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Jeremy Jastrzab
07 Feb, 2012

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

PS3 Review | Oh good, it's not an excuse to play dress ups.
While Final Fantasy X-2 was the first in the long running JRPG series to try the whole direct sequel approach, Final Fantasy XIII-2 represents something a little different. It's rare that a proud company such as Square Enix actually goes back to the drawing board and attempts to take the user feedback and incorporate it in their future games. And while the critical praise and consumer reaction was solid from Final Fantasy XIII, it probably didn't befit the legacy of the venerable series, so the effort to produce a better game has paid off. Unfortunately, a few other areas hold Final Fantasy XIII-2 back as in its attempt to become the definitive JRPG of this generation.

Set three years after the conclusion of Final Fantasy XII and the supposed disappearance of Lightning, Vanille and Fang, Final Fantasy XIII-2 shows Lightning depicted as a valkyrie, battling a mysterious figure named Caius (who seems like some sort of Harbinger of Chaos) in Valhalla. During the battle, a mysterious youth named Noel Kreiss drops in and is sent by Lightning back to the current time to find Serah, Lightning’s sister. Noel is apparently from a future 700 years after Serah’s time, and has been desperately searching for a way to fix his decimated time period. Noel and Serah make up the protagonist duo to the game, and set off on a journey, which covers a ridiculous time span and has the players travelling through multiple time periods depicting the tenuous struggle of surviving between the Cocoon and Gran Pulse.

Overall, Serah is trying to ‘jump’ to meet Lightning in Valhalla and discover the whereabouts of her beau, Snow, while Noel is looking to see if there are any clues for saving his future. Along the way, the pair must solve a variety of anomalies that seem to have appeared out of place in each time period that they visit. However, the overall execution of the story probably isn't handled as well as could have been. Of course, it was never going to be more than the typically anime-inspired affair, and creditibly, does have its memorable moments. However, there really isn't enough memorable progression across time, or enough of a change in the characters to reflect it. Having only the two protagonists, neither of who can really steal the show, doesn't allow for the anyone to really take control of the things. There are ways to fiddle with the ending, but it will still disappoint some...

If you don't like them, tough. You're stuck with them!

If you don't like them, tough. You're stuck with them!
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As a direct sequel, players who haven’t experienced XIII would be left out… but the developers have added a ‘Beginner’s Primer’, which actually turns out to be an excellent and concise summary of the previous title. That way, new players aren’t totally left out with what happened before and who the reintroduced characters are. It's just a shame that it all comes across as incidental. Otherwise, one of the major thorns from Final Fantasy XIII was the 20 hour corridor that players were forced down at the 'start' of the game. Well, most will probably be relieved to hear that XIII-2 expands out of the confines of the corridors into a more traditional structure across environments that actually have scope for choice and exploration.

The battle system, for all intents and purposes, is still pretty similar to its predecessor. However, the system does seem like it has been sped up, which actually works pretty well, as the battles are quick and often require your full and undivided attention. You'll be snapping through the battles much faster than you did in the previous title. So taking this in addition to the game breaking out of the corridors, you have a game that doesn't have as much of a grind as its predecessor. Despite this though, most of the battles that you'll face in the game will have you breezing through fairly proficiently, unless you're totally lax about it.

Some other additions include quick time for boss battles, which are referred to as Cinematic Action events. These are mainly attached to dealing extra damage and end-of-battle bonuses, so they won’t directly affect your results in the battle but they worked reasonably well and kept the player on their toes. Furthermore, you will be able to acquire monsters to battle alongside you, and form new sets of Paradigm combinations, referred to as ‘Paradigm Packs’. This actually works pretty well, and if put together properly, will solidify your combinations for each Paradigm - which as players from before will know are vital to success in battle - as well as adding something of a Pokémon element to the game.

Don't I know you from some place?

Don't I know you from some place?
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The game progression doesn’t have to be entirely linear this time. There is no overworld, but instead you'll often come back to a menu that controls each of the time periods that you can enter. Once you open the time portals in each time period, you’ll be allowed to head back and explore worlds that you didn’t fully explore before, possibly restarting them if you really want to fix up how you did things. Each has secrets, discoveries and some extra story as you revisit them. There probably is one fetch quest too many though, and the inclusion of the chocobo as a faster means of transport is quaint but doesn’t always seem that necessary.

Given the more freeform approach, enemies are now somewhat random. When they appear, you will have till the ‘Mog Clock’ strikes red to make your choice of action; you can either strike it to initiate to battle or try to run away. If you strike quickly enough, you’ll start off with a bonus, such as a better stagger. If you are too slow or fail to run away, you will start at a disadvantage. Furthermore, as you go along solving problems across time, you’ll come across ‘Temporal Rifts’ that act like giant puzzles. Solving these will help resolves issues within a particular time period. Most of the other additions and improvements to the game are more of the ‘under the hood variety’, such as differences to the levelling systems and the additions of costumes and what not, which actually put more choice back into the hands of the player and makes things more flexible.

