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Final Fantasy XIII demo this year

More info expected at GDC in Feb.

Square Enix is planning to release a demo for Final Fantasy XIII this year.

Confirmation came from a large feature in Japanese magazine Famitsu, which quizzed key designer Tetsuya Nomura about the game's progress.

According to translations from and IGN, the 2008 sampler will give hands on experience with the battle system, which should be fast-paced but command-based.

We also learned more details about the characters and the story surrounding them. There are two conflicting worlds, Cocoon and Pulse. The former is a mechanized world protected by technology from outside threats, while the latter is a natural world.

All of the characters seen so far - the pigtailed girl, the bandanna man, and Lightening (an alias, it seems; no real names have been mentioned) - are said to be of the Lusi or Rushi race, depending on translation. These do the bidding of the supernatural Farsi or Farushi, the same beings said to have created the Cocoon.

Summons will also make a return, but be digital and emerge from what looks like a laser disc when characters hold them. Summons should have a larger impact on story and be usable outside of battle, too - some can even turn into oh my gosh motorbikes. So far popular summons Ifrit, Siren and Carbuncle have been shown.

Technical manager Taku Murata will take to the stage at the Game Developer Conference in February to talk about the engine behind FFXIII and how it works. Expected more juicy facts to slip from his lips then.

Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII were revealed for PS3 back at E3 in 2006. No release date has been mentioned, although financial reports have previously said it won't be out before April 2008.