When all else fails, try time travel.
Square Enix is back with Final Fantasy XIII-2, so the question I have, is that have they included the game this time? The answer is a bit longer than an simple yes unfortunately.
Set 3 years after the events of the previous game, the story puts Serah, Lightning’s sister, on a adventure through time to find her in a place called Valhalla. Also joining the adventure is a man from the future, Noel, and your very useful companion, Mog (which gives the almost obligatory moogle mention).
I probably should mention now, that this is a VERY pretty game, making even Killzone 3 on PS3 look outdated. Also, for those of you that have a 360, this game does come on 4 discs, so there is a lot of content here, roughly 20 hours to complete if you rush.
Very early in the piece you’ll be thrown into the Active Time Battle system, which hasn’t seen many changes since the previous game. The auto-battle system is still your friend, and paradigm shifting is still in. However, unlike the original, your given this right at the beginning, without the 2-3 hour wait. This trend continues throughout the game, as pretty much everything is given to you in the first 8 hours of gameplay, compared to Final Fantasy XIII’s 15-25.
Ok, onto the time travel, pretty much the highlight of the game. Every area has 3 or more eras you can visit in, each with it’s own side-quests, items, monsters, and much more. The game treats each main story area as a bit like a mini TV series, each with it’s own story and problem, which will involve visits to past or future versions of the area to complete your quest. You can revisit any time you’ve been to previously, repeat an episode there, or simply explore a bit. Everywhere you go will have a paradox you’ll have to solve, with many ways of solving it. This is where the new Live Trigger mechanic comes in, which is like a Mass Effect dialog options menu, allowing you to choose what path to take. As you can imagine, this gives you a lot of choice over the course of the game, something it’s predecessor didn’t include. This mechanic gives you so much choice that the game has multiple endings, Chrono Trigger style. There is one section about halfway through the game where you can take the easy option out, and end the game that way. Technically, as far as the game is concerned, you can continue playing after choosing any ending, and not be forced to a certain area, which is a massive improvement.
Battles haven’t seen much of an improvement, with the paradigm shifting being the main part of each battle, focusing on the stragery rather than the micro management of the battle. Final Fantasy XIII-2 shakes things up a bit with Cinematic action, which is basically a QTE event for dealing extra damage.
All in all, Final Fantasy XIII-2 takes is predecessor (which a lot of people made out to be a pretty game without a game) and make something which is enjoyable, better, and much more engaging.