Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Box Art
System: PS3*, Xbox 360
Dev: Square-Enix
Pub: Square-Enix
Release: February 11, 2014
Players: 1
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.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Screenshot

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.

CheatCC Staff
Contributing Writer
Date: February 14, 2014

Yes… It’s Final Fantasy. It’s pretty. Let’s get over it already.
All you really do in battle is hold buttons until enemies die. It’s only slightly more interactive than auto battling.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voice acting is good enough. The actors did all they could with the garbage plot.
Play Value
Unless you like wandering around aimlessly trying to complete meaningless sidequests, there is no reason to play this game.
Overall Rating - Avoid
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Your own Lightning - Upgrade Lightning's look, abilities and actions through hundreds of game-changing weapons and outfit combinations.
  • A constantly moving world - Nova Chrysalia moves to the beat of a relentless 24 hour clock resulting in a different journey for every player.
  • All new battle system - Master a completely overhauled battle system to control Lightning like never before by being able to block, dodge, and counter with precision.

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