Final Fantasy XIII-2 Preview - October 24th 2011

During and immediately after E3, there was a lot of positive press about Final Fantasy XIII-2. The demo, although quite limited, focused primarily on the many innovations the game is supposed to bring to the table when compared to its predecessor.

As we all expected, Square-Enix are trying to outdo themselves with this sequel to, in my opinion, one of the greatest games ever made. One of its main new concepts is cinematic action play, which in many ways is similar to the boss fights in Sony's God of War franchise. The inclusion of these awesome cinematic action scenes will hopefully attract new players into the fold. Final Fantasy XIII--2 has everyone hoping that new features like this, although hardly revolutionary, are going to make it a cut above all the previous installments.

Graphically, this series has never looked better.

The battle system has also been given an overhaul since the last version of Final Fantasy. This time around, the combat mode has a renewed focus on strategy and players are able to tame certain monsters and add them to their party group, to boost their offensive capabilities. The good news is that fans of the previous move sets are also being looked after here, and the difficulty of these skirmishes is now scalable by the player. In fact, that seems to be Square-Enix's primary objective: to satisfy long term players, and encourage newcomers to pick up and play.

The story is going to be exceptionally complicated for those unfamiliar with the mythology, so I'll do my best to summarize. The game follows on from the Episode I novelization which was released alongside Final Fantasy XIII. There's a three year time jump, and it starts with a handful of survivors rebuilding on Gran Pulse. Lightning has been lost and is presumed dead, but her younger sister Serah thinks otherwise. When New Bodhum is overrun by monsters, Noel appears to save her. Together, the two set off to try and find out what happened to Lightning.

Many characters are set to return.

Characters from previous games are set to return, and generally speaking, the game will have a slightly darker tone than previous installments. Graphically, this series has never looked better, and the streamlined combat interface should make things easier for everyone.

Although the cinematic action scenes are limited to certain sections of the game, the other improvements Square-Enix have made should go a long way towards reassuring fans that this series hasn't peaked, and that the best is yet to come.

Roy Aguiar

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