I’m liking XIII-2 right now, though I am getting some shock literally starting XIII-2 about 15 minutes after XIII.
Pros: I like the protagonists (and I thought I’d hate Serah), though I do kind of miss our other protagonists. Noel, however, is probably better so far than most of the original cast, and I liked most of the original cast. Even though I do always want to call Noel “Sora” given what his appearance…
The beginning was confusing as all get out, but it’s forgivable this time because nobody else knows what the hell is going on either, and the story is told from a limited perspective rather than from pseudo-omniscience.
The battle system has more flexibility, you can now force paradigms to focus fire or spread out regardless of role (Com/Com/* is now viable for non-boss fights because now you can force them to focus fire). Unfortunately, you still only have the same number of paradigms in a deck as you could last game, meaning you have to choose what you want.
Paradigms switch almost instantly now, no more cheesing the paradigm switch with Army of One so that your characters aren’t sitting there with their finger in their nose for 3 seconds.
Cons: I’m not sold on the monsters yet. As of now, you can have three monsters set at a time, each monster has one role (i.e. rav, com). It seems they have different stats and abilities. This allows for more customization, but if your primary rav monster is, say, a fire caster, your lightning rav may not be up to level by the time you fight a fire immune boss (which hasn’t happened yet, but I assume it might).
I don’t really get the new Crystarium, something about bonuses for fixating on one role and such, after a certain amount of level ups you can pick a bonus (more accessory slots, another ATB gauge, unlock a role like medic, bonuses for a certain role), but unlike XIII I only have the vaguest idea how much one level will help me. It seems like gimping your character might be really easy, but it’s hard to tell this early on.
No idea how the hell they compute stars in this game, I’m getting 15 seconds on target time 1:15 battles and getting 3 stars, I’m getting 45 seconds on 1 minute target time battles and getting 5 stars. There’s clearly more to it than time, but I’m having trouble telling what influences the other numbers they show on the score screen.
It seems like, judging by the “fragments” thing, there’s going to be a lot more openness this time. It’s certainly good to a degree, but I got a sidequest talking to a random guard last night. There are TONS of random guards with speech balloons, it’s tedious to talk to each and every person with something to say, especially since they’re moving around.
I hear the story is less linear, and while I haven’t got there yet, I really hope this doesn’t end up translating to “damn near impossible to get the best ending.” As of now, it’s hard for me to tell if it’s even possible to get all the fragments without making the correct choices.