FINAL FANTASY XIII-2
The Final Fantasy game series have been around for what seems like forever and look set to continue for many years to come. After what most gamers thought as disappointing from Final Fantasy XIII, Square Enix did in fact decide on bringing out a follow up called Final Fantasy XIII-2 but with a few adjustments and a few new things for gamers to explore and all in all its definitely and upgrade from the previous game but someway short of being the masterclass that Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X was in my opinion. Final Fantasy XIII-2 for those that are new to this and that love role playing games will find this is one of the best out there to date. The game is available for the PS3 as well as the Xbox 360. One downfall about the game is that Final Fantasy XIII for the Xbox 360 was 3 discs whereas Final Fantasy XIII-2 is just the 1 disc. A lot of stuff has been cut from Final Fantasy XIII but its not the important stuff.
The game is a direct sequel to that of Final Fantasy XIII, taking place 3 years after the events of XIII. Lightning (the main character from Final Fantasy XIII) has vanished into what seems to be into another world. A young man named Noel Kreiss is brought to Lightning who seems to be fighting for something important. Noel helps Lightning by holding back an attack from a mysterious guy named Cauis (who Noel knows) but then Lightning asks Noel to travel through a gate. This gate helps Noel travel back through time to meet with Lightnings sister Serah. Lightning has sent Noel who has come from a future with no hope to save the world. He must bring Serah to a place called Valhalla where Lightning is fighting. After Noel and Serah meet there journey starts and they end up traveling through the Historia Crux to the future and even to the past searching for answers. This leads them on many different routes and uncovers new and interesting storylines. Can you help Noel and Serah reach Lightning and save everything from crumbling.
I will start by mentioning the fact that you only get two members to play with throughout the whole game. Serah and Noel are the main characters in the game and the only two that really matter. You can change who you would like to control at anytime in the menu. I find Noel to be the better character because hes a warrior from the future therefore has better strength and defense than Serah. It doesn't make too much difference which you use as the main character because all it really alters is the battles because you only control the character you chose to control as the leader. The games camera system is very much the same as Final Fantasy XIII and set in a third person perspective and as for navigating around that;s also pretty similar. When you're in a certain place exploring you can literally see a map of where you can get and where you cant. Each area has a map which makes the game considerably easy. To get around the area you're in you can either walk, run, jump or even ride the good old Chocobo's. The Chocobo's are basically giant birds that you can ride so you don't get attacked and to get you to places much quicker.
One of the biggest parts to this Final Fantasy is the addition of monsters and I don't mean just any old monsters because Final Fantasy XIII would allow you to use three characters to battle for you but seen as there isn't three playable in this game there's an empty space, for what you might ask and yes that's right monsters. You can now use monsters you acquire from certain battles to fight by your side. You can get hundreds of different monsters to join you but only three can be picked to be in your party. For example when you've picked three monsters only one can fight with you at a time until you master the Paradigm Shift system. The Paradigm Shift system is simple and the best way to describe this is formation. Its like choosing a formation in battle then thinking its wrong so you shift formation to change how to win a battle. Paradigm Shift allows you to change yours and your members roles and the way you approach a fight. There are 6 roles altogether which include Commando, Ravager, Sentinel, Synegist, Medic and Saboteur and each one does different things. For example Commando is the main all out attacking force that should be used against weaker enemies or enemies which you have staggered in battle. Ravager is the more magic based attacks which Serah is great with, Sentinel is one of my favourites because it makes the game too easy with this role as it draws enemies to attack the Sentinel only and raises the Sentinels defense also and the other roles do different things also.
When in battle you can shift anytime to change all the above roles and you can also set what roles you're able to shift to in the pause menu. Monsters also have roles and after picking three monsters for your party and choosing three different types of monsters such as a Commando, Ravager and Sentinel you must also pick which to start with in battle and by changing Paradigm Shift a different monster will appear straight away. Also in battle the system used to be turn based but now its more of a waiting then full on attack style fighting game. You can attack when the attack bar is full or even before but doing so before will only allow you to strike a couple of times but it can be good to cancel out your opponents attack. Something that I found a little lackluster was the variety in the monsters this time around because there are a lot of monsters the same but just different colors or the same but bigger. Also a lot of destinations you visit are the same but this is understandable because you're traveling through time to alter the past or change the future and so on. Also in battle you can use items, use abilities and your monsters can even use an attack called Feral Link which is basically a special move which each monster can do and all monsters do a different one as well. Feral Link can only be used when your monsters Feral Link bar is full and when you're playing you will notice it just below your monsters health meter. Its always best to keep your eye on all party members health in battle because once Noel and Serah have been defeated its game over. If the one you're controlling dies then you automatically take control of who is left. You cannot use your monsters as the main battle character.
