AQWBlaZer91's First Impressions: Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII Demo
Game Title: Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII
Platform: XBox 360/PlayStation 3
Genre: Role Playing
Developer: Square Enix/Tri-Ace
Publisher: Square Enix
Date of Game Release: 11th February 2014 (North America), 13th February 2014 (Australia), 14th February 2014 (Europe)
Age Rating: ESRB: T for Teen (North America), PEGI: 16+ (Europe), M (Australia)
Final Fantasy XIII has got to be the worst in the series thanks to being linear and devoid of exploration, it also had frustrating difficulty and an overly simple combat system as well as having very dislikeable characters including the main character Lightning. Final Fantasy XIII-2 tried to fix some of it's issues but unfortunately wasn't enough thanks to story, choices which sometimes don't make any sense, battles still relayed on being simple and it had a bleeding system where your characters lose their max HP temporally which is very unneeded. 3 years later and now the company looks back at the reception of the previous Final Fantasy XIII games and hopefully change the gameplay style. That idea means mixing both Final Fantasy X-2, XIII-2 and the Elder Scrolls V Skyrim into a blender, their final result is Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII.
Lightning Returns follows from the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and it's Lightning DLC story where the heroine awakes from a self-imposed hibernation thirteen days before the world's end, and is given the task of saving the people of the dying world, including former friends and allies. The Demo takes place Lightning brakes into Snow's palace to confront him due to the chaos that is engulfing him. I'm guessing that happens with all her friends.
The gameplay of Lightning Returns is much more different then previous titles, the title incorporates real time battles, character customization, an open world that players could freely navigate, and a mechanic wherein the game's events took place within the limit.Can't say that I'd feel impressed with that idea at first glance, but that doesn't mean that I was going to give it a reasonable chance.
Square Enix included a new feature that allows players to connect the game to either their Facebook or Twitter accounts to record their battle scores against boss battles they go through. They can also communicate with other players who play the game which on paper it sounds nice but I feel that it should have just stuck to Online Leaderboards in the actual game. The demo announces that you can submit your scores to be able to get a free Siegfried garb outfit for the full version of the game.
Lightning Returns battles are in real time much like the Tales of and Ni no Kuni games and it's called the Style-Change Active Time Battle system. You only control Lightning through out the game and nobody else joins her on her journey. Triggering fights on the map works like in other FFXIII games, you can now strike an enemy on the map with Lightning's equipped weapon. Striking an enemy gives you an advantage in battle and reduce it's HP but however if you get hit the enemy has the upphand on you. You move around the battlefield with the Analog Stick, 3 of the face buttons are for attacks while one of the buttons is used for blocking, R2 is used for analysing the enemy your currently fighting against. (These are the basic controls on the PlayStation 3 version of the game but the layout is bound to be the same on the XBox 360 version). Lightning uses costumes called Schema which has their own abilities and use up their own ATB bar. Each attack you use drains the ATB bar and takes a long while to refill back up. Thankfully you can switch between a Max of 3 Schema that you have setup in battle, this is done by pressing L1 or R1 buttons during battle. What I hate though is that Guarding drains a portion of the ATB bar which to me it doesn't make any sense since characters from the Tales Franchise have no problem doing so. You also cannot dodge during battle and it's bond to become a huge problem later on because your character moves way too slow which may lead to plenty of deaths if you're not careful. You can heal with items but however you are limited to carrying only a set number of items with you so there will be tough decisions when purchasing new items.
Lightning Returns allows the player to be able to customize her You can change the colour of Lightning's costumes outside of battle in the menus as well as different equipment you get which is a nice feature. Again you are only allowed to equip up to 3 Schemata but you can switch over other Schema that you have created in reserve. These classes include her standard outfit called The Savior and then you got other classes like Black Mage or Dragoons for example. each individual Schema is composed of a garb, weapon, shield, two accessories, one adornment which can be shared among Schemata, and up to four abilities with minimum one which is exclusive to the garb, although some garbs come with four empty ability slots. You can adjust Schema to suit their needs, similar to the job system used in other Final Fantasy games.Schema's name defaults to the garb assigned to it, but player can rename it. It's important to be able to adjust the different Schema's if you are ever going to accomplish the task at hand.
The exploration parts of the game are very similar to XIII-2. I will have to give credit that they did include an overworld where you can freely explore different areas on route to your next story objective as well as doing a various sidequests along the way. Be careful though, this game is on a time limit and you have to be complete a series of events before the last day expires. Thankfully there is a way to stop time in the full version of the game, you'll earn EP which is used to temporally stop the flow off time but it ends end when you perform a certain action such as boarding a monorail or sleeping at an inn.
Becoming stronger in Lightning Returns is also different. Instead of earning EXP in battles you get stronger by simply clearing key events, which will increase her parameters. You can also increase her parameters for a larger amount by purchasing new equipment.
Once again Square Enix becomes really proud of showing off their graphics engine. Final Fantasy XIII had some impressive graphics back then but it continues to be at least rather smooth and slick for a 360 and PS3 game. The indoor dungeons at first glance are not bad but all the chaotic effects are where the game's graphics actually shines dispute intense framerate drops. Lightning is looking rather slutty with some revealing costumes and also she does get a few cameo costumes which references other characters from older Final Fantasy games such as Cloud from Final Fantasy VII to Yuna from Final Fantasy X alongside her X-2 Gunner outfit, even one of her costumes kind of resembles Locke's from Final Fantasy VI. Many of her outfits might be unlocked as you go through the game while others can be purchased as DLC.
There's a lot that cannot be covered in the demo but so far my first impression of the game isn't really that surprising, given the amount of bad games that the series has released by now. The battle system might have some depth to it but it's execution kind of reminds me of Tales of Phantasia on the SNES, given by the control scheme and minus all that costume changing and faults. The character customization seems solid and overworld idea is nice to have. I am disappointed to see that the game has a Time Limit and that you only have 13 days to be able to save the world before it all ends. How will you spend that time. So far I'll be spending all that elsewhere by resuming on my Tales of Graces F. I hope that this really is the last of the Final Fantasy XIII games and also the last of all the bad Final Fantasy games in general because Square Enix really needs to stop damaging the franchise and create a good sequel, otherwise the series will face the end of it's world.
So far Final Fantasy XV (or Versus XIII as it was supposed to be) could be the series last chance to redeem itself.
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Anthony Hayball (AQWBlaZer91)