Final Fantasy XIII-2 The Complete Official Guide Collector's Edition Strategy Guides and Books
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Final Fantasy XIII-2 The Complete Official Guide Collector's Edition Product Details
Released on 03-Feb-2012
• Limited print run, includes two ribbon bookmarks.
• Includes a 16-page bonus section exclusive to this edition.
• The 100% complete guide to Final Fantasy XIII-2.
• The dedicated Walkthrough charts the critical path through the main narrative. It also provides regular prompts and tips to direct players to side quests and other optional features within the game world.
• The Tour Guide chapter includes one section per game location in each time period. This complements the Walkthrough by examining all optional activities offered in the game (side quests, mini-games, puzzles and power-levelling spots).
• The Completion Timeline chapter offers a visual and streamlined guide to 100% completion.
• The Strategy & Analysis section gives an advanced analysis of the game's key systems and features. This also covers the most complex topics such as character development in a thorough, yet user-friendly way.
• All-encompassing Inventory and Bestiary chapters feature exhaustive lists and tables covering all enemies, weapons, accessories, items and shops.
• Every secret, every unlock able, every side-quest, every mini-game, every Achievement and every Trophy revealed and explained in a dedicated Extras chapter. We've also added a story recap and an artwork gallery.
• Carefully designed to avoid unnecessary story spoilers.
Relatively speaking, Final Fantasy has had a tough time over the last few years. Having debuted in 1987, the series hit 100 million worldwide sales in 2011. As one of the longest running, best known and most popular gaming series of all time, Japanese creator Square Enix should have been celebrating the milestone, but that wasn't the case...
In 2010, a somewhat mixed reaction to Final Fantasy XIII for PS3 and Xbox 360, and an awful reception for Final Fantasy XIV Online on PC soured its mood, with company CEO Yoichi Wada going as far as to say that the latter had "greatly damaged" the brand. Enter Final Fantasy XIII-2, a direct sequel to FFXIII with a lot riding on it - one that has been designed to show the world that the role playing powerhouse Square Enix is back on top of its game.
Thankfully, we're pleased to report that FFXIII-2 looks set to address a number of the issues critics had with the last console game. In some people's eyes, FFXIII's key flaw was its linearity, which saw players spend the bulk of their time battling from A to B through corridor-like environments alongside an uninspired cast, stifling the drama and pace of proceedings.
In response to fan feedback, FFXIII-2 returns to the series' traditional open, town-based structure. Take a look at the game's map and, while it's clear there's a main route to journey along to reach your ultimate goals, there are plenty of branching paths to explore for hidden treasures and new adventures to uncover in a bid to level up your characters.
The environments are packed with chatty residents, many of whom offer short sound bites as you pass, have floating speech bubbles next to them and can be talked to for information, or offer you side-quests, something that makes the game feel far more alive than FFXIII did.
Set three years after the events of its predecessor, the sequel depicts the story of heroine Serah's journey across time and space alongside main male protagonist Noel. They are on a mission to prevent the end of the world at the hands of bloodthirsty monsters and to locate Serah's missing sister Lightning, the hero of the previous game.
With the world plagued with time rifts causing all manner of unwelcome events, players have to explore each fractured timeline, resolve the paradox and locate the gates to the next broken rift. It's a structure which sees players seeking out giant crystals that act as portals to further levels set in alternative time zones, which can be located in multiple orders, ensuring a different experience for each player.
Freedom of choice
In FFXIII-2, project director Motomu Toriyama has said "every part of the game will develop as a result of the player's choices". Player choice has been a popular design feature over recent years with western role playing game developers like BioWare, Obsidian and Bethesda, and now Square Enix is also attempting to embrace it with FFXIII-2's 'Live Trigger Events'. These allow players to choose their reactions to characters during conversations in moments that influence the course of progression, although it's unclear to what extent they actually impact on gameplay.
One thing that's largely unchanged from the previous game is Final Fantasy XIII-2's battle mechanics. The Paradigm system, which sees players only directly controlling one character during fights, allows users to shift their character's tactics between offensive, defensive and support roles mid-battle, therefore guiding the tactical flow of proceedings as they wield elemental attacks, magic spells, items and summons moves. Battles do however introduce little cinematic cutscenes featuring quick time events, which require players to perform actions shortly after the appearance of on-screen prompts, an addition that makes combat even more engaging.
