Thursday, January 12, 2012

Final Fantasy XIII-2 demo

Just a quick look on this demo since I really couldn’t stand Final Fantasy XIII – not much has changed. Pressing Auto-Attack throughout the entire fight is just as boring as in the previous game. Sure I could queue up each attack individually, but that split second could cost you valuable time used to hit your enemy before it hits you.

Making automatically queuing up commands a necessity. Enemy encounters are somewhere between random battles and what was seen in the original game. You wont see monsters on the battlefield initially, you have to walk past candid areas then they’ll pop out of the ground. A gauge then appears giving you the ability to initiate a preemptive strike: possibly staggering the opponent, which opens them up for meatier damage during a fight.

I do like the pacing of the demo showcased. Final Fantasy XIII-2 had me rushing through areas without too much time to explore. Sure paths only branched in three directions, but I found turning off the map and just walking around at my own leisure far more inviting than the last installment.

A lot of the previous structure still remains intact. The Crystarium is your primary way to level up. It’s still a far cry from what I consider to be the best leveling system in any Final Fantasy game: the sphere grid from Final Fantasy X. You still just press a button on the node and skill you want to unlock. The illusion that you’re customizing your own path isn’t even hidden; you really just choose a power and equip it. Nothing interesting and I don’t know why a classic 1 to 99 level system couldn’t have just been used instead?

What's good is still good, and what's bad is still bad

One new addition does peak my interest. Upon defeating a baddy you have a chance to capture it and have it fight alongside you. This is a treat as from what I’ve seen Noel and Serah are the main playable the cast, party members will only join temporarily. Having these monsters by your side to either heal or deal damage is a nice touch. You can even mix and match them into your Paradigm Shifts to create the perfect battle synergy.

There are some good ideas on the surface of Final Fantasy XIII-2. I’m tentative on whether I’m just done with Square Enix’s long running franchise. It's definitely a love hate relationship. And I feel scorned my last romp with their flagship game. Still for those who loved the original there’s more here for you – for the rest of us who were severely underwhelmed the few tweaks added may not be enough to bring back the love we once had for the fantasy. 

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