36 of 49 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Final Fantasy XIII-2 (Video Game)
FF XIII-2 continues three years after the first game left off. You assume the role of Serah, who now lives on a settlement on Gran Pulse. She's recently been having dreams where her big sister (and FF XIII main heroine) Lightning fights a mysterious foe in a place called Valhalla. She wakes up one night to discover that a meteorite has crashed down nearby, bringing with it a boy, Noel, who claims to be the last survivor of humanity from a far future. Noel has met with Lightning and was sent to Serah, he says, because the two of them must take a time-travelling adventure to unwind a paradox-filled history -- and that's exactly what they do.
The time-travel element may remind some players of Square classic Chrono Trigger, and the comparison isn't terribly far off. Serah and Noel hop around different eras and locations in the world's history, solving problems and opening portals to other eras and potential futures. Though parts of the story are still linear, you're given far more freedom to approach challenges in a way you personally enjoy. Don't feel like advancing the main plot at this time? Boss fight giving you trouble? Just hop to a different time period to explore and build strength for a while until you're content. Unlike the "series of tubes" that comprised most of FF XIII's structure up until later in the game, FF XIII-2 lets you progress at your own pace. With that freedom comes the sense of excitement and discovery that FF XIII sorely lacked, as finding hidden treasures and using clever strategy to topple monsters well above your strength level feels immensely satisfying. And if you ever feel like you might have missed something, you can rewind back to the beginning of certain event sequences to do things over while retaining your hard-earned rewards.
Not everything here is new, however. You'll see a lot of familiar locales, tunes, and designs from FF XIII peppered in-between all-new content. The recycling of some assets can be easily forgiven, however, when what's being reused was beautiful and well-made to begin with. Also returning is FF XIII's superb, fast-paced combat engine and the accompanying Crystarium leveling system, albeit with some significant overhauls. You now have more control over character development, as you can choose to level up specific Paradigm roles on the Crystarium board (as in FF XIII) while also unlocking additional roles and bonus boosts (stat gains, accessory capacity) after reaching certain levels. Moreover, battles continue on even after the initial player-controlled party leader has fallen, giving you a chance to regroup and make a comeback.
It's easy to see how Square Enix took the feedback from FF XIII and used it to make a better product, but this follow-up still has some lingering issues. Every so often you'll encounter an obnoxious gimmick sequence, such as a giant time-jumping fetch quest, a series of out-of-place logic puzzles, or constantly regenerating and unavoidable Cie'th enemy hordes chasing you throughout a massive maze. Plus, the story falters at times, falling victim to leaps of logic and silliness, and dialogue exchanges often feel like characters are simply talking at each other rather than truly interacting. The trademark Square Enix CG is sparse, with most story sequences rendered in-engine. But perhaps most annoying are the technical issues: framerates drop precipitously when a lot is happening onscreen, and this sequel's few movie sequences frequently suffer from hideously artifacted compression.
Maybe the best way to sum up Final Fantasy XIII-2 is with an oft-repeated line of dialogue from the game itself: "Change the future to change the past." It's not just a paradoxical plot point: FFXIII-2 repairs almost every problem with Final Fantasy XIII, delivering an experience that feels like what that original game should have been. If your faith in Final Fantasy has been damaged by past disappointment, playing FFXIII-2 will restore your excitement for the franchise's future.
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Initial post: Feb 28, 2012 12:50:34 AM PST
How exactly can you rip into the story and other areas of the game, and then go on to give it a perfect 5/5 score?
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