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    Final Fantasy XIII-2

    Game » consists of 14 releases. Released Dec 15, 2011

    Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII released by Square Enix in early 2012.

    rainvillain's Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PlayStation 3) review

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    The Hits and the Misses: Final Fantasy XIII-2

    Final Fantasy XIII-2 owes up to the mistakes of its predecessor while fumbling on the (few) elements that made Final Fantasy XIII any good to begin with. Consistently enjoyable though occasionally baffling, XIII-2 is the best Final Fantasy title since X.

    THE HITS:

    You want towns? We've got towns! You want minigames? We've got minigames!!: More than anything else, XIII-2's main goal seems to be rectifying all the fundamental elements of "FFism" that XIII either blundered or left out entirely. In this respect, XIII-2 hits it out of the park. From the gold saucer-esque chocobo racing, card games and slots, to the countless sidequests, monster training/hunting and sprawling maps with multiple (gasp) paths, XIII-2 has enough variety to satisfy any jaded Final Fantasy fan.

    Sure, some of it comes across as a series of bullet points that Motomu Toriyama and his team had to make sure to include, as opposed to an organic part of the game, but it doesn't detract from the experience. On the other hand, the variety really helps bring home how claustrophobic XIII felt, both in terms of level design and mechanics. To be honest I was starting to think Square Enix had forgotten how to make mini games and additional gameplay elements on top of combat and storytelling. It helps to be reassured once in a while, so thanks guys!

    This is gunna take a while : Similarly, there is a lot to do in this game. Simply reaching the end will only grant a third or so of the game's content. While you could say this about the End Game for most decent RPGs ("J" or otherwise), I really have to applaud them for making the post-game content fresh and different: there are tons of locations that you can't visit til after you see the credits roll. The original XIII had a LOT of post-game monster hunting, but it was basically more of what you'd been doing before: combat across areas you'd already visited. XIII-2 constantly doles out new characters, plot and locations long after you finish the main story. With meaningful DLC already out, and with more coming soon, you can really expect to get a lot of mileage out of Final Fantasy XIII-2.

    Or are you in a rush? No problem! We cater to everyone! : That staggering amount of content (...geddit?) could be daunting to some, which is all the more reason why I think making the main storyline relatively short is a good thing: if all you want is to see the main beats of the story you can do so in 20-30 hours. I finished my first playthrough with a game clock of around 30 hours. This is a LOT shorter than previous games in the series, which average 50-60 hours. By making a third or so of the game's content mandatory I think Square is doing a good job of appealing to everyone: if you "only" want to put 20 or so hours into the game you'll get a lot in return: all the filler is optional and the experience is relatively grind-free (well up until the final dungeon). The story beats are handed out at a fairly generous frequency and you never stay in one environment for too long. The pace is fresh and breezy, something I can't say about, well, any JRPG. It's commendable and those that find it too short are rewarded with just so much meaningful content once the credits role: everyone ends up pleased. Its an ingenius split that, while perhaps blasphemous to some, I think should be more common in JRPGs.

    Combat Evolved: Final Fantasy XIII introduced a fresh, fast-paced and beautiful take on JRPG combat, giving the player a more macro-level of control; a coach off to the side yelling out which strategy (Paradigm) to use on the fly. Its a fascinating concept that is subtly refined in XIII-2, making it a much more enjoyable game to play. Its the "little things" that really make it for me: Pre-Emptive attacks are now a LOT more common and not only does it basically fill up the stagger gauge, it also casts Haste on the entire party, making quick and easy fights that much speedier. You can change your party leader mid-fight, as much as you want. You gain Gil(!) after every fight, making shopping (and therefore item use), all the more common. You can now customize the focus of a paradigm: Do you enjoy using two Commandos but wish they'd focus on the same target instead of targeting separate characters? Now you can set that in the Paradigm Deck screen! Your third party member is a monster of your choice, who can be trained, named and visually customized as much as you want.

    Individually, these are small changes but together it makes for a much more polished, streamlined combat experience. Fights are just so fast that, when compared to an old PSone era FF title, the time it takes to go from encountering an enemy to reaching the spoils screen, you'd still be waiting to input Squall or Zidane's first Attack command. Add on top of that seamless loading screens of going in/out of fights and you have the most pleasant combat system in JRPG history.

    Fantastic Ending: Without spoiling anything, XIII-2's ending takes a surprisingly dark turn, followed by a "To Be Continued" screen. Whether this alludes to a potential XIII-3 or simply more story DLC, I don't think it matters: I loved the ending of XIII-2 as is. Its hard to go into any detail without spoiling any of the game's kooky time travelling plot, but it reminded me of those very badass secret endings from Kingdom Hearts games. It's all very silly and I can somewhat understand why some players are feeling cheated about having an "incomplete" story but its such a giant Fuck You that you can't help but chuckle a bit. It's my favourite ending since Alan Wake's. The one catch? It had a sappy pop ballad playing on top of all the ending's drama. What a shame, considering...

