The lights are on
When I first heard Final Fantasy XIII was getting a sequel, I was immediately skeptical. I for one thought the ending of Final Fantasy XIII was great, and it didn't need any more story to stack on to it. After playing XIII-2, my opinion didn't change too much.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 introduces new characters to the formula and adds an entirely confusing and unnecessary concept of time travel, but even so I enjoyed it.
In terms of the new characters (Noel, Caius, Alyssa, and Yeul), there were some I was glad to know and some I could do without. Noel (pictured below) was a fun character to play with. I loved his sword (or swords?) and I didn't think he was nearly as annoying as Snow or Hope from the original game. Caius was incredibly stupid to me. His entire motive for doing what he was doing in the game was not thought through and was unappealing to me entirely. Alyssa (same with Caius) was just unnecessary to me. She was just another character causes problems and being an annoyance and I was glad when I didn't see her again. And then there's Yeul (pictured below). I absolutely fell in love with the character of Yeul. I'm not sure why, but I always rooted for her throughout the story and always loved when she showed up on screen.
Besides these four, I don't think there were any other new characters (or atleast those worth mentioning).
The gameplay in XIII-2 would definitely have to be its strong suit. They added changes (which I honestly didn't think needed to be added at first) and made it so much more enjoyable. The combat system was phenomenal like the original. The introduction of tameable monsters was also a welcome inclusion to the game. It actually made grinding more fun because you had the chance of catching your favorite monsters. I have a party of all chocobos myself and they work great! The idea of being able to restart any area you go to by closing the gate and going back in time to the point you first entered is also pretty cool because you are able to unlock things you may not have thought of when you first entered. The game itself though was fairly easy (granted I was using the strategy guide). The characters' max health doesn't even breach 10000, which is 3 times less than the max in XIII, and all the enemies are dumbed down to compensate, which got rid of the challenge.
The music in XIII-2 is definitely different. There are songs that remind me of Devil May Cry, and some other heavy metal themes. But character themes were well done. Yeul's theme would have to be my favorite (for obvious reasons), the song is just so comforting.
Now for the game's weak point. I'm sure no one will disagree with me when I say the story was just god awful. It took until the very end of the game for me to understand what was going on and it was somewhat frustrating. Characters did things that made no sense (mainly Snow). It was just a mess. And then when you get to the end and think you finally won, you get thrown for a loop. The ending starts happy, and then the sky turns black, things change for the worse, and your given a "To Be Continued.." It's basically just a slap to the face to all the hard work you put into the game and it's rather depressing.
All in all though, XIII-2 has a good amount of problems, and would definitely not be considered a good Final Fantasy game in my book, but take away the name and the game is actually very decent. The gameplay is phenomenal. Some characters left me happy and some didn't. The music had it's hits and misses, though overall it was good. Lastly, the story definitely needed some work yet.
So I give the game an 8.25. I liked it, and had fun playing through it, but just because I liked it doesn't mean it's a perfect game. It had it's faults. If your a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series and enjoyed XIII, definitely pick this game up. If you feel Final Fantasy series has lost its edge and feel XIII was terrible, then this game might not be for you.
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