Final Fantasy XIII-2 Brings New Ideas to the Series
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Video Game Review
Sequels seem to be all the rage these days. However, the history of direct sequels in the Final Fantasy series is small but questionable, giving fans of the original Final Fantasy XIII a reason to be wary.
Coming off of the greatest selling Final Fantasy game at retail release, Final Fantasy XIII-2 looks to fix the issues in the first while creating a new dynamic to an already complicated story.
Read on to find out why I believe Final Fantasy XIII-2 falls short in some areas but is still regarded as one of the best of the Final Fantasy role-playing games so far.
One Ending Brings Another Beginning With Final Fantasy XIII-2
Final Fantasy XIII-2 takes place directly after the ending events of Final Fantasy XIII. The timing of the game is more complicated than that, but the happenings of the game are a chronological sequel. You take control of Serah Faron, the younger sister of Lightning, who was saved by the characters of the last game after an epic battle to save Cocoon.
Accompanying Serah is a new character to the series, Noel Kreiss, who has the power to use time-travel portals. Other characters appear to help you along the way, but the story revolves around the duo of Noel and Serah. To start, they set out without an idea of their particular destination, but know that they must save Lightning and fix the time distortions that are plaguing the world.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Special Endings
To start, the storyline of this game has morphed into a large, open-ended game; the creators of this sequel have attempted to give fans what they needed from the first: controllability. A complete 180 from the first, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a game with a great amount of openness. Instead of being corralled into a linear storyline, this game gives the player the ability to visit many different timelines. Not only are there a large number of places to unlock and visit, these places hold creative and interesting side-quests that are completely optional.
However, to obtain a 100% completion and unlock a special ending (an aspect copied from the sequel to Final Fantasy X), the player has to visit and complete all possible endings. This leads to a longer game for completionists after the conclusion of the main storyline, but it also opens up the problem of dissatisfaction.
As a player who obtained a 100% in game completion and achievements, I feel incredibly jipped after viewing the measly attempt at a conclusion. While the story did not play out in the happiest of ways, it is still very concerning to see a "To Be Continued" tacked on the end of the main story.
The Goddess Is Dead Secret Ending
Disappointing Music Mars Final Fantasy XIII-2
The largest disappointment comes with the somewhat mediocre music.
The void left by Nobuo Uematsu is hugely apparent in the game's lack of memorable music. Other than the pre-existing melodies that reappear from previous games, the new music is overbearing and sometimes cheesy. Using vocals in many of the in-game maps and cinematics makes the game feel almost comical.
For example, a ridiculous metal-inspired version of the Waltz de Chocobo made me cringe. Also, the final cinematic uses a very badly placed pop song to accompany everything crashing down around the protagonists. Many songs are badly written and badly placed, grabbing the player out of the overall gaming experience quickly and reminding them of the flaws of the game.
Metal Version of Waltz de Chocobo
Final Fantasy Battle System
The battle system has made improvements over the already good dynamics of Final Fantasy XIII. The in-battle paradigm shifts are now more fluid, and it is easier to react to enemy strategies as they happen. The implication of the monster crystal system is interesting and leads to some fun groups, but losing a fully functional third character is an issue that can't be ignored.
It is hard to understand how using interchangeable monsters with only one battle role is remotely productive. It must be admitted that collecting and training a multi-colored group of chocobos was fun, and using gigantic cactuars is something new and exciting for the series.
Final Grade for Final Fantasy XIII-2
Despite some issues with the story, the game has presented a great addition to the original Final Fantasy XIII. Some players have brought up concerns about the absurdity of the story, but a more open-minded gamer will appreciate the interwoven timelines for what they are.
Many fans will be happy to see the return of an amusement park/casino area with Chocobo racing, even though it is much smaller than the Gold Saucer in Final Fantasy VII.
I give Final Fantasy XIII-2 an 8.5/10. The game has built a new and interesting story while returning to good dynamics from the original.
And there's a Moogle, kupo!
Check out our review of the first game in the series: Final Fantasy XIII - A Creative Attempt at Linearity
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Video Trailer
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© 2012 Hal Gall