Written by Twisted Ideas
Final Fantasy XIII was a game that received a lot of negative criticism because of its linearity, the battle system and that it was such a departure from the series. Square-Enix hasn’t made it easy for fans enjoy their games mainly Final Fantasy. Here we are again with Final Fantasy XIII-2 a direct sequel. Square has attempted this before with FF X-2 which was less than stellar. Is XIII worth a second chance or should we put this entry to rest.
Three years after the events of Final Fantasy XIII. Everyone recalls Fang, Vanille and Lightning sacrificed themselves to turn in to the crystal tower that stopped Cocoon from falling. Serah is the only person who remembers what really happened. Lightning is missing and Snow is on a search to find her leaving Serah alone. Lightning finds herself at the end of time in Valhalla overseeing the time line and sends the last human born Noel and a moogle named Mog to help Serah. Together they must travel through time to correct paradoxes and correct the past, present and future.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 uses and updated battle system from XIII.
The battle system uses Active Time Battle (ATB) where your party has to wait for the bar to fill in between attacks. The ATB is broken up to segments and while most moves only cost one segment some cost more limiting the amount of times you can use them in a turn. You control the party leader while the other characters are AI controlled. Unlike XIII you can switch between party leaders in battle and if the party leader is OK’ed then you automatically switch to either Noel or Serah depending who was OK’ed.
The is a new damage type called wound damage. Wound damage lowers your maximum HP and it can only be recovered by using Wound Potions. You can cause wound damage but is meaningless because most enemies cannot heal.
Serah and Noel have six roles all with their own move-sets and purpose in battle. You can customize your Paradigms to suit different scenarios. You can only create six Paradigms and you are able to switch between the six of them in battle. You can make battles extremely difficult or even impossible if your paradigms are set up poorly or you are missing certain roles.
The third slot of you party is composed of monsters which you can gain at the end of battles. Monster cannot be the party leader so if both Serah and Noel are OK’ed then you lose the battle. You can only set three monsters in your paradigm pack. Each monster has one of the six roles which limits you to three roles in that slot when creating paradigms.
Encounters are now random but when enemies appear you have the chance for a preemptive strike or to run away. A preemptive strike gives the party haste and does stagger damage at the start of the battle. If you stagger enemies you do significantly more damage and it can even lower defenses for certain enemies. If you fail to flee you lose the option to retry the battle which really means you can’t hit retry and attempt to flee again. Some areas have encounters so frequently that it becomes an a hassle.
The Crystarium returns in an updated form. Final Fantasy XIII-2 does not have a traditional leveling system. You gain CP at the end of fights and when you find fragments which is spent in the Crystarium. Unlike the XIII all roles use the same Crystarium grid and there are no junctions. You have to spend CP to raise the level of a role raising your stats and at certain levels you will gain skills for that role. When you complete the grid it will reset and you get to choose a bonus for your character. Monsters also use the Crystarium but instead of using CP you have to use components that you find in battles.
Each area is divided into different time periods that you can travel to from the Historia Crux. In order to access a new areas you must find Artifacts that open Time Gates. Some periods have multiple gates that can send you to a different series of times. There is a singular path that will advance the story and most areas are optional. In each time period there are fragments that you can find giving you CP and even grant you access to areas with stronger monsters. There is a character in the game that will give you in-game bonuses if you collect certain fragments.
You’re free to travel time and see what you have missed.
Graphics and Sound
The level of graphics isn’t a noticeable improvement over XIII. That being said XIII-2 still looks incredible. The cinematics look amazing and well crafted. The in game graphics are less impressive but still look good. There are several varied environments. There are the typical wilderness and ruins but there are also uniquely designed futuristic areas. The quality of the voice acting is on the same level as XIII while reducing the number of annoying character voices. The music compositions are probably the strongest points of the Final Fantasy series and XIII-2 is no exception.
If you enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII then you will likely enjoy XIII-2. If the issues you had with the game was with the combat then you will be disappointed. Overall the difficulty has decreased which is disappointing. My favorite parts of XIII were when I ran into battles where I lost but that I could win if I changed my paradigms and equipment to better suit the battle. XIII-2 is too easy for a majority of the time to the point where an offensive paradigm is more than enough to win. Then there are times you run into optional enemies or even bosses that are challenging or are too strong for your current levels. These moments are rare and most happen at the end of the game.
The story is easier to follow than XIII which started in the middle of the more interesting story. The concept of time travel in this game does make aspects of the game confusing to follow but they become clearer as the game progresses. When the plot reaches its climax it becomes quite good I just never want to hear about another paradox again.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a bit of a mixed bag. Square-Enix fixed aspects of the game that were annoying and they gave the game the much needed human interaction and liveliness that was missing from XIII. Most areas of the game are optional which was something XIII needed but it also makes it easy to become distracted. The sidequests are mostly fetch quests which is good if you’re into fetch quests. The game is about 20-30 hours plus a post-game where go back and earn fragments that you’ve missed and gain access to paradox time periods to get paradox endings extending the length of the game. If you’re still on the fence then try the demo while it doesn’t represent the whole game if you liked it then the full game is much better.