Review by CraiCrushna

"Let the Fantasy continue in Final Fantasy 13-2"

This review is about SquareEnix's newest game, called Final Fantasy 13-2, that came out in America on January 31, 2012. In this review I will give my opinion score and then an unbiased review score as that is what a review is supposed to do, be fair and see everything from all and any sides. Just to give the readers a heads up and let them know where I am comeing from in what I describe, I want you all to know that I am a Game Designer (3D Modeler, Animation 2D/3D, Special Affects/Effects, Rigging, and Javascripting). The grading system will be a 0-10, with 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. It will come with two separate scores, the first being my opinion, and the second being the scoped (unbiased) review score. Know that that is taken care of, on to the review.

•Introduction - Give a brief description of the game and its history, if any.

Final Fantasy 13-2 is the sequel to the highly rated and fan controversial game Final Fantasy 13 that came out in 2010 in March. This game has two main characters Serah and Noel. Serah is a returning character from 13, while Noel is a brand new character. There are other returning characters that make cameos and some that fight with the player but they are only guests (like in Final Fantasy 12). Snow and Lightning are the only characters that fight while Hope, Sazh, Fang, and Vanille make their respective cameos as they went on to live life or were sleeping. Final Fantasy 13-2 uses the same theme that Square used in 13, fighting fate. Square also continues to use mythology heavily in this game. If in Final Fanatsy 13, the Fal'Cie were Angels, then Caius (the Antagonist) is the Devil, and the main characters are what is caught in between, mere humans with the ability to shape anything. Since this was mentioned in the trailers and interviews, it's safe to say the what the story is. The story is about Noel, and that he is a time traveler from the future that comes back into time to save all of humanity. Serah is the sister of lighting and thus, wants to find her sister so she goes along with Noel, in hope of finding her sister and then returning to her time period so they can live with everyone like they used to.

•Gameplay - The most important part of a game: How fun is it to play? How easy or hard is the game? How is the control?

Final Fantasy 13-2 uses the same exact fighting game engine that 13 uses, but for those that haven't played 13 here is a description of it. When in battle your character will automatically move around the battlefield scoping out the terrain and their friends and foes as the walk slowly from spot to spot. The way you fight is that the player must select commands from a command list and have the selected character perform them. When you go into battle, it isn't free roaming like in Final Fantasy 12, but it isn't constricting like in Final Fantasy 1-10. When selecting specific actions to perform, the player only has control of one character at a time. The command list of actions is the same for both Serah and Noel, what is different is their stats and what spells and abilities each learn under each of these commands. There is the autobattle command, which lets the Serah/Noel AI use what is programmed based on the enemies known weaknesses and strengths. The next command is attack and this is were the player gets control. Based off of what Paradigm you choose for each character the player gets different abilities and different methods of gameplay. If you've played old FF games, then it's like having 6 different classes in one character at once. You can physically attack the enemy, fling magic at the enemy, debuff and make the enemy weak, buff you're team, or be able to take heavy damage, an be able to heal your characters. Unlike in FF 12 or 8 or 7 or 6, you have to choose which paradigms you want to be in currently. You can not be in all six at once and must be in 1 paradigm per person. This adds immense strategy to the game. This game can be hard and easy at the same time. What matters is each individual's own perception, and how fast he or she can switch paradigms. Also, another factor in the fun of this game is if you like to be under leveled or over leveled. In 13, you didn't have to worry about be over leveled as the game restricted you're characters power until you reached a specific point in the game, ut in 13-2 that is no longer the case. Story wise, this can be said because humans have infinite potential, while Lighting and the crew might be more powerful faster, they are L'Cie and are forced to be at a certain power level. I hate being over leveled and I was in this game because I got lost for a good 5 hours, luckily for me I didn't use any Crystanarium points during those 5 hours until the end for the final battle and got wrecked. Like in 13 the Crystanarium is back, but it's different at the same time. Both Noel and Serah only get to be COM, RAV, SENT until you get enough CP to complete you're first gauge. After that, you can then choose from a couple of bonus powers that include: Accessory points up, Active Time Battle up, Medic Class unlock, Synergist Class unlock, Saboteur Class unlock, and each classes respective bonus's. This game can be hard, but it is no harder than Final Fantasy 12, so if you had trouble in 12 then you'll have trouble here. What brings the game down is the unbalanced monsters that you can tame to join you're party, it's like Square didn't even think about this part of the game.

