Entry 1.5 finishing the FF XIII-2 rant
Read entry 1 first, so I don't sound crazy
The greatest pain of it all is something so inconsequentia
l that I shouldn't even mention it. The Casino level. Its not actually a level, it is a stand alone point that has nothing to do with anything and allows you to for ever go to it and play the slot machine for years on end. Its not a slice of enjoyment in the middle of a hectic dark scene like in FFVII, that interrupts the oppressiveness of life on the run and the darkness of Sephiroth looming over your party. At the time when dark themes were newer to games, it was believed this interruption would be a boon tot he player and give him something to press on with. It also continued the romance story line giving the player a closer connection with the game and Cloud. The casino level in 13 was worse than 7, in that when I played it it was 3 in the morning, and I wanted to continue Hope's story which was just getting really good and left on a cliff hanger. It really did add to the plot, and if you wanted a connection to the character that is Sazh (I didn't like him that much, becomes he was the wrong kind of comedic relief for me) this part of the level did explain his so far blank history at great lengths, and summed up his reason to continue the fight and why he wanted to commit suicide, and kill Vanille. If i was in a better mood and not frustrated with the plot point changing to a character that I didn't necessarily like this casino would have had the same effect as the FF 7 level but with a greater depth of meaning and character development. 13-2's casino level is a gimmick to distract you from the bad story and the endless hours of farming. Whats even better is that it isn't even finished. Most of the games and machine all have "Coming Soon!" covering them. So far all you get is a slot machine and a chocobo race copy and pasted from FF7. This level does not add to story, this level does not relieve any stress introduced by a dark story (which 13-2 does not have) This story is just a way to further waste a player's time and life, and dangle a carrot at the end of a stick at you. If you get 3 all rows of the in game equivalent as "lucky 7"s (impossibility
) you get crazy awesome stuff! So farm some gil from the endless enemies and come here and waste six hours of time on the slot machine and all your money to get almost nothing and repeat the farming process again.
This game is designed to waste your time, and keep the time wasting covered by a shiny wrapper. Speaking of Shiny Wrappers, the art and level design of this game is poor. While the graphic engine is better, the level design is nothing more than FFX, uninspired repeats of the same scenery that goes into archetypes, Insert desert for desert level, insert forest for forest level, insert field for field level. 13 did the exact opposite of this, and the best example would be the Crystal Forest in which you play as Hope and Lightning. This level is massive, incredibly massive, and all new and pretty sights that I never saw before. Gigantic crystal trees with a dark evil swamp below the massive walkways cyber walkways. Patrols of Park Rangers flying around on "Gundams", and vicious hordes of rabid mutant wolf things swarming below. It was a mixture of a the beauty of post-nature, and also had many element of the harshness of nature splashed in, making you uncomfortable and ease by the sights at the same time. It gave the player a paradoxical feeling, that left you wanting to understand it, and made you explore more of this twisted scene. 13-2 lacked this entirely, 13-2 had a tree somewhere, that's about it. Its hard to remember something that looks like everything else that gives no lasting image and made you feel nothing. Do you recognize the difference in a tree in Riften to the tree in Falkreath? No, you don't, because its uninspired scenery that just fills a hole in the environment, and where Skyrim uses the environment as a whole to engross you into a forest, or ice field and make you feel in the game, 13-2's environment, while just as uninspired didn't even fulfill that purpose, it just was there so that your character doesn't play in a giant white box.
Now we come to the last point, the kicker and driving point in most FF games now, the plot, or lack thereof. FF13 had an amazing job at plot, this game knew where it was going at square one and just threw you into the din of things, fighting for your life. By the point when the game explains to you why your fighting and gives you a reason to keep going, your already so engrossed into it, that you don't realize that seven hours just went by and you have class soon. (hooray for 9:30 World Religions class) This game knew how to go at a plot a good pace, and knew how to mix it up so that you don't get four hours of Cloud hating himself, or a whole disc of an angry yelling Squall. You get episodes of different characters, and the story has a good time which the quick episodes of introducing each character, by the first ten minutes i was already in love with Hope's story, forced into a situation he didn't want to be in, and watching his mother die because Snow was a incompetent fool trying to fight a Gundam on his own.
I quickly got attached to that character, seeing his problems, and strife for what it was and wanted more.
13-2 lacked all of this. It used 13 as a diving board at the beginning to try and produce an awkward plot. It had a slow start and had a difficult time providing a reason for why Serah had to go farm in the forest for the next three days to save the world. The characters have almost no presence either, Serah's character was already developed in 13, and her new buddy Noel is a faceless freak like the warrior of light in FFI.
Overall, 13-2, poor design, lacking development, plot, character, and had too much farm mechanics.
13 had a lot of linear qualities that was different, but not bad.