|Balthier: I'm afraid the jury's still out on that one.|
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|Platforms||Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC|
Fortress is the codename of a formally-unannounced, and potentially cancelled, video game developed as a spin-off of Square Enix's Final Fantasy series, envisioned as an action game set in the fictional world of Final Fantasy XII, Ivalice, intended for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows platforms. Although not officially announced, the project's existence was revealed after the closure of the original developer, GRIN, by former members of the development team and sources in the video game industry.
The game's current status is ambiguous. Square Enix is said to have found another developer for the project, but the title has not yet been formally announced or publicly acknowledged. At E3 2011, Motomu Toriyama, director of Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, is said to have told the website videogamer.com "behind closed doors" that Fortress will "never be released". However, given that this statement was made in confidentiality, it has not been reported by any other source and is unconfirmed as fact.
Little is known about the game's gameplay, except for it being an "action game". Still, a design document for an enemy attack pattern reveals a few details: the game is evidently meant to be a third-person action game, with a heavy emphasis on weapon interaction, evasion and countering, in a vein similar to Dark Souls, Devil May Cry or Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-. The document shows a number of possible interactions between the player and the enemy, including ways to disarm the foe or take advantage of weaknesses in their weapon or fighting style.
The only things known about the game's story is its setting in the Ivalice of Final Fantasy XII and that Ashe makes an appearance. Two outfits were designed for her, and are less revealing variants of her original Final Fantasy XII outfit.
Since in one of these designs she wears a headdress similar to the one that was worn by King Raminas, Ashe is likely to be a slightly older queen at this point in Ivalice history. This would seemingly set Fortress some time after Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings. Two more characters that seemed set to appear were Basch fon Ronsenburg and Larsa Ferrinas Solidor.
The eponymous Fortress appears to be the central location in the game, although various other landscapes such as plains, forests, deserts and snowfields are also featured. The Fortress appears to be built on a mountain cliff, next to a large tomb structure, and includes a court yard, stables, a memorial area, a cathedral and a giant tree at its top. A "floating core" of some kind flies above the Fortress.
According to a design document, the game is divided in at least seven chapters and focuses on the invasion of the Fortress.
The document lists the events of chapters two to seven as follows:
- Chapter 2: Enter Fortress
- Chapter 3: First Charge / Ladder Event / Centipedes / Defend Gate / Duel in Front of Gates
- Chapter 4: Siege Towers & Hornets / Big Enemy through Gate / Ride the Chocobos / Run with Bombs / Courtyard Fight / Friendship Duel
- Chapter 5: Elevator / Catapult Rush / Clearing Ambush / Planting Bombs / Boats / Dragon Event / Assassination + Duel
- Chapter 6: Saving Grahm / Boarding the Floating Core
- Chapter 7: Rush Out on Ice
Preproduction work for Fortress began in the second half of 2008, being outsourced by Square Enix to the Swedish developer GRIN. The development team, based in Stockholm, began creating concept art, 3D models and a game engine, thinking of Fortress as a "game with an epic scale both in story and production values". In addition to original characters and locations, concept art made for the game notably depict Ashe and a Judge who looks like Gabranth, and chocobos and other recurring creatures of the series, namely Bombs, Ghosts, Malboros, Moogles and Tonberries.
However, after six months of development, Square Enix reclaimed the project without paying GRIN, due to concerns over the quality of the work. Square Enix's withdrawal left the Swedish developer in financial difficulty and with no other ongoing game project. This led to GRIN declaring bankruptcy, as laws in Sweden inflict severe fines on businesses which operate under a debt load.
The developer closed its offices on August 12, 2009, noting that delayed payments from "too many publishers" caused "an unbearable cashflow situation" and mentioning in a farewell note their "unreleased masterpiece that [they] weren't allowed to finish". GRIN would later claim Square Enix demanded ridiculous things from them, such as faxing the entire game code. They ultimately felt Square Enix had set them up to fail. Square Enix's side of the story has never been reported. The Fortress project is said to still be supported by Square Enix, being developed by a different, undisclosed studio.
In January 2010, footage from an alleged tech demo of Fortress was leaked on the Internet. The video description stated the game's events are "set some time after Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings", and mentioned Square Enix's subsidiary Eidos Montreal as a possible new home for the project. Replying to a fan question in May 2010, David Hoffman, director of business development at the American branch of Square Enix, mentioned Fortress without confirming its existence, stating "I have and had no involvement in the rumored project Fortress".
On February 18, 2012, a previously unreleased piece of music for the game was leaked onto YouTube by a GRIN developer. The piece features an arrangement of the "Prelude" theme.