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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Platform: Xbox 360|Change
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on 20 July 2017
This sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, for me, was a little strange.
From the start, I was fairly confused about what was going on and felt a bit overwhelmed.
Eventually, you settle into it and get used to what the game throws at you.
This installment also feature time travel...which, in itself, can be quite a bit of a headache. This is emphasized and amplified by the various timeline elements and how you interact with them.
Confused? Yup, you should be lol.

This game continues where the first installment left off with Lightning playing a slightly smaller part and mainly focusing on her younger sister, Serah and a fellow time traveler named Noel.
Again, grand story elements, beautiful settings and a cool story which further delves into the world of Gran Pulse and Cocoon.

I found this game quite fun to play through. They've added a new aspect which includes being able to capture and use various monsters from the game as allies in battle. You can also mutate them and make them much more powerful, making them invaluable!

Confusing, if only for a while, well written and, again, imaginative.
Great addition!
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on 12 March 2013
I have played many of Square Enix's games especially the Final Fantasy series, all since Final Fantasy 7 (except the online versions) and generally love them all. This one is a great sequel to it's predecessor, that said, my opinion is that this game is so much better than Final Fantasy 13 in many ways, the story is great and really draws you into it and just makes you want to keep playing to find out how it progresses, whilst I felt that FF13 was so very lacking.

I was happy to see all the characters from FF13 make an appearance in this game, even if only for a short period of time. I find that the game play itself is a lot better than the one before it as on this one you have the choice to go where you wish instead of the never-go-back style of FF13, however it is much shorter than it's predecessor - I clocked it at a little over 20 hours - but still much more enjoyable. I was glad they reintroduced gil (game money) reward for battles as getting large amounts of money needed on FF13 was (in my opinion) incredibly difficult, while on this you could get a large amount from just going through the game levels and not having to go through 100's of battles to earn a small amount. The game itself - I found - was very easy, even on normal mode, you didn't have to spend vast amounts of time killing everything you see to get past any of the bosses, you 'levelled up' very quickly by just going through the game and doing the occasional side quest, the real difficulty lies after you complete the game to get the original ending. I'll try not to spoil anything for anyone, but after you complete the game you have the chance to redo all boss battles using something called 'paradox scope' and this basically puts the game on super,super hard mode, as I generally like to call it, but by doing so you can unlock more interesting things - i.e levels/weapons/endings - that are unavailable without doing so.

My opinon is that you could play this game without having to play the first to understand what is going on, as I don't think there were to many references to the first that you wouldn't understand without having played FF13, so you could play this as a stand alone game, but I would recommend playing FF13 beforehand to fully know the back story and why things happened the way they did.
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on 24 July 2017
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on 7 February 2012
It was with no small amount of trepidation that I approached Final Fantasy XIII-2, FFXIII got so much wrong that it was enough (along with the disaster that was Final Fantasy XIV) for Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada to remark that `The Final Fantasy brand has been greatly damaged', no kidding.

See, many of us have grown up with the Final Fantasy brand, we remember the opening of FFIV backed by Nobuo Uematsu's mighty score, Cloud and Aerith in FFVII and of course that laughter scene in FFX. However when FFXIII finally came out most of us discovered a series that had stubbornly refused to mature and grow up with the times. While today western RPG's from Dragon Age and the Witcher series to the Mass Effect trilogy present dark worlds inhabited by deep, complex characters, difficult storyline choices where good and evil are often blurred and multiple playthroughs are rewarded. Compared to these, FFXIII with its hateful anime/jrpg clichés, the usual mix of perky, one-dimensional characters, awful scriptwriting ("Operation Nora"), worrying ecchi relationships, villains which were designed with more thought for their wardrobe then their motivations and this is before I get to the lack of towns/shops/free choice/thirty hour tutorial and `the tube' that never-ending corridor of moving from A to B endlessly. When you can watch all the cutscenes on youtube without playing the game and feel comfortable you haven't missed anything then you know the Final Fantasy series is in trouble...

