Lightning Strikes Thrice!


With the third installment of the Final Fantasy XIII saga releasing in the U.S. on February 11th, many people are looking to Square Enix to renew their faith in the franchise. Will Lightning Returns return Final Fantasy to it’s former glory? 

In the latest game players will retake control of the story’s main protagonist, Lightning after the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and for those unfamiliar with the story thus far, worry not. For there will be no spoilers here. Players will be given a deadline of seven days to keep “bad things” from happening to the world of Nova Chrysalia. This length can also be extended to 13 days through side-questing. The game will focus solely on Lightning this time around and will be open-world in design. Developers have attempted to make everything visible in game accessible to the player, allowing them to freely navigate the environment with the addition of climbing and jumping. When they say everything that’s visible, they mean it. This game is said to have a much larger world area than experienced in previous Final Fantasy’s. Developers have even said that the world is so expansive it’s unexpected for the player to explore it in it’s entirety on their first playthrough and to top it all off, there will be no load times between areas unless the player uses a vehicle, teleports, or otherwise triggers a cutscene that moves them to a new location. Developers boast that if a player wanted to run across the whole world it would take them at least 45 minutes, that’s excluding enemy encounters.


Combat for this Lightning Returns drastically modifies the Paradigm combat system the previous two games were known for. This new system will feature faster mechanics that will allow for real-time attacking dodging, blocking and countering, as well as shifting Paradigms or “Schemata.” The new system called Style-Change Active Time Battle (SATB) will allow players to freely assign commands to different buttons on the controller as opposed to selecting them from the menu like before. To keep a close tie to more classic action-RPG elements an ATB gauge will still be present, but every action will take away from the full meter. Each Schemata will have it’s own set of customized actions, gear, and individual ATB gauges, so switching between each one will be a key element to winning battles.

Lightning Returns Cloud

Many costumes and most equipment will be accessible by playthrough, but other costumes will be paid DLC or by pre-order exclusives. One of the pre-order costumes being a Cloud Strife costume with Buster Sword and armlet to match. Equipping these will actually change the in game victory theme to the Final Fantasy VII victory fanfare.

On the note of DLC Square Enix says they will feature an original Japanese dialogue and lip-syncing free download for the first two weeks of the western release of the game, allowing players to switch between English and Japanese audio. After two weeks however, it will be only available through purchase.

Lightning Returns has an incredible amount of promise. Square Enix desperately realizes the series is struggling and they seem to be taking great measures to ensure they release a quality game. Let’s hope the latest entry in the series is the Final Fantasy game we deserve.

x rhio x


  1. I’d love to see them turn around the main series, but as long as the majority of Final Fantasy elements are in their non-Final Fantasy games (Bravely Default for instance), I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

    They need to get off their graphics kick and get back to basics.

  2. Played the demo on PSN, was not impressed.

    Mechanically it is more sound than the first game (I completely skipped part 2) but the plot is gibberish and if you go back to re-look at the first series you will see that there is quite a bit more artistic quality in the actual character designs and environments.

    FFXIII – 3 -looks- better at first glance, but when you take a closer look its just a matter of having more advanced visual effects while FFXIII had better artist working less advanced tools.

    1. To be fair if you skipped 2 then of course 3 would look like gibberish, a lot happened in 2. Ive looked extensively at playthroughs and found that the mechanics look pretty solid, the depth of the game is good, and the characters have solid growth that shows over the course of the 3 games.

      1. *cough*BlatentSelfPromotionIncoming*cough*

        I tried the demo to part two and found it torturous to play; for sure there were some mechanical improvements over the first game, but actually playing it was hell and even farther from what a good JRPG should be than FFXIII. I detested Sarah, he voice and attitude drove me up the wall, I know squeaky voiced twits who over gesticulate is supposed to be some kind of Japanese fetish … but I can’t stand it. add in that the new male lead looks like a cheap clone of Sora to try to appease fans by reminding them that they liked other SE games, and I just couldn’t do it.

        The mechanics of part 3 are a bit more fluid than part two, but the actual quality of art and the quality of the battle system are a major step down.

        I did like the alt costumes and how the essentially amount to different characters instead of just outfit swaps, but the end result during combat is the same level of plodding monotony, except now there is more shit to micromanage.

      2. I guess I should also state: FFXIII – 3 playable.

        Probably far more playable than the first game with it’s 40 hour introduction sequence before they let you at the actual game play, but it is still flawed. Gameplay wise, FFXIII is far more accessible and playable, however it is just a generic grinder with a novel character swapping system.

        The plot is gibberish, the characters are flat and lifeless, while the environments are generic, but no one is going to be playing the game for any of that.

        FFXIII had a involved plot, vivid world, dynamic characters, and they took a hard swing at developing a combat system that injected real time tactical part control into the standard FF battle system. They failed with combat system and forgot to make sure all the rest was playable; having good parts does not make the end result good if it is not put together right.

  3. I actually got some hate when I wrote an article on this game. I’m skipping this one and 15. Final Fantasy is dead to me

    1. When going in on a big title like Final Fantasy its hard to take the “nostalgia glasses” off. Weve grown up with the series having certain things but we should step back and view it as just a game, which in all honesty why shouldnt we? Final Fantasy has tried to make every installment different from the last but simply were limited due to technology at the time. I will agree that XIII was definitely lacking but the 2 following built on a solid concept and has done nothing but improve.

      Also if you look at the game play changes over time and then look at the direction they are going with XV with the whole Kingdom Hearts, fast paced combat and exploration it makes sense. Whether they needed to bridge the mechanics by changing them over time can be debatable but it seems to be going in one solid uniform direction. We’ve all grown and changed with time and I feel that with the franchises we love we should let them do the same with the same open minded attitudes we share with a childhood friend. We may not agree with who they are becoming but proud that we were a part of what/ who they are.

      1. The only FF games that I like are parts 10,9, and 7 and I don’t consider any of those to be great games. They all have a lot of flaws. I thought 13-2 was terrible. Everything from the gameplay to the pop music bothered me and I think that game actually got the lowest score i’ve ever given to a game.

      2. nah, Final Fantasy is dead; comparing this latest thing to prior FF games, or really any of SE’s older non-FF RPGS, and it comes out shallow and simplistic.

        Square had fired or otherwise dismissed every single lead game designer they had back in the early days, the modern Square Enix is clueless to what made the old games great (and they had plenty of warts in their own right, not saying they deserve to be worshiped) and continues to chase spectacle over actual content / dialog over plot.

        I am not writing off FFXV just yet, as maybe there is hope that they have got all of their “A Team” people working on that while FFXIII – 3 is the product of their “B team.”

        I doubt that it will be something I categorize as a “authentic FF game” but it stands a chance to good game in its own right.

  4. I may not be a huge fan of the newer games.
    I’ll tip my hat to square for trying something different with each of these games.
    Wether or not it deserved to be a trilogy or should have been just ended with one is debatable.
    I have not seriously played a ff game since 10. I can’t put myself into a game like I use to.
    Excluding my time on 11 and 14 but mmo’s are another story…
    But I’m glad they have moved away from how linear 13-1 was.
    It seems to me allot of people miss the old feel of a turned based rpg.
    I can see both sides to that though…
    Real time events are nice and pleasing to the eye trying to get players more involved.
    Where a turn base would have a more stratigic feel to it.
    I feel if there’s one company that will find that happy medium it will be Square.
    I look forward to 15.

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