Final Fantasy XIII-2

Anyone familiar with the term RPG or role-playing game knows about Final Fantasy, there is no way to not relate both terms. This saga is one of the major and iconic series in the industry for more than 35 years.

With numerous entries through the years, Final Fantasy made its name in the gaming world; not to mention their big fan base who anxiously await new releases every year. Its success has made it the main saga for developers at Square Enix. Every game holds big expectations and criticism by the fans and creators.

For the first time in the mainline series FF had a female protagonist, Lightning who had to fight against the Orphan in the first entry. The game had mixed opinions about the extreme linear design and the limited development of the party group. These 2 topics were the main problem and reproval reported by the fans.

In 2011, the next game was released trying to fix the wrongs of the predecessor, FFXIII-2 had to renovate the Final Fantasy brand and give all the experiences that were missing on the previous game.

The new protagonists were Sera Farron, Lightning’s little sister, and Noel Kreiss a traveler from the future.  These protagonists had the mission to prevent the end of humanity and the objective to find Lightning who went missing after the final battle against the Falcies.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Highlights

Story

The sequel tells a story 3 years after the battle with the Orphan, everyone says that Lightning died in battle and never appeared after that; however, Serah remembers when her sister came back with her friends and approved their marriage with Snow. Serah dreams with Lightning fighting in another world every night, she feels like her sister is alive somewhere; feeling uneasy about it she asks Snow to find her.  He begins a journey on his own will, and so the adventure begins.

One night, a meteorite falls from the sky and with it a lot of monsters appear from portals everywhere. This was a chaotic night fighting and trying to survive, Noel saved Serah from a monster. He brings a message from her sister Claire; they decide to start a journey through space-time to prevent the end of humanity in the future and to find Lightning.

Battle System

The sequel uses the same battle system as the first entry, the player controls a leader and with pre-configured roles and formations act following orders as needed in the heat of battle. There is a bar that determines the number of actions allowed by each party member, you can increase it as the story progresses.

The main innovation in the battle system is monster taming to fight alongside with you, a recruitment option that allows the player to configure the party according to the monsters obtained. The protagonists have their own skill tree unlocked and unlimited making it very simplified and easy to understand linear growth.

Monsters collected have their own role assigned by nature, for example, a behemoth is commando while caith sith is medic. There are 3 slots available to carry monsters into battle, they will alternate in combat and share the same health points bar and change with formations as needed. As Serah and Noel can unlock and use all roles they can adapt and perform any strategy according to the monsters in the party.

Crystarium

The main character’s build has been locked to the story progress and difficult to manage on the first entry. Due to strong critics and feedback from players Square Enix decided to simplify and unlock the skill tree for its sequel.

As mentioned beforehand, the adventure of Serah and Noel has a revamped skill tree. Both protagonists are the permanent members and they have to deal with all the roles on their own, adding Mogu and the monsters that you want to tame. With the classic leveling system players are able to decide how to strengthen the party; each one starts with 2 roles, commando and ravager both focused on dealing damage physics and magic respectively.

Roles:

  • Commando: focused on dealing physical damage and non-elemental skills as Ruin.
  • Ravager: focused on dealing magic damage and elemental skills as fire, thunder and ice.
  • Medic: focused on restoring health points, removing status ailments and reviving KO’ed party members, uses skills as Cure and Esuna.
  • Saboteur: focused on weaking enemies and inflicting status ailments, uses skills as Bleeding and Poison.
  • Synergist: focused on strengthening party members and adding elemental power to attacks, uses skills as Protect and Haste.
  • Sentinel: focused on drawing aggression from the enemies to protect the group, uses skills as Provoke and Steelguard.

With complete freedom to level up and stock crystal points by tons, the player is able to fortify the group, learn skills, unlock new roles, amplify the skills bar, and improve capacity to wear accessories.

Graphics

The Final Fantasy series is known for taking advantage of the platform’s max capacity to present the best graphic quality available at release. These customs have been detailed and shown through the years and this entry continues with that feature. Over 10 years in the market and this entry has beautiful landscapes, a colorful and detailed world that looks amazing in the Steam Deck giving a good grade of satisfaction for any fantasy fan.

Colors selection for the Fabula Nova Crystallis works as eye drops for the sight, the pale colors and soft illumination for the ruins and forest is breathtaking in the palm of the hand.

Character designs are on Tetsuya Nomura, oriental looks, spiky hair, slender bodies, colorful and extravagant outfits, they captivate any JRPG lover. Varied environments for any portal visited is easy to notice the differences from the dark plot in this entry; you can see the differences for any visited portal according to the date.

The great Paals, the ruins, and desertic portals can be appreciated in different times, exposed to various colors, shadows and illumination allowing to see the detailed maps and characters outfits; and how they change with reflection.

Sound

Final Fantasy original soundtracks are always known by their memorable high-quality standards, and provide iconic melodies with each entry for decades. Fortunately, that keeps going in this sequel. With a totally different melody from the original entry; this battle music includes lyrics and some mix between metal, electro and classic styles.

The sound effects keep a top-notch fidelity; personally, I appreciate the blade sound where the player starts the battle with bonus or advantage. The clear tone of the sword cuts the attention alerting the battle has begun.

Music arrangement was in charge of various composers such as Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, and Mitsuto Suzuki. Coordinated by Keiji Kawamori making sure that all 3 styles follow the same rhythm.

Performance

Tested on Steam Deck 512GB, with a battery life of 5 hours and 45 minutes, the PC port is locked. There is no way to change resolution or frames per second limit.

It’s stable at 30 FPS exploring maps with different weather and cutscenes playing. There are some frames that fall in battle, it keeps 23 to 26 in crowded instances, for example using multitarget skills such as electro++ and ruin++, or in battle with 5 or more objectives.

The game has a non-playable tag for the Steam Deck, however, the Proton 7.0-6 version is fully playable; despite the locked settings option.

Conclusions

  1. This entry is focused on fixing major claims from the first game, linear progress, limited exploration and locked crystarium (skill tree).
  2. Time traveling story feels incomplete, simple and nothing special.
  3. It’s enjoyable on its own, a remarkable game artistically with great gameplay, despite the loose plot.
Summary
FFXIII-2 is an attempt to fix the controversial first entry weak points, focused on exploration and simplified crystarium. Help Serah and Noel in this time traveling odyssey to prevent humanity’s end and find Lightning.
Good
  • Revamped Crystarium
  • Bigger maps to explore
  • Simplified strengthening process
  • Stunning graphics and awesome original soundtrack
Bad
  • Simple story plot
8.3
Great
Story - 7
Gameplay - 9
Teambuild - 9
Graphics - 8
Sound - 9
Exploration - 8
Value - 8
Written by
Hello my name is Steed, My love for handhelds started when i was 6 years old playing gameboy anywhere and any chance i could get. I like various genres like RPG, FPS, adventure, hack n’ slash, visual novels, and metroidvania. There are a few sagas that will forever be special to me; such as Pokemon, Final Fantasy and Shin Megami Tensei. On my free time I like to excercise and watch a wide variety of anime as well. My favorite consoles: Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck

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