Final Fantasy XIII-2 Reviews

  • Niteowl1980Niteowl1980124,504
    11 Feb 2012 13 Feb 2012
    21 7 8
    Originally published on www.gamerscoreaddicts.net

    *Contains FF XIII Spoilers*

    The Final Fantasy series finally made its single player debut on the current generation of consoles two years ago with Final Fantasy XIII. Although massively successful, it was divisive amongst fans and critics. When Square Enix announced that it would be receiving a direct sequel, a rarity in the franchise, it promised to build upon XIII and fix some of the issues that it was criticised over. So has it done that?

    Final Fantasy XIII-2 is set three years after the previous game finished. Two of the characters, Fang and Vanille, turned themselves into part of a massive crystal pillar that is now supports the floating continent Cocoon, and is preventing it from crashing into the land below, Gran Pulse. The main character from the last game Lightning, having survived the events of that game has found herself thrown into the world of Valhalla, a city in an alternative dimension which surrounds a shrine to the goddess Etro. As an effect of the time distortion that has caused this, Lightning’s present history has been altered, with everyone believing that she is also encased in crystal having sacrificed herself along with Fang and Vanille. However, for some unexplained reason here sister Serah still remembers the original course of events where lightning survived. She then meets Noel Kreiss, who in 700 years times will be the last human alive. He has been thrown into Valhalla, and Lightning tasks him to help Serah fix the time distortions that have altered there past and future histories.

    [img][/img]

    There are quite a few differences between this game and number XIII that you will immediately notice if you have played the previous game. Firstly, Noel and Serah and the only two playable characters. Although a lot of the characters from XIII make an appearance in the story, the game relies on you liking and wanting to develop these two, and to begin with it seems like a massive mistake. After spending the previous game crafting some great characters you really ended up caring about, it takes a while to accept these two new ones. But over time they do develop into two great roles that really interest you as the player and this drives you through the story.

    Square Enix have introduced a new system where you “recruit” your third party member from the monsters you beat in battle. Adding a massive Pokémon-like element, most monsters you face have a chance of being recruited to your party bringing with it unique attributes that you can then develop by levelling up your character. You can also infuse monsters with other creatures you have recruited to absorb their power to develop your party’s skills. How you manage the monsters you are using turns into one of the most crucial elements of this game, and once you have got your head around the systems involved it becomes quite an addictive part of the game. There are also plans to deliver new party members through downloadable content that once you beat you can include in you party. So far these are quite formidable opponents that would be a challenge to beat until after the main story has been completed.

    Almost to compensate for this new complicated aspect of the game, levelling up through the spending of Crystarium Points (XP) has become simpler, and a lot more streamlined than in XIII. Once you have picked which of the six character roles you wish to spend your points in, you move through increasing your abilities automatically instead of selecting skills you want to develop from a tree of choices. Although, this will probably make the game more user-friendly for the casual player, I have to admit missing the micro management of the levelling up system. Although time consuming, it gave you a lot more choice over the skills and abilities you were developing. Thankfully you do have access to this system almost straight away in this game; it was a major source of frustration that you didn’t have access to the levelling up system in the first few hours of XIII.

    An effort has been made to make sure that people new to the franchise can quickly pick up the game systems and background story. The game provides just the right balance of optional tutorials to quickly bring new players up to speed. There is also an “easy combat” mode for those just wishing to enjoy the RPG and story elements of the game which doesn’t effect the majority of the achievements.

    Due to the game revolving the ideas of time distortion Square Enix have been given a massive free reign to deliver a varied world to explore. Working through a central hub, the Historia Crux, the story takes Noel and Serah to areas throughout the timeline and in some cases alternative timelines that can develop. Although this means you can be repeatedly visiting the same area, accessing that area in different times offers up a lot of variety in environment and monsters faced. There are plenty of side missions to discover and these can take you backwards, forwards and sideways through time to complete which is a breath of fresh air after the linear gameplay of FF XIII. These optional side quests also bring their own strands to the main story, really helping to flesh out the world in which you find yourself immersed.

    The downside to the time travel options is that sometimes the story can seem a lot more complicated than it actually is. Like XIII it takes a lot of effort towards the end of the game to fully explain what’s going on, so if you are finding yourself a bit lost don’t worry and try to stick with it if you can.

