The review for Final Fantasy XIII was one of the first reviews I ever wrote for Faceplant. It was a story of redemption, of rebellion and of hopelessness. It was a story that br0ught six hapless people together in order to stop the destruction of all they know and love by first running down a hallway for 50 hours. And then they made a sequel, because hey, why not?
I finally had the chance to play Final Fantasty XIII-2 this past month, wherein I learned a few things. 1) Video game plots do not actually have to make sense, 2) flans wearing hats is the best thing of all time, and 3) there actually is a limit to how many times I can hear the word “kupo” without wanting to strangle something.
Here’s the thing about this article. There are going to be spoilers in this article. It’s impossible for me to tell you what I know of the plot of Final Fantasy XIII-2 without mentioning the outcome of the journey of the original six l’cie. If you have not played Final Fantasy XIII and you still want to, you’re probably going to want to avoid this article. Though honestly, if you HAVEN’T played Final Fantasy XIII, I can’t imagine why you’d care.
Spoilers begin NOW.
So, once upon a time there were a bunch of god robots or something who were manipulating and nurturing humanity, what because they had dark plans for the future. One of the methods of control at their disposal was the ability to turn humans into l’cie, which granted them the ability to use sweet magic and abilities, and would also turn them into monsters of eternal torment if they don’t do what they’re supposed to in a timely manner.
Six individuals, Lightning, Sazh, Snow, Hope, Fang and Vanille, get that burden after Lightning’s sister, Serah, gets turned to crystal by a weird god robot. All six are quickly made l’cie, and are tasked with destroying Cocoon, the floating orb world where they live, for some… god resurrection plot or something. The six manage to avoid the destruction of Cocoon by… destroying Cocoon, and Fang and Vanille essentially turn themselves to crystal to hold the thing in the air before it can crash into the ground world of Pulse.
Everything turns out fine, Serah becomes squishy again, yadda yadda. Then Final Fantasy XIII-2 starts… and things get exponentially weirder.
So, Lightning? Turns out she is locked in endless combat with some dude in a scary post-time city known as Valhalla. This is literally the first thing you see when booting up the game. In short order, after fighting off Bahamuts and Dark Bahamuts and some douchebag with a dumb sword, a kid falls from the sky named Noel. Lightning is all “Oh hey,” and hands him a moogle and then throws him at a time gate to go find her sister.
Meanwhile, Serah is living on Pulse in a newly constructed town, run by Snow’s old gang buddies. Suddenly, her clothes magically become more RPG adventure friendly, which she accepts in stride. Then Noel arrives and hands her the moogle, to which she says “okay thanks.”
This basically sets the tone for the entire adventure. Characters will note how bizarre things are, but then never seek to explain them further. Moogles, for the record, are mythical creatures no one has ever seen before. Serah can throw hers at treasure while it screams in protest.
That’s enough of the plot. Mainly because that’s about all of it that… I actually can tell you with 100 percent certainty. There’s a thing about a flan apocalypse… and maybe a robot apocalypse? Basically, we’re talking apocalypses out the yin yang here.
Combat works the same in the first game, and most of your involvement in it will be based on deciding which paradigms to use in each fight than it will be to pick individual abilities. The role of the third party member will be filled with random monsters, which you can decorate with hats, backpacks, crystal fragments and wings. The monsters make combat a little silly, especially after I tamed a gigantic cactuar that was easily three times the size of any other person on the screen.
Much of the game will involve Serah and Noel jumping through time and trying to find their way to Lightning, who no one besides Serah remembers surviving the final battle at the end of FFXIII. It was like the development team at Square Enix read through complaints of the first game, of which most people agreed was too linear, and then made story progression as optional as possible just out of spite.
Plot holes and poorly explained moogles aside, the game is still fun! The only real problems I had with the game were that, by the end of the game, I really wished that everything the moogle said was not bracketed by Kupo, and also… some of the mini games are unbearable.
There are two of them that I am going to mention here, for convenience sake. Quizzes. Eventually, in one of the time frames, you may find a guy. He will ask you questions from an ENORMOUS LIST of questions. First you have to run around the city like a ninny, just trying to find him. And then you have to answer a question that you may or may not know, since a lot of them seem to deal with fictional foods inspired by flans or on fake world politics you had never head before. Get it wrong, and POOF, he’s off again into the city.
Think that’s tolerable? One of his questions is “Black or White?” YOU HAVE A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF GETTING IT WRONG.
The second terrible thing is the clock puzzles. I… don’t even really want to talk about the clock puzzles. Just suffice to say they are so hard, some dude actually made a program to brute force the solutions out of them on the internet, which I used for just about all clock puzzles. Also suffice to say there are more clock puzzles than boss battles and lines of dialogue where the characters talk like actual human beings.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 is an… okay RPG. It doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before already, and its marred with plot holes and irrationally bullshit clock puzzles. Still, something about the game kept me coming back. I guess I liked the world Square Enix set up, of Cocoon and Pulse, and I wanted to see how the world would react to the six individuals to attacked Cocoon’s nerve center in broad daylight and destroyed the god emperor keeping it afloat, putting billions of lives at risk.
Turns out everyone was cool with that. Go figure.