Final Fantasy XIII-2

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 90/100

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Format Reviewed: Playstation 3
Reviewed By: Wencke Schuncken

Isn't it marvelous getting caught up in a game, getting emotionally bonded with characters, making it together till the end and then find out that the story does continue after all... Final Fantasy XIII-2. It's the direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, released in 2010 for xbox360 and Playstation 3. If you want a “flashback” or more information about FF XIII, read our review here: website

As the story is so important in all of the Final Fantasy games, and in this case it should be connected to the previous part, the story takes place three years after the events of the original when Lightning sacrificed her life to save the world. At least that is what Serah Farron, Lightning's younger sister, sees in her dream, although her memories tell otherwise. Memories that nobody but her seems to believe. One day she wakes up and sees people in town are fighting monsters. To the rescue is her first intuition, together with her friends, but the fight is harder than expected. Suddenly a character called Noel Kreiss arrives to rescue her. He also tells her that he is from the future and that he has a message for her from Lightning. She tries to link her recent dream to Noel's visit. Is it possible to meet her sister again? This is when her journey and adventure begins...through time, through space, not knowing what future or past can bring.

Exactly this brings us to one of the most important elements of FF XIII2: time-traveling. Leaving home and friends to visit a number of different time lines and history. New challenges, new friends, new monsters, new views on happenings in Final Fantasy XIII and perhaps a reunion with her fiancé Snow? Sometimes you can loose track in time traveling, but each part has several side-quests to fulfill to earn extra Crystogen Points to build-up your characters, to make them real opponents to varied enemies. Just like in the previous part, enemies randomly appear along with a Mog Clock. This gives you time and the opportunity to deal damage first and get an advantage in battle, get into battle without an advantage or become chicken and simply run away from the battle. Three choices, make up your mind in time and make progress. Most of us probably go for the first strike of course, over and over again.

The ATB system is being used, just like in its Final Fantasy XIII. It's an Active Time Battle system which means that time doesn't stop during battle and enemies will keep on attacking, even when you're not doing anything. Each character has certain special abilities and actions which can be activated before attacking, defending or casting special effects. These actions require a certain number of segments in your ATB-gauge, which refills during battle. The easier method to decide which actions will be done is to activate the auto-battle function which picks those actions required to take down the enemies on their weaknesses.

There are moments in the game, you wonder if there is anything else besides battle, after battle, after battle. But there's more to the battle system than at first sight. There is also the Paradigm Shift-system. Each character has the ability to take on six (three at the start of the game) different roles. Each of these roles has a different set of skills which, when learned in the Crystarium (we will explain more about that later in this review), can be used. A Commando, for instance, focuses on dealing physical damage to the enemy, while a Medic is working on healing team members. A Saboteur is good at conjuring spells which put the enemy in a negative position, while a Synergist does the opposite for team members. A Ravager employs elemental spells and a Sentinel protects team members by provoking enemies and absorbing a large amount of the damage dealt by the enemy. A combination of roles for each of your team members is called a Paradigm, and you can freely shift between the different Paradigms you set. And you better believe us when we say that you will have to shift between Paradigms more than you think. The system is very strategic and can, when used properly, make for some fast and explosive battles. Each battle will be rated in stars, so know how good you performed (or not) when the battle is finished. Also an amount of Chrystogen Points are a reward for each won battle and can be used to upgrade your characters. The above can be hard to understand but in-game it's quite easy.

Besides the ATB battle gameplay, there is also the so called “Cinematic Action” gameplay. An interactive movie in which it is required to push the right buttons in small amount of time to take advantage of a situation. Also solving a kind of labyrinth by following lights / items is a returning gameplay element to make progress.

The Crysterium is a system which observes Crystogen Points to upgrade your characters. Each of the six available roles (Commando, Ravager, Medic, Sentinel, Synergist and Saboteur) can be upgraded to a maximum with the earned Crystogen Points. With each new level, you will increase your maximum HP, MP and you will improve your strength. With certain levels, you will also obtain new skills, which can be used in battle. If you meet an enemy which cannot be beaten by your characters, it's wise to check the Crysterium and level them up or go on “grinding” to earn more Crystogen Points in order to spend in the Crysterium. Because loosing and not being able to are not in a gamer's dictionary.

Not only can you upgrade the character in your party (team), but also captured monsters although each monster has only one role. If it is a Medic, you cannot change it to a Ravager for example. Up to three monsters can be packed together in the so called Paradigm Pack, but only one at a time can be selected to help you during battle. Note that items are required to level up the monsters! An important character which isn't active during battle but accompanies you during the exploration of areas is the cute toy looking Moogle Mog. It will notify you when something special is nearby, can make invisible items visible, and can be thrown to locations your character cannot reach to collect items. A wonderful, fun little fellow!

So yes you can spend hours and hours battling and exploring areas, leveling and trying follow the trail to the end. But there's always time for side-quests to get extra rewards to collect all 160 fragments or to visit Serendipity to play games such as Chocobo races and slotmachines to win some special prizes. This is also the place where you can find a Mystic, a female character that can help you obtain a number of skills which can make your virtual life a bit easier. Besides the female Mystic, Serah, and Lightning, there are other important female characters. One of the most cloned characters is Chocolina. She is a merchant and offers a variety of items to aid. She can even create special weapons and equipment. Loads of female characters participate in this game, some even call it too feminine, but not us, oh no!

It is hard to start writing the conclusion. Final Fantasy XIII-2 made quite an impact on me and I want to share as much as possible. But common sense is that if you didn't like FF XIII, you probably won't like Final Fantasy III-2. Square Enix created a wonderful, story-driven, graphically stunning and challenging game which could be a game that stands on it's own instead of being a sequel. Note that if you're the type of gamer without a habbit of collecting everything, making collections complete, or isn't interested in side-quests or mini-games, then the story mode game will be over in less then 30 hours (some faster, some may take a bit longer). But the chance is given to expand the gameplay, even when the main story has ended. Also the first DLC is already available and more to come to expand the fun even more with extra battles and special costumes for Serah and other characters. So before Final Fantasy XIII-3 will be released in 2 years, and we cannot time-travel in the meantime, we can kill time, quality time with this game.