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Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

March 03, 2012
Katya

After Final Fantasy XIII-2 has been announced, many have wondered how the game will turn out and is Square-Enix going to listen to the fans to fix all the issues that they had with the first game. Here is our review of the game.

Story


The story of Final Fantasy XIII-2 takes a dramatic turn from the first game and explores themes of time traveling. Most of it has little to do with the plot that was going on before, even though eventually it tries to find some connections. Overall writing for it feels mediocre at best. Most of the events feel to occur out of the blue and the explanations for them are too convoluted. Characters just happen to think up explanations of what is happening on the go as if they became time and space experts in a few days that they spend together. There is not much variety to the events either as everything is always explained to be a result of a paradox to the point that some of the quests become laughable. At times it felt like perhaps they were aware of it and put in those quests there on purpose. Another thing that was strange is how some of the characters that only met each other for a few minutes later talk about them as if they were best friends since childhood. It's out of place and makes the story hard to take seriously. It is not all completely bad, though. Caius is a cool villain and unlike the original game Final Fantasy XIII-2 does try to incorporate the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythos into its plot. Just a bit of a warning for those who only want this game for Lightning, despite the advertisements of this game her presence is almost non-existent.

6/10

Graphics



The graphics in this game are still pretty good. They are not as polished as they were for Final Fantasy XIII, but they are still miles above most current gen RPGs. Some locations like Academia are gorgeous. The art direction has greatly improved over the first game as the color choices work much better this time around. The only drawback is that instead of changing the locations for different time periods Square-Enix chose to just overlay a different color on top of them in most cases and it really feels like that's not how the colors are supposed to be in those areas. Yellow shades in Yaschas Massif become acidic to the eyes if you stare at them too long.

8/10


Academia as you visit it during 400 AF

Music and Sound



Music is once again composed by Masashi Hamauzu and it is one of the highlights in Final Fantasy XIII-2. There is plenty of variety throughout the game and most of it is pleasant to the ear. Many of the pieces feature vocal tracks and it was nice to have Origa singing a couple of them. For those who enjoy music similar to the one in Persona games would feel right at home, but those who expect music similar to more old school Final Fantasy games might find some of it as out of place.

9/10

The sound is fine throughout the game. There is nothing particularly good or bad about it. The voice actors from the first game have returned to reprise their roles. Some of them are great, but some feel like a strange choice for the character. Lightning's Japanese voice done by Maaya Sakamoto felt much more natural than the English one by Ali Hillis. At some places music changes around when the enemies appear on screen and it is a nice feature. It makes the environment feel more aware of itself.

8/10

Gameplay



The gameplay had a lot of improvements done to it. The team has listened to many of the complains that fans had with the first game and has tried to fix things that were not received well. This time around the game is not linear and players get a choice of several places to go to most of the times. The game uses Historian Crux as a map with locations and one must collect artifacts that they can use to open new locations on it. Some artifacts are designed for specific locations and some give you freedom to open all other gates. The game also features a few towns or town-like locations which was something that was missing before. The environment design is more thought out and not just a straight corridor anymore from start to finish. There are usually a couple routes that you can take to reach your destination with some secret areas along the way. Most of the areas are not too large, and unlike the Pulse in the first game, all areas are more similar to levels that are not directly connected by routes. This makes it difficult for those who never played the first game to imagine how spacious the world is and how everything is related to each other.


A part of Historia Crux map

One of the new features of the game is being able to jump wherever you want which opens up opportunities for some platforming areas. It does not always work well as in some areas where you supposed to jump its hard to see jumping points, or in some areas that look like you can go to are blocked off. Another new addition to the game is the ability to make choices during the story events. Almost none of them carry any significance to the game outcome, though. Throughout the game players are also able to collect 160 fragments. Most of them are set up as quests to do things like finding and item, defeat a monster, doing quizzes, find secret endings, and so on. There is plenty of variety to keep a player interested until the end.


Quizzes with Captain Cryptic


A new element that has been added to this game is a moogle that follows you around throughout the game. He has a few abilities that supposed to make your characters' lives a bit easier as their journey goes on. One of these abilities is called a Mog Clock. As the enemies no longer appear on the screen at all times, and instead they jump out of thin air at you, thanks to this ability you are given a few seconds to run away. Moogle Throw is another ability that plays a big part in the game. It allows you to throw your moogle into the distance to open up chests that you can't reach otherwise. As you progress throughout the game, these abilities can be upgraded to be more useful. Although, at first this moogle feels like an annoying critter, he eventually becomes lovable and his abilities are a nice touch to try to make the game feel different from previous Final Fantasy games.

The battle system is more of the same as it was in the first game with an ATB set up. Instead of six characters you play as two, Serah and Noel, and you have the ability to capture 150 monsters to use as a third party member. The two human characters progress using CP on the Crystarium board. It does not look as fancy as the one in Final Fantasy XIII, but it gives more flexibility on how you want to build your character. Monsters also use a Crystarium to level up, but instead of CP you must use special items that you get from battles. It can become tedious at times as you must grind in specific areas just for these items if you are missing what you need for your monster. Overall, the monsters feel like an unneeded addition and it would have been better to have a third character in their place. Another thing that was added in is quick time events and they work better than expected. In most occasions they are used for monster's Feral Links which are similar to limit breaks in FFVII/FFVIII, but there are a few that pop up during cut scenes. Paragism shifts are still a big part of the battles and work almost the same. The only difference is that monsters have one paragism, and some paragisms for the two main characters have lost some of its spells such as Haste, which feels like an attempt by Square Enix to make the game harder.

8/10


A new look of the Crystarium in Final Fantasy XIII-2

Replay Value



After you finish the game there are still plenty of things left for you to do if you want to keep playing and it is not as monotone as the post-game of the first game. There are fragments that require you to do a variety of tasks. If you meet the right conditions you can go and try to get some of the paradox endings or a secret ending. Serendipity is also open if you enjoy slot machines and chocobo racing. For those who like trophy hunting there is nothing as difficult as Treasure Hunter was as everything has reasonable requirements.

9/10


Chocobo racing in Serendipity

Overall Score



As a whole product, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a an improvement over the first game. Many of the complains such as the environment design have been addressed and made better, but at the same time some of the other things have been ignored and made worse. The story's poor writing has been the biggest disappointment. The game also feels much easier than its predecessor as hardly any monsters or bosses were troublesome to beat. It is still a fun experience with the fragment collecting set up being a highlight of the game and it makes it feel more like a complete RPG with lots of things to do and collect on a side.

8/10

Forum Discussion Forum Discussion

Comments For:   Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

Posted By: Annait
Date: May 01, 2012

I Think The Game Is Just Fine But I Wish It Was Set In Different Places.
Also, I Hate The Fact That It Takes Forever To “Tame” Lightning.
Posted By: Annait
Date: May 01, 2012

I Think The Game Is Just Fine But I Wish It Was Set In Different Places.
Also, I Hate The Fact That It Takes Forever To “Tame” Lightning.
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