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Wait...what the heck? I love FFXIII-2?!

I was soooooo not expecting to like this game. I'd picked it up, just, you know, for mindless monster-slaying and adrenaline, to get myself in the mood for writing action. I assumed it was going to be poorly put together fanservice with no plot, with that vaguely dead and hollow sensation I've come to expect from excessive CGI.

Uh, no. It fixed everything that didn't quite work for me in XIII. I loved the characters in XIII, but their world didn't engage me save for the fact that I'm a sucker for glorious rendered graphics and surreal landscapes. I enjoyed exploring Cocoon, but in the end, I only cared about the characters. The dungeons were all linear until far too late in the game, and lack of sidequests and exploration did pall after a while.

Now we've got time travel forward and back and sideways and it means something. There's enough NPCs and glimmers of worldbuilding that I actually care about the world I'm supposed to be saving. So much character angst. And I love how they've split different characters into different timelines, so that while our party is bumbling around doing its thing, we know that other friends (and enemies) are each off in other timelines trying to achieve, or thwart, our goals in parallel. And it's all character-driven, and saving the world is about saving one's friends and family.

Plus mindfuckery WTF TIME TRAVEL PARADOXES that I'm going to have to play again three times over because it's complex enough I need a flowchart -- heck, I need a frickin' tesseract -- to keep track of how things we do in the future are impacting the past and vice versa. And alternate timelines. And being able to return to a time we've lived before and try again with different choices. None of this "Time travel story, yet the plot is linear" B.S.

Plus random gratuitous bits of Norse mythology, with Valhalla and Fenrir and BEST VALKYRIE EVER WITH BIGASS SWORD.

POV is interesting. I've played the whole way through with female-lead. Once or twice I've swapped over, and I realize you might get a different perspective with male-lead, since he has his own story and inner demons. (And, for once, they're a team, not romantic couple at all.)

 

Downsides: Battle system isn't the greatest (XII beats all the rest with gambits and the ability to seize control of any character), but I'm more interested in story, character, worldbuilding and glorious graphics (in that order) so I don't care. Also, motion-capture people are more Gumby-like than ever, with disconcertingly better-rendered faces (I'm lookin' at you, Mr. Director), but I just pretend they're like the low-poly people in X who had personalities and a little backstory (Isaaru, Maechen) even if they didn't get the full monty render. YMMV.

I was going to say, in the early bits, that it reminded me of the parts focusing on Bran and Will in The Grey King and Silver on the Tree. Similar kinds of tests, puzzles, obstacles. Also By Balloon to the Sahara with WTF world-jumping. But it's becoming unmistakably FF over-the-top epic and character angst now.

Finally. Oerba. Oh, Oerba, when you first arrive there. I think that ranks right up there with MYST island as one of my favorite surreal game-landscapes ever.

I've heard the ending is disappointing. I hope I don't eat my words, but right now? I don't care. It's given me much, much more than I expected. I don't care if it crashes and burns in a steaming pile of fail, because I appreciate that this game attempted to present an old trope, time travel, in a new way. You couldn't do it with a book, or a movie (although Time Traveler's Wife tried to do so), or even a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, because settings and bits of the different timelines are changing and interacting with each other. I've played other time travel games, but they were still basically linear stories.* This feels truly four-dimensional.

*All right, I realize that Kingdom Hearts II was structured in a somewhat similar fashion, but the different worlds were mostly unrelated, apart from the protagonists and villains hopping between them. This is much more complex, with greater causality and linkage between the different worldbits.



This entry was originally posted at http://auronlu.dreamwidth.org/195971.html, where it has comment count unavailablecomments.

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Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
vieralynn
Mar. 17th, 2012 07:09 am (UTC)
Wow! This is good news! I was rather disappointed with FFXIII and now I think I need to finish it so I can give FFXIII-2 a go. The time travel bit sounds *really* interesting.
auronlu
Mar. 17th, 2012 07:41 am (UTC)
The ending of FFXIII is beautiful story-angst. It deserved a better build-up.
vieralynn
Mar. 18th, 2012 03:38 am (UTC)
Ah. I started losing interest in the story somewhere around Chapter 6 or 7. Not enough buildup coupled with crippled gameplay.
sissyhiyah
Mar. 17th, 2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
AND YOU CAN FIGHT JIHL IN XIII-2!!!!

I've been fangirling SO HARD the past few days since I saw some clips on youtube. Not only do you get to fight her, but she's incredibly difficult and says really snazzy things in battle. Plus, her attacks have really hot names, so yeah. I was going to hold off on playing XIII-2 for a few months because I'm a cheap gamer and always buy them used, but now that I can fight Jihl in the Colosseum? Yep. Going to be playing this one a LOT earlier than I planned. And now you have to make it seem more fun. My wallet hates you, but I loves ya more than ever!
auronlu
Mar. 17th, 2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure Jihl is downloadable content -- that is, you have to pay extra for her. I will of course be doing so, so I will report when I get that far.

(I've found the Colossseum, but there's nothing there yet but a cranky All Powerful Entity telling me to shoo.)