    Once you have finished the game you can revisit any area of the game you wish as you are given the ability to reset the events in a particular area so you can face bosses and missions again at any time. Your first playthrough of the game will probably take you between 25-30 hours but you then have a hundred hours of post main story activities to keep you busy.

    [img][/img]

    The ending of the story is both dramatic and very unsatisfying. I am hoping that this means a steady stream of new episodes to be delivered though downloadable content rather than Square Enix just teasing that this will turn into a trilogy.

    The game world itself is beautifully visualised as you would expect from a Final Fantasy game. The majority of the time the game delivers very nice graphics and the FMV’s that are used to advance the story are beautifully made. The games soundtrack is also very impressive, and you really will find yourself admiring the music. It is really varied as you move through areas and the timeline and always seems to be perfectly suited to what’s going on at the time.

    Some new fun elements have been added to the game to counter the serious tone the story takes. Noel and Serah have a constant companion, Mog, who can provide several light hearted moments and funny quips. You can also take time out from the main story relaxing in the games casino area, Serendipity, which reintroduces Chocobo racing. This can be quite a fun way to earn new items and money and means that while you are developing Chocobos into lean racing machines you are also building formidable party members that once levelled up are almost unmatched in combat.

    [img][/img]

    Achievement wise, this game is a bit of a mixed bag. A run through of the story will net you between 300-400 gamerscore. The majority of the achievements require you to take part in post-story activities. Like XIII, it shouldn’t be a particular difficult game to max out gamerscore wise, just time consuming.

    Overall, this is a much improved Final Fantasy game over it’s predecessor. It builds upon a great established game world to deliver a unique story. The long winded mature of the story can be off putting to some people, but it’s worth to stick with it as it develops the game world very nicely.

    I think that where it makes concessions to improve early accessibility to the game it gives you new game mechanics that can really be embraced by the hardcore player. I just worry that Square Enix are trying to appeal to everyone at the same time and because of that it slightly misses the mark.
    4.0
  • themegamancavethemegamancave139,609
    25 Feb 2012 09 Apr 2013
    11 3 6
    As reluctant as I am to post a review to the sequel of one of the most critically bashed RPG's of the new age, I couldn't help myself... wink
    Final Fantasy XIII-2 is Square Enix's attempt to right their wrongs (so to speak) and give the fans the Final Fantasy game they deserve. Will it live up to our expectations, or will it suffer the same miserable verbal beat-down as its predecessor? I am here to offer my whole-hearted opinion on the game, and I hope you enjoy the review!

    WARNING! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS!

    GRAPHICS/VISUALS: 10/10
    The visuals in XIII-2 are some of the best you will see on the 360. Similarities between it and the previous installation are uncanny, making it easier to familiarize yourself with the story and characters. The vast landscapes of locations like Valhalla and Yaschas Massif are incredibly beautiful and infinite. I experienced no graphical glitches or stalls throughout the entire 30 hour experience. The characters are crisp and detailed, right down to each and every hair follicle. Many of us who remember the amazing cutscenes from the first game will be happily rewarded in this iteration as well. Many of those breaks resembled that of a movie, and I often found myself even more captivated in the story, just because those scenes looked so damn good.

    STORY: 7.5/10
    Whew, where to begin. As many of us know, the story in Final Fantasy XIII was not well received. In that game, the way the history and story were created was reminiscent of Xenogears. I remember when that game came out, the stories of how the creators would just sit around and come up with whole worlds of information about the background of the game. Only Xenogears was presented better. I HATE having to read extra info in-game about the story, but I often found myself getting confused if I didn't.
    On a lighter note, Final Fantasy XIII-2 was much easier to understand. The game picks up right where the original left off, Vanille and Fang are encased inside the crystal holding up Cocoon, and Lightning has been trapped in an alternate reality in Valhalla, altering her presence in the real world. To everyone in the present time, Lightning was also trapped in the crystal, well everyone except her sister Serah. (confusing right?) Hope is a soon to be director of research and such while Sazh is happy and with his son.
    Serah meets Noel, a human from the future who meets Lightning and is asked by her to travel back in time and correct the past, ultimately fixing the future.
    At first, you might have no freaking clue as to what is going in the game, but the story is wonderfully paced, allowing even the most distracted gamer to grasp the plot by the middle of the tale. I never had to pause and look through the datalogs like I did in XIII. Once Noel finds Serah and explains himself, the two embark on a long and demanding journey through space and time to correct the history timeline. Using the two playable characters and additional monster party members I'll talk about later, the gamer will travel continuously back and forth in time to correct the errors that were made to fix the future and free Lightning. I found myself getting attached to the story of Noel and where he came from, and the relationship between he and Serah is great.
    One complaint I have is the ending. If there's anything I hate more than a cliffhanger, is the need to purchase extra content to complete the story. Square Enix has crossed the official "line" with me on that. For this reason, I may never see the actual ending, that is unless I watch it on youtube. cry I have heard that when you complete the game to 100%, you are able to access an "extended ending" but I haven't gotten that far yet.