My Gameplay: 7.0/10
Scoped Gameplay: 8.5/10

•Story - Story is important in RPGs and adventure games, and gives the player a compelling reason to play. If the game you are reviewing has no story (i.e. sports, racing titles), then it's pointless to include this section.

Now on to the most pivotal part in any RPG, the story. I enjoyed Every Final Fantasy story save 4 and 7's story and have enjoyed 13's the most. I just like the mythology, symbolism, and the theme, fighting fate. It also helped that it was dark, how many civilians died? How tyrannical was the government? Anyway on to 13-2. 13-2 picks up 3 years after Final Fantasy 13, the game calls all of these events by the title: AF or After the Fall of Cocoon. So the first chapter is called “Insert place here” – AF 03 -. The plot is easy to follow and understand if you know physics, gravity, space, time, like to learn about futurists and physics books about the universe. Square did their homework and are using the formula that is currently correct by physicists around the world. Time travel works like this in most things: Time is a River, it flows ever forward never looking back. Time is actually like a liquid ribbon that can be affected at all times by anything. What happens when you drop a rock into a lake? You get ripples all around in every direction. That is how time works (how it is currently formulated and accepted), so if you tough the future, you change the past just as if you touch the past, you change the future. No matter how you look at time, in the real world there is always cause and effect, this is something that Square is using. This game is dark, but it's not clichéd dark as in drugs, sex, murder, gangs, blah, blah, blah crap. It's dark because of what it is telling and represents. Square made a bold move to tell a fake story by using real means, and this is the result. Noel comes to the past to save his future where he is the last surviving human. He goes ends up meeting Serah in the year AF 03. The timeline has already been changed since before these events, as in Lightning was plucked from time and was erased from time itself. The only person that remembers her is Serah. After a talk, Snow goes out looking for Lightning because he believes in Serah that much. Sazh takes his son to Grand Pulse and flies an airship. Hope is off being a genius somewhere going to school at the Academy, he also believes Serah and wants to free Fang and Vanille. Fang and Vanille are still sleeping eternally after the events of AF 00, or Final Fantasy 13. The games story is about Serah and Noel traveling the time lines, fixing wrongs and righting rights until they do enough good or bad to fix the time line. They run into some characters along the way and the foe that is in all the trailers, the main antagonist Caius. With two goals (get Lightning, save the future), and the main antagonist Caius (who is the Guardian) the story has a shot to be epic.

My Story: 9.5/10
Scope Story: 8.0/10

•Graphics/Sound - How a game looks and sounds. These should always be compared to the system's capabilities, not to games on other more advanced systems.

