A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a Japanese role-playing game with a strong focus on fantasy combat and emotional storytelling. Players take control of a pair of characters who alternate between fighting wildly imaginative non-human creatures in bloodless but visually spectacular combat and spending long moments talking about how they feel and their desire to save their friends and loved ones. It’s overwrought but innocuous fare with nothing inappropriate for its ESRB-rated teen audience. While the player-controlled combat is bloodless, there is blood shown in cutscene videos. Parents should be aware that the game’s female characters -- many of whom are sexualized via their meager clothing and appear dainty and helpless despite their fighting prowess -- may not make for great role models for teenage girls.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
A direct sequel to the thirteenth game in Square Enix’s titanic role-playing franchise, FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 picks up where its predecessor left off. People have descended from Cocoon, an artificial world in the sky to resettle the planet Pulse, a wild world filled with ancient ruins and imaginative creatures. But something’s gone wrong. Memories are out of whack and people have gone missing. The new protagonists -- a mysterious boy from the future named Noel and his companion Serah, sister to the main heroine of the previous game -- embark on a journey through time as they attempt to set right what has gone wrong. As you surf the centuries, you engage in countless fights against fantastical beasts and machines via a turn-based combat system set on real-time battlefields, all the while growing your characters’ powers and abilities.
Is it any good?
In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Square Enix clearly set out to fix most of the things that players complained about in Final Fantasy XIII, including acute linearity, a lack of towns to explore, and minimal side quests. The Japanese studio largely succeeded. You can now hop about locations in spacetime on a whim, putter around town-like environments, and undertake plenty of little optional missions, such as finding lost watches and picture frames for the hapless people and entities you encounter. What’s more, Square Enix improved upon its already elegant and satisfying battle system, which has players deftly altering party member functions like a director guiding performers in a play that has more roles than actors.
However, Final Fantasy XIII-2 also takes a step backwards in a couple of crucial areas. In Final Fantasy XIII, you were provided a strong and confident female lead who was easy to admire. Our new heroine, Serah, is by contrast frustratingly dainty and childlike -- hardly the type to save a world in peril. Her fluffy speeches and constant worrying only exacerbates the game’s already overwrought Japanese-to-English translation. It’s still a polished and fun game to play, but these narrative issues drag it down a notch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. How do you determine what is acceptable for your teenagers? Does it matter if the violence is fantastical or gritty in presentation?
Families can also discuss interactive storytelling. Have you ever felt as satisfied with a story while playing a game as you have reading a book or watching a movie? Do you feel as though games can provide you with rich narratives and characters from which you can learn something about relationships and draw parallels with yourself and the people you know?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release date: January 31, 2012
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship
- ESRB rating: T for Drug Reference, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Simulated Gambling, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.