PC Gaming

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Square Enix sent shockwaves in the gaming industry when the announcement was made that the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy is coming to Steam. The Final Fantasy XIII series was a very enjoyable and gratifying experience for console gamers that left many PC gamers eagerly awaiting a PC port. After dedicating much effort into recreating and improving Final Fantasy XIV, Square Enix has answered the prayer of fans by bringing the highly anticipated FFXIII saga to Steam to reintroduce Lightning to JRPG fans within the PC gaming community.

The events of the game takes place three years after the original that follow the demise of Cocoon and the decimation of the Sanctum government. Former inhabitants of Cocoon have moved to Gran Pulse as a new body known as the Academy has risen to power and it begins in the year 3AF. Lightning’s sister, Serah Farron awakens in her town to an unexpected attack by monsters and is rescued in the midst of the chaos by a stranger named Noel Kreiss. Claiming that he has met Lightning, Serah agrees to join Noel in a time-travel adventure to fix several time paradoxes that have erupted in hopes of finding her sister, Lightning whom her fiancé, Snow Villiers had set to find in the grand world.

Battles in this game utilize the Command Synergy Battle and Paradigm Shift system from the original Final Fantasy XIII game. You select actions such as Attack, Abilities or Item that occupy a certain number of slots on the ATB gauge. Though the gauge itself is initially limited to three slots, it can be expanded to six slots as you progress throughout the game. A new feature known as the Paradigm Tune allows you to designate when your party members use their abilities in battle with an option available to change the team leader. The Mog Clock in battle is a timed ordeal in which your party must attack as many monsters as possible to gain a pre-emptive advantage in battle.

The Historia Crux is the portal that allows you to travel to different time periods and locales. Each location has a specific number of time gates with the number signified with unique symbols. They are activated by using special items known as “artefacts” which are keys found during your travels. Live triggers allow you to choose what to say or how to respond to your immediate surroundings which may result in discovering valuable treasure along the timeline. If you’re in a bind, you can call upon your trusty Mog for aid to find. Gates opened with the artefact keys unlock additional locations to visit on the vast timeline in the Historia Crux. Any gate closed with a special item known as a Gate Seal is rewound in time that gives you a second chance to correct your mistakes and alter history.

After a successful battle, you can recruit monsters that you’ve fought and defeated by collecting their crystal spoils. Up to three monsters are grouped into a Paradigm Pack and added to the Paradigm system. Once there, they can be called into battle to fight for you with each possessing their own unique Feral Link abilities that are unleashed via a full gauge that triggers a Cinematic Action sequence. Monsters can be renamed, infused with abilities, set free and customized with decorations and adornments.

Serendipity is a hidden amusement casino that serves as both entertainment and a fun distraction apart from the complex storyline. Slot machines dispense prizes with more coins that can be inserted after a successful winning streak. The highlight of the mystical wonderland is the Chocobo races where you can wager big and win prizes. Racing chocobos have speed, stamina, abilities and race points as their individual attributes. You can either use your own Chocobo to compete or bet on other chocobo races to test your luck.

Although certain DLC content found in the console versions will not be available, Square Enix has confirmed the following will be included: DLC for opponents: Omega, Lightning & Amodar, Nabaat, Ultros & Typhon, PuPu, Gilgamesh as well as outfits for Serah, Noel, Mog, Sazh, Snow and of course, Lightning.

Visually, the game looks spectacular and runs smoothly on different resolutions. The option to tweak the graphical settings is limited to shadowing and anti-aliasing options and unlike the original, the game is not locked to a 1280x720 resolution. Regrettably, the game suffers from intermittent frame rate drops, especially during the fast-paced cutscenes but manages to generally stay above 30 fps. Character models are scaled accordingly with polished textures in the world environments. There are occasional bits of slowdown but nothing that detracts from the game experience as Final Fantasy XIII-2 on the highest settings is a stunningly gorgeous game.  

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is vastly superior to its predecessor as the game features more explorable environments, improved battle system, engaging soundtrack and the inclusion of time travel. Though some may be disappointed that Lightning isn’t the playable lead character, the chance to play as Serah and Noel and to recruit other members is a welcome change of pace. Though there is room for further improvement on the visual front, Final Fantasy XIII-2 has raised the bar for the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy that sets the stage for the final instalment of the series in the near future.

 

PROS – Gorgeous Visuals, Engaging Soundtrack, Intuitive Gameplay

CONS – Frame Rate Issues, Loading Times

SCORE – 82%

 

This review is based on a digital copy of Final Fantasy XIII-2 on Steam provided by Square Enix

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