Anyway enough about FFXIII, let's talk about Final Fantasy XIII-2, well Sakaguchi, Nojima and Uematsu, the old guard of Final Fantasy are long gone, instead directing the game we have Motomu Toriyama (FFX/FFX-2) with Masashi Hamauzu (FFX) on the soundtrack and Kitase (veteran of Final Fantasy) producing. They clearly put a lot of effort into responding to the criticism against FFXIII. The game is now open-ended including time-travel, alternative realities, dialogue choices and hidden endings. Shops are back (albit with fan service and giant wings), towns are back and looking better than ever (from villages by the sea to future metropolises). Moveable cameras, a faster pace of battles, monster collecting and dozens of side quests and optional content to keep you very busy!

Opening with a very exciting and dramatic video (only a handful of which are in FFXIII-2) we see Lightning (the only character worth a damn in FFXIII + Sazh) leading a massive army of monsters against the shadowy Caius and his own army. Massive meteors drop, summons are utilised, it's all very exciting. Caius himself is the sort of villain FFXIII could really have used, compelling, driven to succeed and you can actually emphasis with him. While he doesn't get as much scene time as he deserves, his presence really does help to drive the story (voiced by vetern Liam O'Brian who did Kain from FFIV and Gaara from Naruto to name just two roles!)

After this quick introduction control switches permanently to Serah (Lightnings younger sister) and newcomer, `the last living human of the future' Noel who has come back in time to change the future. While there is mostly a distinctive lack of chemistry between the two they make for a fine duo, Serah is easy-going and inoffensive, Noel is mysterious enough and semi-aloft. The overall excellent voice acting really helps to sell the characters in their struggle across space and time.

The story here is much shorter then FFXIII (you can get through it in 20hrs) but there is a lot of additional content from slot machines to hunting down `fragments' in time. The battle system is the only thing really not to have changed dramatically, it's still set to `auto-battle' by default but a host of smaller improvements make a meaningful difference, paradigm shifts are now instantaneous, a party leader being downed is no longer a game over and some dramatic quick-time events spice up major battles.

Your third party slot is now filled by a `tameable' monsters (of which there are over 150!..I think) which are swapped in and out with your paradigm shifts and have their own individual stats, can be accessorised, named, combined and a host of other interesting features. Certainly the battles are far more interesting then FFXIII (debatably easier maybe) and even more fast paced, just don't expect any eidolons to show up and transform into a stealth jet.

So the main characters are good, battle system is much improved, the new freedom to explore areas (some of the maps are very complex with multiple levels/entrances etc etc) makes the game much more open and enjoyable. The ability to save anywhere along with the ability to travel through time to another destination at any time rewards exploration and `messing' around. The graphics are good, not quite up to the standards of FFXIII but with a controllable camera that's to be expected, overall the art/character design is solid (mostly). The core voice actors do a great job although not all characters get such care and its normal to hear the same conversation quips from citizens as you explore around town. The soundtrack is worth particular mention as being particularly good boosted with a large number of vocal tracks.

So yes, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is most certainly an improvement on FFXIII, it is a scattershot attempt to right all the wrongs of Final Fantasy XIII, with regards to the story it maybe goes too far...FFXIII was complex enough before time travel, fragments and other realities got involved and at times you can be left scratching your head at the exposition dumps and technobable that would make Piccard blush.

Still the attempt to deliver a highly playable JRPG that addresses the shortcomings of its predecessor are laudable. If you completed FFXIII and thought it was `meh' or it was `good' then go get Final Fantasy XIII-2 now - you will enjoy it. If you got half way through FFXIII or have completed many of the older FF games wait a bit, read around and wait for that price drop. If FFXIII left you distraught and angry then truthfully FFXIII-2 is not probably going to be able to bring you around - why not go and buy the Metal Gear Solid HD collection? FFXIII-2 shows JRPG's can still be relevant and interesting and although it still feels like they are running to try and keep up with Skyrim and the like they are still there and highly enjoyable for those that enjoy a good JRPG. FFXIII-2 has been worth the money and good fun, this is what we should have gotten back in 2010. Overall it gives me hope that the inevitable Final Fantasy XV will be something special to live up to our memories of this excellent although increasingly challenged series.