    GAMEPLAY: 9.0/10
    If you have played XIII, you'll be right at home in XIII-2. The battle system draws from the roots of traditional turned-based RPGs, but incorporates a unique "paradigm" ability which allows each member of your party to act as a certain class, ranging from physical/magic to stat boosting/hindering abilities and healing. What makes the battle system different from the original game is that instead of a third party member, you can acquire "monster crystals" from the enemies you defeat in battle and in turn use them to battle by your side as the third party member, reminding me of titles like Enchanted Arms. I really enjoyed this new aspect of the game, and thought it refined the battle system perfectly. The crystarium system is even enhanced, making it easier to understand the roles of each character and monster.
    One of the other refreshing bits of XIII-2 is the furthered ability to free roam. To me, RPG's are defined by the amount of things you can do, and to stray away from the "on-rails" aspect of many games out there. XIII-2 allows you to jump backward/forward in time to visit the same familiar locations at different points in the future. Doing this can further enhance your experience by letting you complete various sidequests at your own pace, collecting fragment crystals as you go. The game's fragment crystals offer a unique way to track your game progress, as they are awarded for completing a variety of story-related or non story-related missions. When a certain amount or type of these crystals is obtained, one can unlock new abilities from a mystic to use in the game. Along with the improved free-roaming in the game, the player can also race chocobos, gamble and test themselves in quizzes. The amount of things you can accomplish in XIII-2 is crazy.

    AUDIO: 6.5/10
    Before someone gets angry for such the low score, hear me out. The music, when it was there, was very nostalgic and reminded me of XIII. Even some of the battle music towards the end of the game was exactly the same. However, at random points in the game, the sound would cut out entirely or exhibit loud chirping noises. I don't know if this is a common problem or not, but it absolutely annoyed the hell out of me. The sound effects and voice acting are still top-notch, drawing from the same actors in Nier (Grimwiore Weiss= Caius Ballad)
    However, the music at the end of the game (those who've played it know exactly what I'm talking about), absolutely ruined it for me. Whoever had the amazing idea of recruiting the singer for these tracks should be shot. Even my wife was staring at the television wondering what the hell was going on.

    REPLAYABILITY/ACHIEVEMENTS: 8.0/10
    One of the aspects I enjoy more about XIII-2 than its former installment is the amount of missions and miscellaneous things you can complete post-game. Heck, there are even some things you unlock after the main storyline is finished. That being said, the replayability is there, offering upwards of 50 extra hours of gameplay. Collecting all the fragments and viewing other paradox endings is quite rewarding and enjoyable.
    The achievements are also somewhat similar to those in XIII, you have the obvious story-related cheevos, and those for beating key boss battles with a 5 star rating. For those of you who aren't looking to complete this, watch out if you have OCD about odd valued achievements (12 point, 14 point etc.). This game has about 6-8 of these achievements, but they can all be obtained with little extra effort. I was at a little over 500 gamerscore when I finished, with only 10 achievements left. Expect around 55-60 hours for all 31.

    OVERALL: 8.2/10
    All in all, FF XIII-2 is better than the prequel in many ways, and is a more refined and enjoyable game. I rarely found myself frustrated or confused in the story, and I am confident that most fans of the series will find it far superior as well. I remember originally it was rumored to be a three part series, so I'm still anxious for more!

    Time to complete: 50-60 hours
    Favorite Achievement: "Giant's Fist"
    Hardest Achievement: "Anomalous"
    4.0