Lately, I’ve been known to be quite the outspoken person when it comes to Final Fantasy XIII. I personally can’t understand why gamers can’t see eye-to-eye to my critisms of the entry and the changes it brought to the series. I’m, like you, a gamer who likes a good role playing game every now and then – a gamer, who once upon a time, enjoyed the Final Fantasy series. I endured the drastic changes that surfaced with each installment, but what I can’t bear is the removal of key features that make the Final Fantasy series, and any other RPG for that matter, charming like mini games or TOWNS . For all that I’m concerned, after playing Final Fantasy XIII-2, this is what XIII should have been. And even though it still carries over a few annoyances that make my blood boil, It is a game I believe that I can sit through and play this time.
I played a few games at E3 so I can’t remember if I had the option to play through 2 different demos like most of the games available. I began the game with Serah (I haven’t finished XIII yet but wasn’t she like a crystal or something?). Lightning was narrating the events of the game which I’m sad to admit, was kind of refreshing because from what I’ve heard, the voice acting has improved. I didn’t have the sudden urge to punch lightning in the face when she talked. And for what it’s worth I could actually make sense of what was going on by what the characters were saying as the game progressed… to a certain degree. But my point is that the story is not being presented in a confusing matter like its predecessor. Random words like La’ Cie or Fal’ Cie, words that were presented in Final Fantasy XIII like you were supposed to understand by some divine intellectual powers, were not being tossed around. Instead, the game focused on the task at hand, and left the player with enough info to predict, intelligently guess, or conclude what was going on, yet provide enough information to set the player up for ploys and twists to the story –ya know, the right way to build suspense or suck someone into an experience.
Back to Serah. You start off as the lovely Serah and some new guy named Noel (who shares an awesome resemblance to Fang by the way). Serah is accompanied by a flying moogle, who I’m assuming is her summon because he can transform into a variety of weapons – one being her tri-crossbow. Noel wields duo swords. Their weapons are what first come to mind because after the first cut scene I was interrupted by a giant, armored arm that came swinging at Serah. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t recall what Serah and Noel were talking about because I was busy shouting blasphemous curse words at Serah for cheating on Snow… ok maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Now I never finished Final Fantasy XII, but I’m pretty damn sure the 11 or 12 chapters I did play consisted of Snow putting his life on the line to save that bitch. In-fact, everything he did, he did for her. And here she is flirting with this Noel guy she just met. I hope Snow beats this guy with his naked fists later in the game. Anyways, Noel rescues Serah from ‘The Giant Enemy Hand.’ What’s odd about this foe is that his arm is one dimension (my dimension) and the rest of his body is in another. Quite the twist to get my attention to be frank!
Now you probably remember me saying earlier (or if your just skimming through -_- I’ll repeat it) that I’m still pretty upset about a few features in Final Fantasy XIII-2. The main one is the battle system because it’s pretty much the same. I could only control one person –Noel. There was still the much hated Pedagram (is that what it’s called?) system. And finally, Manual combat is not fast enough to keep up with the pace of the battles, so, like XIII, you are kind of forced to chose auto battle. Hopefully that will change. The battle was short and I was able to dispatch of the metal arm rather quickly. However, I wasn’t completely disappointed. Other than the battle music being much better than the original XIII, there are in -game button sequences that are triggered that completely keep the battle system from getting boring (Yes ladies and gentlemen, you are not doomed to tap X or A anymore!) Correctly match the motion of the analog stick/sequence of buttons, and you’ll be treated to a Kingdom Hearts/ God of War cinematic attack. In my personal case, Noel leaped onto the giants arm rushed up its body and thrusted an ineffective blow to the giants head (hello! Another dimension!).
I was fast forwarded to a town. Yes, I said town, and I left no stone unturned. The only thing it was missing were side-missions, which I see undoubtfully happening in the final version of the game. I found treasures and talked to all NPCs. For once I felt like I was playing a true RPG. Because of the friendly town people, I was able to identify that the giant enemy was actually named Atlas. And even though I already mention it several times, it was because of the NPC I was able to figure out he was from another dimension. I left the town because Atlas was causing some more crap on the outskirts of town. Here I was welcomed by random enemy encounters. They were a little more interesting then how XIII presented them. See, in this game, enemies begin to crystallize when you reach a certain radius of them. If you attack them while they are forming, you get a pre-emptive attack. I pre-emptived every single enemy, however, I learned from the tutorial that once they are fully formed they will chase you instead, or become fully alert.
I’m not going to mention the graphics much because we all know how beautiful they are. What I will mention is how cool it was to see Atlas appear and reappear through dimensions while I was walking outside of town –breaking shi* of course.
One last thing I noticed in the game is that there are in-game decisions. Unfortunately for me, my decisions concerned whether I should fight Atlas or not -who by the way made a complete appearance in my world. My options were to: Ask (?), Ask moogle, I live for this moment (or something), and another one concerning Serah I think. The person playing the game ahead of me picked ‘Ask moogle’, so I decided to attack the bastard Atlas, which I quickly regretted. See, I was under the impression that the demo would go easy on me, but instead, Atlas killed me in one swing. I should have just asked moogle instead like the gentlemen playing before me because I could have played longer … also because moogle tells Noel that he hates him. An opinion I share about the girl snatching punk!
Overall … I enjoyed the sequel.
I am the black sheep "of course I'm crazy, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong."-Robert Anton Wilson