I ended up enjoying FF XIII by the time I got to hour thirty or so. My biggest problem with that game was how slow it was to start. Also the story didn’t make any fucking sense but I don’t really care about that. By the time I got the hang of the paradigm system I was bored with the game. FF XIII-2 gets rid of all the bullshit set up and throws you right into the fun stuff.
There is a bit of a tutorial but for the most part the game assumes you know how Paradigms work. In reality though the game doesn’t even work very hard to teach you the brand new mechanics. The monster collecting and time travel stuff is glossed over pretty quick and a lot of the details are left out. It might sound crazy but I actually found the strategy guide very useful for FF XIII-2. It gives you the standard walk-through but the real value is in the monster list. It breaks down powers and characteristics Pokemon style and it also sheds some light on the games enigmatic Crystarium system.
Story wise this game makes very little sense which is an improvement from the last game which made no sense. I think I have a very broad understanding of what’s happening. I know who the bad guys are and I even might know why I’m fighting them. Honestly I just love the battle system and that’s why I keep playing. I was already a fan of Paradigms but the addition of collection monsters to round out your party seals the deal for me.
If you liked FF XIII then the sequel is even better and you should go get it right now. If you hated the previous game you’ll find nothing to like about XIII-2.