Friday, October 14, 2016

—Game Review— Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

I already had the first two FFXIII games, so getting the third was kind of a no-brainer. 

***Lightning Returns***
Final Fantasy XIII

Published and developed by Square Enix
Released 2014 | JRPG
For Xbox 360, PS3, PC | Review: Xbox 360, PC
*Rated T for Teen*
Blood | Mild Language | Violence
Suggestive Themes | Use of Alcohol
(Click HERE for more ESRB rating details.)

HGG rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ 8/10

You are Lightning, the Savior appointed by Bhunivelze (aka "God" according to the storyline) to collect as many souls as you can before the end of the world. And yes, you have a time limit. The world will be destroyed in 13 days. Save as many as you can.

1st Class
First impressions? 
Interesting. It's just you. Kind of odd for a JRPG, which are well-known for having a slew of characters to use. This game just isn't that way. The opening scene is great, very intriguing, but the timer is just a bit annoying. Not rage quit annoying, but it can be frustrating when you're trying to get something done and you realize you missed your window of opportunity by only a few real-life seconds (in-game minutes).

Then there're Lightning's outfits, which are kinda cool the way the outfits in FFXIII-2 are cool, but even better 'cause they actually matter. Lightning's outfits give her battle boosts. It's actually important which ones you put on her.

Xbox 360 vs. PC?
Frickin' frelling frakin' F***K!!!! First thing I did in the PC version was GET STUCK IN FULLSCREEN! There is no Exit Game option. The Esc button and the Win button both failed to get me to the desktop. I had to ctrl+alt+del to get out and then I looked up the issue and found out how to avoid this issue in future. Ugh. Instant PISSED OFF feelings right off the bat. NOT COOL.

If you're wondering, for some reason, Squeenix didn't opt for a launch window with this one. Instead, it goes right into the game, full screen, but not truly full screen. Dragging the mouse to the upper left corner will bring up the menu, then you can select the exit option. Bit weird, but whatever.

Graphics and voices? 
The FFXIII games are all rather well done and this one is no exception. Pretty seamless graphics and well-chosen voice actors (US version) make for an enjoyable gaming experience. At least in my opinion.

Weird thing, though, about the graphics. I have an AMD graphics card and it seems there is an oddity about AMD cards with this game. Everything in the game that has a transparency doesn't display properly. Thus, Lightning's rose colored hair has weird blue, purple, and hot pink streaks in it. You can see it in the image I've posted here and you can see an example of this in the gameplay video below.

JRPG style fighting screens, with an ATB gauge that fills up, allowing you to attack. These attacks vary in how much ATB they require.

Sphere Hunter
And, of course, there are the outfits that effect gameplay. My favorite in the 360 edition (I didn't have all the DLC outfits, only the ones I could get in-game) was the Miqo'te Dress (posted above). This one comes equipped with a maxed-out mediguard that is essential with bosses and larger enemies. The only way to get this outfit is by talking to all the Chocobo Girls in Yusnaan while collecting fireworks. Once you talk to all...4 or 5, can't remember which, the last one gives you the outfit for being such a good sport.

In the PC edition, I have all the extras and find myself using Spira's Summoner and Sphere Hunter (above), though for a while I used the Tomb Raider (above) and SOLDIER 1st Class (above) outfits. You just can't beat the maxed-out elementa spell equipped to the Spira's Summoner outfit, though, and Sphere Hunter has a maxed out attack called Crashing Waves that really does some damage.

The only DLCs for this game are some outfits. That's it. There are no additional chapters or missions or quests or whatever to play, continuing the story in a way that again makes you wonder if Squeenix is out to drive you mad. With the end of this game, the FFXIII storyline ends.

Interesting, but a little off if you play this immediately after FFXIII-2. Then again, maybe it's not. Everyone, including Lightning, worships Etro in XIII-2. In LR, it's all about Bhunivelze, and Etro worshipers are called heretics. That struck me as a little odd, but then, I might have missed something in Lightning's XIII-2 DLC.

The timer, though it's not really all that big of a deal.

OK, maybe it is. When you run around just enjoying the game, there comes a time when you realize you're almost out of it. Time, that is. When the clock runs out, it's time for the end boss, the end of the game. And this isn't a game that you can continue to play once you finish the main questline. No, you can start a newgame+ after you beat it. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. You get the opportunity that way to complete the side quests you missed before, but again, you can miss them...again. So yeah, the timer becomes a pain from time to time.

Really fun game. There are aspects I like better than XIII-2, and it's by far better than XIII. I think it falls a bit short in the story category, mainly when compared to other FF games, but that's not a deal-breaker.

My rating? 
♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ 8/10 life hearts.
Fans of FF games should definitely give it a go, even if they're unsure about the battle mechanics. It's similar enough to be easy to catch onto, but different enough to be interesting.

Where to buy?
*Final Fantasy belongs to Square Enix who does not in any way endorse this gaming / reviews / fan blog.

Until next time... 

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