Back from Final Fantasy XIII is the Crystarium in which you use to level up your characters and monsters. With the two characters you basically earn EXP points from battles which can be spent on different roles to increase your stats for that role type or to learn new abilities for that role. Once you've leveled up completely on one floor of the Crystarium you get the choice of increasing something or learning a new role (as you only start with a few roles). Monsters can also be upgraded in the Crystarium but they don't use EXP to do so and in fact use monster materials. Monster materials can be found in battle and other places and each set of materials are listed as level 1 through to 5. Level 1 monsters can only use level 1 materials and when they have gained a level you must then use level 2 materials and so on. Also monsters can now be infused together so that you can make stronger monsters and learn new abilities for them. Also to get into battles now is very easy and its extremely easy to get the initiative because at certain points enemies appear and all you have to do is avoid them and strike them with your sword to enter a battle. Scattered throughout the worlds of Final Fantasy XIII-2 are fragments which are quite important for many reasons and wild artefacts which open new gates to new worlds for the future or the past. Chest containers are the same as the previous game and look metal, round and move up and down. There are tons of items, weapons and much more you can do and go in the game.
Don't get me wrong here because the graphics to every Final Fantasy game has always been to very high standards but to some extent I am actually a little disappointed because Final Fantasy XIII-2 just doesn't look as good as Final Fantasy XIII did and that is also why this one is only on 1 disc. The graphics are still quite good in some respect and the most notable being the very detailed layouts of the places you visit and the lush looking scenery in the game. I was also very pleased with Noel as a character because hes designed really well and looks pretty close to perfect for a Final Fantasy character. I was slightly disappointed with Serah because whilst shes beautiful she just doesn't seem like the fighting type. One of the letdowns to this game is the variety in the monster and bosses because there are way too many monsters that look the same and the bosses you fight just re-appear in the game too often. Putting some of the bad stuff aside Final Fantasy XIII-2 is still one of the better looking role playing games available!
I would have to say the worst part of the game is the sound effects and the main reason for this is because Square Enix tried something new and it doesn't work at all. The music is where they have gone wrong because not only have they literally done away with the FAMOUS end of battle music but they have also done away with the music that used to bring excitement to the game. I do feel there are a couple of tracks in the game that suit it such as a couple of boss battles where the music heats things up and a couple of places you visit has the type of music to put you on edge, but other than that it just doesn't fit. The overall sound effects are actually quite good from strong battle sound effects to top notch cinematic sound effects. Also the characters are voiced perfectly and suit there role well and other characters you meet in the game also sound really good. But by far the biggest downfall is the end of battle music as its finally changed and doesn't at all suit this game.
Usually a Final Fantasy game near enough always puts gamers into a sticky situation at least once when playing but in Final Fantasy XIII-2 there isn't one single part of the game that's hard. It is by far one of the easiest role playing games and definitely the easiest Final Fantasy games. The battles are far too easy as long as you have a Sentinel monster you can basically go from start to finish in no time. The game does offer a few puzzles a bit like Final Fantasy X did but they are far too easy in this game as well. Battles are too easy, knowing where to go is also far too easy and the game overall is just too simple for the more experienced Final Fantasy fans.
The game is quite good in length but it can also be seen as the shortest yet. If you're not interested in the storyline or watching the movies the game has to offer (which can be skipped) then you're looking at 8 hours tops! However if like me you love the story to a game and like watching videos and doing side quests and exploring then you're guaranteed to get a minimum of 25 hours which could possibly lead up to a maximum of 60 or 70 if you like going for achievements and so on. The length can be seen in so many ways but I would have to say its average at most and mainly because of the short main story quest.
- Traveling through time to alter the past or change the future works really well.
- One of the better role playing games on Xbox 360 and the PS3.
- The graphics are really good to some extent and some of the scenery is beautiful and breathtaking!
- You now have the ability to use monsters as your third party member in battle.
- Lots of different side missions are available to take in the game.
- There is now a casino in which you can play games such as Chocobo racing, slot machines and soon to be card games.
- Short storyline and the story is a little confusing at times.
- A lot of the enemies and bosses are too similar to each other and there isn't much variety.
- The game is far too easy for the Final Fantasy fanatics.
- Only two playable characters and only a few characters from Final Fantasy XIII make cameos.
- The game features quite a lot of backtracking but this can be seen as a good point depending on how you feel about backtracking.
- Most of the achievements take time and can be tricky.
So my final thoughts on the game are pretty good. I loved playing it and will probably go back to it one day to try and get the remaining achievements or for when some DLC (downloadable content) becomes available for it. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is reported as one of the worst selling Final Fantasy games and mainly because of how poor Final Fantasy XIII was (to most people) but don't let that put you off buying this game as its very different and has lots of new qualities to it and is much better than the previous one.
I would definitely recommend this to many different gamers especially the gamers that enjoy a good role playing game with lots of action. Also if you loved previous Final Fantasy games then this could still be for you. Although its much easier there is still a ton of fun to be had with the game. Something new is the cinematic sequences which usually take place when a guest member has joined your party or when you're on a boss battle and it usually involves you pressing buttons when told to do so or button bashing when told to do so. Also you're now able to choose an answer out of multiple answers when asked a question at certain points in the game and i think this works really well.
With this being a very recent game out as it was released on the 3/2/2012 the prices seem to differ depending on where you get the game from. I got my copy from ASDA for an incredible price of just £32.97 but the game has actually dropped in price from places such as Amazon and eBay and is going for around £27.99.
Overall Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a solid role playing game that offers gamers a new experience. I would give the game a very reasonable 8/10!
Review also on dooyoo under the username: simon020187!