NOTE: Yes, I know this review is about a year late.
Situation: The third part of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, so if you haven’t played the others, you really should first. Lightning…returns! There’s only 13 (apropos) days left before the end of the world. Lightning is given a chance to be reunited with her sister, Serah, if she can save the souls of as many people before the end.
13 days left. That means there is a time limit. You’ll have to manage your time wisely in order to complete tasks. Sometimes tasks are to be done at certain times of the day otherwise you will fail them forever. The doomsday clock definitely keeps you on your toes.
Looks: Gorgeous, and that’s just Lightning (crush). But really, the graphics in this game can look dated. The original Final Fantasy XIII came out in 2010 and Lightning Returns does not look too different. That’s not a bad thing, though, because it is familiar and it feels like a continuation of the previous games.
The world of Final Fantasy XIII hasn’t changed all that much. In this world, there are four locations, a city, a fancy city, a desert, and plains. You memorize these locations quickly because they aren’t that big, which is good because you don’t have time to run around all over the place with that doom clock looming.
Characters: Lightning is on her own this time. She doesn’t need anyone to help her. Her personality seems a little out of character compared to the first game. She’s a serious character, but this go around, she’s helpful to everyone and her interactions with the NPC were kind of weird at first, but you get used to it. It will all (kind of) make sense at the end.
Gameplay: The biggest new feature is the battle system. What is great about every single Final Fantasy XIII game that came out is that the battle has changed every time. The new battle system features garbs which is reminiscent of Final Fantasy X-2 (FANSERVICE). With every garb, there are different abilities. Lightning can equip up to 3 at a time and switch out with a push of a button. The battle system is not just menu and input this time. You have to have a little bit of dexterity for commands because if you can’t time a block, you’re gonna get hit…a lot. I can see how this can be off-putting to traditional RPG players because if you can’t get used to the timing, it can be a disaster. I know I started out the game cursing at my TV because of it at first. There is definitely a new learning curve with the new battle system, but it is a welcome one.
A new battle system that’s fun to play? Awesome! I’ll have so much fun fighting and leveling up. Whoops, you don’t level up like that this time. To level up, you have to run through the main quest, side quests, and mini side quests (called Canvas of Prayers). So this is a bummer for those of us who like to destroy monsters and get that level up feeling after that classic Final Fantasy fanfare. Several of the side quests involving collecting items from monsters and then bringing the materials to the appropriate people and THEN you can gain some stats depending on the difficulty of the mission. So while the side quests are “optional”, they really are not optional if you want to have comfortable battles. Some (Most) of the quests seem really ridiculous, but what is fun about them is that they show sides of Lightning’s personality that are out of character.
To Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII,
I am going to miss your series dearly. Though the side quests did nothing to further the overall plot line of the series, the main quest did well to tell the ending of what I feel was a great trilogy of stories.
Lightning, I will miss you in all them outfits. I regret that I could not find uses for 85% of them, but you managed to make each one look good and you even let me change the colors you wore no matter how weird my style choices were.
The battles we went through challenged my button pressing skills and frustrated me to no end at times. I’m sorry I had to consult (use a strategy guide) another source to find out what outfits you should wear, but I’m just a man with not enough time to dedicate to you!
I hope I meet you all again in some form of cameo (Kingdom Hearts 3, please). I will not forget you Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. You and your prequels are a treasure to my PS3.
I give to you 8 tearful goodbyes out of 10.
Final Score: 8/10