Final Fantasy XIII-2
Xbox 360 & PS3
Square Enix has been consistently developing quality Final Fantasy titles for years. Every title after Final Fantasy 7 has had a different battle system. No two games have been the same. Apparently changing the formula of your franchise is a bad thing. I say this with extreme sarcasm. The most recent culprit was Final Fantasy XIII. A game heavily criticized on linear gameplay and a battle system that did not involve the player. People who claim XIII was a bad title in terms of gameplay were people who did not know how to play the game. The samecan be said for its successor XIII-2.
What I have gathered from other players and reviewers is that XIII-2 has many of the same problems from XIII. To be quite honest, that is a load of malarkey. Square Enix does not have a great track record when it comes to sequels and their stories, FFX-2 was a game where the story was very forced, but the gameplay was great. Enix hasgiven us a good story this time around and continued with fantastic gameplay.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 takes place some years after the events of XIII. Lightning up and disappeared and Snow decided to hop up on the trend. So essentially, two of Serah’s most important people in her life decided to vanish. Clearly something is wrong and everything starts to fall into place when Serah’s town is overrun with vicious monsters. A mysterious man named Noel (left) appears and jumps into the fray.
After some convincing, Serah and Noel venture not only to different lands, but through time as well. The main feature of XIII-2’s story is time. The timeline is in shambles and it is up to Noel and Serah to fix the paradoxes to alter the past and future. It very much has a Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross feel to it. I love it, and the best part about the story is that it fits very well into the gameplay and how you progress through the game. Despite what others think, it is a very creative way to tell a story. It took a lot of time and effort to make this work.
My favorite part of Final Fantasy XIII was the unique battle system. Many people said it was too easy as you could just spam the Auto-Battle command throughout the battle. Of course this returns but if you want to experience the game for what it has, just don’t use the Auto-Battle command. It is as simple as that. Battles are far more intense as you pick the moves to be used. A new feature included in here is the ability to change your leader. You aren’t stuck with whoever was your leader as before. In battle switching between Noel and Serah can be the only way to win. Again, this is by choosing the attacks to be used, not taking the lazy way out.
Paradigms return with a new addition, monsters. Because every member of the old cast is in a different time period and doing their own thing to help keep the world safe, Noel and Serah have the ability to tame monsters and use them in their party. After you defeat monsters in battle there is a chance you will gain their crystal. This crystal allows you to use the monster in your party. Every creature has their own class. They can also learn skills relative to their class. However, no two monsters are the same as some can learn some spells and some can’t . This is where infusion comes into play. Fusing creatures is the only way to create that ultimate class. A creature will take on the passive abilities like resistances and have the chance to gain abilities that a creature could not learn by other means.
A new addition to the battle system, or rather battles, is the cinematic action sections. In fights, mainly against bosses, you will have to perform a series of button presses to continue a battle and make it easier. In some cases it is how you win fights and you usually get a special item after you do a perfect cinematic action sequence. These break up the battles in boss fights so they do not seem so lengthy. Some bosses in 13 had that downfall, like Barthandelus (2nd fight)who has 3 million hp.
Crystariums also return but in a simpler form. Now the grids resemble weapons, or in a monster’s case, the monster. Once you make a complete pass around the grid the crystarium will be expanded allowing you to choose to learn a new class, a class boost, accessory points, or ATB gauge increase. In monster’s case they have the choice of getting a class boost to increase their stats more or an ATB increase. Noel and Serah can learn all six classes but both characters are only proficient in some. So time should be spent increasing the classes that benefit their strengths.
I mentioned accessory points. In XIII-2 you have an amount of accessory points that are consumed with accessories. You start off with 50, low tier items are typically 30 points and high tier items are up to 75. This adds an extra strategy to the customization aspect of your characters. Now you can’t just throw on whatever, you must plan according to the character’s strengths or weaknesses. Should you use Noel as an upfront fighter, what about a tank? Accessories reflect a play style and it is a welcome addition.
Quite possibly the biggest complaint from XIII-2 was the game being too linear. While this was somewhat true, it really wasn’t linear after chapter 10. This was made easier to be more free form with the time travel aspect of the story. You can deviate from the main story a lot easier than in the previous title. As long as you have the artefacts (keys) to unlock gates you may travel to new areas filled with new monsters and side quests. It is very easy to just wander around different areas discovering new gates and items. You can really rack up the amount of stuff to do if you talk to everyone. Some quests can only be done after beating the story mode. I am ok with that though, as it gives you more incentive to play.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 has brought back Chocobo Racing. Now when you find and capture chocobos you can race them in an area you must unlock later in the game. There are multiple types of chocobos and some are better in long distance races while others are better in shorter races. They all have abilities that give them an edge in racing. As you level up your chocobo they get better. You can also use them in battle as they will have their own battle classes such as commando.
The story mode is not terribly long, about 30 hours, but the game itself has a lot more replay value. There are multiple endings and some endings you can only get if you beat certain bosses a certain way. If you like FFXIII you will most likely enjoy the sequel. If you have not beaten the first game you will probably have trouble understanding what exactly is going on. This is a significant improvement over the original and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed XIII. It has hours of fun and I was glad I was able to play it. Happy gaming…