This intrigues me. I by no means hated XIII, thought the paradigm system had a lot of potential and kept you on your toes in battle, and obviously it looked great, but after 45 hours or so I just lost interest. Which has NEVER happened before with a main FF title. I have gone back and restarted on two separate occasions, and both times (as well as the first) I finally get to Gran Pulse and play around for a bit and it's just mehhhh. It also had my least favourite characters of any FF game so that probably didn't help. But I've seen FF XIII-2 as low as $7.99 over the holidays, perhaps I should give it a shot.
I think the biggest thing about XIII-2 is that I went in with lowered expectations so it managed to vastly exceed them. I wasn't planning on buying the game - I was given it as a Christmas present by a relative who knew I liked Final Fantasy but didn't know I hated XIII. I'm planning on buying Lightning Returns as a result of enjoying XIII-2.
If I were to give you a summary of improvements I enjoyed:
- Graphics are as good as they were in XIII but I though the environments were much more interestingly designed.
- Soundtrack was good in XIII but was stellar in XIII-2 (1 or 2 examples of my favourite tracks).
- Paradigm battle system isn't touched much from XIII. If you enjoyed it then, you'll enjoy it now. Only difference is that you can customise your third party member by choosing from a variety of different monsters you have to catch.
- Premise of the game itself is much more interesting. Revisiting different zones throughout different periods of time leads to some incredibly interesting scenarios.
- Story still isn't Final Fantasy's strongest, but it hooked me a lot more than XIII.
- Focusing on Serah & Noel instead of an overly expanded cast was a smart move that led to more character development.
- Game is much more compact, clocking in around ~ 25 hours for me to finish the story (compared to a drawn out ~ 45 for XIII). Optional stuff on top of that.
Basically, they cleaned up the story; characterization; pacing and linearity issues from XIII and made the game a lot shorter with a lot more optional content should you choose to do that kind of stuff. That was perfect for me. For $7.99 I can highly recommend you give the game a try. Thankfully darkknightkryta seems to be backing me up on this one too, so good to know I'm not alone on this one. Let me know what you think if you do end up buying it :)
Sold! I'm in the middle of Tales of Xillia now and then I wanna play through Far Cry 3 afterwards, but next time I see it on sale I'll definitely pick it up.