Final Fantasy XIII-2 – Review

| March 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

Boldly going where most other popular gaming franchises have gone before, Final Fantasy XIII returns for a sequel that is clearly intended to rope in a wider audience. Flashy battles, well polished graphics and the ability to time travel all sounds good, but the game is burdened with so many different flaws that it’s hard believe it’s actually identified as a ‘Final Fantasy’.

The game begins with an on-rails sequence that sees Lightning in an explosive battle against a brand new enemy known as Caius. As the intense fight rages on and you’re faced with a few interactive button mashing scenes, it suddenly ends with Caius seemingly defeated and Valhalla in pieces around him. It’s from this point onwards that the game slowly drifts downhill and a Sora-lookalike time traveler known as Noel Kreiss suddenly appears. Lightning then sends this boy from the future back through time to find her sister Serah and stop a bleak destiny from occurring. Despite sounding like the adventure of a lifetime, the problem is that you’re no longer in control of Lightning, but two very dull and uninteresting teenagers that are accompanied by a chirpy Moogle that speaks.

Adding insult to injury is an overly charismatic dialogue that plays out worse than an episode of Naruto. From the carbon copy villain, to the mind numbing protagonists, thanks to Lightning’s lack of screen time, there isn’t a single likeable character in this game!

Final Fantasy XIII-2 does of course make up for numbers by implementing a cleverly thought-out Pokémon, sorry, monster system. This basically allows you to catch monsters you’ve defeated, level them up and use them in battle as a third party member. Personally, I believe this is a fantastic way to fight fire with fire and is definitely a great way of improving the joke of a battle system that was crafted for Final Fantasy XIII. Unfortunately, where the game goes forward in combat, it jumps two steps back with a very inflexible skill tree system. Forget structuring a character to suit your play style, the new Crystarium feels even more outdated than Final Fantasy X’s skill sphere – at least that allowed you craft diverse party members. Instead, you’re now forced to develop in a straight line without choosing which abilities to acquire first.

Whilst Final Fantasy XIII-2 does indeed improve on the corridor exploration of its linear predecessor, even implementing a time travelling system doesn’t save this game from its unimaginative environments. From recycled areas with slightly different lighting effects, to partial shifts in background music, the idea of bending time and space almost feels like a convenient excuse to pass off old areas as new. Think Sonic CD time travelling and you’ll catch what I mean. Of course, you can’t deny that each world boasts beautiful surroundings with fantastic designs throughout – but good graphics don’t make a good game!

What does help make a good game however, is a top-notch soundtrack. Renowned for sporting the catchiest musical scoring in video gaming history, Final Fantasy’s usually immerse you with melodies you find yourself humming years later. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Final Fantasy XIII-2. Whether I’m just a biased Nobuo Uematsu fanboy, or I couldn’t stand the heavy metal and pop music influences, I honestly can’t recall a single memorable track within the entire game – with the exception of the monotonous battle theme that will occur every 5 seconds in the Augusta Tower.

Admittedly, I wanted to like this game. Lured in by the thought of a well polished version of Final Fantasy XIII and a die-hard fan since the SNES years – what fan wouldn’t?! Whilst the developers listened to fans and gave them more exploration, they in turn sacrificed good character development and story. In a feeble attempt to appeal to a wider audience, they also stuck every female character in a short skirt and released a DLC of Serah’s bikini – why?! Overall, Final Fantasy XIII-2 certainly isn’t made for veterans of the series, nor is it the perfect way to enter the franchise. With a battle system that fights for you and dialogue that the makers of Happy Tree Friends would be proud of, this game is ideal for ages 12 years and younger.

Not for Final Fantasy veterans

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About the Author ()

Simon Parry - Age 24 | It started with a Sega Master System, and from there Simon’s love affair with video games grew tremendously. At heart, he’s a retro gamer and always will be, but when he’s not working, or forced to watch bad television with his girlfriend, he’s usually checking out the latest releases for the Xbox 360 and PS3. RPG’s are his forte, followed by platformers and 2D fighting games – but he’s also partial to a bit of FPS from time to time.

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