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Final Fantasy XIII-2 review

AT A GLANCE
  • More freedom, more exploration, more discovery
  • Story driven by characters
  • Battle system still rules
  • No summons
  • Some difficulty dips and spikes
  • Only two party members


...which brings us to the monster collection

Let's get this out of the way first: summons absolutely sucked in Final Fantasy XIII. They were severely underpowered and difficult to use, to the point where it really wasn't worth using them at all. Rather than fixing that broken system though, summons are dispensed with in XIII-2 in favor of a monster collection system. Since Serah and Noel are the only two human party members in the game, the third slot in battle is filled by your choice of beasts.

Above: Some monsters are cuter than others

As you defeat enemies, they often drop a crystal that adds the monster to your bestiary, allowing you to add it to your battle team. At any given time, you can choose up to three monsters to use as the third slot in your Paradigm deck. Since each enemy has a set role (Commando, Ravager, etc), choosing three roles that complement the rest of the team is essential. It's not just about strength, but balance too.

They're not all winners, but separating out the chaff comes with the territory when you're talking about monster collecting. The weaker monsters are still useful though, because instead of just setting them free, you can "infuse" them onto the monsters you actually use. This adds passive abilities to the monster that absorbed it, like elemental defense boosts and increased gil drops, so no monster ever goes to waste. This definitely means you'll be spending a lot of time sitting in menus if you want to really maximize your optimal set of monster allies, but if that's really not your thing, you can put it off and make due with average monsters too.


The thing about the moogle

Above: See the moogle in action in this PS3/360 comparison video

So, everyone is happy that moogles are back, right? Well, the adorable Mog does hide one major change in FFXIII-2: the return of random encounters. The annoyance of these random encounters is mitigated by the Mog clock, which allows you to run from battle if you prefer, but we still miss the visible enemies of XIII. It's a concession we're willing to make in the face of technical limitations though, since the tradeoff is more open environments to explore.

On the plus side, Mog's presence adds a much-needed light-heartedness to XIII-2. Where XIII was humorless and took itself way too seriously, XIII-2 isn't afraid to poke fun at itself here and there. Of course, it still has its moments of serious drama, but now they're broken up with bits of silly dialogue here and there that really help lighten the mood.


Is it better than...

Final Fantasy XIII? Yes, in the sense that most longtime Final Fantasy fans will enjoy it more. It's definitely a tradeoff of pros and cons, but the single bullet-point of non-linear exploration will tip the scales in FFXIII-2's favor for many people.

White Knight Chronicles 2? Yes. This shouldn't come as a surprise, since we didn't care for White Knight Chronicles 2 at all, but if you were really wondering then there's your answer. Yes. It's better. Much, much better.


For those who skipped straight to the end...

If FFXIII was an exercise in form over function, its successor is exercise in working with what you've got – and doing a brilliant job of it (for the most part). It does some things better than its predecessor, some things worse, but what's most impressive about Final Fantasy XIII-2 is how much feels new and different, despite sharing most of its guts with XIII.

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Square Enix
Franchise: Final Fantasy
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Drug Reference, Simulated Gambling, Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

66 comments

  • Moondoggie1157 - October 22, 2012 2:32 p.m.

    I know this is an old article, but hell I feel like commenting. I picked up 13-2 a couple weeks ago and have been playing heavy... But no matter how hard I try I still can't put it over 13. the story is too chopped up to be interesting, and if you mistakingly unlock an area that you aren't ready for, you end up wasting time doing small quests in that area only to be completely destroyed by the boss at the end... I dunno, I like the characters quite a bit, but the story just seems so tossed together.
  • g4m3rk1dd - February 4, 2012 3:46 a.m.

    looks like 13 is better than 13-2 to me...no summons? only the 2 human party members? thats half of the reason to play the game gone for me already...ill still try to pick it up at some point though...
  • yAkidAgain - February 4, 2012 9:18 p.m.

    Thinking the same thing. I don't remember any FF game from 1-12 not sure about 11 that didn't have summons and 2 main characters smh Square, were is my Versus 13!
  • Alexlicious - January 31, 2012 1:21 p.m.

    I might be alone here but I thought 13 was better.
  • Squander - January 31, 2012 9:14 a.m.

    great review, thanks a lot!! this game seems to be highly polarizing (Edge 5 out of 10...) - looking forward to playing it! Also enjoyed FF XIII so I guess I'm on the safe side =)
  • Net_Bastard - January 31, 2012 9:24 p.m.

