Review by TI_Four
"The Unfulfilled Grindfest: Combat Review"
For an RPG, Final Fantasy XIII-2, just like the first game, is nothing really unique when it comes to combat systems. A player controlled main character and AI controlled buddies with the ability to change strategy mid-fight has been around since the old Super Nintendo days. Though the idea is commonplace, FFXII-2 does have the potential to be fun, but a major flaw within this game which was not present during Final fantasy XIII strips that fate away; and rather cruelly in fact.
The battle system is almost exactly like Final Fantasy XIII with only one twist: your third fighter is a mix of three monsters (they call it a "Paradigm Pack") that you can switch in and out with Paradigm Shifts. Each monster is stuck to ONE combat role which means that between your three Paradigm Pack monsters, you can only have three combat roles for your Paradigms using the third party member. To balance this limitation, however, monster abilities and stats are customizable unlike your party members from Final Fantasy XIII and your other two party members in this game.
The fights can be pretty to watch, and even though AI controls most of what your party does, the fights CAN be engaging as buffing and debuffing as well as well placed knockdowns and juggles can REALLY turn the tide of a battle. The fun is short lived though as your party gets strong WAY too quickly and easily. This is the MAJOR downfall of the game. Just running around and collecting story objects and playing without any intent on leveling or building up your ranks, you can reach max level and tame almost every monster you come across. That is the first feeling of unfulfillment you encounter as you learn that you out-leveled the bosses by so much so quickly that the fights only last 30 seconds. Regular fights throughout the game will rarely be lasting more than 10 seconds once you get used to things...
That's okay though, Final Fantasy is known for it's secret challenge fights that you MUST be at peak performance for, right?
Again, you will feel unfulfilled. Naturally your main characters, Noel and Serah, will reach max level with little to no effort. Even if you skimp on the min-maxing and just level the two willy-nilly, their stats will be fine for taking down ANYTHING in the game. The biggest min-maxing option in the game, your monsters, actually make things worse by unballancing things to an extreme and WAY to easily. You can make the most powerful monster in the game (or cater a monster to ANY way that you want) in a matter of an hour or two. So with all of that said, your path to preparing your party is kind of meh...
Then, when it comes to fighting the powerful beasts themselves, the fights are too easy. You will probably die once, maybe twice if you are stubborn, but it only really takes ONE fight to understand what is going on and then after that it is not hard at all to design a special Paradigm to counter exactly what the monster is throwing at you perfectly. If you are missing the right monster for it, it only takes an hour to go out and get it and train it. Not exactly the challenge that we have come to expect from the Final Fantasy franchise.
The combat can be pretty and it keeps the interesting strategy that Final Fantasy XIII brought us, however it is WAY too easy to create a strong, unbalanced party in this game; so easy that you will most likely do it by accident.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 03/01/12
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII-2 (US, 01/31/12)
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