I have to say, I’m actually a big Final Fantasy fan. I mean, I grew up with the games and loved them all. I even enjoyed XIII. Granted, I never finished the game, but I still liked what I played of it. Now that Final Fantasy XIII-2 is coming out soon, I gave the demo a try just to see how things are holding up.
You play as Serah, Lightning’s younger sister, and a new guy named Noel. Both characters are time travelling in the worlds of Gran Pulse and Cocoon. The demo has the two characters showing up in a certain time period on Pulse. There, they encounter a giant being that is trying to attack the population.
You are placed in a battle first thing when you start the demo. You begin fighting the giant’s arm. This serves as a tutorial for the battle system. If you have played Final Fantasy XIII, you know what to expect. The game has a variation on the active time battle system. The game will allow for “class changes” in mid-battle called Paradigm Shifts. The trick to winning most fights is to find a nice balance between attacking and raising the stagger meter on your enemies. Once staggered, the enemy will take more damage when hit. This was all in XIII. One new addition to the combat is the small quick time events that take place in some battles. When executed correctly, you can do massive damage to the enemy.
Another new feature is the ability to tame wild creatures you fight to have them join your party. You can equip up to 3 creatures at a time. They basically serve as extra party members. During a battle, a meter called the Feral meter will fill as you hit your enemies. Once filled, you can unleash a special attack that requires a specific button input. This will have your creature do extra damage in a small cut scene. This is a nice feature that will allow more customization to your party and allow you to unlock new Paradigms.
The encounters have a new feature to them. Rather than having the enemies on screen, and you running up to them, they are hidden and pop up on the map. When this happens, you have a counter start winding down. During this time you can attack an enemy in the circle that pops up. If you hit an enemy before the counter ends, you will get a preemptive strike.
I noticed that there are a good amount of side quests in the demo. They were simple tasks, but at least give the player a little more variety when it comes to game play. The demo has a small town and area where you are tasked with taking out the giant you encountered at the beginning. Once you travel far enough, you are given the option of either fighting it head on or exploring a bit more to find a special control that may damage the giant. I opted for exploring more.
Your choice determines how much health the boss will have at the end of the demo. This fight will actually test you pretty well. I died twice during the fight, due to the fact that I hadn’t prepared myself ahead of time. Creating certain classes for the Paradigms is essential for winning battles. If you go into a battle without having the right classes for a certain role, you’ll end up dead pretty quickly. The last boss fight had a few more quick time events that were pretty flashy and had some decent action involved.
Square Enix has done a great job visually. The game looks great, and the English voices match up with the actors almost flawlessly. The art style is typical Final Fantasy, but if you’re into these games, you’ll feel right at home. Truth be told, after playing the demo for XIII-2, I really want to go back and finish XIII. So would you say I’m excited for Final Fantasy XIII-2 after playing the demo? You bet I am.