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Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

This is a discussion on Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review within the Game Reviews forum, part of the Trophy Guides, Reviews & Articles; Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review by Gauss Basic Information: Developer: SquareEnix Publisher: SquareEnix North American Release Date: 1/31/2012 European Release Date: ...

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    Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review


    Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review
    by Gauss


    Basic Information:
    Developer:
    SquareEnix
    Publisher: SquareEnix
    North American Release Date: 1/31/2012
    European Release Date: 2/3/2012
    Trophies:
    Yes, 1 | 6 | 6 | 19


    Overview


    Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a new chapter in the New Crystal Tale from Square Enix. It's a JRPG that picks up where Final Fantasy XIII left off, but with some new enhancement and a non-linear, open world story and environment. Much like previous "direct sequels" attempted by Square Enix, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is more of a casual title with a sense of humor that promises to bring a new style to the original.


    Gameplay


    Final Fantasy XIII-2 is an enhancement of the original Final Fantasy XIII's gameplay. At its core FF13-2 uses the same Paradigm system whereby your characters are assigned roles in combat, identical to the job system of previous titles, and these roles dictate abilities, stats, and bonuses. There are 6 main roles: Sentinel (Tank), Medic (Healer), Ravager (Mage), Commando (Warrior), Synergist (Support), and Saboteur (Debuff).

    The key to battle is to create a portfolio of balanced Paradigms, which can be changed in battle on the fly, to allow for your party to account for changing conditions during battle. There may be periods of time where you need defensive paradigms that have a tank and healers, there may be periods of time where you have to have offensive focused paradigms with damage dealers, and there may be times where you need to focus on a balance. As with the previous entry, the primary focus of combat is to get the enemies into a "Stagger" state, where you can stack damage multipliers to increase your damage up to 10x. Most of the paradigm system is based on timing and balancing your classes to survive while maintaining stagger states.

    Combat itself is real-time, turn-based. Turns exist on an "active-time battle" gauge most Final Fantasy fans should be familiar with, but for those unfamiliar, each character has a bar that must recharge between attacks. The bar has a rate at which it re-charges, which can be affected by buffs/debuffs. Attacks are stacked up as chains along this bar, which has multiple levels to allow you to execute more attacks in a chain, or you can choose to execute smaller chains by only charging the bar partway.


    The gameplay is a good evolution of typical JRPG style

    Leveling is very similar as well, focusing on the Crystarium, which is where experience points are spent to unlock nodes. The key difference here over the previous title is that the entire game features only two playable characters: Noel and Serah, and these two are more balanced in regards to their capabilities with each class. Unlike last time where a character like Snow just didn't make a good Medic no matter what you did, here Noel and Serah's capabilities depend on how you level them. This is handled by the other main change to the system, and that is each role doesn't have its own tree. Instead there are several crystarium levels and you can place whichever nodes you want for each character on each level. If you want Noel to be a Commando/Sentinel focused character, you can place those nodes down first and level that up faster, all while taking advantage of the stats that leveling those up provide you. Leveling Sentinel, for example, provides HP bonuses to all roles.

    The combat system is ultimately not a two member party though, and that is where a really cool feature has been introduced. FF13-2 brings back the monster system from FFX, except instead of hunting the monsters to fight in an arena, you hunt the monsters for the purpose of taming them to fight at your side. Early on in the game you unlock the ability to put monsters in your paradigm deck, each monster has its own dedicated Crystarium and can only take on a single, preset role, but they make up for this in the fact that each monster has special abilities. The Cloudburst monster, as an example, has an ability which buffs the entire party.

    Singleplayer


    Final Fantasy XIII-2 takes place in the aftermath of Final Fantasy XIII in an alternative timeline where Lightning disappears after the fall of Cocoon. Her sister, Serah, the reason for Snow's trials in XIII is the only person who remembers her in the original timeline. After a few years a mysterious man, Noel, drops in from the future after seeing Lightning in Valhalla to bring Serah on a quest to restore the timeline and save Lightning. When all is said and done Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a mixed bag in the story department, it's a good mix of rights and wrongs... Mostly wrongs.

    On the good side the story does a good job handling Serah, Noel, and their respective arcs. If you dig deep to the core of the story they flow well together and connect to the overall plot in a very well-executed manner. They also balance each-other well, Serah provides the standard motivation you need to keep a plot moving forward with her singular goal of rescuing her sister and her fiancee, Snow. Noel provides the mystery and intrigue that keeps you guessing as his character arc brings in the time-travel element and is integral to the purpose of the villain, Caius, and the mysterious girl following him, Yeul. This does a good job of keeping the story interesting despite its shortcomings.


