Review by LeviathDragon
"Step Into the Time Stream"
The game picks up three years after the first game. For some reason, Serah, who is the sister of the main character from the first game is the only one who still remembers the ending events of the first game, and everyone else is convinced she is delusional or making things up out of grief of losing her sister whom seemingly perished, but Serah is convinced she is alive somewhere. Confused herself, her day changes when a meteor falls from the sky near her village, and a strange boy also falls from the sky. This boy identifies himself as Noel, who claims to know where Serah's sister is, and together they investigate the fallen meteor and find a strange gate which allows them to travel through time. What begins is an adventurous time-travel journey that takes them though many locations and time periods to figure out why Serah is the only one who seems to remember the 'true history', and where her missing sister is. It's a great ride with plenty of drama and fun time travel plot-lines at it's disposal.
Like it's predecessor, Final Fantasy XIII-2 boasts some of the most beautiful looking aesthetics on the system. The only drawback here is it reuses some areas and models from the first game, but when those were originally good, it's hard to harp on the game too much. However, this time around there's much more variety in the local, from the hot tropical beaches to the cold, snowy ruins (one neat feature is the frost that develops on the characters in and out of battle in the snow regions)
Again, the music is outstanding. There are a lot more upbeat tunes this time around, along with many more lyrical songs. Players of the first game who enjoyed the song of Sunleth Waterscape will be happy to know many more songs like it exist on this soundtrack. This is definitely one of my favorite soundtracks of this generation of RPGs.
Gameplay is similar to it's predecessor with it's reliance on the Paradigm system that three characters switch between in battle to fit the required situation. What's changed, however, is your third slot is now accompanied by monster companions you can catch, similar to the Pokemon, Dragon Quest Joker, or Persona series. Each monster has it's own Paradigm role, and when you switch roles, the monster changes to another one in your party. In addition to this, there is more freedom and exploration than in the last game, with lots of side quests in large areas (all of which are required to get the best ending, actually) and a few balancing issues have been worked out for the combat from the last game. All in all, it took the last game's system and gave it a great update and made it more enjoyable.
If you enjoyed the first game, you should love this game as well, and it will be worth it just to see how the events of the world of Pulse and Cocoon unfold after the ending of the first game. If you didn't enjoy the first game, this game might win you over with it's cool time travel plot-line and monster battling mechanic, so it may be worth it to some people who were on the fence with the previous game.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/13/12
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII-2 (US, 01/31/12)
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