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So, I was trying to be good and finish all the trophies in FFXIII before I moved on to XIII-2 but... well, all I have left is two hunt quests and leveling up final weapons whiiiiiiiiiiiich means trapezohedrons, which means fighting way too many adamantoises which means I got bored so I started XIII-2 last night. Hopefully I'll go back to XIII at some point, because I'm THIS CLOSE to completing everything in the game, and it's a shame that the only thing stopping me is lousy drop rates.

Anywho.

So, yeah, XIII-2. Got it pre-ordered at GameStop, so I got the extras they were offering. Thank god. Not sure I could have looked at Serah's default outfit long enough to get to a shop to buy a new one. It's... offensive. Not that the new one is that much better, but at least she doesn't look like an extra off that "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" show.

As for the game itself, well... It's not BAD, exactly, and it's almost as pretty as XIII (I say almost because they went the route of making everything real-time instead of having pre-rendered cutscenes which does make everything load SO much faster but you lose some of that extra polished-ness, you know?) it's just...

Well, okay, I'll come right out and say it. Squenix put out a game almost exactly one year after announcing it, and it is obvious that it could have used a couple extra delays.

There. I said it. I WANT Squenix to delay the release of a game. There's nothing really wrong, it's just that there's also nothing really special. I've seen this world before. I've seen these characters (minus Sora- more on him later) before. I've seen the battle system and the monsters and the mechanics and pretty much everything before. Which... okay, yes, it's a direct sequel, that's kind of what it's supposed to be like, but shouldn't there be SOMETHING to make me go at least a little bit 'oooh~ *_*'?

Janel took personal offense at the 'cinematic action' bits which are frustrating because I want to watch the pretty and not get distracted by timed button smashing, but eh, I could take it or leave it. I spent the entire prologue confused about what the hell was happening, and the writers seem to have given up on anything involving originality. One of the main characters is TOTALLY Sora from Kingdom Hearts, the big bad looks like Laguna, sounds like Sephiroth, and kind of acts like an evil!Cloud. Right down to a re-enactment of the 'dropping Aeris into the water' scene.

Plus, he summons Meteor.

The opening itself felt like a conglomeration of VII, VIII, X, and Kingdom Hearts, and the big bad even uses bug-things to attack that look exactly like the first enemies you fight in X when Tidus spends most of his time hiding behind Auron. There's also a palette-shifted Shiva Sisters. They're not bad in red but I preferred the blue. It just looked... well, traditional.

Plus, since everything, even cutscene style conversations, is realtime, there's a bad habit of NPCs 'ghosting' through the scenes. And by 'ghosting' I mean actually, on occasion, walking THROUGH the characters. Literally through. Janel and I both went AAAAH the first time. It was creepy.

Also, there is a reason Serah was not the protagonist of the last game. She's not a bad person, she's just... very derpface. Exceedingly so. Although that DOES lead to some awesome reactions from Sora (whose real name is Noel, but... seriously. I mean. Seriously.) I don't know who his voice actor is, but he's got some of the awesomest one-line reactions EVER. I like him a lot. Or, rather, I like his voice actor. Whether I'll like the character or not remains to be seen.

But, so, yes. Barely into the beginning of the game, like I said. Fight style is slightly changed but still fundamentally similar to XIII. Nothing groundbreaking but nothing yet that makes me want to throw my controller at the screen.

Oh! OH! Wait, yes, there is one thing! Multiple saves. Or rather, the LACK thereof.

Guys, when was the last time you played an RPG that didn't let you save more than one save file? At least, not that I can see. The game autosaves quite a lot, and you CAN save independently, but it doesn't give you any options, you just click 'save' and it autosaves just like normal.

One save file.

In an RPG with NINE possible endings.

Fuck that shit, man. There's one ending you can't even unlock unless you get the other eight first. Fuck that shit. Seriously. I've played FFVIII ten+ times, yes, but you know what? I played it multiple times because I WANTED to. Not because I wanted to see what one different choice would do. You know what I do when I want to know that? I save and repeat. Except, oh wait, I CAN'T IN THIS GAME!

...Okay, yeah, that pisses me off, obviously. *coughs*

Saving grace of the game is that I have more time to interact with my adorably gay NORA boys. Yuj and Maqui (and Gadot and Lebreau who are also awesome but are not my adorable gay NORA boys) are back for the first couple hours, even if they're just standard 'wander about and offer one-liners' NPC types.

One cool thing and one ZOMG RAGEFACE thing sandwiching a bunch of mediocre 'meh' things.

So, yeah, so far withholding judgment until I'm more than five hours in or whatever I'm at. Probably not even that. I still find myself pining for XII, though. What I wouldn't give for a good, interesting Balthier or, hell, I'd settle for a Vaan who at least had a personality to go with the stupid clothes. (At least you had to read between the lines to get to his sibling-obsession. Serah comes right out and says it.)

'Unremarkable' isn't what I usually think of when I think of Final Fantasy. I mean, argue all you want about which is the best in the series, but everyone has SOME strong feeling about the games so far. I dislike VII but I have to admit the gameplay was pretty cool (and really, I shouldn't blame an entire game just because of the fucking chocobo breeding and my inability to get a green chick) and VIII's story is still my favorite of them all, not to mention kick-ass characters (male AND female!) and even if it feels like I'm the only person in North America who ever PLAYED IX, it's still awesome and Zidane/Blank is still my closet OTP. Say what you want about Tidus, but at least the characters were more or less original, and while the story of X-2 was suspect, the gameplay was, even if it hurts me to say it, kind of amazing. Leveling up different dress spheres was... I'd certainly never played a combat system like that before. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. It was DIFFERENT and INTERESTING even when the game wasn't. And XII had Balthier. Even if it hadn't had an interesting story (and Ashe kicked butt, I don't care what her haters say), Balthier (and Gideon Emery *purr*) were amazing. So was Fran. And I could even overlook Vaan's outfit, because for once it wasn't a female in a skimpy, badly-thought out outfit.

*clears throat and gets off soapbox* Yes. Anyway. Nothing in this game (minus the RAGEFACE over the one-save limit) is BAD, exactly, it's just... not bad, because they know it worked, more or less, in other games. There's nothing new or original or interesting or that makes me go 'ooh~ *_*'.

If you've played Star Ocean: Til the End of Time, it's the first level in the beach resort. Which, yes, I changed my tune about SO:TET by the end, but it took a lot of winning over after however many hours of pure boredom. And that game had an awesome and innovative battle system (to this day, one of my favorites) to boost it up until the story got interesting.

So far, XIII-2 doesn't have anything like that.

Hopefully it will pick up. And soon. Cause killing giant turtles is starting to sound a lot better.

TL;DR- Opinion so far that I hope I change in the next chapter: Unless you're a loyal, buy every game ever FF fan... just wait for the Let's Play.
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December 2012

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