Review: Final Fantasy 13-2 (PlayStation 3)

Final Fantasy 13-2: Member Review

PlayStation 3 904 views 2 likes 3 comments
Reviewed by Dominik Dudek, posted Jul 30, 2015
Jul 30, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): February 3, 2012
  • Release Date (EU): January 31, 2012
  • Release Date (JP): December 11, 2011
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Genres: J-RPG
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
  • Also For: Computer, Xbox 360
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
"If you change the future, you change the past" but could this game change the opinion of Final Fantasy fans about Final Fantasy 13? Final Fantasy 13-2 is the second game in the FF13 trillogy. This time around Square listened to the heavy backlash that FF13 got and improved almost every aspect they could.
Dominik Dudek
Introduction

Before I start I'd like to say that in my FF13 I did not want to unreasonably bash the game. I was just trying to be honest. Admittedly I did a subpar job on it.
So with that out of the way I hope nobody, who loves FF13, will find this review offensive or simply BS. It's not my intention.

I initially didn't like FF13-2 as much as I did 13.
My experience with the trillogy, prior to playing the games myself, was just watching a let's play of them. The person who Let's played them had a good knowledge on the Lore so she explained everything pretty well and I never had the feeling the games were flawed or anything. However in her let's play of FF13-2 you could feel a vibe of dissatisfaction, which directly affected my opinion on the game.
Good thing that changed after I finally played it for myself.

Also a little disclaimer: since I can't capture screenshots from my PS3 I will be using screenshots from Google image search.

Story

SPOILERS! I find it very hard to talk about the story without spoiling major late reveals of the plot to explain what's going on. Read at own risk.

The ending of FF13 was altered.
Lightning was abducted by chaos to Valhalla, a place where the dead go to. Everybody but Serah assume Lightning is inside the crystal pillar together with Fang and Vanille.
However Lightning was taken to Valhalla where she decided to protect the goddess Etro, who is the goddess of death and was previously mentioned in FF13 once. Etro is also responsible for keeping the boundaries between the seen and unseen worlds intact.
Caius however, a new character, wants all the chaos, that is inside Valhalla, to leak into the seen world. This would create a second Valhalla, where people, who didn't die, don't age and live forever. Caius original plan to achieve his goal was to get killed by somebody, since his heart is the embodiment of Etro. Should he die would the goddess follow.
Lighting can't allow that and chooses death over killing her opponent. After Noel, a new character, arrives in Valhalla Lightning gives him Mog, the moogle, who can transform into weapons. Lightning tells Noel to find her sister, Serah, to help her as Lightning cannot leave Valhalla. After Caius plan on killing himself failed he instead chose to destroy cocoon, since killing so many people would have a similar effect as killing the goddess Etro.
Each time someone dies the gate to the unseen world opens and when many people die the gate is very wide open, allowing the chaos to leave Valhalla, and creating the seen world into another Valhalla.
Noel leaves Valhalla, travels through time and finds himself in Neo Bodhum, the village Snow and his gang built on Grand Pulse. This is three years after Cocoons fall (3 AF for short).
The little chaos, that slipped through when Lightning was abducted, starts causing paradoxes and the village gets overrun by monsters. Noel joins the fight and gives Serah Mog so that she can protect herself.
After the battle Noel explains the situation however nobody but Serah believes him since she had dreams prior to his arrival which match up with what he said.
Together Serah and Noel travel through time to solve the paradoxes, save Lightning and save the future.

SCR4.png
Yes. As a sports teacher Serah knows exactly how bows and swords work. Obviously.​

The story this time around is a big improvement over FF13. Square seems to finally understand the difference between plot and lore and the events are completely understandable without going to any wiki and reading up on it.
If there is a piece of lore required to understand the plot the characters will make sure to rell you about it. You still have to wrap your head around what's going on but this time around you can figure it out all by yourself.
Although because key information's are held away from you for very long time it's sometimes hard to be engaged into the story until reaching a certain point.
The characters are much more fleshed out this time around. Both Noel and Serah are like-able and Caius, unlike the space pope in FF13, is a very interesting character and his motives aren't really truly evil.
However there are some minor parts that weren't explained in the game, like how FF13-2 and Lighting returns link together or what happened to Sazh. We see him in the main game in 500 AF, where he should be dead by now, and yet he still appears and the game never explains how he ended up there. Unless you buy his DLC of course.
The game also loves to quote "When you change the future, you change the past" and the game itself doesn't seem to know what this means. There was one specific instance in the game where it did make sense but it was an exception, not the general rule.
In the end the story is much shorter but way more interesting than anything what happens in FF13.

