Final Fantasy XIII-2 is all about the search for Lightning in a journey through the vortex and magic of time and the consequences of fate. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is definitely one engaging RPG, but just comes off a little short in terms of its display of pure RPG elements that really elevate the gameplay to a whole other level. Decent action, and a lengthy and impressive storyline with more relaxed gameplay elements are incredibly effective, but something still seems missing in the long run with a heavily popular and anticipated title that could have been so much more.
Final Fantasy XIII-2’s storyline takes place shortly after the conclusion of Final Fantasy XIII, where Lightning is still in search for her sister Serah after she was placed in a crystalline prison. Lightning is locked away in a different realm outside of Valhalla, caught between a time struggle that she cannot escape and an enemy force of nature. The tale follows different protagonists Serah and Noel, with lesser focus on Lightning and former villain antagonist Caius. Noel heralds from a time in the future, where Cocoon has been shattered with the Pulse long before the events of the original title. When arriving in Valhalla and witnessing Lightning and Caius battle furiously, he manages to get whirled into the past where Serah resides, giving hope to the other protagonist of Final Fantasy XIII-2. Having witnessed what becomes of the world in this Final Fantasy iteration, Noel plans to change the future while Serah humbly just desperately clings to her sister’s memories and the realization of heart that she is and always will be alive, albeit in another time zone.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 sadly still focuses on one word: linearity. There are definite advancements in terms of the gameplay when it comes to time hopping nodes (which is padding at best) and some city-wide free exploration elements, but everything still feels rather restricted when it comes to the actual pacing of the elements. Gameplay wise, narrative fuses more seamlessly than ever, which is something that a lot of people can be thankful for, especially those people that spent $60 on the original game. Party system is relatively similar to the originator title in terms of its turn-based style, but there is more cohesiveness in terms of the moves and the reflectivity of how well they work off of each other. Regardless, Final Fantasy XIII-2 needs a lot more polish for a game that has so much potential and yet that which is never realized.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 does bring about a better and newer sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, and in many ways tries to stick to traditional elements without being overbearingly difficult, but there is the rub – it seems to come off hodgepodge in terms of its features. The wide consortium of various elements going on make it a confusing mixture for RPG players that naturally expect so much from such an established series, but sadly will leave players wanting a lot more for their dollar.