Game Review – Final Fantasy XIII-2

Lightning is lost in time. It’s up to Imouto and Bishie to save her!

Hello everybody and indeed, I’m doing a game review here on Metanorn! I’m well aware XIII isn’t the most popular game in the franchise, but people like me did enjoy it and were looking forward to playing some XIII-2. This game kind of had something to prove after some criticisms of XIII, so did XIII-2 improve any?

Is there Hope for Serah & Noel to save Lightning from Caius?

Serah and Noel are your main characters. I had a lot of fun with these two travelling through time. They both get along real well, both are likable and neither character takes lead. It’s not like one is doing the heavy-lifting while the other mopes; both are driven by their desire to find Lightning and solve all the time paradoxes. It isn’t totally void of moping as here is one brief moment of seeing Noel’s past, but overall I like the cooperation between these two. It’s a business relationship, and though these two are not meant for love (Serah’s taken by jackass Snow), there’s something refreshing about a story that’s not entirely driven by a love interest.

Hope is a key factor in XIII-2 as he works to save Cocoon from its eventual doom. If you remember how much Hope grew by the end of XIII character-wise, you’ll surely like him here. He didn’t get badass particularly, but he’s matured and is very willing to help the main heroes out when they need him. He’s a hero in his own way and has become a symbol of… well, hope. He does kind of have this girl Alyssa following him who kind of assists, but she doesn’t stand out as much.

Caius is clichéd bad guy. There aren’t many layers to his character past the usual. He wants to protect Yeul and has a secret in his heart. If you’ve seen Advent Children, think about how Kadaj and his buddies were. Yuel is a Seeress of Time, so she fittingly has little personality. XIII was good at developing its L’Cie group, and that’s maybe all that matters here.

Serah can’t be on the box. Only Lightning can sell XIII games. 

Lightning barely shows up in the game past the beginning, Vanille and Fang are in crystallized form, Sazh appears close to the end, and Snow is just as bullheaded as ever. What I love about Noel was when they met up with Snow, how openly he blasted him for acting the way he does. Lightning was quick to frustration also, but she didn’t verbally assault him the way Noel does in XIII-2. The two do come to an understanding before their time together is done.

The overall story of XIII-2 isn’t as engaging to me as XIII’s was. Serah and Noel don’t go through the same development that any of the L’Cie Six did. They just have this straight-forward drive approach to save Lightning that can make the game’s pacing of the story seem fast (and over with pretty soon). Noel is given a backstory, but I don’t know if it was enough for me.

Time Travel – The Historia Crux

“…to save Mayuri.”

Time travel is the main premise of XIII-2 and an answer to that linearity argument several people had with the first game. Thru a weird timespace-continuum situation, Lightning is now gone and Serah is looking for her with Noel.

Time-travelling is quite easy since you can access the Historia Crux thru the pause menu, travel to a different time, and when you go back to where you began, you’ll be placed exactly where you left at. Most quests are contained to the timeline you’re in, but as you might imagine, some quests involve traveling to different periods in time and talking to different people.

You’ll be traveling to a lot of different timelines and opening plenty of gates

It’s not truly un-linear so much as it is multiple things to do during your journey. If you purely want to play the story, there is only 1 clear-cut path to the ending. The way I beat the game and you beating the game are the same story; it’s just whether or not we bothered to do side stuff or not. That part does kind of disappoint me, but this at least gives players a sense of openness during their journey as opposed to the dreaded “50-hour hallway” of XIII.

While there are multiple time areas to visit in different times, you’re mainly visiting 13 locations, and covering 100% of these maps are important for particular Fragments that count toward the 160. Imagine a level with 3 different types of skins. Bresha Ruins looks normal in 5AF, but in 100 AF, vegetation starts to take over the land and by 300 AF, the ground is covered in snow. Academia looks like a Star Wars city, but the differences between 400-4XX AF are stark when Caius has control in 400 up against Hope in 4XX. The maps have the same design and layout, but with different people and in a number of cases, different areas to access, etc.