Speaking of Jihl, I've spent the last week writing a Lulu Is Cranky, Yo scene for Love Her and Despair. I am torn about whether to post chapters as I finish them, or wait until everyone thinks I'm dead and post the final 10 or so every few weeks. (If I do that, this chapter has enough backstory in it to remind everyone what they've forgotten that's still pertinent.)
sissyhiyah
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
Oh god.

Your writing is heroin for me. I want it now. But then again, part of the rush with your work is the wait and oh god I don't knooooooow...

Urgggggh!

Why must you be so awesome? Why, I ask you!
auronlu
Mar. 18th, 2012 12:00 am (UTC)
You know how to make a gal squirm. I will aim to please.
sissyhiyah
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:26 pm (UTC)
And yeah, she is dlc, but I was supposed to get her in the original game, dagnabit, so in my mind paying for her now is just paying for the battle I was really supposed to get a couple of years ago. You can't tell me that she wasn't meant to be fought at least once back then. Stupid script changes. Guh.

And PLEASE do report on her when you get that far! I like it when you geek out over game play and structure as much as I do when you geek out over characterization and story. It's nice to read a gamer's perspective on things as well as a writer's because you can sometimes see a really spiffy split on what makes a person a fan, ya know?
auronlu
Mar. 18th, 2012 12:10 am (UTC)
Lordie. I was just looking at the DLC notes to see if I could get her... and if we can BEAT her, we can call on her as a spare party member. I started to look up the purchase price ($3... oh, what the heck)... then checked a vid and...DAY-um, if I tried to fight her right now, she would wipe out my party INSTANTLY.

So I guess I'd better do some serious levelling if I want to have her whispering sweet nothings beside us during combat.

I always loved that about Lulu in FFX. Every time she tried out a new spell, she'd use the dippiest come-hither lines. ("I hope you like it hot..." >KA BLOOOM< )

It is a tribute to Paula Tiso (and your obsession) that I still want Jihl as an optional party member even though her last scene in FFXIII-2 should be prosecuted as a Crime Against Fiction for lamest villain dialogue. WTF, Squeenix? That was such a waste of a good antagonist (how much better this would've been if she'd turned out to have been Eden in disguise, eh?). Seems like Paula keeps getting challenged to silk purse a bunch of sow's ear scriptwriting. All that babble about red alert / pink alert / blah blah alert was the silliest thing she's had to voice since "I...am...an...OCTOPUS!"

Edited at 2012-03-18 12:17 am (UTC)
sissyhiyah
Mar. 18th, 2012 12:27 am (UTC)
I KNOW, RIGHT?!

UGH!

She has the hottest damn voice and then she gets stuck with...ugh. She could have been a HELL of a villain but she got stuck being the bitch that gets to have the Epic Bitch Fit. I have so many thoughts on how unfair her treatment was that I...ugh. I can't. I just can't. Obsession is right. She should have been MORE. I've tried explaining that to other people and they think I want Jihl as a good guy or something. No. That's not it at ALL. I just want a good CHARACTER, and she could have been amazing.

And Paula Tiso's voice is just...yum. (Let's see how many times I can use ellipses in a single comment. Lord.)
auronlu
Mar. 18th, 2012 07:31 am (UTC)
Here, a random present for you...

Gratuitous fanservice is gratiutious...

(Yes, that's another Paula Incarnation)

Edited at 2012-03-18 07:36 am (UTC)
toolegittokit
Jun. 9th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
I found FFXIII-2 fun, but lacking substance. The plot was retarded in my opinion. Time travel gets tricky - one of the reasons why FF8's story starts unraveling toward the end of the game. And what the hell is the deal with the Mog? Every time that thing tried to explain what the fuck was going on I kept wondering why my crossbow was talking to me.

The battle system was addicting in the way I find most Final Fantasy games addicting, but it started to get old once I got about 1/3 of the way into the game and the encounter rate got retarded high (every few steps OH SHIT A MONSTER). The fact that your third party member is a monster was sort of fun. It kind of reminded me of Shin Megami Tensei games. But the bottom line is that with the supporting cast being monsters, you lose character development.

And I guess that's what irked me most about FF13-2. I mean, Final Fantasy to me means some annoyingly naive pretty boy and his rag-tag team of unlikely companions. While I found some of the characters to be one-dimensional in FF13 (Sazh, Snow, and fucking Lightning to be perfectly honest), having the only focus in FF13-2 be on Serah (a character I didn't give two shits about in the first game and still don't now) and Tidus with dark hair (am I right, or am I right?) is extremely limiting on that level.

Sure, you get revisit TEAM NORA etc, etc, but I don't know, I was really disappointed with the fact that Fang and Vanille were nowhere to be found except in flashbacks. Didn't they one-up Lightning in the first game by being the heros? Now Squeeeenix decided to Final Fantasy 12 Reverent Wings on the sequel by making Lightning's disappearance the focus of the game? Oh, and now Serah gets to save her sister instead of the other way around!

Gag me.

Sorry, I'm super opinionated on this game. Heh.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
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