Game Type: RPG
Platform: Ps3/Xbox360
Genre: Fantasy


Overview:

This is the sequal to Final Fantasy XIII and the second game in the final fantasy series to get its own sequal, If you've never played Final Fantasy XIII we strongly advise you do to get the full effect of the storyline to this game, but even if you haven't played final fantasy XIII you can still understand the game itself and also catch up on what you missed by going to the in-game Primars which have a back story that sumarizes the previous game.

Gameplay:

Final Fantasy XIII-2 follows a similar path to previous games where there is no world map but you are free to explore any location you are currently in, The storyline is a little farfetched at first and it leaves you asking a lot of questions but as you get into the game you learn more and more about why events are occuring, You are Serah in this adventure, and your mission is to find your lost sister Lightning (Main character in Final fantasy XIII). With the help of Noel you embark on a time traveling journey that takes you to different locations across the timeline, along the way you'll encounter old friends and make new ones as your search for Lightning unfolds.

Square-Enix have re-introduced the random battle system, but with a cool new twist, instead of randomly getting thrown into battle, monsters will spawn through the rifts of time and appear near by, your mog clock will then begin ticking down by where you have the option to either run for your life or get a jump start on the monsters that are near you by pressing X (ps3) to slash your sword at them, if your sucessful and hit the enemy you get a pre-emptive bonus where you can attack first. The battle system is a lot like Final fantasy XIII by where your ATB (Active time bar) fills up and you can select a list of comands you wish to perform by using up your ATB bars. Should you fail to engauge the enemy before the timer runs out your "retry" option is locked out so if you die its game over for you and your quest, however its very rare that you ever let your counter get reduced to zero as enemies will actively chase you when the clock timer reaches the yellow section of the clock (Monster are in a "Preparing" state while the timer is in the green section, but some enemies are always ready and will attack as soon as they spawn with no green section at all on the clock).

Square has took the feedback from consumers and has added Gil drops from monsters, meaning you get money each time a monster is defeated as well as items, this means that the game doesn't involve a hell of a lot of tedeous grinding to aquire the better weapons like in final fantasy XIII where the only way to make Gil (ingame currency) was to farm items and sell them.

The 5 star battle rating system remains in this installment, this has had a revamp by where if you attain a 5 star battle rating you get a 200% chance of enemies dropping common and rarer items. This means dispatching enemies quickly rewards you with goodies that can later be used for making better weapons and accessories.

Leveling up:

As with most RPGs you level up by earning EXP, in Final fantasy its no different, you earn CP (Crystanium points) and are able to spend CP on leveling up certain roles, Both playable characters can learn new roles as they progress in level and each role can be leveled to a max of 99, this adds customization to leveling allowing you to get the abilities you want when you want them and if you prefer using certain roles over the others, you can level them first. Leveling takes you on a grid where the outline of each players weapons is made in a sort of celestial constellation of orbs, when you spend CP you fill the links towards the next orb and once you've spent enough you unlock that orb and gain its abilities/stats, its the same leveling system as with Final Fantasy XIII and if you've played final fantasy 10 its a little like the sphere grid system.

Monsters:

New to Final fantasy is the Monster Taming system (think Pokémon), in Final fantasy games you generally have 3-4 controllable characters you can choose comands for, in this installment you can only control two characters by using the Change leader option in battle, the third party members is taken up by a monster you have tamed, This brings an exciting new twist to the game as you can catch almost every monster you fight, there are also hidden monsters you can collect by using Mog to help you. Each monster has certain abilities and has a specific role which cannot be altered, the monster infusion system also means you can control what your monster can learn and its stats.

Monsters level up in a similar way to your main characters only you have to use monster materials to do so, each monster material will increase all stats but give a bonus stat boost to a specific stat and in some cases all stats, this gives you the option to enhance your monsters how you see fit, by making them all rounders or experts in one particular stat, if thats not enough you can even infuse other monsters into you monster, Infusion will mean you lose the monster you infused into your monster but your monster will potentially become stronger and aquire some of the abilities the infused monster had. This brings customization even further as every monster has their own unique passive abilities which can be passed on through infusion, leveling up your monsters you want to infuse can also increase the effectivness of their abilities making your monster even stronger when it gets infused with the monster you've leveled up.

