Published on March 27th, 2012 | by Remdog0
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review: Fixing Past and Future
It would seem that Square is on a roll and is on to something when it comes to sequels of their biggest releases. Much like Final Fantasy X which was the first Final Fantasy to see a direct sequel dubbed Final Fantasy X-2, this one follows in the same footsteps. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is after the final events of the first game and puts you on a path to put wrongs right. Does the game deliver on continuing on a chapter we thought was closed and does it fix passed issues?
First I want to mention that since this is a direct sequel it will spoil FFXIII if you have not beaten it yet. FFXIII-2 is set three years after the events of the finale of the first one. Lightning is trapped in a place called Valhalla battling a mysterious foe (at the time). She seeks the help of a young boy named Noel to find her sister Serah and bring her to Valhalla. Noel journeys to Serah’s destination where you discover things aren’t what they seem. Her memory is comprised of two different sets of events that happened in which there was only one real reality. Noels arrival was proof that she was not crazy and her memories that differ from the reality taken place exist .. somewhere else. She now sets herself on a quest through time to find her sister Lightning and answers to what happened.
Unlike FFXIII which set you on a very linear path along the game, FFXIII-2 is somewhat open world. You travel through parts of time both parallel, forward and backwards. This allows you to discover different periods mostly whenever you want. It naturally feels better to uncover the game although the amount of decisions can get a bit overwhelming later on. The story in no way has such a heavy tone as FFXIII did. The game has a good sense of humor without making fun of itself.
You take control of Serah and Noel in battle and some tweaks have been made since FFXIII. Firstly you are now able to control each player in battle instead of the one leader you had assigned before. Second if the character you are playing with happens to die in battle it will automatically switch to the next person. This was easily one of the most frustrating things in FFXIII which makes this a huge welcome here. Your third character in battle is a monster ally which feels very pokemon-ish. You are able to capture them during battle then use them and increase their level to make them stronger. They each use a specific class and can also be combined with other monsters to add additional skills.
The battle system itself seems almost identical to FFXIII with the changes mention but it does also feel a bit faster then before. Paradigm Shifts happen quicker since there are only really two characters in the field with the third monster being an auto sidekick. The monsters that are seen outside of battle can now be struck for preemptive strike but if don’t act quickly can leave your character not being able to leave battle. Crystalline grid has also changed as the amount of points used for the grid increase, and are universal for all classes. Gil can now be obtained from battle wins. Unlike FFXIII which would only let you receive gil from battles of human origin or selling items. Weapon upgrades have been removed and accessory slots have expanded by four. Since gil is easy to come by they have now made weapons that are not a chore to purchase.
With these improvements it makes the game easier to get into then FFXIII however as a player of that game I feel like there are some ways they seem to have gone backwards.
The first ten minutes of the game sets the bar really high then steps down to a moderate pace like any other game. This type of “have all your powers then lose them to start from scratch” Metroid like gameplay has gotten old and for once we want to see a game start high and stay high! Another issue I had with this is that it became hard to follow. Whenever you involve the element of other possible timelines, alternate realities and paradoxes something is bound to not add up. Some of what you start to uncover will leave you scratching your head for sometime.
Serah and Noel are the only characters you control in the game. Going from six characters to two is not an easy thing to swallow and while you might argue the inclusion of monster ally’s they actually serve as sub characters then actual ones. Some people found that they enjoyed the monster ally’s while some don’t. I don’t particular find it of any advantage over a possible third character I may have possessed in the game. Although fighting alongside a chocobo in your party can be pretty bad-ass the first time around.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 does a better job in almost every turn. Better graphics, easier battle system, management and tons of content, it will make new comers welcomed. While the conclusion to the game leaves you hanging in which the previous version was an actual resolution you can’t help but wonder if they’d go as far as make a XIII-3. Regardless if you’ve played Final Fantasy XIII this definitely deserves your time and is easily a great JRPG at that.
Summary: Good and Bad: Fixes what was a burden in the first game. Voice work is great. Tons of content to go back to. Only two characters to play with. the removal of a third character for the monster class is hit or miss. The games story could have been better