This is a Square game (save ff7), so the game will have top notch graphics and sound. This game (Final Fantasy 13-2) is no exception. The graphics (character models) are less then what they were in Final Fantasy 13, but that is too be expected when they move the game from three discs (FF13) to one disc(FF13-2). Most things you can see the vertexes, the edges, lines, but that's it. Unlike in other games (Skyrim) where you can see a clear white line in the middle of the dungeon that you are traversing that tells the player (not supposed to) that this is where the two halves of the level meet up (because someone forgot to merge the vertexes and use the append to polygon tool!) In Final Fantasy 13-2, the special affects and effects are astounding, and the models are fantastic. The animations the character makes are solid too as they seem to be real. What I do not like is how thin Serah's arms and legs are. Her arms are way too thing for her to be wielding that bowsword. She needs at least an 1.5 times growths in her arms, just take the camera and go towards a wall and pan around her and notice how frail and thin her arms are. The monsters are modeled top notch like always and the final boss is phenomenal looking. The music is this game is great, taking top video game bands from other games and using theme here is awesome. The Red Tail Chocobo theme is the best Chocobo theme of all time. The music is different and out of place at times when you try to listen to the soundtrack but it works in this game because of the entire theme of it: Time. Different time periods have different music. It's the same in the real world, so unless you hate reality, don't hate on FF13-2 for being true. The music has different genres in here from Heavy Metal, to techno, to rave, to ballad, to orchestrated, to slow pop. It also takes some songs from the Final Fantasy 13 soundtrack, and unfortunately has one song I hated from it did make a comeback (it plays when you first go to AS AF-???).

My Graphics: 9.0/10
Scope Graphics: 9.5/10

My Sound: 10/10
Scope Sound: 10/10

•Play Time/Replayability - How long does it take to complete the game, and is it worth playing again once you've done it?

In total it took me 37 hours to beat the game, but 5 hours did come from me getting lost during a specific part of the game that had directions so bad, that I though I was playing Final Fantasy 1 again. Even if you take the 37 hours for the main quest, FF13 took me more than double that time…. Unlike 13 though, it is only 1 disc as compared to 3, and it has replay value unlike 13. You only replayed 13 if you liked/loved the game, or 13-2 was about to be released so you replayed it. Square did lie about a New Game+ feature, so that is salt in the wounds to me, as Square said in an interview on their own website that the game would feature a New Game+ and have the Historia Crux Gate gameplay feature. The only one to make it into the game is the Historia Crux Gate mode. This is just a normal part of the game. When you do specific things or find chests on your adventures, you get gate seals. These seals allow you the close any gate and then every gate that comes after it and allows the player to replay that part of the game with their current character strength, abilities, and monsters as though they never set foot in the spot. This is more replayablity than 13 but it is still extremely lacking? Who wants to take their over powered character back in time just to “go through story mode” when your 170+ levels overleved. Square should've had that new game+ mode like from the Tales series or Batman AC. Just like in 13, there are special bosses, hidden bosses and many things to do after you've beaten the game. If you're into all 8 endings plus the “real 9th” ending then you have to get all 160 time fragments so that when Square releases DLC, and then eventually 13-3 you'll be prepared. It's the same principal as in Mass Effect 2, with the Arrival DLC. I see no reason why one would replay it after they have done everything else unless you like the game or want to use different monsters and level up you're characters differently. There is little to no reason to get the Lighting DLC coliseum battle as by the time you could beat her, you can beat the final boss…. Square made a dumb move by lying and not putting in a new game+. For a single disc RPG, this game has a really low time on it.

My Replayability: 5.5/10
Scope Replayability: 8.0/10

My Time: 5.0/10
Scope Time: 8.5/10

•Final Recommendation - Is a game worth buying or renting new, is it worth searching for, or should you return it if given as a gift?

My final Recommendation is that if you're a Final Fantasy fan, then buy new. If you enjoy a mature, well told story then buy new. If you're looking for an RPG that you can play with friends then no, get Tales Of Vesperia instead. If you hated 13 (I don't know why you would) than you will hate this game as well (unless you're not that good at gaming and love to over level) then don't buy it. There is no multiplayer, so you will not miss out on anything if you are money troubled and want to wait for it to go down to $20-$30 price range. If you love FF and have the money, buy it now.

My Final Score: 7.0 + 9.5 + 9.0 + 10 + 5.5 + 5.0 = 7.67/10.0 = 76.7/100
Scope Final Score: 8.5 + 8.0 + 9.5 + 10 + 8.0 + 8.5 = 8.75/10 = 87.5/100

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/10/12

Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII-2 (US, 01/31/12)

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