My Thoughts on Final Fantasy 13-2
Final Fantasy 13 was not a great game. It was also not a bad game but being a game bearing the Final Fantasy name, it should have been great. With Final Fantasy 13-2, Square Enix had a chance to right some of the wrongs in the first game and for the most part, they do just that. At the same time though, they add a whole new mess of problems that yet again keep a Final Fantasy game from greatness.
The combat system from FF13 makes its return in 13-2. You still have different classes and can sort them into various paradigms that can be swapped on the fly while in battle. One small, but awesome, change they made to paradigm shifting is that your party members no longer do that stupid little dance thing in between the class change. All you see is a coloured ring around them telling you what class they now are. You will also still be queueing up commands which will execute in a beautiful string of attacks once the ATB gauge fills up. I still get an extreme enjoyment out of casting ruinaga on my commando while my ravagers call down lightning and fire storms from the sky to smite my enemies! I would have to say that the biggest change they made to the combat is how you actually get into a fight. In 13, you saw all the enemies walking around on the field and just had to come in contact with them to start a fight and if you could sneak around behind them, you got a pre-emptive strike bonus. This time around, enemies appear on the field at random at which point a timer starts counting down. If you manage to swing your sword and make contact, the fight starts and you get the pre-emptive strike bonus. If the enemy hits you first, you just enter battle and if the clock runs out, battle starts and your “retry” option is locked out. You can also run away from your enemies if you wish, but you have to keep a certain distance away from them otherwise the clock runs out and battle starts.
At the end of each fight, you gain “crystogen” points (CP). CP can be used to level your character in the Crystarium. This system is pretty much the same as in FF13. Each character’s Crystarium has a certain number of nodes that you spend your CP on. When you select a node, you can choose which class you wish to level up, some nodes unlock passive buffs or abilities and when you reach the end of the Crystarium, it “expands” and you can choose from a number of bonuses such as opening up a new class or increasing the number of spots on your ATB gauge. It is a very linear progression system but it does well enough.
Final Fantasy 13-2 is a semi-open world game (haters of linearity rejoice!). When I say semi-open, I mean that yes, you can travel back and forth between areas but you don’t simply run from one area to the next. You jump from area to area via the all new Historia Crux! The big thing in this game is time travel (more on that later) and you will be jumping around the time line, which also jumps you to different areas. Some area’s are familiar, but there are also new ones as well. Each time zone has a certain number of gates in it that can be opened using different kinds of artifacts, which are usually found in the same time zone. These gates will either take you to a new time and place, or the same place, just at a different time. It’s an interesting way to do things, and I enjoyed hopping around time, looking for new gates to open.
So, all of the above sounds pretty awesome right? Well there is one big gameplay change that annoyed me. In 13-2, you only ever get 2 party members, the 3rd slot in combat is filled in by a monster of your choosing. While running around the levels, you will come across monsters that can be “tamed”. Basically at the end of each fight you have a chance of obtaining the monsters crystal and then you can use that monster in battle and level it up via its Crystarium. That’s right folks! Your prayers have been answered! Pokemon and Final Fantasy have finally combined forces!! Huzzah…right? No. Fuck this shit. Let me also add that each monster only knows one class and they don’t even know their own class well! You might have a monster that is a synergist, but they never learn all of the synergist moves! This might not be such an issue, but they limit the number of monsters you can include into your paradigms to three. They try to get around this buy letting you fuse 2 monsters together. When you do this, monster A absorbs all of the skills of monster B. Oh, well that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Wrong. What this means is that you will have to level up 2-3 monsters of each class just to fuse them into 1. Your monsters also don’t use CP to level up. They level up by using materials that are either found, won at the end of battle (as long as you do well enough) or bought at a shop. While some people may like this, I just want a small group of people that know every skill in a given class so I can make my party and leave it that way. I don’t want to level up Pokemon and fuse them together. If I wanted to level Pokemon I would play Pokemon.
Crafting is pretty much gone in this game. Some items that you buy in the shop also need components in addition to Gil, but that’s as close to crafting as you’re ever gonna get. Looks like Square went with the “If it’s broke, take it away” mentality.
