Earlier this year, Square Enix announced the second direct sequel to be ever released for any Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy XIII-2. And knowing about the Final Fantasy franchise, their games never have any connections to the previous one. At E3, Square Enix happened to have a playable demo at their booth and I was able to get my hands on it. From what I can say, the game has been improved, but for better or worse? More after the jump!
The battle system of FFXIII-2 still uses the Paradigm Shift (PS) and Command Synergy Battle (CSB) systems. Improvements have been spotted with the PS, but not a whole lot with the CSB. In Final Fantasy games, there are usually three-four main characters in a party. FFXIII-2 has a flying moogle that follows the party around while exploring, but I haven’t the slightest clue on what it does. During battle, I’ve noticed there were two characters and a monster in a party. Yes, you’ve read it, a monster.
Players are now allowed to tame monsters throughout the game and have them fight on your side. Monsters have a function similar to the gestalt gauge called feral link. Every attack during battle will increase the feral link gauge. When the feral link is maxed, your tamed monster can perform chain attacks if players successfully press certain commands at certain times or also known as quick time events. Quick time events are a new addition to the game; they allow the users to do more damage to enemies.
In the predecessor, preemptive strike occurs when attacks on the enemy are from behind. Monsters in the game now spawn randomly nearby, but the battle doesn’t start immediately. Players have the option of avoiding or attacking the enemy with a preemptive strike before the time runs out. If the time runs out while the player is within the enemies range, players are forced into battle with a disadvantage. Although the monsters spawn randomly, I’ve noticed that they spawn in the similar locations most of the time, which allows players an advantage to avoid them.
Certain NPCs now have a bubble icon over their heads to help players find out more interesting information. Other NPCs are fully voicedd without cut scenes, which is similar to the first game. Other party members in the game now have more lifelike personality. They no longer follow you brainlessly; instead, they will occasionally idle and talk to the other NPCs. It’s a small feature added, but it adds a whole new meaning for some players.
All in all, the improvements on the game are better than FFXIII. But it seems they improved mainly on the features that were decent and they didn’t address whether there will be cities to explore or the complexity of the game (though it appears in a later update in Famitsu Magazine that there will be cities). Hopefully the finished game will have more improvements than the demo at E3. FFXIII-2 is expected to be released some time next winter on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 entertainment systems.