‘Fantasy’ fixes previous issues
When Final Fantasy XIII released a year ago, Square Enix had plenty of media criticism to deal with and just about every harsh comment that fans could dig up were thrown at them, citing atrocious linearity in the storyline and boring character development.
They’ve taken a step back and approached Final Fantasy XIII-2 with the intention of addressing all these problems, making the weak aspects of the previous game better and making the highest points even higher.
In the most basic explanation possible, the story takes place three years after Final Fantasy XIII. Lightning, the main heroine from the previous game, has supposedly been missing, trapped inside a place known as Valhalla and profusely in a battle with the main antagonist, Caius.
Lightning sends out a mysterious boy named Noel to find her younger sister, Serah, who eventually believes Noel’s story of Lightning being alive and sets out on a journey to find her. All along the way, the two travel in and out of different gates that lead to different parts of the world during different time eras.
The character development still suffers and it seems that some of their actions throughout the game are without real cause.
The story, however, isn’t very long. So unless players plan on completing all of the side quests, they are likely to get through the game in about a week.
The game does a splendid job in its overall visual and musical presentation.
The graphics have been noticeably improved with a greater use of brighter colors and landscape throughout various time levels in the game.
The audio is a brilliantly executed aspect of the presentation with the experimentation of different styles of music, such as jazz, rock and dance playing during the right moments at the right time.
The musical soundtrack is satisfying and could possibly be one of the most interesting Final Fantasy soundtracks to date.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 also excels in tying its time travel theme into the game play.
The choices you make in the game can greatly effect what you’ll encounter in the future. However, players will find themselves going back and forth between various levels of the game to play through a level again using “close gate” – essentially a redo button.
It allows for better choices in the dialogue options or a chance to trigger an event that unlocks something else in another level.
Once you learn the ability to throw Mog, Serah’s trusty moogle sidekick, you’ll find it rewarding to go back to areas that have treasures and items you couldn’t reach before and get them.
The linearity of XIII is finally absent, so players will be free to wander off and choose where they go and how they play towards the end of the storyline.
The battle and level up system is one of the greatest points of the game. The Paradigm shifts and Crystarium system returns with a few minor tweaks and an added bonus as well.
In addition to switching a party member’s job class on the fly, players will also be able to capture different types of monsters in the game and add them to their party – yes, even a Chocobo can be added to your party if you can find one.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to take direct control of these monsters as you would with Noel and Serah, but you will have the option to trigger their special attack known as “Feral Link.”
What’s really neat and new about battles is that the game automatically switches to another character when the one that you’re controlling dies.
Instead of engaging with monsters that run amok on the field to start a battle, enemies will randomly pop up out of nowhere to start a fight with you, but you have the option to try and run away from them if you can. It’s a notorious trait of the Final Fantasy series.
Most of the battles feel very watered down in terms of difficulty. The battle, as well as the entire game itself, seems very easy to get through if you know what you’re doing. Gamers seeking an even tougher challenge this time around might be slightly disappointed.
Despite the off-putting 25 hours of storyline and poor character utilization, Final Fantasy XIII-2 has definitely tackled the mishaps of its predecessor and was able to sharply improve on them.
Final Fantasy XII-2 is a step in the right direction and should be able to satisfy both the fans of Final Fantasy games and gamers who are just looking for something new to enjoy.