Square Enix’s FF13 was a controversial title to a number of longtime fans of the flagship series. Much has been made of its heavily linear area designs, overly long tutorials, shallow world, and its twitch-centric combat system. To more than a few, for a game expected to carry the series forward, it seemed to be heading in the wrong direction.
FF13-2 wants to change all of that. Or at least head back in a direction that won’t burn as many bridges behind it. Boasting a new story packed with all of the ludicrously beautiful visuals that HD televisions squee with delight over, Square Enix took much of what was criticized about the first game by focusing on hammering out the rough edges.
It’s not the first time that they’ve followed up on one of the series’ major chapters in this fashion as FF10-2 can testify, but it is probably the first time that the changes aren’t so much experimentation as they are a belated do-over of what didn’t work as well the first time around.
Final Fantasy’s reputation for reinventing itself with every major release as well as spreading its brand name into other genres has made it a powerhouse series since it had saved a struggling Square in the early eighties. While some developers may choose to standardize on a set of systems for their own games, Square Enix’s ongoing efforts in designing a new battle system, set of characters, and an entire world to put them in with every title say as much for their imaginative talents as it does for their efforts in keeping the franchise fresh.
FF13, the latest in the franchise’s long line of major RPG entries, raises the same stakes and is part of a huge celebration of Final Fantasy that Square-Enix has termed Fabula Nova Crystalis. FF13 is only the first “13” title to emerge in this series, but it is considered the flagship title of the new compilation. It’s a huge game that easily clocks in at sixty or more hours of fantastic adventure.
Whether they’ve also fit in enough actual gameplay, however, depends on how much tunnel vision you want to endure for the story that it wants to tell.