Monster Mash-Up: The Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

Most of you don’t care, but the newest installment in the Final Fantasy series came out last week. I’ve had it for under a week but have managed to squeeze 16 hours of game play. Obviously if this was 2002 instead of 2012 I’d be well on my way to beating it and 45 hours in, but it’s not as bad as I thought it’d be.  Sure if you care about this at all you have access to a ton of reviews online but you know you want my thoughts on it too. I even have mostly played the game sober, so have remember most of the points I wanted to make as I went through the game! Hooray (relative) maturity!

 

Things I like

Save the Cheerleader, Save the World – In the game, you jump through time to find Lighting[1] and change the future of Cocoon and Grand Pulse[2]. It’s a solid follow-up premise, but as always, it’s dragged down a little bit by the overly naïve narration of the main character. They always need to toughen up a bit.  Anyway, the major upgrade is the fact that the game is not a linear replication of Final Fantasy XIII. As an apology to all, director Motomu Toriyama and his team have come up with a much more open map, this one featuring both forward and backward time travel. With different time periods and different locations it allowed the team to be creative and come up with varying terrains and cities that otherwise would have looked out of place in a linear game taking place in the same time frame. It’s a really solid concept and I’ve already put off the main story line a couple times by jumping to secondary worlds and exploring as much of the timeline as possible.

Point, Click, Shoot – The Live Trigger cut scenes are pretty cool and interactive for the first time. In battle cut scenes, there are buttons to push, you can’t just zone out. Pay attention if you want bonus items. In conversations, you get options for responses instead of the usually preloaded dialogue.  The only downside is that the conversation choices you make don’t factor into the final ending of the game, which you think it would since there are multiple endings. Either way, it’s a step in the right direction.

Monster Mash-up – If there’s one thing I like to do more than anything else in Final Fantasy it’s grind my way to strong characters for easy boss fights. This edition of the game let’s me take that to a whole new level by introducing a Pokemon style ‘Gotta Catch’Em All’ element to the game.  You can capture one monster of each type that you fight, make them stronger and merge their characteristics with other monsters. Good lord I’ve got a half chub just thinking about it.  Needless to say I’ve already spent a good deal of time doing that and will continue to for the duration of this game. With only 2 playable characters for the first time ever in Final Fantasy, it was a great touch and is easily the best part of the game.

 

Things I don’t like

Earsplitting headaches – It’s been beaten to death already, but the music is absolutely atrocious. The music was one of the few strong points of XIII and one of the only downgrades in the sequel. I get that Toriyama wanted to take the franchise in a new direction musically, but honestly, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. He’s been working on the series since FFVII, he should know better!  Final Fantasy has always been a series that has you humming the battle music for months after you’ve put the game down.  You won’t have to worry about that this time. I hate to sound like an old man stuck in his ways, but I don’t want any goddamn rap or heavy metal in my Final Fantasy!

Sequels Involving New Characters – The point of a sequel is to usually tell the story of ‘what comes next’. I want to know what happened to the main characters after the completion of Final Fantasy XIII because yes, I did suck it up and beat it. Instead of fixing the wrongs of the world as Lightning and Snow, we get Lightning’s sister, who’s so weak she gets turned into a l’Cie in the original and some random dude from the future.  GUUUUH. Sure they ‘make up for it’ by having Snow and Hope appear in cameos throughout the game, but good god I wanted to BE them, not interact with them.  Oh and the intervening years between games hasn’t helped Hope be any less of a giant pussy.

Talking Mogs – Again, change isn’t always better.  If my Mog knows any word other than ‘Kupo!’ we have serious issues.  Anytime in the storyline it seems like the characters are ‘stuck’, Mog comes to the rescue with a helpful bit of advice that would have saved us all a lot of time and trouble, and probably a boss battle, if we knew about it a few hours prior.  Stick to being cute and saving my game, kupo.

 

Overall, the good clearly outweighs the bad and this game is a major step-up from Final Fantasy XIII. Sure I could nitpick a little more about smaller details that got lost in the shuffle, but everything that was improved, was done so in a major way. This feels like, and is, a vastly superior game than it’s predecessor. Hell, as an unabashed fan boy I didn’t think XIII was that bad (but it was) and romped through it anyway.  The sequel is a huge upgrade and no game, not even Skyrim, is ever perfect. I give it a solid B+ and I like the general direction the franchise is going. Now, if only they’d put out an MMORPG I could actually get into, I’d be completely satisfied.

 


[1] It’s ok, I’ve lost the non-nerds already I can use names and lingo without explanation

[2] See, just like that.

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