Mon, 6 March 2017
This week, Kaleb and Joe dive deep into the sequel to Final Fantasy XIII. Well, the first sequel that is.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 was released on December 15th 2011 in Japan, and January 31st 2012 in the United States. The game was developed and published by our very own Square Enix, though fellow RPG developer tri-Ace was brought into assist with the games programming, art, and design. You may know tri-Ace from titles such as the Star Ocean series and Valkyrie Profile. Development for Final Fantasy XIII-2 began sometime around March or Arpil 2010. Most of the key designers and management team came over from Final Fantasy XIII, including director Motomu Toriyama and composer Masashi Hamauzu. Naoshi Mizuta and Mitsuto Suzuki also assisted with the soundtrack. The game has sold around 3.1 million copies as of January 2013. 300,000 copies have been sold through Steam, where it was released on December 11, 2014.
Toriyama originally intended XIII-2 to take place a whopping 900 years after the original game. Once he realized how much of a pain in the ass establishing a backstory for this time gap would be, he decided to make it a time travel game. He wanted Lightning to be happy one day, and felt the need to have Serah take a more active role, since she was crystallized in the first Final Fantasy XIII. Apparently the early concept had Serah travelling alone with Mog. Yoshinori Kitase felt that the dialogue between these two characters was quite girly, almost camp and a bit over the top”, so they developed the character Noel. They didn’t want the stark tonal difference that we see between Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, so they went for a much darker storyline. The team also learned a few other things, and decided to avoid using l’Cie and fal’Cie, as they deemed them difficult to understand. Interestingly enough, there was initially a plan to link the story of Final Fantasy Type-0 to Final Fantasy XIII-2 via Valhalla, but these plans were discarded.
Setting Up the Plot:
Final Fantasy XIII-2 takes place a whopping three years after the events of Final Fantasy XIII. At this point, Sanctum has collapsed, and Cocoon’s inhabitants have moved down to Gran Pulse. Sanctum has been replaced by the technocratic government known as the Academy, run by none other than Hope Estheim. The game jumps around multiple different time periods, even including parallel versions of the same places. These are accessed via the Historia Crux. The game takes place mostly on Gran Pulse and Cocoon, but players also visit the Void Beyond, a sort of limbo between time periods, and Valhalla; the capital of the goddess Etro. Valhalla is located at the end of time where Etro stores the dark energy Chaos from destroying the timeline.
Paradoxes are popping up all across the timeline, and our heroine of Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning, has been written out of history, and only Serah remembers that she came back with the pary after Lightning and co saved Cocoon. Serah settles down in New Bodhum, but can’t shake the feeling that her sister lives on. It turns out that the mysterious energy known as Chaos, dragged Lightning to Valhalla. This was a result of Etro releasing Lightning and her friends from their crystal status as a thank you for saving Cocoon. Etro closed the gate between realms to keep Chaos out, but then fell into a deep sleep. Lightning is now Etro’s Knight, charged with protecting her from Caius Ballad, a bad man who wants to kill Etro to destroy the timeline. Caius was made immortal by Etro when she gave him her heart, known as the Heart of Chaos.
Lightning, realizing that she needs a hand since she’s caught in an unending battle with Caius, reaches out to a young man named Noel Kreiss for help. Noel, who was chosen by Etro to become a time traveler, gets sent to New Bodhum to find Serah and bring her to Lightning. Noel meets up with Serah and finds out that she can see visions of the future, and is also allowed to use time gates, and access the Historia Crux. Noel and Serah travel the world to different eras solving paradoxes along the way. Their objective is to prevent the shit-tastic future that Noel comes from. He is the last man at the end of the world, after all. This happens in a timeline where the crystallized Cocoon fell from the sky. When Hope Estheim learns of this timeline, he sets out to prevent Cocoon’s eventual planet shattering fall.
While our party is out and about, they learn that Snow has also become a time traveler, which is why he never returned from XIII’s ending as well. This is when the party first learns about Yeul, a seeress protected by her immortal guardian Caius, until the last Yeul died in Noel’s time period. Noel is disturbed by meeting various Yeuls throughout his adventures, since he wanted to become the Guardian to Yeul from his timeline. Yeul’s soul isn’t able to return to the chaos of the unseen world, and she is continually reincarnated with Caius as her Guardian as “blessed” by Etro. Seeing Yeul die over and over drove Caius mad, and spurred his desire to collapse the timeline in order to end Yeul’s cycle of suffering. Caius then creates paradoxes along the timeline to cultivate the perfect conditions in which to let Chaos consume the mortal realm. Our pary sets out to stop them, even after discovering that Serah also has the power of the seeress, which eats away at her very existence with every vision she has. These are triggered by the changes in the timeline through solving paradoxes.
Serah and Noel finally meet up with Lightning, and move in on Caius. The party first fights him in 500 AF Academia, and then in Valhalla. Once Caius is defeated, he tells the party that he’s killed Lightning, and then impales himself on Noel’s sword, killing the already weakened Etro. The party returns to Academia in 500 af, where Vanille and Fang have been rescued from the falling pillar. We also see a very Titan AE esque new Cocoon called “Bhunivelze”. Serah then dies in front of Noel from the shock of the changes. The sky is rent asunder by dark clouds, and Chaos breaks free into the realm, and permanently warps things. Noel then realizes that they did exactly what Caius wanted by destroying the Heart of Chaos, and though Etro died, Caius is still alove and bound to the chaos. Serah’s dying spirit assures lightning that they will see each other again, and we then get a scene showing Lightning on the throne in Crystal Stasis on the throne in Etro’s temple. If you take the time to complete the additional storylines in the game, you get an additional scene showing Caius on the throne stating that the goddess is gone forever, and that he and Yeul can begin a life without their curses.
The game features many of the combat elements of its predecessor, resurrecting the Paradigm and crystarium systems. It also introduces a system that allows players to capture beasts to fight alongside protagonists Serah and Noel. XIII-2 features a modified version of the old school random battles. Enemies will randomly appear on the map, and a timer spawns. The player can attack monsters before the time runs out, starting the battle with a preemptive strike. Battles take place similarly to Final Fantasy XIII, though you do have the option to switch party leaders. A game over is obtained once all human players have been defeated. The paradigm system offers stat increases, and isn’t locked like in Final Fantasy XIII. Beasts that have been captured are also leveled up, and have their own crystarium branches, though materials purchased from Chocobolina or collected through battles. Monsters have their own form of limit breaks, known as Feral Links, and vary from beast to beast. Final Fantasy XIII-2 also originated the Wound Damage. This is where a target members max HP can only be restored through healing items (we’re looking at you, Final Fantasy XV). Final Fantasy XIII-2 also uses Cinematic Action sequences that force the player to mash buttons. Conversations also have variants, as the player gets to choose what response to give. There are also Temporal Rifts. These are puzzle-esque minigames necessary to advance.
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