From what we've seen of the game, Square Enix appears to be travelling along a very promising looking path by reacting to fan feedback and further developing strong existing gameplay systems. Alongside sumptuous visuals and audio work, the developer's decision to grant players more freedom in how they progress appears to be a wise one that could well pay off when the game arrives next month.
The thirteenth entry to Square-Enix's flagship role-playing game series divided audiences. On the one hand, it presented the sort of pin-sharp HD visuals during exploration and combat that the series had previously only managed to deliver through CGI cut-scenes. Then, its battle system was ingenious and engaging and, for those who managed to make it through the first 20-odd hours of linear journey, there was a huge array of interesting side-missions to engage in.
On the other hand, the series' classic staple of towns were removed, limiting the amount of exploration drastically. Meanwhile, the standoffish lead character Lightning was difficult to empathize with, while the story was full of complicated fantasy jargon that made difficult to grasp what was, in reality, a simple plot.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a rare sequel to a mainline Final Fantasy game and it reveals a concerted effort on the team's part to address the issues of the first game, while accentuating its strengths. Instead of focusing on Lightning, this sequel follows her younger sister, Serah, a primary school teacher from an ocean-side village. The much-maligned linearity of the first game has been addressed in the premise of this game, which concerns time travel and multiverses.
Lightning is trapped somewhere in time and space, so Serah and newcomer Noel are tasked with jumping between dimensional gates, unraveling anomalies in history in order to track her down. Once the first few hours of the game are out of the way you gain access to the Historia Crux, a honeycomb network of interlinked dimensional gates (or, if you prefer, a level select screen) which you use to navigate between different locations, dimensions and and time periods.
Before you are able to freely explore the multiverse you need to track down Artifacts, keys that open gates to new nodes on the Historia Crux. Indeed, the vast majority of time in the game is spent tracking down the next Artifact to unlock the next dimensional gate. Although there is a backbone journey running through the game to take you to the story's conclusion (around 25 hours worth of adventuring), you are free to explore off the beaten track, investigating new areas as you solve side quests, and hunt for the 160 hidden fragments that have been scattered across the game.
The non-linearity ensures that the game's journey feels uniquely your own and is one of the core strengths of Final Fantasy XIII-2. Another is the battle system, that builds upon the classy combat of the previous game. In this game you control just Serah and Noel, with the third slot in the team taken up by one of the scores of monsters that you can catch during your travels. These monsters can be trained up, customized, named and even fed other creatures in order to build their abilities. It's a neat system and, combined with the flexible customization of the other main characters, makes battles fresh, meaningful and engaging.
A Twist in the Tale
Less strong is the story that struggles to make you care about the world or the characters that drive it. Semi-antagonist Caius is certainly an interesting villain �not least because you empathize with him as the story progresses, but overall the cast of characters fails to engage in a meaningful way. The structure has benefits in allowing you flexibility, but can also feel disjointed, while the multiverse realities can be confusing. A couple of weak spots in the main story missions (including one particularly tedious one in which you have to find five semi-translucent objects scattered through the world) means that this relatively brief game can drag at times.
Nevertheless, it's by far the better game than its predecessor, succeeding in not only diminishing that title's shortcomings but reversing them into strengths. It is, at times, a difficult, convoluted game to get inside, but there are compelling rewards for the persistent.
- Innovative structure
- Frantic, engaging battle system
- Monster collecting
- Dislikeable characters
- Convoluted storyline
- Many fragments frustrating to acquire
SquareEnix has announced that the first downloadable content for its new role-playing game Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be released next week.
By taking part in Coliseum Battles, players can face off against famous enemies and allies from past Final Fantasy titles and recruit them to their parties, while new story episodes will provide additional insights into characters such as Lightning.
The promise of plentiful DLC will help to further bolster the appeal of Final Fantasy XIII-2, which arrives in stores this week.
A direct sequel to the multimillion-selling Final Fantasy XIII, the new game introduces a wide array of improvements, including a larger, more open game world and a revamped battle system.
It is being released in both standard and special editions, with the latter including bonuses such as a soundtrack CD and art cards.
Role-playing epic Final Fantasy XIII-2 has become the first new release of the year to top the UK all-formats chart.
The latest instalment in Square Enix's legendary series toppled the long-reigning FIFA 12 from the summit of the GfK-ChartTrack rankings, emulating the chart-topping debut of its direct predecessor Final Fantasy XIII.
It was one of a number of new releases to make a big splash this week, with second place going to Konami's compilation title Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, which features three of the most popular entries in the classic stealth series.