Caius with control in 400 AF                                      Hope at the helm in 4XX AF

There are 160 fragments in the game. You can get thru the game with maybe 30-40 fragments and then grab the rest once you’ve beaten the game. Fragments not only give you CP points, but are the primary source of side quests. Be prepared for long walks (that what you put in your E-Harmony profile, right?), time-jumping and puzzle-solving.

If you forget to do something or need to do something differently, have no fear for you can simply reverse time and start back at square one on a level. Once you find a seal (usually in a treasure chest), you can reverse time and revisit locations as though it’s your first time arriving there. This is key if you forget things, a personal example being that I forgot two fragments on my way to the ending and needed to get back to that timeline. It also allows you to get one of the 8 Paradox Endings in XIII-2.

Noel – “Wanna come over to my timeline, baby?”  Serah – “No. I can’t text message in your stone age crib.”

Paradox Endings tell of a different conclusion to the story. When you’re ready and able, you can tackle key battles in a different way which, when completed, lead you to a different timeline and the Paradox Ending. These situations normally require high levels of strength, so you’ll probably not be getting them right away, but rather after you beat the story. There are 8 in total and they’re a mix of doom-and-gloom, weird or actually a happy ending with a little bit of a sad note at the end. With the way the timeline is setup, I much prefer this approach to multiple endings since I don’t have to play the game over and make different choices that affect the absolute final ending. It’s just easier this way and a quicker look at “what-if” scenarios. I particularly enjoyed the weirdness of the Big Flan ending.

Paradigms & Raising Monsters

ATB returns, for better or worse. My personal preference is to turn off auto-battle and cast my own techniques since I almost never agree with what auto-battle presents to me. When multiple enemies are on screen, I much prefer casting an –aga spell that has a diameter instead of focusing on one enemy only. I like the concept of the battle system, but sometimes the presentation can be hectic to a fault; it’s not quite anime dust-cloud level of magic-infused sword strikes blocking out the overall view of the action, but especially if you’re in Commando class using close-ranged attacks, you’ll mainly be staring at the health/stagger meter on your enemies. The camera is pretty crappy at times and can be a bitch to control with bigger bosses. Individual specialty techniques look alright, but alright isn’t good enough for a franchise that’s had some of the most amazing Limit Break/Summon animations ever, even dating back to PSX days.

The battle system is virtually the same with COMmando/RAVager/SENtinel/MEDic/SYNergist/SABoteur classes, ATB gauges, abilities and weapon attributes, but there are some differences. First, there are no summon techniques in XIII-2, unprecedented for a FF game. I found them to be pretty useless in XIII, so no love lost from me since there wasn’t any to begin with. Second, there are cinematic action sequences. QTE button presses will let you deal damage to enemies. However, it is normally done at the end of a battle, so it’s not like the better rating you have, the more damage you do in the middle of a fight. Doing at least 5 of these perfectly unlocks a trophy/achievement.

Throughout the story, I found the SYN and SAB classes useless, which was unfortunate since I remember liking them so much in XIII. I recommend keeping up with your SEN classes since it has the stellar defense needed for the game’s final bosses. Long live the Tortoise Class! I’ve since operated with a Smart Bomb Paradigm (RAV/SAB/RAV) for quick staggering and debilitating enemies in preperation for a Cerberus-X (COM/COM/COM) assault.

The 3rd member of your team is no longer a party member, but a monster which you can gain thru battles. The success rate of capturing the enemies varies and you can choose up to 3 monsters in your Paradigm Pack. All the monsters are assigned a specific class and can be leveled through their own Crystarium Grid. I was initially overwhelmed that they had their own grids on top of worrying about Serah & Noel, but eventually I found monsters I liked and placed strong focus on them. Some monsters have multiple grids while others can be rather quickly maxed out. It’s also VERY IMPORTANT to feed your monsters the proper ingredients for the best growth. If you have someone like a MED or RAV, feeding them Mana is ideal; anything strength-related would still be progressing your monster thru the grid, but you wouldn’t be getting the most out of them.

There’s also that thing where you can make monsters eat monsters. If you level up a monster to its fullest and find another stronger monster along the way, take a shortcut and have your first monster infused into the second. It can get a level-up boost, take some abilities and that ‘ole pal you’d been fighting along with for many hours will live on in your newfound 3rd wheel.

