Final Fantasy XIII-2

FinalFantasyXIII-2Final Fantasy XIII-2 enhances core gameplay for veteran players while providing appealing new elements for new and novice players in this famous game series. Gameplay is complex enough for role-playing and strategy gamers while novices can fly through beginning levels with limited knowledge and some good fortune.

This fantasy action RPG (role-playing game) can be played in easy or normal difficulty and only requires 30.7 MB required hard drive space. The easy mode lets players take less damage while getting more chances to progress. The maps offer easy lay-over visuals with smooth movement and zoom options using the analog stick.

Be sure to take advantage of the “tempsave” option, because you can lose your progress. Extra features and downloadable content also enhance this game packed full with expanded exploration and flexible battle options.

Players can always find plenty of help when they need it. The beginner’s primer provides a smoother transition through the challenging levels and boss battles. The newly released official strategy guide including a Kindle version also provide assistance.

The main story in this one player game basically focuses on saving the “world from great evil” and occurs three years after events of the previous installment Final Fantasy XIII amid a time travelling format among a 500-year span. The great battles combine with amazing visuals as players get great variety in various locations, which contain multiple paths and different unlockables.

Academy student Serah Farron, a seeress, meets five other characters on her quest to find the missing Lightning, the main protagonist from Final Fantasy XIII. Serah, Lightning’s younger sister, has a Moogle companion named Mog. Serah also encounters Noel Kreiss who introduces the time traveling elements into the game via the Historia Crux system.

The main antagonist in this installment is the purple-haired Caius Ballad and has past connections with Noel. Other characters include Paddra Nsu-Yeul, a mysterious Pulsian seeress, and Alyssa Zaidelle, a young girl. Other characters from the previous installment make appearances so previous knowledge enhances the game experience, but is not necessary.

Players can slip into the following roles: commando, ravager, sentinel, saboteur, synergist, or medic. Players control one character in the party instead of multiple characters at a time while multiple fighting strategies can be assigned to each party member. These strategies include special paradigms that must be constantly adjusted, especially in boss battles.

The companion creatures in the party provide helpful powers, navigation, find hidden/hard-to-reach objects, and other general assistance. Players can train the creatures with collected items along the way – a welcome distraction that balances battles, collections/inventory, and character elements.

Creature comfort has no middle ground here. Tamed creatures help the situation while free roaming monsters cause hurtful chaos though these monsters can be defeated and get added into a special collection (more than 150 different creatures overall).

The chocobo, an ostrich-sized chicken, can be tamed and eventually ridden, which helps players cut through the land much quicker. When travelling by foot look for the spinning circles – prompting spots for player jumps. Players cannot fall off ledges, which really saves a lot of time amid the huge landscapes.

Spells, conversations, summoning, and other special powers can also help players along the way. Players have powers that save allies when near death, but players must identify them quickly throughout gameplay. Vendors like the traveling merchant Chocolina also have desirable items for sale.

A stagger-like strategy is important where flashes of different battle tactics bring down the big bosses. Concentrated attacks earn powerful chain bonuses which include increased damage. Beginners can button mash and continuously attack, but that strategy only succeeds for a limited time. Players must learn how to concentrate their attacks and the purpose of each action and attack.

Sometimes avoiding a regular, non-boss attack can be the best strategy. Battle ranges appear as dynamic visuals on the ground, so players can simply run past them to avoid a battle. Each creature can be easily identified, so players can gain a great advantage by learning them.

The already high replay value increases even more if players want to conquer additional areas and advance their level status, but most players could conquer the main campaign in a double-digit hour time frame (also depending on how many cut scenes are skipped). Producers should be commended for the action filled gameplay, guided by heroic morales, and high quality cinematic scenes.

The extensive downloadable content includes a special item when using XIII save data. Several items, battles, and outfits are also available. The endless customization and inventory management blend into some combinations and surprises. All these elements give players something to build on as game developers build on the next likely sequel in this “13” series.

Producers should be commended for risking a new style full of action-filled game play, guided by heroic morales and high quality cinematic scenes. This Square Enix game series, which with in 1987 with FINAL FANTASY will likely continue with Final Fantasy XIII-3. Not much story closure, but good set up for likely direct sequel. Highly recommended (***1/2 out of four stars) and also available in collector’s edition and on Xbox 360.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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