The Average Gamer

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Demo Impressions

Excited for the release of Final Fantasy XIII-2? You should be. I know it seems odd after the apparent failure of XIII. Believe me I can understand any hesitations you may have.

After playing through the demo three times for your benefit I can safely say FFXIII-2 appears to fix the few issues that XIII had. Combat is faster and more involved, cutscenes shorter and the corridor issue I talked about in my XIII post-mortem? All but gone. Sadly it seems to throw in a few new issues that upon initial playthroughs left me slightly stunned.

The demo throws you straight into the deep end, fighting the floating hand of an invisible giant. Combat seems much smoother and is still based on the paradigm feature of XIII yet one of the new features is quickly apparent in the form of Quick-Time Events. YAY! See I love QTEs as much as anybody, when they directly involve your character [You mean not at all? – Ed.] but when you have to time a QTE to make sure a helicopter lands a strike on an enemy? Urgh. Perhaps I’m being picky but I don’t need events like that scattered here, there and everywhere to keep my attention during short cutscenes in battle.

Once the intro battle is out the way, Noel and Serah set off with a moogle in tow to explore the town they have found themselves in. That’s right folk, a town! With people and treasure and shops and everything! If you’ve played FFXIII you will know that lack of freedom is something in XIII that really started to grind. Towns give life to worlds – the movements of people, the ability to explore and talk to folk really adds energy to a game and stops it from just being a linear romp through a series of backdrops with artificial life.

Upon beating your first standard enemies, you are introduced to the Paradigm Pack feature. The Paradigm Pack is like a Pokemon game crammed into a full-scale RPG. Defeating certain enemies grants you with crystals representing that enemy, which can be upgraded and then mixed into your paradigms to fight alongside you.

In theory this works well but micromanaging an ever-growing list of animal comrades could become a tricky and rather dreary task. The pack works as a third member of your team would; different animals naturally have different roles such as Ravager or Medic. Three animals can be added to your pack at once with the creatures swapping round depending on how you set them. All good, if a little cheesy and odd for an RPG.

Other than an odd minigame set that involves solving puzzles inside the Paradox by working out the best route around a level without crossing your own path, everything seems standard fare. The soundtrack has been thrown forwards a little and doesn’t follow the classical roots of the series. Instead it opts for a faster-paced electro style. FFXIII-2 does feel like a true FF game and despite a few odd choices designed to add variety, it is well worth a look-in.

Of course we can’t base our opinions solely on the demo alone but it’s free so go give it a try on XBL or PSN and see if Square can’t re grab your attention. Keep an eye out for our review of Final Fantasy XIII-2 when it goes live.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be out in the UK from 3rd Feb on Xbox 360 and PS3

One Comment