Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review
Developer: Square-Enix & Tri-Ace | Publisher: Square-Enix | Platform Reviewed On: PS3
A Time and A Place…
Just when you think the Fantasy will be “Final” they make a sequel to improve upon themselves. Square-Enix is the mad hatter of JRPG titles that we have grown to love over the years. With the last installation, Final Fantasy XIII, the story that took place in a sophisticated utopia called Cocoon. Basically Square ultimately decided that XIII wasn’t a complete game conflicted with the controversy it faced because of its linear story and game play. However was highly praised for the intense, high octane ATB battle system. Square, in my opinion, made the right move implementing such a tactical twist changing the tide of what we were so used to. If you ever played XIII you were faced with the oppression of the Fal’cie. The Fal’cie was known as the “gods” who ruled over Cocoon and marked innocent people as L’cie. L’cie where given a focus however if that focus was failed to be completed, they were doomed to become Cie’th. These were the once humans twisted by their hatred of the Fal’cie. There was no winning the battle in the never ending struggle, those who succeeded their focus where doomed to a crystal prison for eternity. XIII’s main heroine, Lightning Farron, sought to destroy the Fal’cie and break the never ending cycle of pain and suffering. After so many plot twists and an unlikely alliance, the oppression of the Fal’cie was no more. Unknown to the hero’s though, something much more sinister was in the works.
You begin XIII-2 with a brilliant cinematic in an ancient city known as Valhalla. Lightning and the games’ main antagonist, Caius, are in a clash of the titans. Lightning now dressed in a “goddess” like armor, seems to be fighting to protect the city at which she stands. Suddenly you find yourself in the opening battle as Lightning rides Odin on a surreal shore. During the battle, Caius chases down Lightning in a bahamut like form. You must use the combination of attacks the game has provided to you to subdue the monster chasing her. You are then reintroduced to the auto-battle system strait out of XIII with a little twist known as a cinematic action. During a cinematic action, you are prompted to enter a curtain button combination to fulfill the moves being performed. Cinematic actions are a nice addition to the already polished ATB (Active Time Battle). As the battle transcends, a man falls from a rift in the sky; this is the introduction to one of the two main protagonists, Noel Kreiss. Lightning aids him, and then gives him a task, to protect and reunite her and her beloved sister; thus the story officially begins!
You’re then thrown into the shoes of her sister, Serah Farron, to discover where, when, and why she is the only one that can remember her sisters smile so vividly. Serah wakes from a unusual dream where her sister was battling a gigantic beast. As we know this was the fight we in Valhalla we just circumvented. As you’re trying to understand the situation, you’re escalated into your first battle and Serah is introduced to Noel. Now this is the first battle that uses the Paradigm Shift, like XIII had first introduced.
In the Paradigm Shift you have a choice from five classes: Commando (Warrior), Ravager (Black Mage), Medic (White Mage), Sentinel (Guardian), Synergist (Buffer), and Saboteur (De-Buffer). Each class has its own strength and weaknesses but Final Fantasy XIII-2 balances them out quiet well like XIII. Customizing the Paradigms is one of the most comprehensive parts of the game. This gives you the option to make tactical choices as you fight against field monsters to gigantic boss battles. One of the biggest enhancements to XIII-2 is the addition of monster capture. Capturing and training monsters adds a certain amount of depth to the paradigm system with possibilities almost limitless. Every monster has its own class, which I listened above already. Think of it like Final Fantasy crossed with a little bit of pokemon flair.
The crystarium set up has also been improved from XIII-2s’ predecessor. This is the level up system that was implemented to help organize and customize your characters. Like XIII, the crystarium has the same set up but without the linear fixed setting. This time around you can “train” as much to your heart is content, racking up crystarium points (experience points) to level the six different classes of both Noel and Serah. A strategic twist is thrown into the mix with the addition of monsters, which only acquire one class trait per monster. Monsters do not gain experience; instead they level via monster enhancement items which you collect from battles and treasure spheres.
Another interesting thing about XIII-2 was the fact that you time traveled in a timeline called the Historia Crux which is a challenge and a pain in itself. The main objective was to jump from time space to time space fixing “paradox” phenomenon and collect items called fragments to move forward. It was defiantly an interesting plot twist that seemed to fix the linearity of the first game. However, this left me utterly confused most of the time because you would do something then go back in time once again to undo what you had done previously. Progressing though the game is somewhat awkward most of the time, since some of the characters can be quite laughable at times. You will meet several familiar faces though out the game and too many plot twists to count. The game also continues after the credits roll, to introduce the challenge of unlocking all the paradox endings. I don’t want to spoil anymore than I have to but all I have to say is: Happy fragment hunting!
XIII-2 thrived off of the community, with each imperfection XIII had, XIII-2 had seemed to fix. It’s not tough to say the game is far from perfect but has enough content to keep you entertained for hours. While based upon an improvement, Square has seemed to forgotten what made Final Fantasy what it is. Final Fantasy is one of those games that are supposed to be burned to the back of your mind. With a compelling story, memorable characters, intensive combat styles, breathtaking graphics, and those occasional moments that bring a tear or two to your eyes. Final Fantasy XIII & XIII-2 haven’t seemed to live up to many of their predecessors, which is sad.
Overall XIII-2 is a solid experience for any RPG enthusiast; essentially those who are addicted to pokemon and are fans of catchy J-pop music. Its a few elements short of what the Final Fantasy series stands for, however shines through on many different aspects. Square added just enough polish to the game play to keep you hooked and coming back for more. Only if the story and the character’s where brought up to the level of the game play, like it was in many of the Final Fantasy titles we grew up with, this could have been a masterpiece. If you’re truly a fan of the series though, keep giving Square the support to make games we can all remember for the years to come. XIII and XIII-2 are just the stepping stone in the HD era of Final Fantasy; this is just the beginning.