Gameplay

The battle system is the same as in FF13 and your enjoyment of it will depend on whenever you liked it previously or not.
It does have some neat upgrades though. There is blood damage that reduces your max HP. You have to keep track of it or else you'll become a big glass canon in longer fights. Preemptive strikes are now easier to perform and don't take ages to perform when the enemy group consists of many enemies.
You may noticed before that I only mentioned two protagonists. That's because there are only two. the third slot gates taken by monsters that you can tame to fight alongside you, like a Pokemon. I find this feature really nice since I was able to make a Chocobo squad. You know you're in the wrong neighborhood when these mofo's wreck your sh*t up.
The Crystarium got a massive overhaul too. You have now only one tree per character, rather than one tree per role, and each time you level the tree to maximum your character levels up. From there you can choose if you want to learn new roles, improve the ones you have, allow your character to carry more accessory or increase the ATB bar. It feels less restrictive than the Crystarium in FF13 and allows for a degree of character customization that was not previously possible.
They also got rid of a few features that were unnecessary like Eidolons, weapon and accessory enhancing, meta abilities. Instead you can now craft certain weapons and accessory and/or play some of the minigames.
Speaking of minigames, there are plenty of them. There are Chocobo races, one armed bandit, poker and a colosseum. The more optional stuff you do also grants you access to cheats which are quite handy.
If you skip all the optional stuff I'm sure you can beat the game in about 27 hours but completionists will have to sink 70 hours into it because there is a big emphasis on exploration this time around. This game tried hard to break the linear formula of FF13 and I think they did a great job at it.
However I don't like a few of these additions, like Mog. Mog from a story perspective is a flat character. All he does is say Kupo in a cute way or does all the exposition for you. From a gameplay perspective he's a nightmare.
There are some chests that are located where you can't reach them. Fear not because you can throw your Moogle at the chest to get the item anyway. What? You missed the chest and now you need to wait till Mog recovers otherwise you can't get a preemptive strike in battle? Just wait for like 5-10 seconds and he'll be back, I mean it's not like it breaks the pacing of the game or something. Oh what? some chests are invisible and you have to stop and let Mog do his thing to make the chest appear? That doesn't break the pace at all! Mog is literally the worst thing about this game in my opinion.
Actually scratch that, the Puzzles are the worst about this game. There are a few puzzles shaped like a clock that you need to solve to keep playing the main story. However they are so hard that somebody out there made a program where you put the numbers in and it bruteforce all possibilities for you. I might have quit playing this game if not for that program.

SCR2.png
Chocobo madness! Kweh! Kweh!​

Presentation

The game runs at the same engine as FF13 however you can see that the Crystal engine was not meant for open environments, which the game has plenty of now.
It tries to perform at a stable 60fps but drops quite often, especially in heavily crowded cities. For the sake of this review I also tried out the 360 demo of this game and it seemed worse on that version.
The game looks good though, especially rain and water effects on the ground look very beautiful. There aren't as many CGI cut scenes as in FF13 unfortunately but the few that made it into the game do look quite nice.
The soundtrack however was a mixed bag this time around. They did reuse a lot of soundtracks from FF13 and many of the new are quite nice. However there are a few that completely don't fit this game at all.
Also the game has terribly long load times. Levels load anywhere between 10 to 15 seconds, it's awful.
At some parts of the game there is a little bit of polishing missing. For example Serah's win pose sometimes freezes before the result screen pops up. It's minor but it's noticeable.
There are multiple reports that the PC port of 13-2 is even worse than 13's PC port so you might want to use that nice Steam refund policy, just in case.

SCR1.png
Really digging those rain effects.​

Final Toughs

Unfortunately for every improvement this game introduces there is one downgrade. It's nice that Serah and Noel are very like-able characters but it sucks that Mog exists. It's nice that this game has a colloseum but it sucks that most fights are DLC. It's nice that this game has a much darker tone but it sucks that the musical choices ruin so many moments. It's nice that preemptive strikes are now easier but it sucks that we went back to random encounters. You get the gist.
Overall it felt like a much better game than FF13 but it appears that it did not changed fans opinions on the FF13 trillogy as the sales only go down from here. Apparently changing the future does not change the past.
Did I have fun with this game? Yes. Would I recommend it? Well that depends. Your enjoyment of the game really boils down to whenever or not you like the battle system.
Verdict
Pros
+ Gameplay greatly improved since FF13
+ Big emphasis on world exploration
+ Minigames and colloseum to keep you busy
+ Good Story
Cons
- Random encounters
- Mog
- Stupid puzzles
- Short if you skip the optional stuff
7 Presentation
Looks as good as previous game although framerate drops quite often.
8 Gameplay
With much more things to do you'll be spending most of the time playing the game and not walking a hallway
7.9
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
A big improvement from it's predecessor.
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