    Masashi Hamauzu knows his stuff : I thought that the best part of Final Fantasy XIII, hands down, was its excellent soundtrack. No contest. The loss of Uematsu after XI was a huge blow for Square, sonically speaking. And Hitoshi Sakimoto's XII soundtrack is my least favourite in the entire series. I was curious and hesitant when it was announced that Masashi Hamauzu would step into the roll of soundtrack composer for XIII. His end product was a rich, modern reinvention of what Final Fantasy music should sound like, rivalling Uematsu's best. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is another great success story for Hamauzu, but this time he's accompanied by Naoshi Mizuta and Mitsuto Suzuki. The three deliver a fantastic collection of songs that really elevate XIII-2 from a good game to a great game. Unsurprisingly, Hamauzu's contributions are uniformly the best, with Etro's Champion being one of my favourite video game songs in a long time. Suzuki and Mizuta are no slouches either though. Suzuki's New Bodhum fits the neon fantasy beach setting from where it is first heard perfectly, while Mizuta's Paradigm Shift's blend of electro synths and rich, emotional strings perfectly typifies XIII-2 aesthetic. Like its predecessor, XIII-2's soundtrack is once again the best part of the entire game. And while it isn't as consistently strong as XIII's score, XIII-2 holds less weight on its shoulders than its predecessor, as the rest of the game can better support itself than XIII could.

    Yup, still one of the best looking games: Not much to say here, really. XIII was a gorgeous game and XIII-2 continues that trend.

    THE MISSES

    Your characters suck : Sorry but Serah was one of the worst characters in Final Fantasy XIII. Making her the main focus of its sequel was a terrible decision. Compared to XIII's very strong and well written Lightning, Serah's character comes across as stereotypically Anime-esque and with very little character development. Noel, the second main character, is much better written and has a very interesting back (forward?) story, but is held back by a very uninspired visual style. Visually, he is Sora/Neku/Squall/Nomura. Its gross and generic. Million dollar, AAA western titles like Mass Effect feature potentially gay characters in starring roles. Assassin's Creed 3 has a half-Native American as the lead. While asking for anything remotely progressive might be a bit much for mainstream Japanese pop-culture, they could at least try something a little less by the numbers.

    Final Fantasy XIII had a great cast of characters. Sure, there were duds like Snow, but the beauty was that you didn't have to use him. Since there are only two playable characters in XIII-2, you don't really have a choice. Its sad that by the end of the game, I cared more about my third party member: a green Chocobo. I think even Square knows its main characters are duds: Lightning is on the cover, not Serah and Noel.

    Poorly told time travelling storyline : I think XIII-2 had some good intentions with its time travelling storytelling but the whole thing comes across as very convoluted and inconsequential. The writers never drive home what the limits and boundaries of its form of time travelling are, and the way characters that are centuries apart, or are from alternate realities very casually introduce themselves undermines the coolness of it all. I believe the crazy payoff at the end of the game hints at how cool this game's storyline could have been, but up until that point it all feels half-baked and lazy: its obvious they'd designed a lot of gorgeous levels but didn't have a way of connecting them together from a storyline point of view. Time Travel can be a real "get out of jail free" card when your writers are backed into a corner and that's quite appearnt with XIII-2.

    With such tepid storytelling, its the enjoyable gameplay that propels you forward from one event to the next.

    BUT IN THE END

    Both Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2 share an excellent battle system and each have a beautiful original score, but the similarities end there. In many ways, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is the antithesis to its predecesor: where XIII flourished with detailed characters and a gripping narrative, XIII-2's cardboard cutout characters and muddled plot flops around aimlessly. Where XIII was simply linear level design with nothing to do beyond fighting monsters, XIII-2 offers endless opportunities to approach the storyline in whatever way you want, with a generous amount of sidequests and mini-games to keep things fresh.

    Both exemplify the extreme highs and lows of the Final Fantasy series but to me there is little contest as to which one is a funner game: Final Fantasy XIII-2 is so enjoyable to play that its butchering of character and plot, two key elements of the best Final Fantasy titles, come across as only a minor setback. XIII-2 is the best title Square Enix has put out since.. well, since they were known as Squaresoft.

    Other reviews for Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PlayStation 3)

      Final Fantasy X-2-2 0

      Let’s get this right out of the way: Final Fantasy XIII has become the internet’s whipping child. Thousands of people who have never pressed so much as Start to begin that game moan and complain about how it was too linear; how it took 25 hours to “get good.” It is now the symbol of not just Final Fantasy’s and Square Enix’s ruination, but that of all Japanese game development (I have a sneaking suspicion that Resident Evil 6 will only prolong the argument).And where do I stand on XIII? I though...

      2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

      Better Gameplay, Worse Story 0

      Final Fantasy 13 wasn’t necessarily well received by fans of the series, but that hasn’t stopped square from making the direct sequel Final Fantasy 13-2. Square listened to what fans had to say about the first game and tried their damndest to give them the game they were asking for. Most of the changes made improve the game, while others don’t make any sense at all, like the addition of the track Crazy Chocobo. Regardless, the end product is a game that’s much more fun to play, even if the story...

      1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

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