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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the third entry in the Fabula Nova Crystallis “Lightning Saga” trilogy of video games. It was a very interesting game, even if it feels like it had taken the worst bits of Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Final Fantasy X-2 and combined them with a strange sandbox RPG. Open endedness in a game is usualy very cool, but there is something to be said for having a structure for their plot. I guess if you look at it, it seems Square Enix took the complaints about Final Fantasy XII being an interactive hallway to heart, and just threw us in a huge open world, limited only by time. The game’s overall theme of a world destined to end, divided between the mortal realm and an invisible world of the afterlife and a defeated goddess hiding in that invisible world are highly similar to the Japanese Shinto creation myth.
The storyline of the game provided an amazing ending to the “Lightning Saga” trilogy. Even idle conversations in the game help to extend the mythos and immerse you into the game world. The voice acting in the game is phenomenal, and what we have come to expect of an RPG in these times. Lightning’s abilities are not improved through the traditional experience system, nor through the Crystarium system of it’s predecessors. Instead, to make her better, stronger, faster, more agile, etc. one must merely complete sidequests. As Lightning saves the souls of those in need, she grows in ability.
Combat in this game is a heavily altered variant of it’s predecessors as well. The new combat system is named Style-Change Active Time Battle (SATB). Players can assign four commands to the controller’s face buttons and instead of selecting commands, players will press buttons that correspond to the individual abilities. There are also timing-based mechanics. Though the battle system is of an action-RPG, it features an ATB gauge and every action depletes this bar. By tilting the left analog stick, the player can move Lightning on the battlefield. The stagger system is back, except in this game instead of being a measurable bar that cripples an opponent for a while, it is represented by a sound wave around the enemies health gauge.
All in all it is a good game, but far from what most people have come to expect of the Final Fantasy franchise. If you came into this seeking a traditional RPG, go somewhere else. IF you came in to this expecting a fun game, then you have an enjoyable time ahead of you. Overall, I recommend this game to most Role Playing Game Fans.
Rating: 6/10 Good Storyline, Terrible execution