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Platform

Playstation 3

Genre

Role-Playing

Publisher

Square-Enix

Developer

Square-Enix

ESRB

T (Teen)

Released

January 31, 2012

 

 

- MUCH less linear than predecessor
- Combat system much more frantically paced than before

 

 

- Serah? Really? Why do we even invest time with some of these characters
- Cutscenes dominate the story to a fault
- Quick-time action sequences??? Seriously? Who actually craves these?

 

 

Review: Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

Review: Dissidia Final Fantasy (PSP)

Review: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates (DS)

 

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Final Fantasy XIII-2

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

final fantasy xiii-2           final fantasy xiii-2

 

Final Fantasy games can be absolute time-hogs. It’s quite easy to invest a nominal amount of time in just exploration and experimentation with these games, and paired with typical RPG elements where you spend time and effort farming an area for experience and resources, it doesn’t take long to add up to quite an investment of your free time. XIII-2 is no different, once you get started in the game it’s quite easy to lose an hour or two trying to get every possible item in an area, or to figure

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out the best way to overpower an especially difficult boss.

Taking place a few years after the events of XIII, the world seems to be suffering from selective amnesia – some characters remember moments in the past differently than our protagonist Serah with regards to her sister and her activities at the end of the first game. Lightning is

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currently holding the fort in Valhalla (the world at the end of time), and defending it against the attack of Caius (latest bad guy and an avid fan of Vidal Sassoon). Caius is hell-bent on changing key moments in history. Serah and Noel (a traveler from the future) pair up to go back through multiple moments in time and correct any inconsistencies that have arisen from the changes that Caius is making.

No longer taking a linear approach to moving through the story-line, you hop through different places and time-lines progressing different elements of the story. Some of the side-quests can have to re-visiting the same areas multiple times to collect some specific item, or re-fighting a boss fight with different parameters. You also have the option to reset a specific region back to before you entered it; now allowing you to run the zone in a completely different approach than the first pass.

Unlike XIII, this game doesn’t suffer through a pro-longed opening – XIII-2 gets pretty much to the meat of the story quite rapidly and gets your characters moving along within the first 2 hours of gameplay. The first big mechanic change involves the open 3rd slot in your team formation. Your created formations will be filled with monsters that you collect in the world (either through combat or by item collection in some cases). While the “Poke-mon” mechanic has been done before, collecting useful monsters to amp up formations can make all the difference in some of the boss fights. While Noel and Serah can learn all the different character classes – each monster fights only in one class. So having a solid Commando, Ravager, Medic, or Sabateur monster leveled up can make all the difference in the world.

 

final fantasy xiii-2          final fantasy xiii-2

 

The combat seemed a little more frantic this time around, and the computer controlled commands less confusing. For most battles, you can be content to just let the automated commands run the show and your input can be minimal. Take more of a long view approach instead of having to micro-manage every particular detail of the combat. That’s not to say the commands are always the correct ones, but for the most part you’ll end up saying, “yeah, sure, that’ll work…. Go do that”.

Visually, the XIII-2 has done a much better job of differentiating the different areas – not every surrounding looks as though it spent a week getting high-gloss coats. Industrial worlds look more dirty and dark, outdoor areas show more differentiation than just “We’re outside, so therefore it’s bright and sunny!” and each area has its’ own style and twists to it. The number of cutscenes for XIII-2 seems somehow even higher than XIII – you will quite frequently be watching a mini-movie instead of interacting. I know that we’ve been clamoring for more cut-scenes ever since we saw how cool they could get in FFVII, but we’ve jumped the shark on this one… too much of a good thing. You quickly start skipping cutscenes after you get inundated with them.

Negatives? A few.

 

I was particularly disappointed with the character choices to carry the story. Sequels are supposed to feature characters that we’re invested in – choosing an ancillary character and only getting minor interaction with those that I want to see leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I spent most of the game thinking… why didn’t I get Fang, Snow, or Lightning instead of these two… Quick-time action sequences… really? At what point will game-makers realize that it represents the lowest-common denominator of game design. In a franchise that I would describe as being proudly tactical, the addition of quick time elements stands out like a sore thumb. “Sure you did a masterful job of leveraging your strengths, exposing your enemies’ hidden weakness, then exploiting it while keeping your team alive… would you now mind pressing A, then B, and then A again to get credit for this? Just dumb.

All in all, I enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII-2 – it was a fun RPG game to play, looked spectacular and ate up a significant amount of my free time. It didn’t give me everything I wanted out of the experience, but I still had fun.

- Tazman

(May 4, 2012)

 

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