Summons have also been removed from the game almost completely. Fuck you Square.
Warning: The following section contains spoilers for the end of Final Fantasy 13
The story in 13-2 was, in my opinion, a cluster fuck of bullshit. It starts off 3 years after the end of 13. Everyone is living on Grand Pulse and is happy as can be. Except for Lightning. Apparently she got sucked into some kind of time thing and is now fighting in a place called Valhalla. Nobody knows this though. They all think that she is part of the crystal pillar holding up Cocoon. Except for Serah who can now see through time apparently. She is convinced that Lightning is alive but doesn’t know what to do except send Snow to look for her. The one day a guy named Noel comes flying out of the sky riding a meteor-space gate and crash lands just outside of Serah’s village. “I want to save the future and your sister, come through time with me!” says he. “Ok, sure thing!” says she, and we’re off jumping through time like it aint no thang. Also, apparently the time line has become all kinds of messed up and is filled with “paradoxes”. It is your job to hop around time and resolve all of these so you can save the future! Now when the game tells you to resolve a “paradox”, what it really means is “‘go fight this boss”. One “paradox” I had to resolve was a big dragon thing who had a time warp in its mouth so when it tried to eat something, that something would be sent to a different time and place where it would proceed to fuck shit up.
Maybe I just didn’t understand the story. In any case, I didn’t care if I understood it or not. The whole thing just feels like Square didn’t get enough money out of FF13 so they wanted to re-use the same engine and assets to make another game and the story was just a side-thought. I wikipedia’d the story after I decided not to finish and I actually got pretty close to the end apparently. I also kind of understand it a bit more, but even now I think it doesn’t make sense.
Oh, also, Square decided to be dicks and leave out a proper ending to the story. The ending of the story will be made available via DLC which you will have to pay for.
Fuck. You. Square.
I was pleased to see that the world in 13-2 was put together much better than in 13. It is much more open and it actually feels alive. There are huge, wide-open areas, various settlements to see and people to interact with. Some of these people will even give you side-quests! There is a great variety to the area’s you visit. You’ll come across various ruins, forests, deserted towns, ocean side villages with beautiful views. There is even a huge futuristic city to explore and one time period is a big casino that includes chocobo racing! I didn’t get too involved in that but it’s nice to see the developer put some effort into making the world seem full of life and things to do outside of battling.
This game uses the same engine as 13, so of course this game is absolutely gorgeous. One of the best console games your going to see out there right now. As with most FF games, it tends to come closer to anime in terms of looks though. Which is fine in my books.
The voice acting for this game is pretty good. You’ll hear a lot of the same voices as you did in 13 but you’ll also hear some new ones and for the most part they hold up well. One welcome addition for me was Liam O’Brien (Illidan, War, Grimoire Wiess). He generally uses the same voice for most of his characters but that’s fine by me. None of the dialogue is awkwardly delivered and the voice actors/actresses do a good job at bringing their characters to life. One thing though…there is a moogle in the game which is also voice acted and I gotta say it’s pretty freakin annoying. For the first little bit it was ok, but the damn thing adds “kupo” to the end of every god damn sentence like it was a period! I know that’s just what moogles do, but up until now they were never voice acted so I guess it was never a big issue. Not only does the thing add “kupo” to the end of every sentence, it also uses the word randomly! It sounds like when a Pokemon tries to talk and can only use it’s name to do so. FUCK is that annoying!
The music was nothing special here. For the most part it was ok, not great but also not terrible…well…except for some of the boss music. I will say here and now: Death Metal music has NO place in video games, especially in a FF game. Fuck right off!! This is one soundtrack I will not be listening to.
There is one point I left out up until now: I did not finish this game. I got about 20 hours in and, unfortunately, the good things were just not enough to keep me going. I didn’t care about the story or the characters, I also didn’t care about collecting all of the various things there are to collect. After deciding to quit, I looked up the story on Wikipedia and I was apparently right at the end so I didn’t miss much.
My final verdict is that the game is meh at best. I’m glad I only played my roomates copy and didn’t buy it for myself. If everything I listed above doesn’t bother you than by all means give it a try.
Now, where’s my copy of Batman…