The lights are on
The DLC for FF XIII-2 so far has included weapons, costumes, and a coliseum battle against Lightning. Today Square Enix released what was supposed to be the first story-centric DLC episode – but anyone hoping for meaningful contribution to the game's plot is in for a spectacular disappointment.
First of all, if you were hoping that the DLC episodes would somehow shed more light on the game's bizarre ending, you should check your expectations now. Calling Sazh's DLC outing (officially entitled Heads or Tails) a "story" is overly charitable; it's a few lines of dialogue stretched over more awful casino action.
If you've tried playing the slots in FF XIII-2, you know that Square Enix has demonstrated little to no aptitude for designing gambling minigames. That failure continues here, adding a new card game called Chrono Bind that is largely incomprehensible for the first several rounds you play it. After you spend more time learning the rules, it starts making sense – but it still isn't fun.
You can also play more slots, which would be a poor choice on your part.
The second card game added to Serendipity's tables has some dumb name but is really just Texas Hold 'Em. You'd think that wouldn't be hard to screw up, but the AI is completely terrible. I managed to win most hands by going all in before the flop, bullying everyone else into folding. Sure, you don't win any of the big pots that way, but winning money isn't the goal.
Instead of winning cash (or, more accurately, casino coins), Sazh's goal is to collect special medals. These are awarded as you are playing the card games. For instance, every time you win an all-in bet, you get a medal. You need to collect 30 medals – a number the game never tells you, so you're just left to aimlessly gamble, slogging through the card games and hoping you're getting close to your goal. Anyone who judiciously saves and loads to avoid catastrophic fund losses should expect to be completely done with the DLC in about 30 minutes.
Your ultimate reward is receiving Sazh as a party member, and you can level him up just like any other monster in your collection. He's a decent Synergist (no, he doesn't have Haste), so if you haven't already heavily invested in a good monster in that role (like Yakshini), he's worth picking up.
If you care about the super-annoying merchant Chocolina, there is a stupid reveal about her after you complete her side quest – though people who read the text accompanying fragments have probably figured it out already.
I enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII-2, and I've gotten every achievement in the game (the DLC doesn't add any new achievement or trophies, by the way). However, I didn't experience anything in this DLC to make me say it was worth its $5 price tag. There are no battles and no new areas to explore. I like Sazh, and I appreciate the minimal amount of clarification Heads or Tails provides about his adventures. However, in terms of gameplay, entertainment, and value, this DLC is a bluff. Cut your losses and find another table.
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.