Also Finished Final Fantasy XIII-2, Too   Leave a comment

Last month, I did my review of Final Fantasy XIII. I have mixed feelings about the game. It was much different from previous Final Fantasies and used the new Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology instead of the original crystal origins that the first games used. Linear maps, non-north facing maps (which was a pain), very short story, only one major side quest… the list goes on. Good thing the sequel improved on everything.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is set three years after the previous game. Without spoiling much of what happened, the 6 main characters saved the world. However, something is off. Lightning, one of the main characters is gone. Nobody knows where she is. Many of her friends believe she turned into crystal. Serah Farron, Lightning’s sister, sees things differently. She remembers Lightning being with the group after they saved the world and then suddenly just disappears.

The game starts with Lightning in another dimension, Valhalla, in battle gear and different armor. She’s fighting another person named Caius Ballad. During the fight, a portal appears out in the sky. A young man, named Noel Kreiss, falls through. Lightning saves him and tells Noel that she was expecting his arrival. She knows that Noel is from the distant future. She sends Noel on a task to help Serah on saving the world… again. The game pulled a Metal Gear Solid 2 and switched main characters. For the duration of the game, Serah and Noel are the main characters.

Noel arrives in Serah’s time, 3 years after the 6 l’Cie heroes saved the world, and tells her that Lightning sent him. Noel explains that the sudden appearance of otherworldly monsters is caused by different timelines bleeding into each other at one point in history, causing a paradox. The only way to fix these is to travel through time and resolve all the paradoxes and find the TRUE timeline. Serah decides to go with Noel and jumped through time using the Historia Crux (it’s the fancy name they call the wormhole to jump through time).

That’s pretty much the whole premise of XIII-2. The two main characters have to go through history fixing paradoxes. Along the way, they meet familiar main and supporting characters from XIII. There’s actually more content here than XIII on top of many improvements.

One of many complaints from XIII were the linear maps. That’s gone. They expanded the borders on where you can run around, battling monsters and talking to NPC. The non-north facing map? They fixed that by adding an option to make the full map and mini-map always facing north or facing where your character looks. Chocobos are found in all timelines after you’ve completed the story missions in those areas. This makes traveling much easier than XIII. You’re also able to fully explore the game menu unlike in XIII. You can also save anywhere.

In XIII, it was possible to completely ignore appearing monsters by running away from them and catching them completely off-guard with their backs turned and abuse staggers. Not anymore. When monsters appear, a color-coordinated timer appears counting down from green, to yellow then red. You have the chance to hit any of the monsters with your weapon before the timer runs out and get a preemptive strike. However, these preemptive strikes don’t almost stagger the monsters. You can run away from the monsters and the timer disappears. if you don’t hit them or them hitting you before the timer runs out to red, you won’t be able to restart the battle.

In battle, you have a chance to obtain monster crystals from monsters you’ve defeated. You can use these monsters as pets and your third character during battle. Like your two main characters, they can be leveled up and obtain more powerful skills and more health. You can also infuse one monster to another monster. The other monster would gain any available ability from the consumed monster. Another game mechanic they changed is the ability to switch leaders during battle. This was not possible in XIII. When the leader dies, it’s game over. Not in XIII-2. When the leader dies, it automatically switches to either Noel or Serah. They also added this feature for paradigm shifts: (1) Normal, Cross (X) or Wide (W) paradigms. Paradigms with X have the characters focus on one target. Wide paradigms focus on all targets. You can also save up to three paradigm shift setups. This makes setting up for specific boss battles easier and it’s as easy as loading your go-to shifts.

XIII-2 played similarly to another numbered sequel (X-2)… in that you can choose the order you play each timeline or branching timeline. You don’t even have to play all the timelines to beat the game. I know some people play the game like that, but they miss out on everything. When interacting with certain NPCs and various story points in the game, there is a trigger event that lets you choose an answer, which garner serious, honest or funny reactions from the characters. Any variations of these will net you decorations for your monster pets. There lots of these collectible items. They’re unnecessary for completing the game, but it’s fun to dress up your monsters. XIII had you collecting monster drops and pawning them off to shops as the main source of money. Not in XIII-2. This time, monsters actually drop gil, as well as monster items and equipment.

Can’t get enough of side quests? XIII-2 has got you covered. Collecting monster decorations, fully exploring every map from all possible timelines, optional bosses, gambling and chocobo racing. These will keep you busy. These don’t even include the downloadable content (DLC) you have to pay, which are a lot, and which Square Enix is guilty of abusing. There’s a colliseum DLC, which have you fighting strong monsters and familiar characters from XIII. Beating these guys will net you their monster crystal. That’s right. You can have Sazh, two version of Lightning and Snow as support characters. From a gameplay standpoint, these DLCs were fun to beat. They don’t really add much to the story, but they sure help out with beating the game. Too bad I already beat the game before I attempted to fight them in the colliseum.

You can get Sazh early on by playing his own DLC. In this story, he was also affected by the paradox. He and his son, Dajh, wind up in the Serendipity dimension, where everyone can gamble. You can play poker and this other gambling game having to do with a clock or something. Beating the requirements for this DLC gets you Sazh’s as a supporting character.

The last DLC is the important one, as it bridges the story at the end of XIII-2 and the third game, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. In this DLC, you play as Lightning wearing Etro’s Goddess armors or whatever. You fight Caius Ballad one on one. It’s probably one of the hardest DLCs I’ve had to play. Normally DLCs are freebies and much easier than the main game content. Square Enix didn’t get the memo and is basically making you pay extra for a harder difficulty. Because Japan.

Square Enix did everything right in my book. From what I heard, this was supposed to be just one game, but it got too big to fit in one Blu-Ray disk that they have to split it into two games. Not sure if that’s true or not, though. The only thing I didn’t like is having to play another game to find out the story of the Lightning Saga. I already ordered it, but the seller is waiting on a back order delivery of another item before they can ship this. Gives me more time to play other games, I guess.

I’m done.

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Posted February 17, 2014 by StupidSystemus in Games, Reviews

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