Final Fantasy XIII-2 review
First of all, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I consider Final Fantasy XIII to be a good game, but not a good RPG. That’s why many reviewers gave it high scores when the game was released in 2010, despite the game shortcomings. Final Fantasy XIII linearity, the lack of proper towns with real side quests are some of the issues that made the game an underwhelming experience for RPG fans. Now with the sequel has been released, I have been playing Final Fantasy XIII-2 non-stop. Put aside the silly and sometimes laughable story, the game is really enjoyable and better than its predecessor in many ways.
The game begins with an Epic battle between Lightning and a mysterious character named Caius in a place called Valhalla. During the fight, a mysterious character comes to Valhalla through a time portal. It appears that this mysterious character (called Noel) was praying for a miracle to happen, then suddenly found himself in Valhalla. Lightning expecting his arrival, she grants him the ability to travel through time to find her sister, Serah.
Noel travel through time and saves Serah from an enemy ambush and tell her that Lightning sent him to find her. With everyone thinks that Lightning is dead, Serah travels with Noel through time to different times and locations in order to find out what exactly happened to her sister after the battle with Orphan and the fall of Cocoon.
I found the concept of time travel and visiting location in different eras to be interesting. But the game’s story is too reliant on explaining everything that happens in the game on one word, Paradox. This is a lazy and uninspiring way to tell a story. You will hear ‘Paradox’ too many times in the game. The quality of the writing in the dialogues between the characters is also average and sometimes Cheesy. You will enjoy the story if you don’t take it too seriously.
The issues that bogged down Final Fantasy XIII are no longer present in the sequel. The linearity of the previous game has been replaced with more open-ended game design. In Final Fantasy XIII-2, you can travel back and forth between new and previously visited locations early in the game, with every area has its own NPCs to interact with to complete side quests. Most of the side quests (if not all) in XIII-2 revolves around delivering items (fetch quests) to NPCs or killing some monsters. Later in the game, new activities will be available to distract players from completing the main story. You can participate in Chocobo races, slot machines and card games.
The great battle system of Final Fantasy XIII has returned in the sequel with some interesting new tweaks and features which make it even more enjoyable this time. You will no longer see the annoying animation when you shift your Paradigm strategy which makes the battles more engaging. In XIII-2, you can capture monsters to fight with you. This new feature give the player another incentive to explore the game’s world to add more powerful monsters to your party.
XIII-2 looks stunning. The main character models are highly detailed and expressive. Some locations look absolutely amazing due to the mesmerizing art direction. The camera work during cut-scenes is excellent. While the game is technically accomplished overall, the game suffers from some frame rate issues.
The music in XIII-2 is good, but not memorable. Some of the game’s music will get stuck in your head while some vocal songs are forgettable and sometimes irritating. Some of the best soundtracks from XIII made a comeback in the sequel, which is lazy and good at the same time. Lazy because I wanted to hear more new and original music, and good because I’m not a big fan of the vocal songs in the game.
It’s the first time that I felt like playing a Final Fantasy game since Final Fantasy X on the PS2 (XII is a great game, but it doesn’t feel like a Final Fantasy game). The non-linear structure of the game is a welcome returning addition to the series. The battle system is a blast and hunting monsters to add to your party is fun and exciting. The story has its moments, but it could have been much better if more time was invested in the writing and making the story more believable and exciting. If you are a fan of the series or looking forward to get lost in another great, but flawed RPG, get this game.