Final Fantasy XIII-2 Preview -- Time Travel, Monster Paradigms, AND Power Bracelets?By Leah Jackson - Posted Nov 17, 2011
Let’s face it, while I firmly believe that Final Fantasy XIII was a good game, it wasn’t great. But that’s where Final Fantasy XIII-2 seems to be coming in. I did happen to like 13, putting over 100 hours in to the role playing game, and with 13-2 it seems as though the developers have listened to a lot of the rather harsh criticism that the original received and that they’ve worked on fixing many of these issues with the sequel.
If you're not up to date on Final Fantasy 13-2's story, let me try and break down what's happening this time around. Three years after Vanille and Fang sacrificed themselves to save Cocoon in Final Fantasy 13, the main character from that game, Lightning, has gone missing. In 13-2, it's up to her sister, Serah, and Serah’s new friend Noel to find out what happened to Lightning. Along the way you'll run in to old friends like Snow and Hope, who will all play a part in finding out what happened to Lightning.
What we didn’t know last time we saw the game during E3 is that FF13-2 is a time travel game. You're going to have to delve through time and space if you want to find Lightning, and the Historia Crux will help you do just that. It's very simple: you just pick a time period a la Chrono Trigger and you're teleported there. Based on your choices, what collectibles you find and where you are in the story will all determine where you can teleport to and what will be happening once you get there. It’s actually a really fun way for the developers to avoid the linearity that plagued FF13.
Luckily for fans of the original game, one of the best parts of FF13, the paradigm shift combat mechanic, is back in 13-2, and it’s better than ever. All of the staple paradigm roles like the Commando, Ravager, etc., are still there, but now there are 150 monsters to add to the mix with the new Feral Link system. Basically when you kill a certain type of enemy in FF13-2 they drop a crystal that allows you to summon them in to certain paradigms.
Each monster has their own specific paradigm role to add to the battle, and you can customize your paradigms to include certain monsters. The additions of monsters changes the combat system dramatically by adding so many options that it really opens the combat up for a lot more strategy overall. Plus, you can customize your monsters, level them up, give them hats (seriously), and even name them.
Aside from blinging out your monsters, you’ll also be able to buy accessories for your characters. These vary in stats, adding things like more strength, magic resist, etc., but you can only equip as many as your accessory capacity can hold. Each character has a different accessory capacity, and you can increase it via the Crystarium when you level up your characters. The stronger your character, the more bracelets they can wear. Makes sense, right?
Additionally, you can now change the leader of your party mid battle. This option wasn’t available in FF13. Instead you were forced to play with certain characters to advance the plot until the game opened up in Chapter 11. With the flexibility to change your party leader, you can now resurrect your allies and pull off more precise moves in battle, rather than only having the ability to choose a paradigm for each character and then have the AI choose which moves to use.
You also have a lot more freedom when it comes to leveling your characters this time around. At the end of each battle, you’ll be awarded Crystogen points based on how well you did. You then have to divvy these points up in the Crystarium to spend on each character. So, rather than in Final Fantasy 13 where each character got their own amount of Crytogen points per fight, now you just get one lump sum of them to spend however you please. Meaning, if you acquire a ton of points and just want to level up one character and gimp the rest, that’s a possibility. Or, you can level them all up equally. There’s also no level cap this time around according to producer Yoshinori Kitase, and you’re free to jump between Paradigms as much as you want. The option is there to dramatically expand upon each character, and that’s exactly what I plan on doing.
Last time I saw Final Fantasy 13-2 I was definitely on the fence about the title. Now that I’ve learned about the new features, interacted with new characters like the fabulous Chocolina (a girl dressed as a Chocobo who sells you items), teleported through different time periods, played around with the combat and redesigned Crystarium systems, I honestly believe that this game has all the potential it needs to be what Final Fantasy 13 should have been originally.
With Final Fantasy 13-2, Kitase-san and crew already had an engine to work with; they just felt that they needed to refine what already existed, and that’s exactly what this game does. It’s a beautiful, polished, innovative game that fans of the original will definitely enjoy. If you’re interested in more information on the story and the Mog Clock, check out my original preview as those all seem to have stayed the same since I last saw them.
Final Fantasy 13-2 is coming out on January 31 (my birthday!) for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.