Developer: Square Enix > Publisher: Square Enix > Systems: PS3, Xbox 360 > Rating: T
Final Fantasy XIII was a deeply flawed game. Although it had an intense battle system, lush graphics and a wondrous world, the uneven characters, befuddling story and 20+ hours of running down corridors was just too much to bear for most gamers. But I’m firm believer in second chances, so I decided to give XIII-2 a fair shake.
The first thing you’ll notice in this game is, you’re free to run around! You’re not stuck in endless corridors! It’s pretty obvious Square Enix listened to the intense backlash after Final Fantasy XIII. In this game, you jump through special gates that take you to different places, or even the same places but in different time periods. The freedom is nice, but there were a couple of times it wasn’t 100% clear where I should go. Still, it sure beats endless corridors. Have I said corridors enough in this review? Corridors.
Another new addition to this game, and one I really enjoyed, is the ability to use monsters in your group. We all know how fun Pokémon is, right? Well, capturing, collecting and fighting with monsters in this game is also a blast. You can have three monsters fighting with you, and switch them out depending on what class they fulfill in your paradigm.
If you were confused by “paradigm,” you probably didn’t play the XIII, and missed out on one of the most exciting battle systems in any RPG. It works like this (at least I think it does, it's kinda complicated): the goal in battle is to “Stagger” your enemy. To do that, you must force their Stagger bar over the limit. Certain attacks raise it, and other attacks keep it from falling. So it’s up to you to switch paradigms (reorganize your party) to accomplish this. You also have to switch paradigms to put in healers and modifiers. I noticed in this game they didn't really hold your hand in battle, so if you didn’t play the first one, the system will take time to get used to.
As far as the story goes, it’s a bit easier to follow than FFXIII. Assuming you’ve played the first game, you’ll at least be used to nutter-butter vocabulary like: Gran Pulse, Cacoon, Fal’Cie and yeah, that stuff. You play Serah and her new mystery friend Noel, and together you’re on a time traveling search for her missing sister, Lightning. The story’s interesting, but what’s more fun is going through different time periods from the first game and seeing places before and after the major events.
It looks like after facing the full ire of fans enraged by FXIII, Square Enix went back to the drawing board. While they didn’t fix everything with this game, it’s a huge step in the right direction. Here’s hoping some of these improvements make it into FFXIV. And FFXV. And FFXVI. And…
by Urian Brown
© Square Enix