Each monster can have a maximum of 10 passive abilities so choosing the right abilities for the role of your monster is vital in helping you win tough battles. Each monster also has attributes that define how quickly it will reach full potential these include:

Early peeker: Monsters will max out their stats faster than normal but they tend to not be high level, these monsters are great if you need a good monster fast but because they max out early they don't learn as many abilities and their maxed stats aren't always as high as some of the others. The benefit of early peekers is they do not cost a lot to max their stats meaning you can get some quick tough monsters.

Well grown: A great all rounder, these monsters grow to higher levels than early peekers and their stats consistantly increase at a steady pace, these monsters end up with some good stats and learn more abilities but sometimes Early peekers are better for certain points in the game

Late Bloomer: Late Bloomers level up to the high end levels (max lv is 99 which most late bloomers can level to) and their stats generally level slowly up till the high end levels where they will level up considerably more. These monsters tend to cost a lot to invest in but end up with better stats and more abilities than those of well-grown or early peekers but you have to spend a small fortune in getting those extra abilities.

Multiple endings:

Whilst on your travels through time you gain the ability to roll back time and replay areas as if you got there for the first time, this allows players to alter the way they did something and change the outcome of the game, certain areas have hidden endings you can obtain after you've completed the game.

Mini Games:

As always Final Fantasy XIII-2 has its own few minigames, these are found in a special time area called Serendipity, there are two main mini-games you can play and for those who have played previous final fantasies, one will be very familiar which has made a return:

Slots:
Purchase Coins to play the slot machines, the slot machines have a mind of their own and sometimes pay out less or more than other times, talk to the assistant standing next to the machines and she will give you hints on the pay-out rates

Chocobo Racing:
Its BACK! only this time its been overhauled, whilst you still get to use the Boost option there are entirly new options available to improve your odds, you can either choose to race and bet or just bet on a chocobo you think will win. To enter the races you have to catch chocobos like you did back in Final Fantasy VII, there are multiple colors of chocobo and each one has its own stats and abilities, Chocobos are the only monsters you can catch multiples of the same so stock up and experiemtn with them.

Chocobos gain new abilities depending on what passive abilities they know, so experimenting with different passive abilities could lead you to victory....or ruin. you can also use items on your chocobo before a race to give it a boost or improve its mentality. The only way to improve your Chocobos racing stats (Stamina and Speed) is to infuse monsters into it to make it stronger and to level it as high as you can.

Each chocobo has a certain ammount of RP (Race points) each time you race a chocobo you spend RP to enter the race (the ammount is shown when you choose races) once a chocobo has used up its RP or cannot afford to race any longer you can retire it, retiring it loses that chocoboc records and achievements but you can re-register the same chocobo as many times as you like and it will be given a new set of RP to use. We're not too sure why this feature is added as it seems a little pointless but it does allow you to use different chocobos and experience different tactics.

Graphics:

As one of the best companies for graphical capabilities in games, its no suprise the graphics in Final Fantasy XIII-2 are stunningly beautiful and each nook and cranny of the game has so much detail that it puts other games to shame. the graphics are so detailed its like playing in cinematic cut-scene graphics all the time.

Every effort has been made to make the game as visually pleasing as possible, from the monster designs to the scenery and how everything looks how you'd expect it to. This game we believe has some of the best graphics this year and will be hard to rival.

Longevity:

Whilst we took around 48 hours to complete the game 100% (won every trophy available) thius game boasts extra playing time by the sheer fun you have playing, whether it be trying to take on and find some of the hidden bosses, mastering and completing your monster collection, or obtaining the best items in the game, you'll have many hours after completion to enjoy. after completing the game once you can then try to obtain all of the fragments and paradox endings in the game and these count towards your trophy goals. Added to this is the Downloadable content that allows you to expand your monster hunting capabilities by allowing you to pitch yourself against downloadable monsters and allies alike, fight some of the hardest battles in Final Fantasy XIII-2 or download the cassino expansion and play poker to win those serendipity coins. This final fantasy is the very first to include downloadable content which means you can come back to it and still enjoy it later on.

Scores:


Gameplay: 10/10
Graphics: 10/10
Longevity: 9.8/10


Total: 29.8/30 {99%}