By LtSquigs 0 Comments
Well Lightning Returns, the new game in the XIII series, is about to be released and as a result I have been thinking a ton about FFXIII-2. It’s a weird game that I feel like either slipped under the radar for a lot of people, or more likely got purposefully ignored because of how bad FFXIII is. While it’s totally fair to ignore a sequel to a game that was by all accounts pretty bad, it’s a real bummer because FFXIII-2 managed to be so good. Heck it’s in my top 3 Final Fantasy games. So since I’ve been thinking about it a lot, I decided to make this blog to try and make the case for XIII-2 and why its worth checking out.
The gameplay is solid
The gameplay of XIII-2 is pretty much the same gameplay from XIII, with a little bit of Pokemon fused in. Instead of having a 6 member group (with 3 member party) you have 2 permanent party members, and a third one that can be filled by a captured monster (and rotated through). Otherwise gameplay has all the paradigm shifting, staggering, and other stuff from XIII. Which is actually a good thing, because that gameplay is probably the only thing that XIII did really well. It flubbed up pretty hard by blocking that gameplay behind hours and hours of tutorials, and frustratingly failed to open up the gameplay fully until nearly the end of the game. However, when it did open up the mechanics in XIII were pretty solid. Managing to keep the game feeling active and challenging.
The Characters are better
One of the weakest parts of XIII were the characters. While there were some characters in the mix who were genuinely interesting (Looking at you Sazh) there were also some characters that were downright horrible (Looking at you Hope). One the best things XIII-2 does is throw pretty much all those guys under the bus. The main characters are a new guy (Noel) and Serah, who was a minor character in XIII. XIII-2 characters do get cameos, but the only one who really plays a big part in the story is Hope, and he’s generally a lot better this time around.
The new characters are all pretty good. Noel is the new protagonist, and he has a good motivation and development throughout the game. The new villain is a lot more threatening than the one in XIII, and how the whole arc concludes with him is pretty amazing. Which brings me to my third case.
The story of XIII-2 Is Insane
For those of you coming here after having watched the XIII story recap video You may be a little confused by the abrupt change of tone and story in the middle of that video. That isn’t an artifact of the recap, that’s pretty much how abrupt it is in the actual game. XIII was a pretty straight forward story, in which the characters have to fight to save their home town, and they learn to accept each other and grow together as a team. Pretty standard JRPG stuff, and besides the interesting setting it’s just a little too bland. XIII-2 tosses all of that away, and starts off with Lightning (former main character of XIII) being erased from time, and her sister meeting a time traveling hero who tells her she has to go save her. As a result they travel together, fight monsters and time traveling computers, uncover a plot to destroy all of time, and then have to foil it.
It’s hard to describe it without giving much away, but it really feels like with XIII-2 the team was kind of just let loose to create whatever they want. The strength of Final Fantasy games has always been in the settings and characters. In spite of how much people complain about the tropes of FF, they are still more varied and interesting than the tropes of a lot of other games (Oh no, orcs are attacking the kingdom, let us fight). XIII-2’s main strength is that the setting and story was just sort of allowed to go wherever they wanted it to go, and as a result it’s all over the place but somehow still one coherent and very interesting story.
It’s also the only Final Fantasy game that I can think of that actually ends on an explicit cliffhanger, which is kind of crazy.
So those are my main arguments for why XIII-2 is worth a look at. It may not be for everyone, but I do feel like that game is one of the best Final Fantasy games. It certainly is the first one in a long time that really tried to shift things up in a big way.
I’m actually looking forward to Lightning Returns as well. The gameplay seems to have been radically changed (like a fusion of XIII and the Tales game mechanics), and the story seems to have gone even farther off the deep end (It’s set 500 years in the future I think? And snow is like some kind of rave king? I don’t know man).