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No GravatarLightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Ah, the end of the Final Fantasy 13 series, finally. It’s been a long time coming, and initially I felt that it should have ended a very long time ago. Playing the first one, I hated nearly every second of it. Despite my mind talking me out from repeatedly picking up the controller, it seemed that I just played it simply because it was in my console. And then FFXIII-2 came out, and I let out a soft sigh, mumbling here we go again. I do have to admit that the second installment was 10 times better than the first with a much more cohesive and comprehensible story line  enjoyable worlds to visit… very reminiscent of Kingdom Hearts in a way. After I beat it, I was left with 25% of my brain saying that I couldn’t wait to see what was next. Albeit a bit late, the game now takes a change in what seems to be for the better. Before we get into technicalities, we need to establish the background of this latest installment.

A screenshot during Toriyama's presentation in Tokyo, Jan 2013.

A screenshot during Toriyama’s presentation in Tokyo, Jan 2013.

Following the events in FFXIII-2, In 1000 AF, Valhalla and Gran Pulse have merged after Etro’s death. The result of the chaos is called the Nova Chrysalia – the four continents in the Sea of Chaos and Bhunivelze as the new Cocoon. Due to the merge of Valhalla and Gran Pulse, people have stopped aging. On one of the continents named Luxerion, the citizens start to form a closed religious city where those who do not believe are cast out. Lightning then awakes, and in 13 days, 13 hours, the world will be decimated. She is then called by the god Bhunivelze to save the world. She reunites with the old gang along the way and fights her way through those who oppose her mission in hopes of saving mankind.

I have to say, the idea sounds pretty frickin’ awesome and solid.

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Motomu Toriyama, the series director, stated that Lightning will face her final battle. Whether or not she will return or not in any future games outside of FFXIII is not clear, but what is clear is that this trilogy featuring Lightning’s story is over. Toriyama made it a point to the directors to bring the power and glory in her eyes, to make her fierce, persistent, and relentless towards her mission. I like it! That tells me that there will be even greater graphics to bring emotion onto the field, trying to close the chasm between player and character. Let’s move on as to what will make this game very different from what we’re used to.

When it comes to gameplay, think of the doomsday clock element of Majora’s Mask and the interactive abilities of Assassin’s Creed. She will be able to hang off ledges, duck around corners, jump, etc. The characters will also be able to freely move during combat, which is an element that didn’t really catch on much in the Final Fantasy series. In addition,  this game will feature a more realistic time setting where the day is split into morning, afternoon, and night and interactions with other NPCs (non-playable characters) will vary depending on the time of day (inspired by Skyrim). The monorail that takes you from continent to continent or between cities will run on a regular schedule as well, so yes, you might have to practice your patience when transferring to different places. Yet another familiar feature are the Schematas, where Lightning can change outfits that will change her abilities during combat (a la Final Fantasy X-2) instead of the Paradigm Shifts that we’ve been accustomed to. In one person’s review of the demo, the combat system is very easy to get accustomed to and requires less strategy that was required in the series’ predecessors. That’s not to say that the boss battles will be easy nor simple. It does make it convenient that we no longer have to worry about the different paradigms that are in the queue in order to survive.

The demo will make its debut at E3 next week, where we will have more information on whether or not the game is a yea or nay. Check out the E3 trailer below and tell us what you think!



The game is set to release Fall of 2013 for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.