Speaking of combat, fighting carries on more or less similarly to the original. Using a default “Active Time Battle”, combat carries on in real time, meaning that even while commands are being input via the many menus, the enemies continue to act. Each character has a certain warm-up time for each action, and there is also a bit of wait time between actions, so the fights don’t tend to get too insanely complex. Thankfully, there’s an option to cause the game to pause during menu interface, for those of us with less-than-stellar reflexes. Besides the Active Time Battle mode and the constant changing of jobs (and, consequently, clothes), fights progress much like the previous title, with over-the-top attack and spell effects, strange powers unleashed from both sides, and some impressive graphics holding it all together.
And the graphics are very impressive throughout the game. From the opening high-quality video to the combat screens to the landscape itself, FFX-2 just looks good. Granted, it doesn’t look a lot better than its predecessor, but that was quite an impressive-looking game already. Much of the landscape is recycled from Final Fantasy X, however, so there isn’t a lot of new material to look at. Many of the sounds are also recycled from the previous game, but again that’s not a bad thing. The voice acting is top-notch, even when the dialogue felt a little thin. It feels very much like we’re once again visiting the same world we left a few years ago.
FFX-2 is a lot less linear than Final Fantasy X, which makes for quite a different feel. After a quick introductory mission, the characters literally have the option to go just about everywhere. There may not always be something vital to accomplish when they get to a particular place, but they’re still free to visit. Because of this freedom, a feeling of aimless wandering can develop, especially in the initial chapters of the game when the story is just kicking in. The game unfolds via a series of missions, some of which are vital to the plot, many of which are just there to deepen the overall story of the recovery of Spira. While this lack of direction may be a bit off-putting for some, I found this type of storytelling rather refreshing, giving a feeling of true story discovery, rather than ramming plot down my throat. The game can be completed by undertaking only a handful of the available missions, although this would mean missing much of the narrative. There is actually some incentive to do everything, since the game tracks the “Percent Complete”. It’s possible, but extremely unlikely, that one can see 100% of the game in a single run. To facilitate this, FFX-2 has the wonderful “New Game +” mode, allowing players to restart the game after completion, carrying over most of the items and Dressspheres collected from previous plays. The Percent Completion also carries over, allowing for players to take different tracks (and reach that coveted 100% mark). Of course there’s a reward for players diligent enough to cover every square inch of the game…
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