The collector's edition comes in a larger box and includes,
- A snazzy lenticular/3D print of Lightning
- 6 CG postcards of the main characters
- An impressive mini artwork book on FFXIII-2
- A soundtrack CD with six tracks of music
It's a nice little set but only worth getting if you can get it for a similar price of the standard edition!
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on 31 October 2013
Final Fantasy has a huge fanbase and is criticized left, right and center when new outings are released - I think that alot of fans are after a perfect combination of FF7, along with elements of the other (this is a personal assessment). This game, sadly, doesn't provide that but does continue the story from th fantastic FF13 - which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The RPG elements are still evident and leveling is alot of fun (Whats an RPG without leveling!) as you make your way across the Historia Crux to visit different areas at different times of history - leading to alot of different enemies, secrets and evil big bosses. This game expands on the previous installment as the group follow the evil villain - Caius - as he tries to basically destroy the world.

The game continues with the Paradigm system which in my opinion is simple and easy to use, but also makes the game difficult - shifting paradigms at the right time can be a life-saving or death-inducing decision. The characters build up through the ranks and absorb new skills. This game also has an interesting twist in that you introduce a monster to your party, and they ca also be leveled and built up to be a bad ass. These monsters are monsters you fight and then capture; they all have different abilities and styles that can help in a battle. The two main characters - Serah and Noel - also meet the characters from FF13 on their adventures - though these characters only join you momentarily or for a limited time, the game is still fun and its fun to see these characters across different timelines.

The graphics (as expected from Final Fantasy) are amazing and colourful - you can see and feel the japanese influence in the game. This game received mixed reviews on release, due to the enormity of the Final Fantasy fanbase, and whilst alot of fans don't like it, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it. IT may not be everyones cup of tea, but you never know until you try, right?
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on 5 July 2013
FF13 2 is not a bad game but is not as good as FF13! Many people will argue about this but its simply fact. Serah and Noel are simply not interesting enough to hold the rather questionable route the story has taken. The FF13 universe storyline wasn't great but was no where as bad as some of the so called FF fans were calling it. The leveling system (via crystarium) has been dumbed down and takes the fun out of messing about with the different roles. The graphics as well are poor compared to the first and this is due to the use of one disc instead of the 3 from ff13! sure disc swapping is a pain but its a small price to pay for the big improvement and sharper visuals that could have been achieved. The only real redeeming feature of the game is the monster catching which allows them to fight in your party. It has the feel of pokemon to it but is another aspect which is poorly explained as you can infused other monsters and i didn't find this out till i was wandering through the menus!

This game is frustrating as i am probably in the minority when i say i prefer ff13 over its sequel but 13 2 seemed like there was too much pressure on it to be a good game :/ It's average at best and there are other quality jrpg's out there which are worth your time. lighting returns looks promising and i'd wait for that because lighting is the only good thing to come out of this trilogy :)
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on 28 March 2015
Good points are, Sarah's probably one of my favourite characters in the trilogy, and nicely voiced, the fans of the series asked for a changed from the first game because it was to linear, and they took this to heart, and misinterpreted more exploration and freedom, for totally boring non-intuitive side missions, totally confusing time travel system that uses you as a rubber ball as you are being bounced around different times because you cannot complete all the tasks in one area until you meet certain criteria in another. The graphics go steeply downhill in the trilogy, character models always look good, but mediocre environments start creeping in, play number 1-3 and number 1 is far around better visually. The combat system changes that much through the series, it feels like going from Tales of Graces f, to call of duty. Maybe they should revaluate what the series is now, and where it's going.
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on 17 June 2012
Final Fantasy XIII may have been a success story considering a meteoric selling record (the fastest selling title in the FF series) but in my eyes it was disappointing and not in-keeping with the quality of games now passed - with composer Nobuo Uematsu no longer writing the themes that made games and its contents so memorable, characters becoming increasingly corny in appearance as well as personality and worlds becoming linear with limited freedom. That said, XIII did have its positives in ever improving graphics and still loveable characters and plot-lines. Consequently, I believe that if gamers knew what they were getting into, there would be serious doubt over the number of copies sold - The revelation that this was the first Final Fantasy to appear on a seventh generation console (the past 3 being available on PS2 & PC) and having avid gamers wait for the next installment a lengthy 4 years - Clearly played a part in the surge of sales. Despite mixed reviews and anticipation for the next story, Square-Enix announced a sequel to the vast bemoaning veteren fan-base. I'm glad to say that I waited patiently until the price dropped and I bagged a bargain on an eBay Auction for a lowly £7.13 (P&P £2.50), brand new. After being barely satisfied with FFXIII, my acquirement of its sequel was more due to my fondness for the series, a diligent duty to possess and complete all the franchise has to offer, albeit reluctantly.

