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Do not know if want: Final Fantasy XIII-2

Kristina PinoComment
I have no idea what the heck is going on with Final Fantasy XIII-2. I played through the demo, which featured great improvements in game play from the previous game, but story-wise I'm not too sure how I feel. I like that Serah and Lightning are main characters, but I don't like that Serah's hanging around this dude Noel when the whole thing in FFXIII was that Serah was going to get married with Snow. Is this going to be another deal, like FFX-2 where the boyfriend is "lost" and the girl is going to "go find him?" Probably not...

I did mention there are improvements. The paradigm system is seriously great in that I could switch around leaders whenever I want, and there isn't instant Game Over whenever the character I'm playing gets KO. The Crystarium (for those not familiar: this is the area where you advance your characters' skills) seems much more intuitive and I also like the way monsters "pop" (there's a story explanation for it). These pops are different from the random encounter system in that you have the chance to either avoid the fight or land a preemptive strike, though.

The beast system is also cool. I could already see the many advantages of having little beast summons ready to handle different situations as needed. Throughout the demo, I had a Cait Sith, possibly one of the cutest in-game creatures to date, play as Medic while I just kept advancing Serah and Noel as Commando fighters. The end of the demo led to a few trailers that showed off lots of other controllable beasts that I'm excited for, too. The one I'm most excited for? The Tonberry!

Lastly, I'm both impressed and feeling uneasy about the whole time paradox aspect of the game. It would seem that, years after the first game, time is going awry and monsters are appearing randomly. I like the concept, though I could see it getting confusing. As it is, the first encounter with the demo's boss, Atlas, showed him as a disembodied arm because his body was stuck in various times/dimensions. It just might be too complicated for your usual Final Fantasy type game.

Then again, maybe it doesn't have to be complicated. Maybe the demo is just so jam-packed with information that it seems overwhelming, but is probably not. This new game seems much easier to slip into than FFXIII was, even giving you skippable tutorials instead of turning the first 20 hours of the game into a course on paradigms. I'm looking forward to playing it, but I doubt I'll purchase at launch. It also kind of irked me that the Moogle has a voice. Who saw that one coming?

[Pre-order FFXIII-2 for PS3| for XBOX360]