Date: November 23rd, 2011 Author: Ethan
News Category: Final Fantasy XIII-2
Tags: Final Fantasy XIII-2, Gameplay, North America
Hello everyone! It’s, of course, your man, Ethan, here at FinalFantasy-XIII.net! Late last month I was privileged enough to attend a somewhat under wraps event being held by Square Enix, on behalf of FinalFantasy-XIII.net, in LA.
As most members of the forums have figured out, this event was of course in regards to the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII-2. Square Enix was kind enough to fly me and a few other staff members from some other Final Fantasy related sites out to LA and attend the event. What’s more is that not only did I get to play an almost complete version of Final Fantasy XIII-2 but I got to meet Producer Yoshinori Kitase and Art Director Isamu Kamikokuryo and have some of my questions regarding the game answered!
It was all a very cool experience and I’d like to take this time to give a shout out to Square Enix and their PR department for making it all possible.
Click through to read my impressions of the game!
After watching the newest trailer at the time, the New York Comic-Con Trailer, we were told we were getting a full, uninterrupted 3 hours of play time with XIII-2 on our console of choice, naturally, I went for a PS3, and my dive into the world of XIII-2 began…
As most people probably already know *Spoiler Alert if you haven’t already beaten XIII* immediately after our heroes save the world, Lightning disappears and only Serah seems to realize it has happened. For everyone else, it’s as if she was never standing alongside them once Cocoon touched down on Pulse.
After playing through Lightning’s battle with Chaos Bahamut in Valhalla, which we’ve seen numerous times in trailers, and I can say that it lives up to how epic it appears, focus shifted to Serah and Noel.
Right off the bat I felt one feeling overall, and this was just in the very first few battles; freedom. Overall, the feeling of “Final Fantasy” really hit me while playing, much more so than XIII did, and I loved XIII! But almost immediately after the introduction of Noel and the events that follow, you’re given free reign. Sure you’ve been given a goal but if you wanted to go about fighting monster after monster to level up as much as you can first, you’re free to do that, and it’s most certainly not as tedious as it was in XIII, thanks to the new way enemies appear.
Battles occur randomly, with a group of enemies springing up out of nowhere. Using the “Mog Clock” you’re given a set amount of time to initiate battle with the enemy. Strike one of the enemies quick enough and you’ll begin the battle with a Preemptive strike. Of course if you’re not feeling up to battle, you can simply run around the enemies and they will eventually disappear, and let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to avoid battles this time around.
With one look at the map, I realized there was a lot more to explore as well. Other than the occasional part of the path that branched out in one straight line or something similar, you’ve got multiple paths that branch and then branch and some that lead back to a main path and so on. I was left wondering if I had covered everything, opened every chest available, etc. It was a good feeling.
Surprisingly, I felt more at ease and in control overall with the increase in freedom I was being given.
First up, let’s start off with something familiar, the Crystarium which has become the well known leveling up system for XIII. It’s back in XIII-2 but it has been given a face-lift and a couple of transplants. Now, the Crystarium are shaped like Noel and Serah’s weapons and with each node, you’re given a choice as to what role you want to use that node for. The bonuses and abilities unlocked on each node will depend on what role you chose for that node. Want to focus solely on Commando? Go ahead! Ravager more your style? That’s fine too. It’s really up to you and how you want to develop your characters. Once you complete a whole go around the Crystarium you’re given the choice of getting an extra bonus which varies from getting an extra ATB gauge segment an extra Accessory slot, Role Level, etc.
The QTE or “Quick Time Events” in XIII-2, know simply as Cinematic Actions spruce up some of the more important battles of the game. A little bit before it starts, an icon will appear in the upper left hand corner of the screen saying “Cinematic Action” then, it’s up to you to input the correct buttons accordingly. Choices even extend to these QTEs as sometimes you’re given a choice as to what you want to enter. I found this to be pretty cool as you’ll watch the scene play out depending on what you chose. Made me wonder how the scene would have went had I chose something else. As a bonus, if you enter all the buttons perfectly for all of the Cinematic Action sequences that take place during a battle, you’re given a whopping amount of bonus points to spend in the Crystarium, quite a nice incentive to do well in them.
Last but most certainly not least, one of the newest features that I got to try out was capturing monsters. I wasn’t sure how I’d like this system in all honesty, but after messing a bit with it, I found it to my liking. After fighting monsters, there’s a chance you’ll receive a crystallized essence of that monster and from then on, it’s yours to use in battle as you see fit. Each monster has a pre-determined role which can be very useful in the beginning of the game, seeing that the Medic role wasn’t available to me until I snagged a Cait Sith! Switching paradigms will switch out monsters accordingly depending on what you have preset which almost gives a sense of changing party members mid battle.
You can do all sorts of fun stuff with your monsters, level them up on their own crystarium using component found in the game or as rewards from battle, name them whatever you like, and even dress them up in accessories you can find in game.
Even though this wasn’t necessarily a new concept, even for Final Fantasy thanks to the Beastmaster Job, it still felt fun and somewhat fresh. After playing around with it I found myself on board the Monster train.
It truly seems as if Square Enix learned a lot from developing and releasing XIII as well as from the ensuing praise and criticism that it received. They’re taking all of that and molding it into what you hoped XIII would have been. They’re not trying to redo XIII by any means, but they are taking they’re sequel and improving it in any and every way possible and trust me, there is no way that you won’t notice this game is vastly superior to its predecessor.
For the hardcore XIII fans, you’ve got a much improved version of the game you already love. For those skeptical, like I once was, about how much better XIII-2 could be, fear not, this game will be well worth it.
Again I’d like to thank Square Enix so so so much for making this all possible as it’s truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done and it was one of the greatest honors!
And now, Mog! For absolutely no reason!