Next week should see another batch of new releases making their chart debuts, including fantasy blockbuster Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, comic book shooter The Darkness II and quirky relationship drama Catherine.
Answering the critics
2010's Final Fantasy XIII received a mixed critical reception. Chief among the complaints was the ditching of the series' usual side-quest-packed open-world structure in favour of a linear journey filled with desolate environments that offered the bare minimum of distractions. Two years later - the series is now a quarter of a century old and has surpassed 100 million game sales - creator Square Enix delivers the direct sequel, aiming to give fans what they wanted from the previous game. In many respects, Final Fantasy XIII-2 makes good on that promise.
Set three years after the events of its predecessor, the game sees mysterious time paradoxes causing all manner of unwelcome events, such as the destruction of the pillar supporting the world of Pulse and the disappearance of FFXIII protagonist Lightning. Players take control of Lightning's sister Serah and newcomer Noel, a stranger from the future. Both characters want to alter the timeline, Serah to bring back her sister and Noel to save humanity from a future destruction he has witnessed first-hand.
Back to the future
To do so players have to explore fractured timelines by jumping between different historical periods and resolving paradoxes, usually by defeating angry boss monsters. Featuring a more open world structure than its predecessor, there are plenty of branching paths to explore, allowing players to uncover and enjoy the experience at their own pace in multiple orders, ensuring a different experience for each user.
FFXIII-2 boasts some truly stunning and imaginative worlds to visit, from futuristic Blade Runner-like cities that glisten in a rain-soaked neon glow to gorgeous planets sporting sunset beaches and sparkling star-filled skies, and each is packed with characters offering side-quests and general chit chat that helps bring them to life. Player choice, variety and the ability to shape the adventure is greater than in FFXIII, then.
FFXIII-2's battle system may be the game's most divisive element. On the one hand it's accessible and looks lovely in motion, while on the other it hasn't evolved greatly from its predecessor's, and arguably isn't challenging enough. It's is the first game in the series to feature an adjustable difficulty mode - players can choose between Normal and Easy - but some will find it pretty easy even on the tougher setting.
Battles are built around your three party members - Serah, Noel and a third left open for monsters you collect along the journey - although players only directly control one lead character's moves during fights. While the other two characters are computer controlled, players can switch up their wider team's tactics between offensive, defensive and support strategies mid-battle to counter enemy attacks, the idea being to guide the tactical flow of events.
During the tougher encounters the battle system requires a good blend of thoughtful strategy and quick reflexes, making it highly satisfying when everything comes together to pull off a hard-earned victory. However, some experienced players will go through lengthy stretches of the game feeling unchallenged. During some battles, simply setting up your computer controlled companions to attack and heal while leaving your main character idle can be enough to earn a victory. The criticism that the battle system effectively "plays itself" hasn't been totally addressed, then.
A step forward
FFXIII-2 falls short of recapturing the franchise's glory days on PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2, but that's not to say it isn't a great game. While the lack of a more challenging battle system may disappoint some veteran players, looked upon as the direct sequel to FFXIII, FFXIII-2 rectifies many of the problems its predecessor had to offer a significantly improved experience. There's some thrilling action, gorgeous worlds to explore, and a fair amount of emotional engagement with the character driven story. It's also a generously large game that clocks in at about the 40-hour mark, meaning it'll keep series fans and newcomers busy adventuring for some time.
- Better than FFXIII.
- Open level structure.
- Stunning worlds to explore.
- Overabundance of cut-scenes.
- Battle system could be improved.
- Some fans will find it too easy.
- Better than FFXIII.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 - Preview (17/01/2012)
Enter Final Fantasy XIII-2, a direct sequel to FFXIII with a lot riding on it - one that has been designed to show the world that the role playing powerhouse Square Enix is back on top of its game.…
Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a rare sequel to a mainline Final Fantasy game and it reveals a concerted effort on the team's part to address the issues of the first game, while accentuating its strengths. I…
First Final Fantasy XIII-2 DLC plans … (02/02/2012)
SquareEnix has announced that the first downloadable content for its new role-playing game Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be released next week.…
Final Fantasy XIII-2 soars to top of … (06/02/2012)
Role-playing epic Final Fantasy XIII-2 has become the first new release of the year to top the UK all-formats chart.…
Final Fantasy XIII-2 - Review (07/02/2012)
2010's Final Fantasy XIII received a mixed critical reception. Two years later, creator Square Enix delivers the direct sequel, aiming to give fans what they wanted from the previous game. In many res…
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