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A Game Completed! Final Fantasy XIII-2

Hmhmhmm, LJ seems to be having some technical problems.
Anyway! Everyone starting the 2013 with good health and all, yes?


109:52:54 And that was the all of Final Fantasy XIII-2. And by all, I mean all. Not the longest game in the series, for sure, but might be one of the easiest.

It's three years after the end of Final Fantasy XIII, and all that took place back then has settled in and calmed down. But things aren't right. Serah, the XIII's main character's (Lightning) little sister seems to be the only one to know that something is wrong. She remembers Lightning to have survived, yet everyone else disagrees. When a meteorite crashes close to her village, and a strange young man pops up from nowhere, telling Serah that he is from the future and that Lightning lives, they start their journey. That is, to correct the time line as it should be: to get Lightning back -and naturally to save humanity from its distinction.
While the story continues 3 years after, it doesn't refer to the old game too much, except for the XIII's ending. So it's easy to pick up by anyone, but includes major spoilers. The story manages to evolve nicely even though you will move in time from few years to hundreds of years to the future. At times it might get confusing to some players, but its alright if you just keep an open mind, haha. But at least the dialoque was much more natural than it was in FF XIII, and in the end the story did reach the ”interesting” department. But it ends with ”to be continued..” and the last events sure took care that it didn't feel like you had completed a game.

So the main character is Serah, who even though pink from toes to hair, isn't quite as useless as she looks like. Nothing special, but at least she doesn't behave like Vanille. Noel is a good fella as well, and that sums it up. He does seem to have some almost cool stuff inside his head at times, but in the end, he stays in the ”a good fella” cathegory. On the opposite side we have Caius Ballad, who stays rather mysterious for a long time, and is an alright nemesis for a RGP game. Also he did have a good reason for his actions, which is always a relief when it comes to the epic opponents. And just to get to say it, I'd have loved a possibility to play his story. That would have been so wonderfully melancholic, if executed correctly! (As for Chocolina.. I just wanted to strangle it the moment it started talking.) There was also a moogle called Mog, which was trying to be important, but in the end it was just that big, fluffy, cute thing that is usually seen in certain sort of animes (the ones which usually have a cute animal somewhere, if I need to mention).
As a sequel, we need the old faces too. Some of them (like Lighning) are incorporated in the plot in a natural way, and feel like they belong there, whereas some (Sazh) seem to be put there just to put him somewhere too. However, seeing them post-XIII is interesting and feels like meeting old friends.

Designs are as expected fitting for a sequel of FF XIII. The characters, the enviroments, the infrastructure and all the rest are nicely in canon with what we have already seen, while being new instead of recycling. For example, the sites the player visits are mostly new or at least complete remakes of what was seen in the first part. In case of monsters, we have recycling, but not in an annoying way and amounts.

In the music's side, it seems that someone has been playing it safe and done some mix-match of all sorts. Rock & piano ballads I do personally approve with a lot of respect. But with those and the rest, the soundtrack was quite a weird thing (and partially recycled too). The voice acting was done very well (and I personally loved the voice of Caius Ballad, hurhurhur) for the important characters, no complains there.

In the battle, you will have Serah, Noel and a monster. The monsters come in everyshape, for you can tame almost any of the ones you encounter.
The fighting system is very much as it was in FF XIII. You have a battle menu, but you will end up using 'automatic' choice for most of the time (it decides your actions for you), because the battles are quite fast paced for strolling through menus. You will only handle directly the character on the lead, while the other one and the monster will act on automatic, with the assigned roles. There are few roles from melee to magic to boosters. During the battle you can change the role combinations from a customizable menu. The roles are learned through a sphere grid, using Crystogen points that you earn from battles and completing missions. While this closely reminds of the system used on XIII, it feels more as a prototype than the new version.

As for what was new, there's the way you encounter the enemy. This too was something where it seemed like someone was trying to smash together the old and the new style. First you don't see the enemy, but then it appears from nowhere and you have a few seconds time to react (attack, or flee, or stand around until it attacks you). If you enter the actual battle, you will be send off to a separate battle screen. Also there was events called ”cinematic action”, which would lead to (cool-looking, in case of the boss battles) video scenes during battles, where certain ”press x/etc” are promted to execute the action well.
You can choose between ”easy” and ”normal”, but the hardness of ”normal” is already rather low to start with. Only few more bastardious big things might lure you to try the ”easy” way, but with patience and some good battle technique even they will go down. (And if they don't, grind a bit. I didn't need to, but that's because my gaming style gives me some natural grinding, haha.)

Aside of making your way through the game with battles, there was quite a load of puzzles to solve too. Mostly they were easy enough for anyone to survive, and with a little more thinking (and a few lucky guesses maybe) you could pass the more difficult ones in few minutes. There were three different sorts. Luckily there weren't that many puzzles in the overall game, for they just about stayed above the line of not-the-f-h-again as it was.

In general, time line surfing is quite fun and the overall feeling of freedom works greatly. You can enter different time periods and leave them even during the missions/events. From one time, you may find gates to many different places, which will eventually give you a nice amount of places to explore. Some of the places are completely optional, yet visiting them rewards you well. While correcting the history and the future as they should be, you will be collecting gatekeys and fragments, which consist some interesting information, and will give some extras for the overall experience. These fragments are also the biggest side quest (that doesn't even feel like a side quest) in the game, and to get the fragments you will be doing different missions. And it works rather well!
Aside of collecting fragments and exploring the areas, there are not that many things to do aside of just beating big enemies up. I suppose that's why one of the places open to visit is this amusement park with chocobo races and slot machines (and it does remind one of a certain place in certain VII, only with less things to do). Unless you are in for all the fragments, best weapon or you just want to make extra money with chocobos, the place is rather useless. I personally didn't feel any desire to spend more time racing chocobos than it took to get a certain trophy, my passion towards the slot machines was even smaller (so I did as everyone else did, put something pressing L1 and went to sleep and let the game play itself for a few hours, and if that's not a sign of a badly executed gaming experience then what is) (but yes, one got a trophy for that).

There is also some downloadable content to the game, and at least the extra chapter about Lightning seems worthy of a purchase.

So it looked good and felt good, and all in all it was a good game, yet it created nothing that should be carved to the wall of fame. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is something to play while waiting for bigger stories.