Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII


By: Matthew Codd    On: PlayStation 3
Published: Wednesday 26 Feb 2014 10:45 AM
 
 
[...] it’s drastically shy of the “full control” promised in all the game’s promotional material. Matthew Codd
 
 
 
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The Final Fantasy XIII sub-series has had something of an odd history. When FF13 released in 2010, it was well received - if not critically acclaimed - though many series fans (myself included) were unhappy with how much it deviated from the norms of the franchise. The story was interesting, but filled with uninspired, flat characters, and linear level design made exploring the world a chore.

The combat system was interesting if you invested yourself in figuring out its nuances, but it failed miserably at enticing players to explore its full potential. For many, fights were even more of a slog than the corridor-like maps.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 sought to remedy some of these flaws, and for the most part it succeeded. The first game’s protagonist, Lightning, took a back seat to her infinitely more interesting and likeable sister, Serah. Maps were much more open and interesting, and the inclusion of a Pokemon-like monster collection and training element took the seeds of greatness from the previous game’s battle system and made them more accessible and exciting.

The trade off to all this was that the story went out the window entirely; FF13-2’s plot was a convoluted, nonsensical mess, and I’d be surprised if even the writers understood what was going on.

Enter Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the conclusion to the FF13 trilogy. Rather than going back to the series’ roots, like many fans had been hoping, Lightning Returns goes even further into uncharted territory, mixing in elements from just about every RPG subgenre. The influence of roguelikes, sandbox games, action games, and MMORPGs is clear. Sounds like a good thing? You may want to hold onto that thought…

As the title suggests, Lightning Returns brings back Lightning as the player character. Following the events of FF13-2, which - spoiler alert - had resulted in people being unable to age and the world being infused with the mysterious Chaos energy, Lightning had sealed herself away in a crystal. Now, with 13 days left before the world is entirely consumed by Chaos, Lightning has been awoken by the god Bhunivelze, and tasked with saving the souls of as many people as possible before the apocalypse.

If that sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. While far from the confusion of FF13-2, Lightning Returns’ narrative is bizarre and, for the most part, uninteresting. There is almost no significant plot development until the end, and this is a game that will last you anywhere from 20 to 40 hours. Had the characters been deeper and better written, the outlandish story might have been saved, but as it stands, there is little incentive to not skip cutscenes beyond visual spectacle.

When you’re not watching cinematics, you’ll be doing the usual RPG stuff - fighting fantastical monsters, exploring, aiding locals, buying increasingly powerful weapons, and saving the world. What separates Lightning Returns from its predecessors, and the genre in general, is a time limit on your game.

Continue reading on page 2.




 

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Comments (11)

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dark_hadou1 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Wednesday 26 Feb 2014 3:29 PM Posted by dark_hadou1
Ouch - 5.5!

I have always enjoyed FF titles, but XIII/XIII-2 and now this never really engaged me. A big swing and miss by Squenix, it surprised me that they even went this far down the road with the series.

I tried to like it, I really did
 
 
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Locky NZGamer.com VIP VIP
On Wednesday 26 Feb 2014 11:18 PM Posted by Locky
Amazingly, FFXIII is the third highest selling game in the franchise (behind 7 and 8) and with the release of Lightning Returns, this 3 game story arc will have sold 10 million copies.....which means?.....there's far more stupid people in the world than I thought....
 
 
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Bank NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Thursday 27 Feb 2014 12:48 AM Posted by Bank
I must also add to this that from my experience with the demo, the frame rate is utterly appalling. Embarrassing for such a top class company. Is it smooth in the real game?
 
 
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Bappernz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Thursday 27 Feb 2014 6:33 AM Posted by Bappernz
will play through this shortly but will now probably have more fun, with my expectations being lowered
 
 
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Jonathan-OverWorld NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Thursday 27 Feb 2014 12:12 PM Posted by Jonathan-OverWorld
27 February 2014, 12:48 AM Reply to Bank
I must also add to this that from my experience with the demo, the frame rate is utterly appalling. Embarrassing for such a top class company. Is it smooth in the real game?
I never played the demo, but I don't notice any frame rate problems in the actual game 50+hrs in.
 
 
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kiwiatlarge NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Friday 28 Feb 2014 9:42 AM Posted by kiwiatlarge
I'm mixed about the game so far.. It could be partly to me not being in a good gaming head space while I (still) have no interwebz at home... but, first major free roaming story mission in, I'm seeing the potential problems with the counting down clock... I know one of the big complaints with XIII was lack of towns and NPCs, but I'm also not digging the environment so far... give me back Gran Pulse please..

And, I was a fan of the first, and the gameplay (not so much the plot and characters) of the second... Platinum trophied both of them... I can't see that happening with this one..
 
 
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grieving NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Sunday 2 Mar 2014 1:26 AM Posted by grieving
28 February 2014, 09:42 AM Reply to kiwiatlarge
I'm mixed about the game so far.. It could be partly to me not being in a good gaming head space while I (still) have no interwebz at home... but, first major free roaming story mission in, I'm seeing the potential problems with the counting down clock... I know one of the big complaints with XIII was lack of towns and NPCs, but I'm also not digging the environment so far... give me back Gran Pulse please..

And, I was a fan of the first, and the gameplay (not so much the plot and characters) of the second... Platinum trophied both of them... I can't see that happening with this one..
The general consensus seems to be that the countdown is of no concern.
 
 
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nFusion NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Tuesday 4 Mar 2014 10:54 AM Posted by nFusion
26 February 2014, 11:18 PM Reply to Locky
Amazingly, FFXIII is the third highest selling game in the franchise (behind 7 and 8) and with the release of Lightning Returns, this 3 game story arc will have sold 10 million copies.....which means?.....there's far more stupid people in the world than I thought....
FF7 the highest grossing. Now that's what I like to hear
 
 
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milandulovic
On Thursday 6 Mar 2014 6:25 PM Posted by milandulovic
i hope they do a ff7 remake that would be awesome
 
 
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reavers NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Monday 17 Mar 2014 7:33 PM Posted by reavers
So surprised by the low score for this.
 
 
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darkap NZGamer.com VIP VIP
On Saturday 19 Jul 2014 11:31 PM Posted by darkap
I liked the graphics, but thats about it. at least its alot better than the first ff13. Wish SE would listen to its fans and go back to the way they use to be, I kinda understand that they are changing to meet all types on audiences though
 
 
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