The monsters also have something called Feral Link, which is a special ability that allows for you to “somewhat” control the monster with QTE button presses. The benefit of these abilities varies and in some cases just not worth doing since it distracts the flow of the “Leader’s” ability to attack. For example: the Goblin Chieftain, a SEN class monster, can use the Feral Link to add multiple enhancements to all 3 fighters. This is helpful, unlike Cait Sith, a MED who does an attack which it utterly worthless. Why is a MED attacking!?

How about a Final Fantasy Mascot Fighting Game!

Puzzle Puzzle

Anomalies will occur occasionally in XIII-2, and these lead to puzzles. Some levels require you to step on blocks in a proper order and collecting all crystals before reaching the finish area; another asks you to connect dots. Academia 4XX is filled with trivia fragments and a sneaky Captain Cryptic.

“I thought it was Tool Time.” I don’t think so, Serah.

The most popular one is the Hands of Time. Using a clock filled with circles numbered 1-6, you must pick the numbers in the correct order so that, when completed, every time circles is off the board as the hands move (if you pick 5, the hands move 5 spaces both left and right). Hands of Time is popular enough that there is a web-based app and IGN even made a downloadable app that lets you input the times as you see it on the board and tell you the proper order to choose. Once you pick one specific circle, it all comes down to strategic arithmetic as you try to eliminate all the other numbered circles.

Serendipity is where you throw away your money Vegas-style. One of the fragments that’s annoying is the Lucky Coin challenge in which you must collect 7,777 coins from the slot machine game. I did this to make playing it easier.

The puzzles aren’t really fun. They accompany boring, stock dialogue from Serah and Noel about how it affects time and how Yuel must feel about it.

Ending (Mostly free of the Spoilers)

Final Fantasy XIII-2’s ending isn’t what you might expect. Without spoiling, when you complete the ending, you’ll think that all Paradoxes have been fixed and you will go back to New Bodhum 3F and be happy. Turns out, a technicality of beating the final boss causes the shit to hit the fan with the ever so classic “To Be Continued…” displayed on the screen before the credits roll, among a number of key moments in the ending I haven’t even eluded to. My personal reaction to the ending was stunning, and there’s something that I find very ballsy and admirable about it. This is not a happy ending, and to end a rare FF sequel with a “To Be Continued” instead of opting for the happy ending, which could’ve presented plot holes. This adds to the appreciation that I had for XIII’s story. It feels like an aside story because of how XIII ended happily and time wasn’t really in issue in the first game, but the grand scheme of things and the scale of the ending are quite something.


Light – “XIII-2 has DLC?”    Amodar – “Yup, but lol you’re only worth $3.”   Light – “Say that while looking at a mirror.”

So far, what’s available is a costume for Noel and “Lightning & Amodar Battle” in the coliseum. A side story with Sazh (playable) is available as is another Noel outfit and a cute bikini outfit for Serah. I’ve always had a bit of an issue with outfit DLC, but they both look great for different reasons and plausibility. $2.99 is the asking price for outfits individually.

Also at $2.99 is the battle DLC, and this could come in handy for you. Light and Amodar are strong, and when you beat them, you have a chance of unlocking their crystals which will let you use them as your 3rd party member. The success rate of getting each person’s crystal is 7% and it took me 12 times beating them together before I unlocked both. Amador is a very strong COM right out of the box, and Light is a strong hybrid RAV/COM. Earning these two was a bit trying, but they’re great assets for your party. Just having Light in my party and her fighting makes me happy.

The verdict is tough. I really don’t like scoring, so I won’t be doing that. If you didn’t like XIII, there’s really little that can convince you to try XIII-2, especially if you weren’t so positive on the story as I am. If content and linearity were a problem for you, XIII-2 goes a long way to addressing that with the Historia Crux and its many levels, monster breeding and multiple (Paradox) endings. I’d say give it a rent if you purely want to just play the story, but I’ll tell you that I am going to do what I can to get all 160 fragments.

