|System: Xbox 360, PS3*|
|Release: February 11, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence|
If there’s anything that is decent about Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII it’s the battle system. Square-Enix decided to take out parties all together, letting you control only Lightning for the whole game. At least you don’t have to auto-battle anymore, though. Instead, Lightning has three ATB bars that fill up as the battle goes on. Each of these bars is tied to a “schemata” and each “schemata” has four different abilities you can use, each tied to a face button. Simply press the button of the ability you want to use, and switch schematas when you run out of ATB.
Unfortunately, Square-Enix still managed to make this battle system incredibly shallow. First of all, there’s no real strategy to battle. You can’t move around fast enough to dodge enemy attacks, so it makes sense to include a guard ability in each schemata in order to reduce damage. Also, your choice of attacks really doesn’t matter much. While you can attack enemy weak points to stagger them, doing so is kind of a pain. It’s a lot more effective to just spam your most powerful attack in each schemata. So it still feels like an auto-battle, even though you are choosing your attacks.
Furthermore, schematas are made out of “garbs” which change their base stats, and each garb tends to have an ability already set on it. So on average, you really only get to customize your schematas to have two or three abilities of your choosing. Furthermore, you get bonus garbs and weapons if you have a complete FFXIII and FFXIII-2 save on your machine, and these create incredibly powerful schemata that you can ride through the whole game. Heck, you don’t even get to upgrade your abilities until halfway through the game.
Overall, there is nothing enjoyable about Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. It’s hard to care about the story, quests, battles, or anything the game throws your way. It kind of feels like Square is just trying to make you care by default because the game has Final Fantasy characters in it. Unfortunately, Lightning Returns has nothing to do with prior FFXIII titles. It’s just a quickly thrown together mess of mechanics that feels like it’s trying and failing to be an open world American style RPG. Frankly, you aren’t missing anything if you totally pass this title up. You are better off picking up Bravely Default for the 3DS if you are really itching for a good traditional Final Fantasy title.
Date: February 14, 2014