    Edge is known for giving extremely low review scores to games that got a 70-100 Metacritic score.
  • 5DollarFootlong - January 30, 2012 9:59 p.m.

    Awesome review Carolyn. Good luck in the future in where ever life takes you.
  • Moondoggie1157 - January 30, 2012 7:15 p.m.

    Thanks for the great reviews, articles and Pokemon, Carolyn... you will be missed! On a brighter note... I am nearly done 13 (had to restart 3 times, don't get me started). I have really enjoyed it so far, so 13-2 is really looking good. Going to go drink my sorrows away now...
  • juicenpancakes - January 30, 2012 4:52 p.m.

    Goodbye Carolyn and the rest of the talented people at GR (Mike, Matt, and Cheryll). You should be very proud of the work you did. We'll miss you all very much.
  • lilbuddha - January 30, 2012 3:12 p.m.

    I would be less harsh on trash like FF13 if it weren't called Final Fantasy.
  • Cyberninja - January 30, 2012 4:28 p.m.

    different people have different opinions on alot of this like i loved 13 and would say its my second favorite single player game on ps3 and i have alot of games, the linearity worked because i am busy, the battle system was great and only played it self in easy battles, and the story wasn't that hard to follow even if you only watch cut scenes. honestly i would call something like Skyrim garbage because hearing about hundreds of glitches doesn't make something worth playing until the developers get their crap together.
  • lordgodalming - January 30, 2012 5:09 p.m.

    Hey, thanks for checking in with that creative, informed critique of a game that's not even being reviewed here. I'm sure you have a lot of other gaming forums to visit before your next hate crime, so let me help you out with a whole basket of classic go-to phrases on a variety of topics: RPGs 1. Final Fantasy IV wass the best in the series. CECIL WAS SO DEEP! 2. Mass Effect killed the JRPG. 3. World of Warcraft is getting "long in the tooth." Consoles 1. PS3 has no games. It is only a Bluray player. 2. Every 360 gets the RROD like 2 months out of the box. 3. The Wii is for casual n00bs. Shovelware! General Gaming 1. Bobby Kotick is a jerk. 2. EA's Origin service sucks nads. 3. Japanese game developers can't keep up with the mighty West. So there you are. Feel free to use those anywhere. I promise everyone will continue to have just as much respect for you.
  • lilbuddha - January 30, 2012 5:28 p.m.

    To the vast majority of people reading: Hey thanks for being 13, ruining WoW by complaining it wasn't more like single player games / easier, ruining FF series by asking for more J-Pop anime, and ruining the entire video game industry by eating up every last piece of "DLC" your mommy's credit card let you buy. Please, let me move on to another genre/activity that will become popular so you can hop on the bandwagon, ruin it, then point at ME and complain that I'm the problem. You sure did a bang up job doing it with this right here. -Old, disgruntled, jaded gamer
  • lordgodalming - January 30, 2012 6:24 p.m.

    Oh yeah? Well, YOUR comment was...actually pretty solid. Point to lilbuddha. For the record, we're both old and we both (apparently) hate DLC. I just liked FFXIII, both as a game and as a Final Fantasy game, and you didn't. Peace.
  • Jahbu - January 31, 2012 4:54 a.m.

    Your comment it is trash. I loved FFXIII. Its my favorite game all gen.
  • Soxknight1127 - January 30, 2012 3 p.m.

    what an awesome review. its a good thing they didnt just dump her and half the staff that gives Radar the unique personality and feel we all like about the site. that would have been a terrible move...
  • TheRebaleKing - January 30, 2012 2:52 p.m.

    Great review Carolyn, everyone is going to miss you!
  • profile0000 - January 30, 2012 2:22 p.m.

    Great review, Carolyn. We will sincerely miss you here. Good luck.
  • IChooseUAntistaMON - January 30, 2012 2:12 p.m.

    New format is bad for people who don't read the article, sadly like me, fans don't even have to click on the article, they can get the score right from the mainpage thumbnail
  • TheCakeIsaPie - January 30, 2012 2:01 p.m.

    Carolyn! I already miss you! D:

Showing 1-20 of 66 comments

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