However, the best thing has to be the ability to tame enemies and get them to fight on your side. Finally capturing a powerful enemy and turning him into an asset for yourself gives you a very gratifying feeling. My wife and I had many a high-five moment after capturing cactuars, chocobos, tonberrys (yes, you can actually tame a tonberry!), behemoths and various other monsters. The monsters, which specialize in one job class, can also be infused with other captured monsters to give you more powerful creatures. If you’ve ever been a fan of Pokémon, this will be right up your alley.
The music of this game is phenomenal, and punctuates the game perfectly. For every shocking confession, sober moment, big fight, or happy occasion the music amplifies this. On top of this, the graphics are wonderful and bright, although it can get pixilated on some close ups of the characters. The best example of all this is the very first fight between Lightning and Caius, which looks and feels like a scene out of the movie Advent Children. While excellence in both areas is pretty standard for Final Fantasy, it’s good to see this tradition continue.
As good as FFXIII-2 is, it does have its flaws. For instance, while they made the maps that are larger and less linear, they still feel a bit lazy. Granted, you get a lot of locations but all those locations repeat themselves. For example, Bresha Ruins repeats itself many times (Years 005, 100, and 300) and it’s the same map each time. They change the scenery of each map at least, but there are essentially twelve stages that are reused three to four times each. That can get old after awhile.
On top of this, FFXIII-2 handles the concept of time travel very poorly. With a game like Chrono Trigger where time travel was a focus, the choices or discoveries you made would affect all other timelines. Not so in FFXIII-2, which is very stubborn about it. After a while, this will bug and annoy you.
Let me give you a hypothetical, spoiler-free example. You go to a location, where Hope is studying pancakes. According to his research, something will happen in the future that will wipe out pancakes as we know them. He makes it his mission from then on to save pancakes from extinction. You bump into Snow later, 200 years in the future, and he’s battling a unicorn that’s eating all the world’s pancake batter, thus leading to the extinction of pancakes. However, you can’t go back to Hope and tell him about this so that he can start preparing the world for the unicorn and take care of the issue. Instead, you have to kill the thing yourself, and the story won’t progress until you do. Things like this happen a lot, and the logic behind it will annoy you.
Speaking of shoddy logic, there’s the ending. I’ll spare you any spoilers (feel free to jump to the next paragraph if you don’t want to risk it), but the ending has two fatal flaws that turn an okay story into a frustrating one. Number one, there’s the moment you find out what Caius’ ultimate plan was, and the story itself becomes a giant waste of time. As you hear it, you say something to the measure of “Wait, that’s it? Wouldn’t it have been easier to…” and that will be the end of it for you. Second, they end it with “To be Continued.” The ending itself is very Empire Strikes Back and it just ends there. This sucks, because we gamers know there is never a guarantee that any game’s story will be continued. Of course, this is Square so the odds are favorable, but they should have given us a definite ending. They did it for FFXIII, so why not the sequel? If you want to see how this all plays out, you’re going to have to wait another 2-3 years. This realization takes a lot of wind out of the sails.
All this being said, I didn’t hate Final Fantasy XIII-2. The game is fun to play through, and I don’t regret my time spent with it. The developer’s really did listen to complaints about FFXIII and made a lot of changes to fix them. However, it’s not without faults. Square should definitely quit with time travel, and give a game with a definitive ending in the sequel.
I give this one a thumbs up. There’s much to do, and future DLC — with several extensions to the game incoming for Sazh, Lightning, and Snow — ensures that you won’t bored when you’re done. Those who never played the first one can also jump right in — there’s a primer that fills you in on FFXIII right on the start screen. While this one doesn’t quite restore the Final Fantasy name, it takes steps in the right direction.
FINAL GRADE: B+