Review by ULoki
Final Fantasy 13-2 is a sequel to the most hated Final Fantasy installment in the history of the franchise. Many were disappointed to the first one as it was stripped from all the basic RPG elements that made the franchise as popular as it is now. From towns, to side quests and even the basic interaction with people were removed. This was an obvious design choice as the characters are always on the move and on a borrowed time. Based on its bad reception after the release, fans have never expected to see a continuation of the story from the first game.
Starting the game, the player is given the choice to read a data log that contains the story of the first one. It is divided in 13 chapters, and it summarized the events that took place on the first game sufficiently enough to get the grip of the story. People starting from FF 13-2 should read the data log to get a better picture of who the characters are, and their purpose on this very long but fun adventure.
Once the game starts, players are welcomed by a beautiful cinematic battle between Lightning, the protagonist of the first game, and Caius Ballad, a being that transcend time and space. This is the tutorial of the game. It is very basic, but it works enough for people playing the game for the first time to get the flow of how the battle system works. Later in the battle, the players are introduced to one of the best characters in the series which is Noel. He will be the main protagonist of the story along side Moogle and Serah Faron, the younger sister of Lightning. From the fans perspective, making Serah the protagonist of the sequel is worrying. Many did not think that she made a huge impact on the first game to warrant her role of being the main character. However, this worry and doubt was completely erased after playing the game since she handled the role so perfectly. She and Noel had a strong presence and development through out the story.
The story garnered a lot of hate from the community after the release of the game. It was inevitable, because of the reception of the first game. After the end of FF 13, time was distorted, and Lightning was taken to Valhalla. Basically, the premise of the game is that Serah wants to be with Lightning again while time travelling and solving paradoxes. It is a very complicated matter where if handled wrongly will create loopholes on the story. Thankfully, in this game, time travelling was handled with care. It was fun to see different time line of the same place based on different events that could have happened. It was refreshing to visit each place as it tells different story with different side missions to boot. Each character's story was fleshed out to give them screen time in order to bring forth emotional bonds with the players. That they did with the ending.
The battle system was not changed. It is still the fast paced, full of action system with some tweaks on it. There is now an option to change party leader in the middle of the battle as well as outside of battle which is a welcome addition. Additionally, if the main character the player controlling died in battle, it is not instant game over anymore. The players are given a chance to change leader if the other member is still alive. This gives a lot of versatility to the game. The developers also added some quick time event to further enhance the game play of the series. As every quick time event game though, it looks good on the first or second time, but gets repetitive and boring overtime. Nonetheless, it gives another possibility of changing the outcome of the battle, as well as, it gives bonus item at the end. However, the biggest and well thought addition was the ability to recruit monsters and use them on battle. Through out the game, players will encounter different monsters from different time lines. Monsters have their own job role as well, however, they are only limited to one. They can be fused with other monsters in order for them to inherit powerful abilities. In addition, they can also be leveled through crystarium granted the materials needed are in your possession. Customization took a downfall however. It was simplified compared to the extensive process in FF 13. Side quest is back, and there are many of them. This was one of the main gripes of the players of the first game.
Overall, the game was much improved compared to the first one. The developers made a formula and expand and polished it. This is a marvelous gem that should not be missed out.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/27/12
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII-2 (US, 01/31/12)
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