It's always difficult to regale others with the entrancing stories of the Final Fantasy universe without spoiling any of the story checkpoints or surprises. However 13-2 offers less surprise and more predictability thanks to obvious character tells and a trippy storyline. It happened.. they finally hit the low note of going so over the top that they mess with time travel. True, FF's have always been OTT (and considering the word 'Fantasy' in the title) but they always had some degree of realism that made characters relatable and the world intriguing. Just when you thought 'They must of had a really good idea for the need to make a sequel' they prove to be either insane or milking yet another title (see FF7 & FF10). It takes place after the events of the first game, with the main character being the sister of the 13's main role. This time you control Serah, the younger, more interesting, realistic of the two sisters, suffering from random visuals and confusion of the events in the past. With 13's emotionless, ice queen, mary sue protagonist Lightning gone (hooray!) Serah goes in search to find her (boo!). 'Lightning' or Claire as I prefer to call her (the reasoning behind her nickname is just silly) is seen in stunning FMV sequences, fighting an unknown, purple clothed, eccentric looking man. In a darkened world of ruins, the two spar in cinematic style - special effects running wild as always, you get to take minimal control during a fight scene (pressing the correct sequence of buttons in time) which is surprisingly enjoyable as you watch the repercussions of attacks both hit and missed, unfold. When the videos come to an end, a young man named Noel is sent on a voyage through time, riding a meteor to the past.. mental. As he acquaints himself with a distressed Serah and her crew of oddballs taking on monsters spread by the meteor, we learn that he is from a future where he is the last born, the last hope to rekindle the civilisation of mankind. Cue all sorts of explaining and devotion to a cause. The two set out to go forward and back in time through a 'Historia Crux' (a portal) which are operated by finding artefacts spread across the regions, closing the 'paradox's' and inevitably finding Claire and preventing the future from which Noel is the end of all life.

As gamers with the experience of the first game will expect, you take control of one of the two characters with a 3rd person view as you stroll around areas with the odd sub-route, shortcut or secret location. As you inspect your glorious high definition surroundings of Gran Pulse, you are interrupted by spawned enemies almost every 30 seconds - which you can manage to escape from before initiating combat (you can run and jump away to avoid them and must reach an safe distance to avoid automatic battles). You can strike out at enemies swiftly to gain a 'preemptive' advantage or lose the option of retrying should you attempt an escape and fail - this makes some of your cowardice punishable - something that I found exciting as the game is still stupidly easy (I played on Normal mode as apposed to Casual or Hard). As battle commences, an ATP gage fills up as you que a number of attacks to execute - the stronger/better the combos, the quicker the 'Stagger' gage rises on the enemy where you can deal far greater damage. Thanks to the Crystarium system of advancing in level and stats, you gain new moves and health points when you spend EXP points in the pre mapped board of crystals. This means you progress essentially how the makers want you to. The real option for the gamer is which trait to improve on such as commander, ravager (mage), medic, sentinel, synergist, or saboteur. You can still create your own 'Paradigms' to alter and succeed in battle, but most of the time you can get the best result as a mage and soldier, spamming the the A button for 'auto attack'. This is what makes 13 and -2, so damn dull. Sure you can choose to select the attacks yourself but when the game rewards such apathy, you're better off doing as you are told. Yes, the visuals are impressive the first couple of times as you watch your two man army launch into the air and chop away at a dancing bird wearing a poncho. There are only so many times you can sit and watch the same thing over and over again just to level up your characters - its a boring grind fest with unrelenting rewards. When scouting out new areas, you are charged with the task of finding the 'paradoxes' which you must close to reveal more of the map and progress (connect the dots, mazes). These include simple mini games which are a relief if you are losing patience with a slow paced jog. Half the time though you spend on watching redundant conversations drag on, either explaining the situation or spouting hormonal trash.