The main story doesn’t take too long. With some futzing around and getting a number of other fragments, it took me 25 hours. Where I’m at currently, I’ve logged close to 45 hours and have gotten 145 of the fragments, which means I’ve played this game long past completion as opposed to XIII’s where I felt that Ultimate Weapons were way too difficult to gain and that there just wasn’t much more to do.

Its ending can be infuriating since it doesn’t truly wrap up the story, but I enjoy it just for being ballsy, to be honest. I feel XIII’s story is not weakened in any way by XIII-2. Character development just isn’t the same in XIII-2 since time travelling was the main star, but its main characters and support (formerly playable) cast are likable.

Extra Closing Notes

  • Mog has it’s fun moments, but it can be kind of annoying, kupo.
  • kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo kupo
  • Speaking of annoying, the music ain’t too hot in XIII-2. I was originally going to purchase the Limited Edition with the 4-disc OST, so I’m glad I saved me $20.
  • The monster breeding system has depth to it and makes you think about how you level up. Feral Links mostly ineffective.
  • I still enjoy paradigm switching, though SYN and SAB classes weren’t as great to me during the main story portion of gameplay. SEN is vital, so do work on levelling that up occasionally.
    • Paradox Endings are definitely worth a look. Some reward 10000 CP.
  • I will be purchasing most of the DLC pieces, maybe all. Lightning and Amodar are worth it, though getting them ain’t easy.


Produces the MetaVerse podcast. Also plays games and watches sports of all sorts. Is an actual Pirate King.
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36 Responses to “Game Review – Final Fantasy XIII-2”

  1. Kyokai says:

    The visuals look breath taking… Man, I so want to play this now. ><

    • Jrow says:

      It’s a really good graphics engine that 13-2 has. There’s not many CG scenes, but the in-game graphics are really great.

  2. Tofu says:

    7%!?!??!?! WHAT THE- I feel like I’ve been cheated of my money D:

    I personally feel (currently) that I found more enjoyment form XIII than XIII-2 :\ I’m not sure how to put it but they’ve definitely changed a lot of stuff which wasn’t that great. The whole time traveling thing can really lead you off course from how you’re supposed to progress through the story. I know that I was stuck multiple times (asking google for help multiple times) because I took a cross road I wasn’t supposed to take like 3 historia cruz places ahead of the story which really screwed up the story telling and the objectives of where I have to go in order to proceed in the story ><"

    • Tofu says:

      oh and kupo is definitely SOOO ANNOYING!!! D: The more I hear it talk the more I find it annoying… OTL

    • Jrow says:

      I got Amodar on my first try. It took another 10 to get Light, but I was strong and developed a technique to quickly 5-star it. It’d been nicer if you did get them right away, but it is what it is.

      I didn’t really have that problem. The only time I ran into superior enemies was my first time in Archelyte Steppe across the bridge, and I never found myself at a standstill. In terms of story, the main cities can’t be unlocked thru different ways, so it seems to me that maybe you found wild Artefacts and branched out a bit.

      • Tofu says:

        the funny thing for archelyte steppe is that toogling through the weather stuff, I only noticed faeryl coming out with there’s that DINOSAUR in front of it. I didn’t realize till 5 hours later of gameplay (giving up and using google) that you can change the weather so he can go away but faeryl would still stay (I never noticed and only thought faeryl came out when the dino came out…) also for that futuristic place where you have to turn the rooms around and etc. There’s two of them in the historia crux, I went to the ‘other’ one which I wasn’t supposed to go to till ‘after’ I went to the first blue one (yeah I went to the red one first not sure if that’s supposed to be or not) but even the hints in the game made me confused cause after the blue one, it hinted to me “try unlocking gates to different places to find the key” WHEN I ALREADY UNLOCKED THE PLACE I HAD TO GO (wasting another 5 hours till I chose to use google again…) OTL Oh yeah, I saw Snow before I saw Hope and you were supposed to do it the other way around LOLS xD

  3. tatsuya says:

    by the way
    that cactus is the most troublesome esper to fight …I HATE 1000 needle !!!