As much as you wish there were some better interface features such as a history log, what’s there will have players occupied and you’re given a brief re-run of events when you get back into the game. Otherwise, the general consensus so far is that you'll be completing the game somewhere around the 30 hour mark just to get to the end, but that's not including all the extra and 'good' stuff that you can get up to. Overall though, aside from somewhat dropping the ball with the whole time travel premise and despite being a superior game, Final Fantasy XIII-2 lacks that endearing factor that comes from a comprehensive package that screams unbridled class. Fans will enjoy it more, but it's a package that still leaves a little more to be desired.

Taller, faster, better, stronger.

Taller, faster, better, stronger.
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Graphically, the game is very difficult to reproach from the cut scenes, which are immaculately directed and choreographed, but maybe too lengthy for some. Opening up the game itself has been a little bit of a challenge, as there are some areas that look like they could have used a bit of extra attention. But regardless of this, it's still a visual and stylistic achievement that purports flair and excellence. Of course, it's not to everyone's taste but it still manages to make great use of its scope. In a nod to Western RPGs, you have some dialogue choices but regardless, what the characters say is usually... rather typical of the JRPG dubbing effort, even if it is at the higher end. The soundtrack has been injected with more vocal soundtracks and will actually make for good listening for fans.

It's great to see that Square Enix actually decided to listen and take into account the feedback for Final Fantasy XIII-2, and they have without a doubt created a superior game to its predecessor. The battle system is quicker, and there are is a lot more scope for choice and exploration. You're let off the training wheels much earlier and the player will be much better off for it. Fans of JRPGs and those still interested in Final Fantasy after XIII will definitely want to check it out. It's just a shame though, that the time travelling shenanigans, characters and scope weren't realised as well as they could have been. If early indications are anything to go by though, Square Enix has left room for another chance at improvement...
The Score
A superior game to its predecessor, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is the game that probably should have been originally released. Even if it doesn't quite achieve everything it sets out to do. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Final Fantasy XIII-2 Content

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23 Comments
2 years ago
RE: the subtitle

I'm so sick of people dismissing FFX-2 as "playing dress ups". If they had bothered to play the game they'd know that it's an updated and unique version of the Job System, and a very good one at that. Get over it.

/* End rant */
2 years ago
topaz wrote
RE: the subtitle

I'm so sick of people dismissing FFX-2 as "playing dress ups". If they had bothered to play the game they'd know that it's an updated and unique version of the Job System, and a very good one at that. Get over it.

/* End rant */
I enjoyed X-2 quite a bit too. It was a bit odd but the combat worked well.
2 years ago
Thanks for the review, boy you have been busy havnt you Jeremy? (Soul Calibur)
2 years ago
There is no rest for the wicked...

\m/ -__- \m/
2 years ago
Great review.
I don't rate the storyline of the game at all and have lost track due to lack of interest but the gameplay is quite enjoyable.
Agree that players should really be encouraged to get through XIII first but it's their loss. As for the paradigm packs well it's really what you make of it - you can put as little or as much effort as you want into the combos, though it's not totally necessary for the game

The CGI or 'cut' scenes are whatever they call them these days are way to much for me. Maybe it's meant to be a signature of the FF series or something but it doesn't do it for me - same with the soundtrack

Overall the 8 is a fair score. I can actually see justification for pushing it to an 8.5 but at the same time if I stretch it the other way 7.5 would work too.. Fans of the XIII or just the series in general will snap it up and largely enjoy it either way
2 years ago
Nice review (especially considering...). I'm still tempted to pick it up but not at the brand new price most places are trying to sell it for.
2 years ago
topaz wrote
RE: the subtitle

I'm so sick of people dismissing FFX-2 as "playing dress ups". If they had bothered to play the game they'd know that it's an updated and unique version of the Job System, and a very good one at that. Get over it.

/* End rant */
Whilst it's rather obvious that it's an updated job system, I think the primary issue was that it took an already existing "take" with it as when I first played it (and suitably threw a tantrum at all the 0.1% scenes BS I missed on my way to missing mascot) I immediately wondered why Sailor Moon was deemed a brilliant idea for transformation sequences. Because whilst I had no problem with the job system, I saw a consistent effort to get a womans naked outline on a screen during the transition, and lady luck, well, skimpy harlot really it just felt cheap and nasty when the game largely attempts to be bright and bubbly. It's just over the top in some cases and comes off as insulting to the senses.