    Apparently saying "kupo" at the end of every sentence is acceptable

    Most of this is ruined by the endings, of which there are technically multiple, but its really just that there isn't any true closure in how Final Fantasy XIII-2 ends; there isn't any sense of climax to most of the endings from a story standpoint. On a few fronts this is good, such as when Serah chooses some path that results in failure, but ultimately this disappointing.

    The larger problems the story has are introduced through execution. They derive from two main factors: The first is that time-travel stories are just difficult to do, and this story is no Primer or Back to the Future. Overall the way the story moves doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you are actually moving through it, bits and pieces only start coming together at the end. Its made worse by the fact that solving paradoxes, what this game calls the errors in time Serah and Noel are trying to fix to bring Lightning back, changes the past and future for some reason that is never explained to my satisfaction. In other words, while the character's individual arcs are handled well, you shouldn't turn your brain on during the plot because none of it makes any real sense.

    This first problem is exacerbated by the fact that this game opens up very early on and brings in alot of side content quickly. It creates a situation where the lack of focus on the story muddles it up, every area has 2 or 3 side-quests that are their own, self-contained stories that have nothing to do with Noel, Serah, or their character arcs, and they don't feed into the overall plot except to provide you more interesting things to do in the game. The end result of all this is a story that feels like it takes a backseat to the gameplay and the rest of the game as a whole.

    Its also worth noting that the dialogue in this game has its issues. There are periods in time where it becomes disconnected and almost alien. For example, when you first encounter Sazh, he just starts talking out of nowhere. Its not until about a minute later that you realize you are listening to an echo of him from another time, a letter of sorts. Since this isn't explained before the cut-scene, it's a shock that brings you right out of the story. Instances like this are littered over the campaign, along with several cut-scenes that feature dialogue that just aren't how people really talk. It prevents you from truly falling into the story like you should.

    Some of the above I have to forgive because its how Final Fantasy has always been, its always had periods of exposition where characters say or relate something that doesn't sound right. It bothers me here because of its frequency and severity. The entire opening, for example, is just incoherent.


    Technical


    As with most Final Fantasies, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is what I call a "high art" game. The visuals are very striking in their own realm, a realm free from the grit that tends to come with games that go for a more realistic look. The color palette used is vibrant and diverse, and the presentation is much less realistic and much more representative of what is trying to be conveyed by the overall environment. In this regard Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a phenomenal achievement, the environments are varied, interesting, and immersive, with a sense of personality all their own. Environments are very detailed as are character models, weapons, etc. Everything about the visuals in this game is stellar, in a class above the average title.


    Much of the imagery is downright breathtaking

    My only real complaints in this game vary from minor to average, the first is the general absence of the pre-rendered cutscenes that have become a staple of Final Fantasy. Now at a certain point in time this may stop meaning anything, but this game is missing the types of cutscenes that have made previous Final Fantasies so popular. These scenes that are spectacles in their own right, very flashy with high emotions or action. Final Fantasy XIII-2 has a few, but they are no where near the same number as previous titles.

    The larger issue is the soundtrack, which doesn't have the same sense of purpose as previous titles. This may be due to the lighthearted nature of this title, and while it's not all bad, there are periods where I feel like the soundtrack doesn't quite fit; Sometimes its the fact that there is singing in the background while characters are chatting, or other-times areas have songs that don't fit the tone of the environment. As an example, Square used the same song for a lush beach as it does for a snow-covered ruin. The voice-acting makes up for this a bit, as it is among the best in the industry. Voice actors deliver their lines, however corny, with the appropriate emotion and enthusiasm and every voice fits the character.

    Trophies

    As with many games like this, the platinum is not for the casual trophy hunter. The platinum for this game is no where near as involved as the previous entry in the series thanks to the ability to reset areas back to their default state after completing them and your ability to move through the story non-linearly, but it still will take time nonetheless.
    Tasks such as collecting all fragments will take several hours of playtime and potentially multiple playthroughs of an area.

    Closing Thoughts


    When all is said and done, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a pretty good JRPG, but doesn't stretch beyond its bounds. It feels like a "Me Too!" game in every sense of that phrase. The game is full of content, and most of it is fun, but it comes at a detriment to the story. The characters have some mildly interesting arcs, but the overall plot is pretty stupid. The visuals are great, but the soundtrack is weird. This game comes recommended from me, but a tepid one because I ultimately feel this is a step nowhere. A game steeped in reaction to satisfy a fan-base, an attempt that results in a game which is ultimately JPRG by the numbers.