[Differences & Improvements over FFXIII]
1 Disc! - As I carefully peeled the shrink-wrap and opened my sleek and shiny new case I was considerably astonished that the game appeared on just one disc. Its predecessor came on 3 (understandable with so many cutscenes) and this made me think that perhaps it would be a shorter tale - though this was disproved when I found out the the logic behind it was that the cutscenes in 13-2 are all in-game and not separated files. Although I remain sceptical (not because of the quantity but quality of the game). Recaps - Upon loading up the game and continuing on your adventure, during loading times you are greeted with a short segment of the latest events occurred in your last few sessions. This is a stylish and helpful addition as it reminds you of whatever you may have forgotten or sheds insight on to what your current task is. Decisions & Consequences - Taking on board a system made famous by the Mass Effect games, you are now prompted to select 1 of 4 sets of dialogue to either fathom some more information or make correct or off topic assumptions. In conversations it doesn't really make a difference (other than gain small gifts for making the right choice) but you soon obtain the ability to change the future and retry if it doesn't all go your way as your decisions have specific consequences. Capturing Monsters - Since you only have 2 solid people to control on your travels, a new capture system has been engineered. On occasion you can acquire certain monsters by obtaining their crystal after battles (actually its a bit like Poke'mon:) Different monsters have different roles (com,rav,syn,sab,sen,med) and have several stages to advance in (also in the Crystarium) and do this by acquiring related items which can be bought from the lunatic 'Chocolina' - She is the sole opportunity to buy and sell items at several points in the game and is pretty much exactly like the shops in 13 combined into one that advances as you do. Maps - The locations are similar in appearance to 13 because they are set on Gran Pulse, however they do on occasion offer separate avenues to roam which 13 lack - but in honesty, as good as some background drops look, the places you're in contact with are just hollow, unmemorable rooms.

Conversations - The reason why so many choose to avoid RPG's altogether, these gossip sessions are so overdone its just unnecessary. Just like 13, you not only get drawn out explanations of your situation but also endless whinging about the future, present, past, and waaaaah I want my sister back waaaaah!!! This is no exaggeration, after nearly all long-winded chats you get a short speech or the inner thoughts of Serah swearing to find Lightning, wondering whether she can find her, wondering where she is, why she's there, blah blah blah. It could be my undying detest of 13s main maiden Lightning talking, because she is an empty pink vase, but the reasons for her disappearance since the end of the first installment and her unexplainable invincibility, makes her role an annoying one, especially as the only person who likes Lightning is of her own blood - so she has to like her. No eidolons - The summons have always been involved and some times played an integral part (FF8,9 & 10) and although they were just whimsical silliness and scapegoats for characters backlogs in 13, removing them just seems wrong. No Teammates - Again, like the summons, gathering and recruiting people was a strong driving force to keep going as new people add to the story, gameplay and dialogue. This in my opinion is why conversations run dry and the plot seems so shallow, because instead of hearing alternative viewpoints and reasoning, people just bumble over the same crap you just heard 10 minutes ago, this time with added emphasis on finding Lightning oooh. OTT - in the past games, you'd encounter situations relative to life as well as the escapades only found in stories. People and places have eccentric twists on clothing and environments but still bear sense, however in the latest games, the people in particular look dodgey in bright jumpsuits and the fabled 'anime hairstyles' that defy gravity.. Attacks have light-beams flying out of appendages and form symbols in the sky, people with the frame of a malnourished child can smack a dragon into the sky.

