Review by Galactus21

"An incoherent mess from start to finish"

Final Fantasy has been one of my favorite video game series in my twenty plus years of gaming. It pains me to say that not only is Final Fantasy XIII-2 easily the worse in the series, but the overall game can be classified as downright disastrous. The convoluted story and unimaginative characters derail any improvements made from its predecessor of Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy XIII-2 may have refined the combat system of its predecessor, but that becomes stale as the poorly narrated story does not reel you in and keep you coming back for more.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a direct sequel of Final Fantasy XIII. Despite the box art featuring Lightning as the main star, along with the opening sequence with the familiar face of Lightning, the game's story doesn't revolve around her. It revolves around her sister, Serah, whose personality was anything but interesting. She has the opposite personality of her sister, who was bold and savvy. Serah's somewhat introverted like personality sort of detracted from her role as the main heroine. The other party member was Noel, the male lead, who didn't provide much depth either. Various monsters also make up the third team member during battles, but the monster's lack of interaction, couple with the poor cohesion between Noel and Serah results in a team that does not quite gel. Unlike Final Fantasy XIII, stronger characters were not present either to balance out some of the more uninteresting ones.

Final Fantasy XIII-2's main storyline was a mess. Throughout the game, it takes you through several time periods to help unravel the overall storyline. Unfortunately, jumping from point to point left me confused on what the underlying tale was trying to tell. Trying to piece together the different story points, as you traverse through the game makes it difficult to follow. What is left is an incoherent mess that the game designers called a storyline. In the case of rpgs, strong stories can help users become attached to the characters and feel the need to see the hero or heroine succeed. In this case, this feeling is void. To make matters worse, the main characters felt lifeless.

I would describe Final Fantasy XIII-2's battle system as a hybrid turn base system that blends with action based commands, where users queue up their actions. Final Fantasy's battle system is certainly solid and improves on what its predecessor brings to the table, but the 2 member cast plus a monster dims the overall dynamic of the game play. Moreover, Serah and company just didn't have the dynamic moves that helped strung together dynamic combos. The battle system revolves around what's called paradigms, where users can select certain formations with their characters performing certain tasks, such as attacking, healing, or casting an elemental move. These tasks are unleashed when the user's ATB is filled. The player can also queue up their tasks, while the ATB is being filled.

In addition, users can swap between different paradigmns during battle. For the most part, I probably didn't need to swap back and forth much. There were certain instances however, where I needed to carefully and strategically swap between different paradigmns to be successful. In the end, while there is some tactics involved, the team dynamics is vastly inferior to its predecessor, and as a result was less fun to play. When I refer to team dynamic, I am referring to the cohesiveness between Noel, Serah, and the various monster that make up your team during battle. The team dynamic between the three just didn't feel like they flowed as cohesively like in its predecessor. As a result, the game play gets stale rather quickly.

The musical soundtrack in Final Fantasy was solid, but nothing to write home about. Some of the characters' voice acting was certainly solid, but the 2 mainstays featured irritating voices. Some of the lines in the game also felt cheesy. Well delivered lines in these scenarios might have lessened the corniness of the lines delivered. Moreover, with the two irritating voices being the majority of lines delivered, the overall voice acting was subpar. Final Fantasy XIII-2 was also quite short when compared to other Final Fantasy games. In this case however, this works to the benefit of the players, as players do not have to suffer for longer periods of time.

While Final Fantasy XIII was not the best in the series, there were promising ideas. A sequel that expanded on those promising ideas could have provided a successful formula. Unfortunately for Final Fantasy fans, Final Fantasy XIII-2 does not come close to delivering the quality that longtime fans have expected. Even worse, it doesn't come close to matching its direct predecessor. The game was an incoherent mess from start to finish. As a result, Final Fantasy XIII -2 is easily the worse in the long running series.

Reviewer's Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Originally Posted: 12/20/12

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

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