    If you like the gameplay, this game will offer enough to make it worth a play.

    Gameplay: 9/10
    - The gameplay system is very deep for an RPG and the addition of the monster-hunting mechanic brings about a new strategy element.

    Singleplayer: 6/10
    - The story is a mixed bag. A good set of character arcs is offset by a lack of focus and the general problems of a time travel plot. Atleast Square got what they wanted in the side content.

    Technical: 8/10
    - Another stellar example of Final Fantasy visuals, even if the soundtrack doesn't fit as well.

    Overall: 7/10 Good



    SECOND OPINION
    by Kerwan_Ratchet


    FF13-2 is one of those titles that’s exactly the same as it’s prequel in some areas and the complete opposite in others. The gameplay is somewhat similar, with the battle system containing 6 roles, ATB bars and micromanaging your own spells and abilities. This time around though you have the opinion to change your party leader, even in the midst of a major battle. You can also “tame” your former enemies, getting them to fight at your side in battle. There’s nothing better than working with a chocobo to slain a monster 100 times bigger than you.

    The trouble with the game though lies within the story. There’s a lot going on with time, paradoxes, seeing the future and in short what’s happening around you. It’s a well done tale with a lot of twists along the way, but you’ll be confused for the most part for where exactly you want or need to go. You’ll be given multiple time gates that allow you to travel back and forth – like using the ship in the old FFs in a way – and doing this over and over again gets confusing to say the least. Not to worry though, it’s as fun as ever.

    The technical side the game has dramatically suffered with Square deciding to squeeze the game onto a single disc for the 360 unlike for the last game. The graphics aren’t quite as crisp as they were previously, and there’s a lot less of those stunning CGI cut-scenes to gawk at. The soundtrack also suffers. A strange blend of metal, techno and party music does little to suit the atmosphere in some cases. Even small quirks like enemies becoming one with the battlefield and popping up randomly is a sign of a drop in quality. However, the gameplay is more enjoyable and complex in battle. You’ll have a blast, and with the linear aspect completely gone FF13-2 has an extremely enjoyable, albeit a short, single player experience.

    FF13-2 doesn’t quite match up to FF13, even though the gameplay has improved and the linear aspect done away with. It’s still a fantastic title however that is well worth your time.


    Overall: 8.5
    /10 Great
    Last edited by Gauss; 02-21-2012 at 07:03 AM.
    Gauss's Piracy Uncertainty Principle: When you pirate a game, that act inherently changes the results of what is to come after your pirating. You can't make any statement with any certainty regarding what would have happened had you not pirated the game.


    Gauss's Rating Rationale:
    0-1: A game whose very existence is abhorrent to all things creative and intelligent.
    2-4: A just plain bad game.
    5-6: A game that has alot of mistakes, but is atleast playable and has some enjoyable sections. Good for a rent.
    7: An average game, should be played at some point
    8: A good game, should buy at some point
    9: A great game, day-one purchase
    10: A game that goes above and beyond the generation, its transcendent.

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    Very good review. I wasn't too sure about picking this up. But, thanks to the review, I'm going to put this on the "maybe" list




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    I Agree with Gauss score.





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    Nice review there!! I totally agree with the 7 score. When I heard about the XIII-2 being developed just months after the first one, made me thought about how committed would Square Enix be to improve the original one and erase the bad critics about linearity and stuff, but the absence of some interesting characters and the total gameplay length caused that, this time Square didn't bring it, yet again.

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    Good review Gauss.






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    Why ainīt the one liking the game more writing the main review?
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    Quote Originally Posted by YumeOMiru View Post
    Why ainīt the one liking the game more writing the main review?
    The reason is because Gauss is very neutral when it comes to review writing. If the person writing the review happened to be a large fan of the FF series, it might influence the overall score of the review and make it worthless.
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    7/10 is a harsh review score in my opinion. I agree more with the second opinion. I have put in 60+ hours and i have enjoyed every moment of the game. My personal review score would be 9/10.

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    When it was announced I was expecting some kind of FFX-2 but in the end it seems to be a very good title.
    I think I'm going to buy it when I can. Excellent review btw, it's very neutral


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    I agree with the score. This is the first story in a Final Fantasy game that I've actually despised. I think it's clear that Square-Enix was so laser focused on fixing people's issues with XIII that they delayed adding the plot for as long as they could.

    They made this open-ended structure of traversing different environments at different time periods, and then threw in some nonsensical philosophy babble about "time" to try and hold it together. Instead, their story was as segmented and emotionally lacking as the broken timeline they created.