Anywho, the little sister preordered this and had the similar opinions on the cut scenes that they are just too lengthy and not holding her interest, although the game has since grown on her since initially she was questioning the preorder initially.
2 years ago
Fly wrote
Whilst it's rather obvious that it's an updated job system, I think the primary issue was that it took an already existing "take" with it as when I first played it (and suitably threw a tantrum at all the 0.1% scenes BS I missed on my way to missing mascot) I immediately wondered why Sailor Moon was deemed a brilliant idea for transformation sequences. Because whilst I had no problem with the job system, I saw a consistent effort to get a womans naked outline on a screen during the transition, and lady luck, well, skimpy harlot really it just felt cheap and nasty when the game largely attempts to be bright and bubbly. It's just over the top in some cases and comes off as insulting to the senses.
Fair points, but those transformation sequences can be turned off iirc.
2 years ago
I think Spoony sums FF X-2 up best in his 2 part video review. His logic is pretty hard to dismiss
but im sure many will be glad to :)

http://spoonyexperiment.com/category/game-reviews/final-fantasy-x-2/
2 years ago
Final Fantasy X-2 is my favorite FF game. There I said it icon_biggrin.gif.

Banefire wrote
http://spoonyexperiment.com/category/game-reviews/final-fantasy-x-2/
Oh god, it's one of those reviews. You can't really take reviews from the likes of Spoony or Yahtzee seriously, they're more for comedy.
2 years ago
FFX2 panties parade >>>> this pile of crap.
2 years ago
Pagan's Mind wrote
You can't really take reviews from the likes of Spoony or Yahtzee seriously, they're more for comedy.
I call BS on at least the Yahtzee front. His points are wrapped around vitriol, but satire is meant to have a point after all.
2 years ago
@Pagan's Mind

lol, So for starters you're saying the facts presented by Spoony in the FF X-2 review which show the inconsistencies FF X-2 has with FF X are fabricated or meaningless?

That the in-game content he shows is fake? icon_biggrin.gif

Spoony highlights the ridiculous behind the vision of FF X-2, the pandering to jpop appeal and obvious fanservice used in the game to make up for a poorly thought out and researched game which shares characters and the world from FF X but chooses to take creative licence with most of the games lore? (XIII-2 was also guilty of conflicting with the lore of XIII as well)

FF X-2 was insulting to any Squaresoft FF fan for using the Final Fantasy name in that way, and i get that people dont care about that as long as you get to see ass shots, skimpy outfits and sexual innuendos between cousins and other characters, vapid conversations and goals and........do i really need to continue?

Comedy has been and will always be a medium of introducing unpopular yet factual information to the wider community without getting yourself lynched (most of the time) and certainly has every place in the review of games if they are accurate.

I dont agree with everything that Spoony says, but if something is right, all the wishing in the world wont make it wrong. icon_smile.gif
2 years ago
Banefire wrote
@Pagan's Mind

lol, So for starters you're saying the facts presented by Spoony in the FF X-2 review which show the inconsistencies FF X-2 has with FF X are fabricated or meaningless?
He bashed the game's storyline for 95% of the review. That's not a proper review icon_lol.gif. He barely touched on the gameplay except for this; "Oh, yeah, the battle is really good but I can exploit the game which means it sucks!!!1!".

Anyway, the game is cheesy and silly. Does that make it bad? Nope. It makes it fun. Personally I like all the ridiculous mini games, J-Pop music, crazy outfits, funny dialogue and characters and the dress sphere system. It was a lot of fun to play.

I can't comment on the inconsistencies with the lore of FF because I don't know much about the series before FFX.

Spoony's review is fine. It's a comedic piss take on the game. I'm betting deep down he loves FFX-2. But does over analyzing the storyline and comedy in the game for 95% of the review make it a credible review? In my opinion it doesn't.
2 years ago
Quote
lol, So for starters you're saying the facts presented by Spoony in the FF X-2 review which show the inconsistencies FF X-2 has with FF X are fabricated or meaningless?
I haven't watched the review, but I'm going to say yes, cause spoony is an untallented hack riding the sucess of a funny lets play he did like 5 years ago.
2 years ago
I hadn't even heard of Spoony till Banefire linked the review...
2 years ago
hehehehe dress up, tats funny

i mean they all where different clothes, like waay outta style in this particular setting

same as X-2

pretty much is dress up, interesting dress up =D
2 years ago
topaz wrote
RE: the subtitle

I'm so sick of people dismissing FFX-2 as "playing dress ups". If they had bothered to play the game they'd know that it's an updated and unique version of the Job System, and a very good one at that. Get over it.

/* End rant */
I won't lie. I sort of wish the Paradigm shifts resulted in different costumes.
2 years ago
Im dying to play this, but I need to beat FF13 first, and that makes me want to die :\
2 years ago
How far into FFXIII are you?
2 years ago
There's a beginner's prime in FFXIII-2 that goes into what happened during XIII.
2 years ago
Indeed, that's what I was thinking of. It's not quite the same as actually playing the game though, but if he's close to the end... It would be a shame to let FFXIII stand in the way of people playing FFXIII-2. For most intents and purposes, it's a better game.
2 years ago
If he's at or near gran pulse, may as well finish the game off. There isn't that much left, and you've already cleared the really average first 30 hours of the game.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  02/02/2012 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Square-Enix
Year Made:
  2012

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