn of the year.

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