Preview: Play it again, Serah, in Final Fantasy XIII-2

June 24, 2011

If any Final Fantasy game needed a sequel, Final Fantasy XIII is it. While it didn’t live up to the hype, it was still a solid entry in the series and the world begs to be explored more, especially considering how it ended.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 starts 5 years after the events of XIII. Lightning is presumed dead, Sazh, Snow, and Hope are nowhere to be seen, and Serah is in the company and protection of a new character named Noel Kreiss. The world appears to be experiencing temporal distortions and paradoxes for some reason, though we experienced almost nothing story related.

The gameplay is much as you’d expect, as paradigms and the active time system return for another run. As does the Crystarium, though we didn’t get to mess around with it much. New to the game are quick-time events called ‘Cinematic Actions’ during boss battles. We were worried about how they would be implemented, but during our brief demo, they seemed to work well and add a little variety to the long boss battles we will no doubt go through. Additionally, you can capture and tame a variety of monsters and beasts throughout the game. These captured monsters will fight for you and come equipped with a ‘feral link’ bar. Once it fills up, you can execute a special attack via quick time event.

Outside of fighting, there are now ‘towns’ and NPCs that you can talk to, like one normally expects in a Final Fantasy game. During conversations, there will be branching choices for you to decide what to say, but this change appears to be almost purely cosmetic.

The story seems intriguing, and the changes made feel like enough to warrant another trip to Pulse and Cocoon, assuming you really needed an excuse to go back. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is scheduled to release holiday 2011 on the PS3 and Xbox 360.