The Duck Tries to Save the Future with Noel and Mog; Serah’s There, Too

Over a year after buying it, I finally got around to playing “Final Fantasy XIII-2”.  Am I slow or am I slow?  Wait, don’t answer that.  Anyway, I often hear that you should have an actual theme of some sort for your game posts (really, not just a disjointed bunch of rambling?), something I am not very good at.  But, starting now, I’m going to try that.  Behold my trying.  But first, a summary.

            Different from what you’d expect, even though Lightning is on the cover, this game actually stars her sister, Serah, and a new character named Noel.  Apparently, during the events at the end of the previous game, Serah had remembered seeing Lightning, but then suddenly, her sister was gone, and no one else remembers seeing her at all.  (Quit with the booze, Serah!  Gosh.)  Well, it turns out something weird happened to the timeline, changing what really was supposed to happen (the details of which I never fully worked out), and when a man from the future shows up (this is where Noel comes in, because he’s the man, okay, I’m sure you got that), Serah finds that Lightning is in a place at the end of time called Valhalla, and her sister had sent Noel to the past to find Serah.  (Is this making any sense?)  Well, whether or not you understood all that, what happens is that they then embark on a quest that involves them traveling through time, solving paradoxes, and trying to restore the true history of the world.  And of course, try to reach Lightning in Valhalla.

            As confusing as my summary is, this game has a, well, it’s a mostly understandable story, for an RPG.  Even though I still don’t fully grasp why this game’s antagonist thinks that screwing up history is going to achieve what he wants, or what happened in the game’s confusing and very disappointing ending (I get it, you’re going to have a third game, but can we at least finish this one, please?…), I still enjoyed the game for other reasons, while I was a bit disappointed to varying degrees by others.  First, the slight disappointments.

            First of all, this game is quite different from traditional “FF” games.  That doesn’t mean it’s bad (despite the common notion I’ve been hearing that seems to suggest if a game differs from other entries of the series, it is automatically dubbed as terrible).  But, I do admit that some aspects of the game do make me miss the usual “Final Fantasy” formula.  This game only involves Serah and Noel as playable characters, along with a third creature to fight alongside you, consisting of one of dozens of monsters you can collect and level up, which is fun and strange at the same time.  Like I said, different does not mean bad, but I do admit that I miss having a bunch of new, interesting characters to meet.  I like Noel a great deal and have since grown attached to Mog the moogle (they’re always named Mog…) once I got over being repelled by the excessive cuteness (I’m sorry, Serah, but I’m just not a fan of you), but overall, I still think this game is lacking in the character department.  The game also has the same battle system as from “FFXIII”, where the characters mainly fight on their own, and you’re mainly there to switch paradigms so they can change to different roles (like Medic and Ravager and stuff).  It’s all right, but I do miss the older games where you had more control over your characters.  The gameplay was still fun, though, and includes some pretty challenging puzzles at various points throughout the game.  Those clock ones.  Oh, my aching brain, forced to actually…think!

            But, despite the disappointments, there was one big aspect to the game that made it really stand out to me.  And that was time traveling.  I’ve heard of other games that have that, but I don’t own many that involve such things myself.  Yeah, Link travels between childhood and adulthood in “Ocarina of Time”, but rarely do I play a game where I travel back and forth between 700 years of a game’s history.  That’s right, 700 years.  Some people may dislike that each location is separate, so no exploring big, huge worlds, and many locations only seem different in terms of weather or time of day, despite visiting it 200 years later. They are lacking in some aspects of the time traveling, I must say.  But, there are some areas where they do great.

            You see, Noel comes from a world set 700 years in the future, where the world is barren, and he has become the last human left alive.  This last-man-on-Earth story has always been of interest to me.  How sad would it be to be utterly alone?  Not like, my boyfriend left me, and I’ll never find someone else, and I’ll die alone!  But, like, there is not one other person out there.  Anywhere.  Sure, people can bother me, but living in a world with absolutely no one, which only occurred after all the people you cared about died, would be pretty darn hard, to say the least.  His world is hopeless, and that’s why I care so much for Noel and his story.  He decides to get help from the goddess Etro, and he receives this help in the form of time travel, so he can travel back in time, find what caused his world to become the way it had, and stop it.  (I would travel back in time and convince Rareware not to butcher everything their “Banjo-Kazooie” series stands for.  A bit less noble, I know, but lots of “B-K” fans would be pretty happy.)

            That brings me to my theme.  Or really, this game’s theme.  Forgive my corniness, but this game’s theme is hope.  Not the character, the idea (though, it is ironic that a character created during the previous game has the name of Hope).  A man like Noel should have given up on hope, really.  No one’s out there.  What else is there to do but survive and wait for death?  Serah had hope.  Lightning had disappeared and really had no chance of coming back (or “no hope” should I say?).  Everyone had some kind of hope, including the villain, whose still rather ridiculous plan was all in an effort to save the one he cared about, which caused me to pity him even while I hated him.  Which even gave me some hope that he would change.  Hope felt for the villain and by the villain.  Hope for two sisters being reunited.  Hope for…gasp…the world!

            This game is about that idea, not about time travel.  Time travel just allows you to see the possibilities of the world, and when you see something horrible is going to happen centuries in the future, you can’t just wallow in despair at what’s to come or just go about your life, thinking, well, I’ll be dead before it happens anyway.  You have to have hope.  Hope that you can prevent the horrors of the future or else untold destruction will occur.  Without hope, there is no chance the future will change because no one will even try to fix it.  In a way, hope is actually life because to live without it is no life at all, is it?  And without it, people like Noel will have to watch everyone die around them until they have nothing left.  Come on, have hope.  For Noel.

            So there, I managed to write about a theme, even if I came off as sappy, but hey, I tried.  This game is not perfect, and it doesn’t need to be.  It is fine that it differs from other games of the series.  Luckily, it has enough heart that it is still wonderful.  I was especially touched by Noel’s hopeless story that turned into him giving the world a second chance, and as I said, I couldn’t help but see the antagonist’s side of things, despite how wrong it was.  Don’t pass this game up just because it’s not the same as the other “FF” games you love.  And don’t dislike this game too much if you already have played it.  This game still may not compare to other games of the series, but it has a unique form of gameplay and a heartfelt story that makes it beautiful in my eyes.  I have hope that you will come to love it.  Yes.

The Duck Who Traveled Through Time and Didn’t Even Use the TARDIS…

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