Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
 BLOG ABOUT THIS

Opinion: Lightning Returns is by far the best 'XIII' game

4:00 PM on 02.11.2014 // Chris Carter
  @DtoidChris

Lightning strikes thrice

I wasn't a fan of Final Fantasy XIII.

I felt like in many ways it was a step back for the franchise, and the cast wasn't nearly as charming as Square Enix thought it was. But with XIII-2, I partially warmed up to the series, as it slowly but surely injected that classic Final Fantasy charm of old. It embraced the silliness factor, had a less confusing (but ultimately still confusing) story, and crazy bits like Mog and Chocolina only added to its allure.

Somehow, Lightning Returns has dialed it up a bit, adding in insane elements like the Lady Gaga-esque Moogle suit, more Chocolina, and a story that actually makes sense. For that reason and many more, it's my favorite of the trio.

The XIII brand has gotten less serious with each game, to its benefit:

XIII was too serious for its own good. Although many games in the franchise still maintain an air of dread, there's always a string of comedic elements to help break the tension. Final Fantasy VI had Umaro and Chupon. VII had Cait Sith and the Golden Saucer. X had that silly laughing scene (maybe not the greatest example) and X-2 was just silly all around.

But after watching 40 hours of Lightning being the most stoic hero on the planet, it made me want to bang my head against a wall. In Lightning Returns, she gets the chance to let loose a bit, and break free from her typical conventions. While I wouldn't say she really changes all that much at her core, she does go through some ordeals that shake up what we're used to seeing out of her that I won't spoil here.

I mean, the selection of costumes alone ensures that you'll crack a smile or two while you're playing it.

Lightning Returns has a real ending, with no DLC needed:

While you could debate the finality of XIII's conclusion, XIII-2 did the despicable deed of forcing players to buy DLC to get "the extra ending." For brand new unknown and unproven IPs like Asura's Wrath it's a little more understandable (kind of), but for a storied franchise like Final Fantasy that's known for providing complete stories, it's inexcusable.

With Lightning Returns though, you're getting the full story, with one true ending. You'll also find the vast majority of the cast from XIII and XIII-2, all of whom get a real resolution without any sort of "to be continued" nonsense.

The story overall also makes a whole lot more sense, and the characters you may have hated before (Hope) are a lot more tolerable, and even likable. The general gist of the narrative is that Lightning has been deemed "the savior," and needs to rescue as many souls as possible before the end of the world. It doesn't get a whole lot crazier from there, and the words "Fal'Cie" and "La'Cie" are only uttered a few times in passing.

If you can grasp the concept of a divine struggle and lost souls, you'll follow Lightning Returns just fine, without the need to read a Wiki synopsis multiple times or watch a recap video.

The pacing is flexible, and there's actual exploration involved:

One of my least favorite parts of XIII was the incredibly poor sense of pacing. When it takes you 20 hours of tunnels to reach "the real game world," there's a problem. Lightning Returns offers up a "timer" before the end of the world that keeps you on your toes, but it's not nearly as bad as you may think, since the game basically gives you free reign to explore right off the bat.

The timer is always there, but it's not nearly as restrictive as say, Dead Rising. By doing quests, Lightning can extend the lifespan of the world all the way up to 14 days, which is more than enough time to do pretty much anything you want (I beat the game and did a good chunk of sidequests in eight days). You only need around 15-20 hours of "experience" to take on the final boss, so provided that you've done the five core story quests to unlock the final chapter, you can just advance time and skip to the finale (be sure to have a separate save file just in case though).

In that sense, Lightning Returns is tailored to your skill and comfort level. If you want to jump into the gigantic Wildlands that feels like it's straight out of the sprawling world of Final Fantasy XIV, you can do that. If you'd rather explore the streets of Yusnaan and do some more low key quests first, you can do that too. Although you will need to level up a bit to experience all of the content the game has to offer, the ability to jump around all four major hubs at will is a welcome addition to this historically linear sub-franchise.

