I openly admit that I am one of the many faithful Final Fantasy fans out there. I will buy almost anything with the Final Fantasy name on it, just because I enjoy the beautiful art styles, orchestrated music and well thought out story lines. This generation the series has been highly criticized due to the direction of the XIII series, but regardless I have remained loyal to the series because there’s always great aspects in every game.
After playing a short 15 minute demo of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII I already have likes and dislikes about the game. Regardless I cannot wait until I can finally hold the game in my hands. But until then, here’s the good and the bad.
One of the most standout features of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the battle system. It’s been given a complete overhaul, and it provides more control over the battle than in both the previous XIII games. This time you can use the four face buttons to conduct different actions such as attack, magic and block. L1 and R1 change the types of attacks, which is similar to the paradigm system from previous games. Each attack type has its own ATB gauge meaning you must consistently switch your line of attack to keep the battle flowing.
As with the previous games, you can exploit an enemy’s weakness to stagger them. Once staggered they take more damage, making it a perfect time to finish them off. To aid you in this there is a new mechanic called Overlock which allows you to chain attacks together for a short period of time, it unleashes a significant amount of damage when used on a staggered enemy.
Blocking is also useful if you can time it right, as it will leave enemies open to a counter attack. Blocking enemy attacks will make it even easier to stagger them. So it’s not something that should be ignored.
As with the previous game you can attempt to attack your enemy first outside of the battle mode. Depending on your timing you’ll be able to begin the battle at an advantage, with the enemy missing a certain percentage of their HP from your initial attack. Being outside of battle still seems kind of dull as all I did was run and jump, but I’m sure with the concept of the end of the world coming they will find ways to make the roaming portions of the game more exciting in the final game.
Finally another thing I enjoyed was how Lightning’s appearance changes depending on which play style you switch to. It’s been said that the game features a number of different costumes that can be collected to enhance Lightning’s skills. They did something similar in XIII-2 but hopefully it’s something that adds a fun element of collecting to the game.
The main gripe I had with XIII-2 was the fact that the story completely shifted and had almost nothing to do with the original events of Final Fantasy XIII. Sure the characters are the same, but the story made no kind of sense and had almost zero relation to the well thought out conflict of the fal’cie in XIII. Lightning Returns carries on this annoyance, with the story being focused on Lightning trying to prevent the end of the world. So they went from a decent political tale, to time travel and now they’re ending it off with an apocalypse story. It just makes no kind of sense to me, and although I love the character Lightning I wish they would put more thought into the story for these sequels. The cheesiness of the story makes it even more apparent that these sequels are filler titles while we wait on the newly announced Final Fantasy XV.
Another area XIII-2 dropped the ball on was the dialog. When I played FFXIII I didn’t think about the dialog once, and that’s because it was done well enough to the point it didn’t need critique. Final Fantasy XIII-2 however included some of the cheesiest dialog I’ve experienced in a Final Fantasy game so far. Lightning Returns seems to follow suit, with dull exchanges between Lightning and Hope over a communications device.
So far the good outweighs the bad for me, and I will be picking up Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII without a second thought on the 11th February next year. However, as huge fan of the series I want to see it improve, hence why I’m also very critical about it. Some people may not share my gripes though, so it’s definitely worth giving the game a chance if you’ve shown interest in the series before. Otherwise just wait for the highly anticipated Final Fantasy XV coming to next generation consoles.