Final Fantasy XIII-2 (X-box or PS3)

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Sep 17, 2012

Final Fantasy XIII-2 (pronounced thirteen two)—available on both PS3 and X-Box 360—begins three years after the end of Final Fantasy XIII.  (There’s a good summary of the original game in the sequel, so you don’t need to play the first in order to play the second.)  It opens with a confusing montage of Lightning (protagonist of XIII) engaged in fierce battle with a strange man in a ruined landscape when another man literally floats in out of nowhere.  Lightning charges this second man—Noel—with the task of bringing her sister Serah to her, then sends him through a time gate. 

Serah, for her part, receives a magical makeover in her sleep (because why not?) and wakes up to a monster invasion of her home.  Noel arrives in time to rescue her, hands her a weapon, and they fight off the critters.  He reveals that he’s from the distant future, after the world has pretty much died off, and they need to fix time.

No, it never makes much more sense than that.

Time travel is one of my favorite game devices—Chrono Trigger remains one of my favorite games of all time, no matter its age—which is why I powered through this incoherent mess.  And, yes, my little fangirl heart went pitter-pat when I saw Hope all grown up and being awesome.  Still, the overall story doesn’t make enough sense to make up for all the other things wrong with this game.

I’m not saying it’s all bad, though.  It’s every bit as pretty as its predecessor, and pretty much all of the gameplay issues of XIII have been fixed in this: you can switch leads in battle, the death of one results in an automatic switch to the other, there’s an actual shop you can buy from, there’s NPC interaction, and the linearity has relaxed.  Best of all, there are no more save points.  Anytime, anywhere, you can save your game.  Okay, maybe not in mid-battle, but otherwise, yes.

Unfortunately, the voice acting ranges from wooden to atrocious for all but a handful of characters, you only have two playable characters, and the charm and complexity of XIII’s characterization is largely absent.

If you don’t care about story and characters in your games (and if so, why are you playing RPGs?), then XIII-2 is pretty fun.  Time- and location-hopping, entertaining battles, and the return of chocobo racing are all worth a look.  If you’re content with the ending of XIII as it was, then you should probably leave this one alone, and close your ears when XIII-3 (because this one ends on a “to be continued”) starts getting press.

Written by Rachel C.