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FFXIII-2 to sport branching maps, mini-games.

Continuing the flood of Final Fantasy XIII-2 factoids floating out of hands-on previews at E3, Square Enix has apparently decided to shake up the original FFXIII's formula somewhat.

Siliconera got some time with the game and reports it has shaken off the "run down a corridor" feel of FFXIII.

Maps now wind through the environment and proceed to the next story point along multiple paths.

Additionally, the dash-and-bash formula is intermittently interrupted by a mini-game called Beyond the Void. It sounds a little like a sliding-tile puzzle, where the tiles disappear once used.

FFXIII carried on FFXII's tradition of avoidable random encounters, adding the spice of ambushes if you took the enemy by surprise. FFXIII-2 will do something similar, with the addition of a Mog Clock timer. Catch your foe while the clock's in the green and you'll have the advantage - in the red? Not so much.

In combat, a special, monster-based ability called feral link appears when a gauge fills. You're supposed to crack it out at every possible chance rather than wait around for special occasions. The monsters you bring into battle change with your paradigm, too - magic-using flans in ravager, for example.

The game will also feature multiple endings in a series first.

FFXIII-2 is due on Western PlayStation 3s and Xbox 360s in early 2012.

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