    Some plot elements are so poorly conveyed, like the echos or clones (whatever they are) of other characters you mentioned like Sazh. After so many cut-scenes I found myself wondering "Wait, were they supposed to be real?". The characters rarely seem very surprised at what's happening, so the player is expected to just go with it. They don't always seem to be asking the right the questions either during the course of the game. It's as if they have a much better understanding of the goings on than I do, and that leaves me the player, left out of the story.

    There's also a point in the game when Noel says the line "I couldn't protect her..." and then a tear immediately rolls down his cheek. I'm usually pretty cool with this kind of melodrama in games, but the way it's handled makes it look so forced, so agonizingly emotionless, that I just HAD to roll my eyes. That's FFXIII-2's story in a nutshell: when I wasn't confused, I was annoyed. The series has never been this low in its storytelling.

    The one thing other thing I didn't like were the sidequests. About 90% of them boiled down to "find that one magical floating box with the item inside". At the very least I could have used a few more "go kill a few of those monsters" quests to mix things up.

    But despite all that I've really enjoyed my time with the game so far. The battle system is sublime, and there's such a sense of zen-like whimsy (for lack of a better word) of traveling through these gorgeous, colorful environments that you just don't get from other RPGs. I've grown so tired already of the grimy grittiness of western role-playing games, as much I love Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and Deus Ex.

    Quote Originally Posted by YumeOMiru View Post
    Why ainīt the one liking the game more writing the main review?
    Well, if every review did that, every game would have high scores, and if every game had high scores, what would be the point of reviews?

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    i see a few people on my friends list playing the game and when i ask how is it they all they "its alright" i think ill wait for a 30 buck price drop
    ill be occupied with RE ORC anyway
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    I get a kick when people get offended by someones review score, If you read the review its explained why he scored the game as he did, I am sure its a fair review


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    I agree with what Gauss said, however, I still enjoyed the game more than FFXIII and would give it an 8.5/10. Also, if I was Guass, I would of said the following after the Kupo caption:

    "Apparently saying "kupo" at the end of every sentence is acceptable, Kupo."

    I really liked the addition of Mog and was laughing at some of the things (s)he said and how (s)he moved. Especially during the Mog Paradox ending.
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    As far as FF goes I would make it an 8 or even 7.5. While a huge advance from the previous, its not the best title they have had by any means... The ending is what kills it for me... Like ?


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    Quote Originally Posted by YumeOMiru View Post
    Why ainīt the one liking the game more writing the main review?
    Because 'the one liking the game more' is inputting a second opinion. Gauss is the one writing the main review and his word is final. I've just got an additional score to consider publicly. We both have our different views and that's suffice.




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    I agree with the 8/10.

    Good review, though, Gauss.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YumeOMiru View Post
    Why ainīt the one liking the game more writing the main review?
    Because his name was drawn out of a hat, not kertwat's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nuggies View Post
    Because his name was drawn out of a hat, not kertwat's.
    That's probably a more accurate description.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemhazat View Post
    The reason is because Gauss is very neutral when it comes to review writing. If the person writing the review happened to be a large fan of the FF series, it might influence the overall score of the review and make it worthless.
    Have I missed something that happened when I went to sleep yesterday? If someone whoīs more fan of the game review it, wonīt he see stuff thatīs "Final Fantasyish" and the stuff that ainīt? And wonīt that help the fans more than let say a Gran Turismo 5 fan or someone whoīs jack of all trades but master of none have a go? Is the target audience for the review not the people who usually buy JRPG day one if itīs good? Or is it just to inform that this game didnīt blew me away but is worth a try .......sometime in your life.

    Iīm not complaining on the score from the start, but I do now when I see thereīs a second opinion (mini review?) that like the game more. Rant over for now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by YumeOMiru View Post
    Have I missed something that happened when I went to sleep yesterday? If someone whoīs more fan of the game review it, wonīt he see stuff thatīs "Final Fantasyish" and the stuff that ainīt? And wonīt that help the fans more than let say a Gran Turismo 5 fan or someone whoīs jack of all trades but master of none have a go? Is the target audience for the review not the people who usually buy JRPG day one if itīs good? Or is it just to inform that this game didnīt blew me away but is worth a try .......sometime in your life.

    Iīm not complaining on the score from the start, but I do now when I see thereīs a second opinion (mini review?) that like the game more. Rant over for now.
    That's fair enough, but Gauss is also a FF fan and he's played FF13 along with a few others I believe. We both tried to remain unbiased while giving our honest opinions and I'd say we didn't do a too bad job of it..




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