    • Tofu says:

      wait… when you said that cactus is most troublesome esper to fight do you mean most troublesome boss? O_O

    • Jrow says:

      I saved those statues for later when 1000 needles meant nothing to me. Tonberry can still be a punk at times.

  4. Toori-chan says:

    There goes another “To be continued…” Now it’s time to wait for FFXIII-3. Having a part 3 will be a first for the FF series.

    • Jrow says:

      It doesn’t seem like it necessarily means 13-3, but who knows how they could get the ending in. DLC seems like a good way, though there will be backlash from people who paid for the game thought they were getting the full game, blah blah, dlc go die, that BS.

  5. akagami says:

    I was so excited to get this game, until I heard the only playable characters would be Serah (she’s ok, just not leading material) and Noel (side-character)…. and some monsters. I lost a lot of interest right there.

    I heard the same comments on the battle system Jrow (that it was dumbed down from FFXIII so you could just skim through battles without really using the other jobs, as I actually like the sab class).

    I’ll probably wait for the price to come down (which probably won’t be until the greatest hits version comes out…) before grabbing it, though it’s still $65 for the Chinese version (subs + jpn audio) so I have some wait.

    On another note, ME3 comes out soon! Hopefully it will have a better than a to-be-continued ending than ME2. I was so annoyed with the ending of ME2. I spent all this effort beating the boss, and I don’t even get an ending? Bleh. But the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC was just awesome (the first DLC that I’ve ever tried and was good). The scenery while fighting outside the spaceship? Scenery porn ftw!

    • Jrow says:

      Noel’s cool. He’s not awesome or bamf, but I liked him early and throughout.

      Once I beat the game and fought some of the bigger badder foes in Archelyte Steppe is when SAB came in handy. They help keep the stagger gauge steady, though they don’t contribute to it as much as a RAV.

      I’m really looking forward to ME3! With how all these games and movie franchises going the trilogy route, second games always seem to not do the to be continued ending particularly well. Shadow Broker is great dlc.

  6. Alynn says:

    All this time traveling reminds me of Radiant Historia.

    • akagami says:

      Which was a great game ^^

      A shame that most of the good rpgs are on the DS these past couple of years (lower quality graphics so more focus on the gameplay and story?). I’m playing Golden Sun: Dark Dawn at the moment (and then Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2!!!)

  7. akagami says:

    I’m one of the minority that enjoyed FFXIII (not great, but not bad either – just good). I don’t think I disliked any of the characters (unlike FFXII, someone give Vaan a sock and duct tape for good measure). And I find optimistic characters endearing (Vanille and Snow, though Snow wasn’t really great at anything other than a sentinel).

    I found the cast more interesting than the gameplay… I’m still on the fence regarding the action fast-paced gameplay. Watching the characters interact and grow (Hope, and to a lesser extent, Lightning) was fun however. And I was so looking forward to seeing the cast again though, unfortunately not all would be returning. But to confine the characters to Serah (sob, sob, sob.)

    • Jrow says:

      Snow as a COM is a letdown. But anyway, I loved Vanille and even her English voice which I know some people didn’t care for.

      Serah’s shallow but that’s due to being supported by her sister for so long as well as Snow. She’s not bad by any means to play as and watch.

      • akagami says:

        Hm, I never played the English version, so I’m not sure how she sounds. From the reviews I heard she sounded like a valley girl. The Japanese voices were excellent however.

  8. […] more: Game Review – Final Fantasy XIII-2 – METANORN Game Review Guide1030 E. Hwy 377, Ste 110 Pmb […]

  9. Overcooled says:

    Not gonna lie, I was one of those people who couldn’t get into FFXIII. Still, I won’t deny that this game has breath-taking graphics. I can at least give it that XD

    I like your review format, by the way! It feels weird not seeing a number score, but I like how you broke everything up into sections. I may or may not steal that from you next time since it looks a lot better..ehehe…

    • Jrow says:

      Visuals are awesome, though I don’t think I mention it once in the review. It’s the same as 13 since the development cycle from 13 to 13-2 wasn’t as long. QTE events are pretty cool and a nice “style” addition to boss battles.

