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'Final Fantasy XIII-2' is pretty, and pretty boring

Special to the ManifestoMarch 22, 2012 

  • VIDEO GAME REVIEW

    'Final Fantasy XIII-2'

    About: The latest entry in the famed role-playing series is a direct continuation of the events of 2010's Final Fantasy XIII.

    Players: Single-player

    Pros: Gorgeous graphics highlight an open environment that gives the game a less linear feel.

    Cons: The story line is awful, and the gameplay is tedious.

    Availability and price: $59.99 on Xbox 360 and PS3

    ESRB rating: T

    Manifesto's rating: 4.5/10 (Xbox 360)

    Metacritic rating: 7.9/10 (Xbox 360)

Maybe the hype for the latest incarnation of Final Fantasy was just too much for me.

Maybe I expected far too much from such a storied franchise, one that's been around since the original Nintendo.

Maybe it's that I've never been able to get into the Final Fantasy series in the past, and maybe it's too late now.

Whatever it was, Final Fantasy XIII-2 didn't capture my attention the way other Japanese role-playing games, such as Lost Odyssey, have.

It's also hard to say why the game didn't live up to expectations.

Besides the story, I can't say any individual components of the title are all that bad. It's just that none of them is done very well, either. So the result is an entirely forgettable experience that doesn't even get off the ground before it becomes so boring it's a job to play.

I expected far more in terms of a story. Instead, players get a pile of indecipherable nonsense that is so laughable it's almost impossible to fathom how it was created. I can't even begin to explain the time-traveling, chaos-theory drivel that's presented here. Even for hard-core fans of the genre, it would be hard to follow.

But even if you can deal with a sub-par story, the game lacks the most important aspect of any title — fun.

Everything just seems boring. The combat system has been improved, but it's the same sequence of button presses and paradigm shifts over and over. It's so repetitive that you probably could go bake a pie while your pet Labrador pushes the A button 300 times, and you'll win.

Exploring the map also is a bore. And the music, which is usually very good, sounded so repetitive that I turned it off within 20 minutes.

With so many letdowns, surely there has to be something right with this game. Sure enough, the graphics are incredible. But in this day, awesome graphics alone just don't cut it. Art is a big part of "graphics" now, and this game is very much lacking in the art department.

If you have a craving for a Japanese role-playing game, pick up Lost Odyssey or Tales of Vesperia. Perhaps Final Fantasy XIV will resurrect the series.

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