[Soundtrack & Voice Acting]
The music is something 13-2 has on its mother because it is actually noticeable thanks to far more inclusion of vocals in songs which smoothly adapt to dithering situations, for example you can be walking along a serene beach then get chased down by wolves as the music picks up tempo and more intensity. The vocals are fairly subdued and don't dominate every song which is a plus because although it was only the ending song of 13 that featured an out of place Leona Lewis bellowing out inappropriateness, it spoiled an already mediocre end to an equally tame game. It in no way compares to Uematsu's inspiring songs, it couldn't, but it does make up for the stomach gurgling noises dubbed a soundtrack from 13. The 3 new characters of Noel, Yuel and Caius are a mixed bag. Noel struck a chord with me instantly as he had decent lines and seemed a genuinely realistic character (even though he's from a distant future) His voice is recognisable in minutes to those familiar with subjects close to heart (the voice actor played Haku in Studio Ghibli's 'Spirited Away' rather poorly but does a stellar job here). Not much light can be shed on Yuel as her role is rather secretive as a seeress who sees a resemblance of herself and Serah. Thanks to the epic battle introduction, you have some idea of who Caius is - a feathered weirdo who can turn into a dragon beast thing and summon elemental madness.

For me, the most annoying thing about this game is that after every significant exchange of words, Serah's thoughts act as a follow up to what has been said and just repeat what is already known, bulking up cutscenes for furiously long time spent listening to an overemotional bint. Now I know that the Final Fantasy's are supposed to be 'out there' as they are a good form of escapism from ordinary boring lifestyles. But the direction in which these newer games are going is depressing. Its all about graphics, intense conversations and ease of play instead of memorable environments, complex characters and a suitable difficulty that actually provides a challenge. In my slightly youthful opinion, the last FF title that lives up to the traditions and brilliance of the series was FF10 - when they introduced voice acting but shamefully took away the travelling through world maps. Perhaps it was the beginning of the end for classic gaming as combat and exploration is no longer controllable but forcibly provided. Characters have become extreme ends of the spectrum when it comes to personalities - they are either a wimpy pathetic moaning loser or an angry indestructible mary sue - No one is in the middle anymore. So even though there are elements that have worked well in 13-2, I still question the intentions behind its release.. did they have left over plot lines, locations and ideas? Could they not be bothered to start from scratch with a new story and system? With this games ending and online forums awash with talk of an impending FF13-3... the answer becomes obvious.
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on 5 February 2012
Some people hated FF XIII, unfairly in my opinion. O.k, it wasn't the best of games but it was still pretty good. Final Fantasy XIII-2 takes all what was bad about XIII and destroys it.
No longer so you feel pushed along a linear path having no control over the game. This time around you can walk around towns, interact with NPCs, take on side quests and so on. There's even a casino if you feel like taking a breather from adventuring (Similar to FF VII's Gold Saucer).
Combat pretty much remains the same. The two main differences being that enemies spawn from thin air and you have to initiate battle with a sword strike (Kind of like the SMT: Persona games) also, the cool thing this time around is that you can recruit monsters in to your battle team, level them up and give them different abilities.
The storyline so far is great, at the time of writing this review I am about 16 hours in. You play as Serah, the younger sister of Lightning from FF XIII, and Noel, a completely new character to the story. As with FF XIII, you wont understand much at the start of the game, but as you play on more of the pieces start to fall into place. I wont tell you anything about the storyline except for the fact that it's great.
To sum up, this is Final Fantasy back on it's top form. Just goes to show what happens when developers actually listen to fans.
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on 28 September 2015
I was looking forward to playing this as my husband said it was a good game. Unfortunately there is too much 'movie' in it which distracts from the game and I got bored waiting for that to finish and actually get to play the game. I get two minutes into playing the game and another 'movie' starts playing.
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