      Thanks! It’s not that far off from an episodic blog, but categorizing things as I did helps me to flesh out opinions and get into specifics more.

  10. Joojoobees says:

    While I enjoyed playing FFXIII, and I rather like the idea of capturing monsters to have them fight in your party, I just don’t feel the need to run out and get XIII-2 right away. I plan to hold out for a few months and then see if I can find a cheap copy.

    • Jrow says:

      I told a friend to keep checking Amazon for a sale, and recently the Best Buy gamer magazine had either a $15 or $20-off coupon. As much as I’ve played, I’m satisfied paying $59.99 for it.

  11. Rednights says:

    Loved 13 but this costs way too much for half the content and they have the balls to charge for DLC for a To Be Continued ending? I’ll wait it out till it’s 20 bucks or something.

  12. BlackBriar says:

    Breathtaking graphics and awesome looking characters. The main things to like about are the characters’ personalities. It just makes me want it more. The first thing I’ll do when I finally get my hands on a PS3 is to get both FFXIII and FXIII-2. Regardless of whatever flaws it may have, I’d still want to play them because of my bias for anything Square Enix dishes out.

    The consistant creatures I’ve seen in every installment of the series are the Chocobos and Mogs. They are there no matter what timelime the story takes place. The idea of having monsters fighting on your side instead of against you sounds pretty sweet because they’d help shoulder the stress against a powerful boss. Square Enix is well known for having bosses that are near impossible to beat and sending you into a temper tantrum when you just can’t seem to win.

    And last but not least, how futuristic the locations and modes of transportation are despite the year they in. Like in FFXII is in the year 702, in medieval times with market places and stuff, but at the same time, everything is cutting edge where technology is concerned. It’s mind boggling.

  13. Rakuen says:

    Two things to point out about combat:

    Feral links boost the odds of capturing a monster, which can be very useful for some of those difficult monsters like the Woodwraith family. They also give SYN/MED monsters the ability to contribute to damage/chaining, as long as it matches the type. Green Chocobo in particular has a very good FL attack and the Cheer spell it can use to refill its own gauge!

    SYN is more or less useless, but SAB still has some very strong uses, especially when you realize there’s a lot of bosses vulnerable to poison. No, really. It devours them. Deprotect and Deshell are also infinitely more effective when facing enemies with higher defense stats.

    As far as the game goes, I enjoyed it, but not as much as FF13 (yes, I know, burn me at the stake). The story was pretty vapid for me. It seems more like a way to try to bridge the story of 13 and the inevitable 13-3 by explaining how all the characters ended up in a certain time period. This is especially true when you consider the timeline. Think about 500 year gaps…

    Also, it needed more Sazh. And not this stupid DLC crap. I mean actual, legitimate Sazh action. I miss him and his crazy ‘fro chocobo…

    • Jrow says:

      The chocobos are indeed some of the best, like the green and silver ones.

      Poison is pretty damn helpful. I beat Yomi without having and attacking RAV or COM people in my classes, and paradigms like Countermeasure can help set the table for an ass-whooping.

      *burns Rakuen at stake* nah, I mean as a story I enjoy XIII more, but as a game, I’ve gotten more mileage out of XIII-2 and enjoy doing post-game business much more.

      Sazh is cool and his cameo was plenty for me.

  14. Moni Chan says:

    this looks so amazing. Final Fantasy series has done it again

  15. Dan-go says:

    another 80 hours of my life gone! YAY

  16. D-LaN says:

    Sequel confirmed: Lightning Return : FF XIII

  17. Masamune says:

    To be honest, I find nothing “ballsy” about the continual milking of this cash-cow. I still remember the days when Final Fantasy was about uniquely crated tales that had a beginning, a middle, and an end. Sakaguchi’s original vision has been sold down the river.

    Still, I enjoyed reading your review and I would appreciate it if you could return the favour:

    • Jrow says:

      I didn’t say anything about milking this “cash-cow”. I said the ending was such. I’d rather you not twist my words.

  18. Kimberly says:

    Wow I love this game and can wait for part 3 you did an amazing job on this

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