13 Days Of FF13: FF13-2 Review

Full review of FFXIII-2 for my Thirteen Days of FFXIII special.

It’s day two of the Thirteen Days of FFXIII. Today I’m reviewing FFXIII-2. In order to prevent spoiling the story for people I’ll share my rating at the start again.

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My Rating:

FFXIII-2 brought back a lot of the good points from the original. The Paradigm Shift and Crystarium are two of the main points here. However the music and art still match the story’s flow, which is a huge sales point for me. I gave FFXIII-2 an 9 out of 10, because the same thing I disliked in FFXIII returned in FFXIII-2, the auto-combat system .

The Story So Far (Spoilers):

The story starts with Lightning in Valhalla, a place outside of time. She’s defending Valhalla from Caius Ballad’s attacks, utilizing Eidolons and monsters to battle the darkness that Caius unleashed.

A young man named Noel just kind of floats in, in the middle of the battle. After meeting Lightning, Noel os sent on a journey through time and space to find her sister Serah, and bring Serah to Valhalla.

The story then cuts to Serah, waking up in New Bodhum. The time is currently three years after the events of the first FFXIII. As you start moving around a meteor hits in the area. Here you experience your first spatial distortion, where multiple time periods are overlapping.

As the distortion clears Lebreau gets knocked unconscious and Noel appears. You then clear the monsters out of New Bodhum.Noel tells Sarah his story and that they need to travel through time to see Lightning.

Afterwards you get a rundown of why neither Snow or Lightning were around. Lightning is spirited away after the ending we see in part one to appear to all but Serah as if she waas never there. Snow vowed to find Lightning and return to New Bodhum with her.

This starts a journey through space and time to reach Lightning. With many stops along different timelines, Serah and Noel decide to change the future for the better. Along the way they find Hope and Snow and help them with the situations they are facing.

Encountering Caius at every turn as he tries to stop them, the two press onwards. They finally reach Lightning in New Bodhum 700 AF, where she explains everything. She reveals Caius’ plot to use Cocoon’s destruction to end time, and tasks Serah and Noel with preventing it.

Sending you to Academia 500 AF for the final battle, Lightning returns to Valhalla. In Academia 500 AF you get one of the most epic boss rushes I’ve ever played, with the climax being the trio of Bahamuts. As the story draws to a close Serah collapses and dies from the toll of the Etro’s Eyes ability.

My Thoughts On The Story:

The flow of the story is polar opposite of the flow from FFXIII. Where in the first game you basically just go straight to the last boss, in this game you hop in and out of events. In some cases you have to return to specific points multiple times. There are many side-quests to collect all the Fragments, which also alow you to earn CP.

The story really wants the player to feel like they are just stumbling through time. If you take a break from this game for a long period of time it’s hard to pick back up and start where you left off. I find the difficulty of continuing after a long break the only downside in the story’s flow.

Overall the story is exciting, it draws you in lets you think you’ve saved the day and then proves otherwise. If I recall correctly, this might be the first Final Fantasy that didn’t have a happy ending for anyone. I applaud the fact that Square Enix went against the norm for an unhappy ending.

Aesthetics:

Like in FFXIII the aesthetics of FFXIII-2 are a huge part of the immersion. Each version of an area in different time periods has its own unique feel. For instance Bresha Ruins 05 AF is the site of a huge scientific research camp. Bresha Ruins 300 AF, the weather is different, and it’s now just a mercenary outpost trying to deal with the monster populace.

With the music setting the tone of the area, it really feels as though you’re traversing time to fix all of the paradoxes. It’s really interesting looking at the different takes of a single area.

Combat:

This area is still the downside of the game. The Auto-Battle system saw some improvements by way of the leader change function. Now the heal priority isn’t as big of a deal since the party leader dying isn’t an automatic fail anymore. If both characters are dead at the same time though it’s a fail.

Pre-emptive Strikes:

Not only is the auto-battle system improved, but so is the system for getting pre-emptive strikes. Now instead of making sure the enemy doesn’t see you, all you need to do is hit the enemy before they make contact with you. Party members now receive haste for a short time if you achieve a pre-emptive strike. In response to those changes, the FFXIII-2 scaled down the initial chain bonus for pre-emptive strikes.

Paradigm Shift:

The Paradigm Shift system returned as well. This time the third party-slot is a monster instead of a story character. In FFXIII-2 you can further customize the paradigms by changing the party AI. In the first game two Commandos would always attack separate enemies unless there was only one enemy. Now there is a setting to choose whether you want to keep the basic AI, focus target AI, or Area of Effect AI. I generally only use this setting when I use dual Commandos, but it makes a huge difference in some battles.

Paradigm Pack:

As I mentioned before, the third party-slot is a monster. You get these monsters by collecting their crystal after killing them in battle. It’s not a 100% chance to get these monsters and you can spend hours just trying to get the one you wanted. It’s kind of like Pokémon in a way.

Each monster can only fill a single role, and that role is pre-determined. For instance, Feral Behemoth will always be a Commando and Cait Sith will always be a Medic. Within the Paradigm Pack you have three open slots for active party monsters that you swap between during battle. Primarily, you’ll want a Sentinel, Medic, and Ravager monster to customize your Paradigms with.

Resolving Anomalies:

There are places within the game where you need to complete puzzles to unlock certain things. Anomalies are usually marked by time destortions. There are three types of anomaly, picture, tile, and clock. The pictures have you connect matching crystals to draw out the image. Picture anomalies are the easiest of the three.

Tile anomalies are designed so you have to collect all the crystals without cutting yourself off from the gate. Red tiles will disappear after stepping off of them and have a time limit while standing on them. White tiles have no time limit and turn red after stepping off of them.

Clock anomalies are the most annoying. They’re designed in a way that if you fail it resets the clock randomly. It’s best to just use a clock solver website that has an algorithm built-in for these.

Character Progression:

Although it is slightly different now, characters still level up through the Crystarium system. Instead of different branches for each role, now you just pick a role and spend points on a static layout. You still earn Crystarium Points for battles, but you get them for finding Fragments as well. Some fragments are from killing enemies, some picked up around the world, and some are side quests.

If you missed it yesterday check out my review for FFXIII. Remember to check back everyday for more of my Thirteen Days of FFXIII content!

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13 Days Of FF13: FF13-2 Review
Full review of FFXIII-2 for my Thirteen Days of FFXIII special.

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Author
GabrielKross
Currently an unpublished author working on multiple full length novels 3 of which being a 3 part trilogy. Also an avid video game player with a penchant for MMOs.