Final Fantasy XIII-2 Preview: Xbox 360 Demo Impressions

Final Fantasy XIII-2: Serah and Mog

I learnt this time.

After playing this demo for about an hour or so – I stopped. I was thoroughly enjoying it but realised I would have to play through this bonkers, story-dense section again when I got the final game. A fair few hours of Final Fantasy XIII was soured for me in the same way. Not this time though sqeenidos!

A lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same. Just know that you can no longer complain about having no choices – as this preview code bluntly demonstrates.

The main publicity in the west for Final Fantasy XIII-2 has concerned the absolute non-linearity of this sequel. You can explore towns, take different routes, accept side quests, make decisions on what to do next, pass or fail QTEs to determine what happens and collect monsters like they could fit in your pocket. All of these new features come flying out at you in this preview of Episode 2 from the full game.

They are all adequately explained with tutorials and were easy to pick up. QTEs were probably not requested by anyone, but they don’t really bother more than any other game that uses them.

The setting (from what I have read) is a few years after the original game – Noel comes from the future looking for help. Serah (Lightning’s sister) joins up with him and a moogle sent from some weird dimension or something by Lightning – all three of them have to start travelling through time to save everyone. Mog (the moogle) helps you find stuff from alternate realities, so I suppose that makes everything ok.

Final Fantasy XIII-2: Town Screenshot

New Feature Alert! Towns filled with NPCs to talk to.

Towns make the biggest difference to the gameplay of this sequel. The demo start you off in a large hub (after a quick boss fight with a hand of a monster called ‘Atlus’) which is filled with all sorts of goodies to find and people to talk to. I must have spent at least 40 minutes exploring before I moved to the first dungeon.

The good: there were NPCs and sub-quests inside the dungeon, it was vast and sprawling and had areas to return to later.

The bad: random encounters.

In general, the story-telling seems better integrated with the rest of game than it did in FFXIII. The subtitles seem unusually large though, and there seems to be a subtle different in both the character modelling and the camera angles used. Essentially though – the feel of Final Fantasy XIII is maintained.

Final Fantasy XIII-2: Battle Screenshot

Battles are subtly tweaked - but the solid mechanics are left untouched

Battles are remixed in the following ways:

  • Your party consists of two characters and three inter-changeable monsters. However the paradigm system still uses three positions at a time.
  • Paradigms can be tailored to target multiple or single targets specifically (or left in their default behaviour).
  • Boss fights can and will use QTEs to help you deal bonus/special damage.
  • Monsters have access to a ‘Feral Link’. A Limit Break-type move that deals QTE-based button-mashing damage.

Otherwise, in-battle gameplay is the same insane-but-tight action that I enjoyed so much last time around.

There are still so many more options! Monsters are levelled separately to your main characters – and there are presumably at least 50 of them – but only 3 can be used at a time. Crystarium is simplified (no more holding down a button to watch a line get filled up) and yet provides you a choice on what to do every 10 level ups. Even the options screen allows you to tweak your controls like you wouldn’t expect from a Final Fantasy game.

So, it’s not linear. Or so it seems from the demo. I liked Final Fantasy XIII a lot – I liked how streamlined it was… so maybe this will be too open for me?

Gotta love that battle system though. :)

– – –

Check out my review on the original game here:

RETROspective REviews: Final Fantasy XIII – A Flawed Classic

I also put up a video review up on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bz7g_M4DWs

2 thoughts on “Final Fantasy XIII-2 Preview: Xbox 360 Demo Impressions

    • You definitely need brains leading up to and after the last boss. The key is switching to and from different paradigms rather than what buttons you press when you are in a particular role. You need to be quick and plan in advance for the difficult battles – but I agree with you, a lot of the early game is very easy and requires little more than pressing the same button again and again.

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