Final Fantasy 13-2 Review
Final Fantasy XIII-2 was my second Final Fantasy game so I can only compare it to XIII. Final Fantasy XIII was one of those games that got many mixed reviews depending on who you asked. Some said it was a lot of fun and enjoyed XIII. Others would say it was a disgrace to the series and was the beginning of the end for them. Complaints about the removal of towns, linearity, lack of choice, and the simplified yet fun battle system were the most common complaints about the game. Square Enix listen to these complaints very carefully and changed the design of XIII-2 rather dramatically. Nearly everything long fans of the series complained about has been changed for the better.
STORY (Spoiler Free)
The story picks up after the events of XIII and constantly makes references to it so it’s highly recommended to play through Final Fantasy XIII entirely. Serah (Lightning’s Sister/Snow’s girlfriend) is the central character this time around and is joined by Noel one of the last remaining humans from the future that has the power to travel through time. Lightning has been given a new role as guardian to the goddess of time and needs Serah’s help to stop a terrible tragedy. The timeline has been distorted and altered by a series of paradoxes that leads to the end of the world. Noel and Serah must work together to fix these paradoxes and change events of the past and future to prevent total destruction.
I personally found the story to be a bit complex and daunting due to all the time traveling and altering of time. In a similar fashion to the first game, the story becomes more clear the closer to the end you get as they start to explain what events that happened previously meant. Overall the story was pretty interesting and entertaining but definitely not the highlight of the game.
CHANGES FROM THE FIRST GAME:
Non-linear: The hallway linearity effect was perhaps the most complained about aspect of the first game. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is composed of dozens of little worlds that you can visit at your leisure and in mostly any order you choose. Each zone is composed of many intersection and branching paths instead of just a straight line like in the first game. many of the worlds are optional and won’t be accessed until after you beat the main story line providing hours of additional end game content.
Towns/Talking NPCs: The first game except for a couple brief exceptions had no towns or friendly npcs to talk to. XIII-2 has dozens of zones with friendly NPCs that you can interact with and learn about their lives, history, lore, etc. NPCs will even interact with your actions such as if your companion casts a large spell they will comment and crowd to watch which gives the towns a lively atmosphere. NPCs now also give most all of the side missions. All of the NPCs are also fully voiced which is rare for a J-RPG.
- Dialogue Choices: Yes… in some parts you can actually choose what you want to say or ask!! hooray for choice!
- Monster Party Members (Pokemans): How do you keep a three party combat system with only two main characters? ADD POKEMON!!! Well not exactly pokemon, but there is now a system of catching monsters and using them as your third party member. Catching monsters simply happens after defeating them in battle as your character has a random chance to capture a monster upon defeat. Each monster assumes a specific role (Sentinel, medic, etc.) and when you switch paradigms, your third party member switches to that monster. The monsters all share health percentages, buffs, debuffs, and ATB gauges. You can only have 3 monsters (3 roles) in your paradigms at a time, and can only fight with one monster per paradigm.
- Monster Leveling: Each monster has a unique amount of levels it can gain and amount of stats it can earn. Monsters level using items that drop off monsters or that you buy from a store. The are five levels of these items and four variations of each. One of the four items will raise all stats near equally, and the other three will each one of the stats more than the others (Strength, magic, health). In addition to this form of leveling, you can also have a monster consume some abilities of another. One monster has +10% strength & +5% physical resistance passive bonuses. You can have your current monster “eat” him to gain his passive bonuses, but the other monster is destroyed in the process. This provides a rather simple yet deep system of building the perfect companions.
- Random Spawns: Monsters are no longer statically walking on the map waiting for you to attack them. As you’re moving around monsters will randomly spawn on top of you and a count down timer will start. If you attack the monster before it attacks, you will get the initiation bonus on the monster. Initiation bonus is now 25% stagger meter and whole party is buffed with haste, instead of 90% stagger like in XIII.
- Quick Time Events: In some major battles, your characters will stop traditional battle and engage in Quick Time Events usually at the conclusion of the battle.
- Simplified Leveling: The Crystarium leveling system has been made even simpler for Serah and Noel. Each character can unlock and be all the roles in the end and you level each role from 1-99. All you have to do now is choose which role you want to level with your Crystarium points and your character will become one level higher in that role and gain abilities, stats or passive bonuses every X number of levels. At a certain increments of total levels, you’ll be able to unlock new classes or choose passive buffs.
- Item Leveling: Items don’t have levels anymore. Only certain accessories can be upgraded/altered once at the global vendor using materials looted.
- Equipment: Your character now has an accessory score and items have accessory score costs. To be clearer, your character starts with 60 accessory score (this is upgradeable to 100). Your Iron bangle has a cost of 40 Score. Your other item has a cost of 30 Score. since the total of both items would be 70, you can’t wear both items. You could wear an item that costs 20 with the iron bangle.
- Minigames/Puzzles: There are several puzzles and mini-game sections including a casino now that provide a good distraction from the main grind.
- Summons/Technical Point Abilities: Removed
The game consists of traveling between different time periods through the “Historia Crux” that lays out like a giant grid and solving paradoxes in order to gather items or unlock gates to new time periods. There are probably 9-10 areas, then 2-4 variations of each area from different time periods (i.e. Beach Zone (past), Beach Zone (Future-barren), etc.).
Even with the above changes, the combat still feels very familiar from XIII even having your third member as a monster. Most of the fights aren’t too difficult until you hit the last boss and end game when things start to get tough. I found myself having to grind to get past the final boss.
There are hundreds of monsters if you just “gotta catch ‘em all” for a trophy. There are 160 artifacts to collect that are rewarded from missions, hidden in the world or given at each of the game’s 9 endings. I beat the game’s main story line after about 25-30 hours and still have tons left to do. After you beat the main story there are a dozen of areas that are still locked and hundreds of monsters and artifacts to collect.
Being one of the people who actually enjoyed thirteen quite a lot, I was eager to play this game on release. At first, I was quite shocked at how differently the game played from the first, but in the end I found myself enjoying the game a bit more due to all of the changes. Square Enix listened to their fans and made major changes to the entire system instead of just copy and pasting XIII. The end result is they have delivered a great RPG that will win over most of those people that felt betrayed by Final Fantasy 13 and those that enjoyed 13 should enjoy too. I was impressed by this game and recommend it highly.racter now has an accessory score and items have accessory score costs. To be clearer, your character starts with 60 accessory score (this is upgradeable to 100). Your Iron bangle has a cost of 40 Score. Your other item has a cost of 30 Score. since the total of both items would be 70, you can’t wear both items. You could wear an item that costs 20 with the iron bangle.