The Final Fantasy series has had its ups and downs over its lifespan, and Square Enix revamped the series with Final Fantasy XIII. The fighting system was a more modern approach to turn based RPG’s and graphically, it was in par with some of the best games on the market for any console. With the newest installment into the Final Fantasy series, and direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, Square Enix has one-upped themselves yet again and added even more wrinkles to the evolved combat system and expanded on the storyline that was established in its predecessor.
Lightning, the female protagonist from Final Fantasy XIII, has vanished and turned into the crystal pillar holding Cocoon from crashing down into Gran Pulse…or so most people in Gran Pulse believe. Your quest is to find the truth and travel through time to find Lightning and reveal the truth about her disappearance….oh, and re-write the course of mankind’s existence.
You start this journey as Serah, Lightning’s sister, who is the exact same girl who was frozen in crystal thanks to the fal’Cie in FFXIII (oh how the tables have turned). You will quickly meet up with Noel Kriess, who in all honesty is a pretty cool character, just with a really awful name. He has been sent by Lightning from Valhalla, otherwise known as the realm of the deal, to help you on your journey and to protect you. This is a pretty basic plot line to start out, however, it does pickup the deeper you dive into the game, but in an effort to not spoil it, I will leave you with just the basic groundwork.
The combat system has evolved again with cinematic combat sequences where button combinations or the thumb stick allows you the ability to perform different attacks or defensive moves. This new wrinkle makes cut scenes much more tolerable since you actually need to pay attention and have some say in the final outcome of the cut scenes. Additionally, there is a what is called a mob clock that starts each time you encounter an enemy. What this means is when a monster appears, a circle encases you and that monster. There is a gauge that shows three colors, red, green or yellow. If it is green, you can strike the monster with a preemptive strike and stagger them (or close to staggering them) as soon as the battle starts. Yellow indicates the monster is aware if your presence and almost ready to fight. Red means the monster is primed to strike and does so. If you are quick enough, this can be a huge advantage in battle because when an opponent is staggered there is a damage multiplier that kicks in and you are safe from attack.
Another nice feature that is at your disposal in battle now are paradigm packs, which allows you to assemble up to three allied monsters into a pack which can be added to your paradigm (battle alignment) list for use. I have not had the pleasure of using one of these just yet, but the thought of it is rather exciting. You can also tune your paradigms now, which means you can have characters focus on one enemy with the paradigm assigned, cross attacks against one enemy or will use wider attacks to hit multiple enemies. This will come in handy when finding yourself stuck in those common battles with one giant monster and then a bunch of little annoying ones that drain your magic and health by nickel and diming you to death.
Graphically, this game surpasses what was done with FFXIII, and that is a tough task to have accomplished. The cut scenes are breathtaking and the environments are just as stunning as you would hope. The character rendering is very well done and you can feel the emotion trying to be portrayed when a character speaks or is engaged in battle during the cutscenes.
I have only come across two negatives so far, and one is usually something that bothers me with every Final Fantasy game, and that is the rather cheesy and unoriginal score. I am a huge fan of awesome soundtracks and scores for games, but so far, this one has let me down. That may change the further on you go in the game, but around 1 hour in, it’s not very good. The other negative that many people out there will more than likely complain about (because they did with FFXIII) is how linear the environments are. Personally, its not that big of a deal to me that it hurts my overall impression of the game, but many Final Fantasy fans out there may be upset. However, if these are the worst things someone can pick out about your game, you’ve probably made a pretty good game.
Overall, I have highly enjoyed the time I have spent on Final Fantasy XIII-2, and think many of you will as well. Graphically it is superior to many games in the market, the storyline has been engaging and the new additions to the combat system are very cool and will add even more enjoyment to the Final Fantasy experience. I give this game 4 out of 5 stars, or if you want a scale of 1-10, I would give this game an 8. Now get out there and pick this game up and have some fun!
This post was submitted by Matthew Wiles.