First Impressions of Final Fantasy XIII-2

After spending quite a bit of yesterday playing Final Fantasy XIII-2 and cancelling yesterday’s post because of it, I figured that it would be appropriate to give you, loyal reader, my first impressions of the game. This of course will not be an entire review, as I haven’t finished the game, and details such as story, and pacing are very important to my lasting impressions. I’m going to base my impressions in three parts (As usual): gameplay, music, and story. This will be short (So fewer pictures), as it is just a first impressions article.

Relegated to combat tutorial

1.) Gameplay

Final Fantasy XIII-2 actually makes XIII seem more disappointing in terms of gameplay. I played through that entire game, did all the sidequests and the horrible turtle hunting, and until XIII-2, I never realized how good and engaging the combat was. This is partially because of the new leveling mechanics, which give real freedom of character development, and partially because XIII-2 throws much harder enemies at you from a much earlier point, so you actually have to use the system as it was intended instead of just using the same paradigm over and over again. The introduction of monsters has made the gameplay far more deep and developing a strong monster party has been just as engaging as leveling characters for me.

2.) Music

I have been reading from various reviews that the music is a major disappointment, and is among the worst in the series. That being said, I think the music is actually quite excellent. Keep in mind, it doesn’t sound like Final Fantasy music at all, but that’s because Nobuo Uematsu is gone from the series. Personally, I would rather the series try for a new, exciting direction with their music than hire people to try to ripoff the great Uematsu. So overall I would give the music a big thumbs up. The voice acting on the other hand is all over the place. Of the new cast, Caius, voiced by the extremely talented Liam O’Brien is the highlight. Noel, who I’m actually starting to like despite hating everything about his character design, has a strong voice actor as well. He isn’t exceptionally well voiced, but it doesn’t pain me to hear him speak. Unfortunately, the main character Serah is not voiced well in my opinion. This is weird considering that she is voiced by Laura Bailey, who is an excellent voice actress, but Serah’s lines feel forced and ultimately fall flat.

3.) Story

As of this point in my playthrough, I’m still working on the assumption that many of my questions about the intro will be answered, but I am, of course, prepared for it to be chocked up to anime craziness. At this point, the main plot is mostly unfocused, but it hasn’t hurt the game in the slightest. The new areas/eras you visit are varied and extremely interesting, and I find myself interested to see what new development is taking place, and how characters have changed through the passage of time. This has led me to actually care about some of the characters from XIII, which I didn’t think was possible (Snow for example). I do expect the story to take a nose dive and go crazy in the future (And even then, I’ve played enough anime-inspired games to take it in stride), but at this point, the story is really fun and the characters are charming.

This thing dances in the menu, and I get to put a little hat on it!

Whether you liked it or not, the entire world can agree that Final Fantasy XIII was a monumental disappointment. I’m happy to say that XIII-2 doesn’t follow this trend. If gameplay is king in video games then this game is good on that category alone. The music is very different then what Final Fantasy fans are used to, but even though it is different, it has maintained the same level of quality. The story is likely to develop in such a way that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but at this point, I am legitimately interested to see what happens next, and I never experienced this feeling once when playing the original. All in all, I have been very impressed by the game. Stay tuned for an actual review in a week or so, after I’ve had a chance to beat it and move through most of the extra content.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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