It's challenging, and the combat system is engaging:

Although XIII-2 was a step up in many regards, it was also a very easy game. Lighting Returns is not. In fact, if you play on Normal out of the gate, it's one of the hardest Final Fantasy games ever made (seriously). If you don't kit out your costumes and take the time to learn the nuances of combat, you're going to get rocked -- and that's before you even square off against some of the game's punishing bosses.

The combat system rewards you for acting quickly, and every reaction can be made in less than a second. With three schemas to switch between during each fight, you can queue up actions with one magic based costume, and while the spell is doing its work, quickly switch to another costume to initiate a juggle, then switch to a third to throw up some buffs.

As the game goes on and the bosses get tougher and tougher, the combat only gets more rewarding. There will be times where you'll get beaten to a pulp, and feel compelled to run away until Lightning is stronger. It's a natural, welcome feeling that's often missing from games these days.

It's not perfect, but I'm a fan:

Lightning Returns still has flaws. Many of the quests on offer are fetch oriented, or otherwise shallow affairs that may not compel you to do everything the game has to offer. While it is challenging, some may view the difficulty as unfair in a few parts of the game, and it does take a while to really understand all of its intricacies, almost to a fault.

But for those who keep at it, they'll find a wonderful action game buried within Lightning Returns' RPG veneer. It's fast, it's frantic, and best of all -- it actually makes sense this time around, without forcing a cast of annoying characters down you're throat. If this is how XIII finally ends, I'm perfectly okay with that.



Chris Carter, Reviews Director, Co-EIC
 Follow Blog + disclosure DtoidChris Tips
Chris (Magnalon) has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! -----------... more   |   staff directory





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Cool site never heard of before

Gravity Rush: The 6th generation game you didn't play

The Witness Review

Waifu Wars: Rei Ayanami (NGE)

Gaming's Beautiful People #3: Waifu Warfare (Bloggers Wanted)

Understanding How Street Fighter is Played

Cblogs of 2/05/16 + Digital Preservation

Music Notes: "Tied Down" by Forever Still

Desert Golfing - The Model Mobile Game

Review: Pony Island

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
And another one. And another one. And another one. You smart.
ooktar avatarooktar
When did the Waifu War turn into a Pokemon debate?
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
I think about this a lot for some reason.
Parismio avatarParismio
This is a PSA: Never trust anyone who doesn't wet their toothpaste before brushing their teeth! Those people are clearly evil and their waifus are probably shit too!
Lawman avatarLawman
Going back to Gravity Rush, I think I forgot how much I love it. The visuals, the interesting designs, the dreamy music, likable characters, and of course, just floating all over the place like it's no big thing. It blends together so well.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
One of my personal favorite pokemon.
taterchimp avatartaterchimp
I had a rough night and I hate the fucking Eagles, man
Niwannabe avatarNiwannabe
Okay, here's one last Fuck, Marry, Kill to determine the truest of waifus. Donald Trump, Jed, Dreamweaver. Go.
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
I don't normally bitch about life on the internet, but I need to vent. It's been a REALLY shitty week. Hopefully life's been treating my fellow 'toiders better.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Mandatory reading
Joe Parlock avatarJoe Parlock
Ursaring is the best pokemon, followed shortly by Meganium. Duh.
Roxas1359 avatarRoxas1359
Gotta go with Vaporeon as it is absolutely adorable and makes for a great Water-Type. I'd upload a photo, but my internet is being screwy.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Regice!
Jcan avatarJcan
Cool site never heard of before
Torchman avatarTorchman
absolutfreak avatarabsolutfreak
My new least favorite type of team mate in Heroes of the Storm: they guy that declares the game is over after the enemy succeeds on one objective completion.
Heat avatarHeat
Gengar!! Poison type FTW!
ScionVyse avatarScionVyse
Luxray is the only best Pokemon.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Quick post your favorite Pokemon!
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Hell yes. Nekro just pulled this from a Pokemon card booster pack. Don't judge me, I find the game to be fun, even if my deck is terrible.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -