Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday Songs: Final Fantasy XIII-2 - Paradox

Hey there, having a good Super Bowl Sunday? I'm emphatically not watching it. I really just don't care.
Weird thing happened this morning. About 8am, this blog got a surge of views. 255 of them. That's a record. Too bad it's made of, most likely, spambots. I checked and it's not like I got linked anywhere, there's no common traffic source, and seeing as they seem to have come from South Korea, Ukraine, Kenya, India, Hungary, Indonesia, Algeria, and more, I'm pretty sure it's spambots. I can't figure out WHY though - that's a LOT of bots for this place, like I said that's a views-in-a-single-day record. If anyone has any idea what the hell happened, please let me know.

I'm aware I keep missing these, I've kinda been out of the groove. Tryin' to rectify that.
Enough apologies and babbling, to the music!

Final Fantasy XIII-2! The sequel to Final Fantasy XIII is a vastly superior game. FFXIII is a problematic game - little story control, ridiculous dialogue and plot, and a battle system with some cool ideas that weren't taken to their full potential. I didn't play it - I can't handle games that feel like that much a grind - but I watched through Pork Lift and Wateyad's great Let's Play of it. I may have burned 60 hours of my life, but it was certainly enjoyable, even with the crazy. And I cannot deny it; the graphics of the game were top-notch.
Cue the sequel. By some stroke of fortune, Square Enix tried to actually LISTEN to the players. The game has a lot of control over the story, or at least the specifics of the story within a given framework, which is a step forward. The battle system is very similar, but instead of half-implemented good ideas, there are fully-implemented good ideas. It's not the best battle system ever, but it definitely no longer feels like wasted potential. The characters are just as ridiculous, if not more so, but the plot is no longer as ridiculous, it's just pretty blah. It's not quite good, but it doesn't have the same level of crazy that made it almost funny. So they tried to move away from being ridiculous, but stalled out in that middle zone where things are just dull. Maybe Lightning Returns will fix it.
Who am I kidding? Lightning is the most boring character of the bunch,  minus a couple very specific instances.

Oh wait, this is a music post?

Both games have stellar soundtracks. It's not Nobuo Uematsu, but I actually really like the style of the person who did them. The guy in charge for both was Masashi Hamauzu, though the FFXIII-2 soundtrack has like a million guest artists. Heck, Origa come around for a few songs - if you don't know Origa, she did both the opening theme songs for both seasons of Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Both of those are great songs, and I've blogged one of 'em before.
The FFXIII soundtrack had a few motifs in it. The main identifying instruments are a lot of piano, a lot of violin, and a lot of female choir. This trend continues into FFXIII-2, but it adds in a bunch of other little themes as well. The biggest change is the addition of numerous songs with vocals, and numerous songs with obvious electronica elements. In fact, there's a good number of songs that actually have alternate versions, usually titled Aggressive Mixes, that are pretty much electronica remixes of songs. It's really good.
In case you really missed him, Nobuo popped in again for a couple of the Chocobo themes in FFXIII-2.

I had a hard time choosing which song I exactly wanted to use to represent the game today. I went with Paradox, but there's so much musical variety in the second game's soundtrack that there really isn't any single representatives. You really need to hit a bunch of songs to really get the feel for the game. In accordance with that, today is FULL of links. It's taken me an hour and a half to prepare this bloody list of links. But it's all really good stuff. If there's one legacy to come from these games, I think the soundtracks are really it.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Overture
Warrior Goddess
Etro's Champion
Eternal War
Giant's Fist
New Bodhum
New Bodhum Aggresive Mix
Paradigm Shift
Groovy Chocobo
Worlds Collide
Unseen Intruder
The Last Hunter
Eclipse Aggressive Mix
Village and Void
Limit Break! (I like this one a lot actually)
Plains of Eternity
Plains of Eternity Aggressive Mix
Feral Link
Labyrinth of Chaos
Time's Master
Heart of Chaos
Closing Credits
Secret Track

And have some from the original FFXIII as well!
Prelude to Final Fantasy XIII
Saber's Edge
Those For The Purge
Snow's Theme
Lake Bresha
Blinded By Light (one of my absolute favorites)
The Vile Peaks
Sazh's Theme
March of the Dreadnoughts
The Gapra Whitewood
The Sunleth Waterscape
No Way To Live
The Pompa Sancta
Chocobos of Cocoon - Chasing Dreams (this is absurd and I love it)
Desperate Struggle
Start Your Engines

There, finally done. Seeya! Hope you like the music.
End Recording,

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