Lightning Returns. Final Fantasy XIII-3
"Go Greased Lightning, You're burning up the quarter mile"
Lightning Returns, the third & final part of the Final Fantasy XIII series. Originally set to have another 2 games which have gone onto see life as Final Fantasy Type 0 & Final Fantasy XV this was to be an ambitious series by Square-Enix.
First of was Final Fantasy XIII, it's a title that separates FF fans to this day. It changed alot of conventions such as villages & complicated dungeons, instead it went more linear and more cinematic. It had a decent battle system & Sahz as a really likeable character but apart from that it didn't do much right & took 30 hours for any kind of exploration to arise.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 released a few years after and set out to right the wrongs of XIII. Featuring small towns, a multitude of NPCs & alot more exploration than the previous title it should of done just that. A plot involving time travel, few likeable characters, a pokemon style party member and just general confusion set on this game making it good but still far from the lofty heights this once great series held.
So here we are with S-E's third and final attempt at making Final Fantasy XIII something prestigious and loved like their previous titles, can they do it? lets find out!.
First lets look into the story of LR (will be called this from now forth) & see where we are at.
Starts off with a really impressive introduction cutscene and tutorial but it's not till around the 40/50 minute mark till we see or hear anything as to what exactly what we are doing & why.
Lighting is God's chosen, she is the saviour. Chaos has covered and corrupted the world so bad that God deems it fit to give it a wipe so to speak. Naturally God needs souls to bring his new paradise to life and has enlisted the likes of Lightning & Hope to reap souls for the new land. Lightning has initially 5 days to offer souls to God, reach a certain amount of souls & you get a little bit longer. Striking a deal with the almighty if you can get enough souls to keep the world going 13 days, your sister Serah will be brought back to life in God's new paradise.
To complicate matters there are 4 "Major" souls Lightning is sent after, someone of great power who feels conflicted and boarding on Chaos awaits Lightning and redemption!.
As good as it sounds unfortunately parts of the story seem very skimmed over & rushed, there are some really fantastic bits which will impress anyone who has been with us since XIII. Due to the time based nature of the game it seems like there wasn't enough time to fully flesh out the world and some of it's characters mostly relying on what you can remember about them from previous games.
While we are on this subject i'll go over the time limit, It's a bugger!. You have 6am till 6am to get any main quest or side quest done. Time goes by quite quickly but you do have several time saving abilities to help out such as teleporting and freezing time for a limited amount of time. This is all well and good but some areas only open at certain times, the same with side quests. This requires you to have an excellent mind for time management otherwise you'll end up missing side quests and panicking about the main ones. Little personal note i'm terribly OCD in regards to side quests so this game had me worrying constantly!
The battle system is brilliant, rather than choosing an attack on a menu you have it mapped to a button, press the button do the attack!. This is a first for the main series and it works brilliantly for a game with a 1 person party mostly, While you feel amazing blocking at the right times and hitting enough moves to Stagger an enemy there are also a few issues. The main one being camera, you can't alter it and it does seem to be out to impede your progess especially when you are fighting more than one monster. This brings me to the other issue, fighting multiple monsters is a nightmare. Dodgy camera and a finicky target toggle button make it horrid to fight more than one enemy at a time and could of used a few tweeks to get you by, for example camera movement and the game freezing when you need to switch target.
The synergy system is what fuels this, basically it's a powerful form of dress up. You pick a costume and it's has different attributes, you then equip it a weapon and shield. Then you have to map commands to the buttons, some costumes already come with one locked ability e.g Attack or Quick Fire. You then have to decide what you'll be using this load out for and equip it to suit. Complicated at first but once you get to grips with it you can make a beast of a load out, think a more advanced Dress Sphere system from X-2.
Other changes to usual FF is healing, during the game you can only carry 6 items at any one time. This wouldn't be an issue but there is no healing magic. Well there is Cureaga but that consumes 3 E.P and that is a hard to come by commodity (built up via by quests and battles) and you should be using it to help with quests. This forces you to be on the defence alot & always carry enough gold, there are several shops you can stop by & eat or drink, This fully heals you so it's a little god send.
Battles in this game aren't what level you up as such, you get items, E.P & Money from the battles & battle experience to help you keep your skills top notch. Instead you level up by completing side quests, as you can imagine you will want to get as many of these done in the limited time you are given. They are given a star rating so you can see how hard the mission will be before you accept it. Some of the missions will last you quite a while & some even have you performing tasks over several days, some only unlock once you hit certain bits in the main quest and can be quite hard to pin down without being told or using a walkthrough.
So back to the question in hand, is this worth of the Final Fantasy mantle, Unfortunately its not.
Despite being a really enjoyable title it's still lacking in several areas, some you can look beyond but not issues that have not only plagued the past few releases but that have been done better in titles 10 years older than this by the same company.
The cast are still really quite an unlike-able bunch, cliché ridden and two dimensional. Lightning being in my personal opinion the second worst Final Fantasy main character to note (1st goes to you Vaan), she is cold, boring and just seems to be an empty shell of someone that should be more interesting.
The story is still utter rubbish making little to no sense and seeming to come out of nowhere with a different feel altogether when compared to XIII. I know the story tried a different direction in XIII-2 but that it's self was riddled with bad writing and inconsistencies, this just seems to continue the trend in a grander fashion.
The battle system though brilliant is only suited to one on one combat and thus wouldn't be useful in party based Final Fantasy games and needs some major tweaking as it is.
Who Should Buy This?
- Fans of the previous XIII titles
- People wanting a fresh battle system
- People good at time management
- Fans of Majora's Mask & Final Fantasy in general
Who Should Avoid This?
- People who couldn't stand the XIII titles
- Fans of turn based combat
- People wanting a likeable main & side cast
- OCD with side quests? forget about it!
"The most enjoyable XIII title but still has several hallmarks of the XIII series. A flawed but playable adventure but doesn't redeem or further the series in any meaningful way"