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Review - Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

2

Comments

  • coyotecraftcoyotecraft Full Members
    edited February 2014
    I think the time frame spent playing a game is a factor on whether you enjoy it or not. 42 hours played in 3 days vs 42 hours over the course of a month. Did you stop and savor it? I can't imagine someone having binge session, playing a game with hardly a break or sleep and come out of it feeling good and satisfied.
  • InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinion Guy RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2014
    Ocelot wrote: »
    I'm not sure Square Enix originally intended to cram Lightning down people's throats. They replaced her with Serah as the main character in XIII-2 after all, and a bunch of people (including me!) said, "Ick, she's really boring and we'd rather have Lightning." So they gave us Lightning in XIII-3 and all the people who don't like Lightning started griping about how Square looooves her and wants to force us to love her too. This is why it's a bad idea to listen too closely to "the fans." :)

    I'm definitely in the minority here, but I'm actually a fan of the original Final Fantasy XIII. The game certainly has its issues, and they have been well detailed elsewhere, but we tend to overlook the fact that the game got a lot of things right. Characters, sadly, aren't one of them.

    Final Fantasy XIII's ensemble cast is incredibly uneven in terms of quality, personality, and growth. This hampers the engagement of the game's central narrative as it's hard to relate to character that you cringe at. Lightning is the most flawed of our mains, as she acts coldly towards others with no repercussion, tries to solve every problem the same way, and never really grows as a character or learns from her mistakes. She also has no real reason to press on after Serah is turned to crystal. After all, she had no idea that Etro would be pulling a deus ex machina out of her ***. As such, it's extremely problematic that Square pegged this one-note character as the main protagonist of Final Fantasy XIII, and her lazy, stilted involvement in later games certainly hasn't helped.

    I disagree that she wasn't intended to be crammed down our throats from the start. Disregarding the fact that her absence is the sole motivating force behind Final Fantasy XIII-2's entire plot, she was also on the cover... for no reason. We didn't see Lightning for any more than half an hour in-game, and she manages to be both at the core of this sequel's purpose as well as on the cover. To my point, Lightning Returns' title alone all but cements the fact that Square desperately wants you to like this broody, violent heroine.

    Character growth is important. Proper stories require characters with flaws who make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and ultimately become better characters. That hasn't happened to Lightning. When she isn't harshly talking to everyone around her in Lightning Returns, she's basically a force of nature. Never does she question her purpose. Never does she question her actions. Never is she truly concerned about others. She's only concerned about "her mission." And that "mission oriented" attitude is what it has all ultimately been about with her.

    The only reason why I can understand someone liking Lightning's cardboard-esque character is basic wish fulfillment. She kicks *** and doesn't put up with anyone. Maybe some people dig that. I don't -- I think it's lazy writing, and not up to par with what we've seen from other protagonists in the Final Fantasy series.
    "To tell you the truth, I like drinking tea and eating fresh vegetables, but that doesn't fit with my super-cool attitude. I guess I have to accept this about myself."
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    edited April 2018
    deleted.
  • RyumoauRyumoau Member Full Members
    edited February 2014
    Great review. I'm glad i only rented this from gamefly. I enjoyed the battle system of the FF13 series but i've never cared for the story. I was also turned off by the time limit aspect. I hated it back when Majora's Mask did it in 2001 and it still annoyed me to see it in a 2014 game. It just seems like it goes against the nature of jrpgs where we are usually encouraged to explore.

    So i wasn't willing to throw down $60 on this but for a rental i will definetly try it because i found the battle system so engaging in the demo. just hope it arrives in the mail today.
    "To die without leaving a corpse....that is the way of the Garo"
    PSN id: Ryumoau
  • AngelonightAngelonight Member Full Members
    edited February 2014
    I have only just begun 13-3 so I have no definitive opinion about it.

    As for the rest of the 13 saga...
    Everything bad ever said about 13 is absolutely true. That being said it was still a great game and far more stomachable than some previous entries. I enjoyed about half the characters and the half I ignored. I loved the battle engine, though I would still love to have full control of my team. No Gambits on paradigm shift. The three biggest problems I had was that far to much of the story was told through the primers and history log. The summons were useless, they showed at their respective character "lowest" moment to drive them forward. And the game was a late blooming. It took about 2/3 of the game to really get into it and by the time you were able to change out your party there really was no need other than personal preference.

    13-2 has the unique privilege of being one of the few Final Fantasy I gave up on and will more than likely never finish, the others being 6 and 12.
    As much as I wanted to like Serah and Noel but I just couldn't and the monster collecting was unnecessary, they could have easily made a third character or have a guest character in each of the time periods.

    I will give 13-3 its fare shot, I like Lightning. I hope it doesn't disappoint.
    Kain: "Conscience...? You dare speak to me of conscience? Only when you have felt the full gravity of choice should you dare to question my judgment!"
  • SandySandy Final Fanatic Full Members
    edited February 2014
    InstaTrent wrote: »
    The only reason why I can understand someone liking Lightning's cardboard-esque character is basic wish fulfillment. She kicks *** and doesn't put up with anyone. Maybe some people dig that. I don't -- I think it's lazy writing, and not up to par with what we've seen from other protagonists in the Final Fantasy series.

    I think you're mixing up characterization and story here. I really like Lightning - and I think many others do too - as a character because of her determination, stoic appearance and deep voice, and because her initial portrayal as an average female soldier with no love interest or royal bloodline is really unique in the JRPG genre.

    Now, what they did with the character in the storyline of the games... that's a whole other issue. In the original game, Lightning quickly faded into the background storywise, with nothing to do but be angry at Snow for some ridiculous reason. In the first sequel, they just retconned the entire story and world of the original game, gave Lightning a whole new purpose and never really did anything with it. In this second sequel, it looks like they have just revamped the story and the world again, and gave her a new purpose unconnected to the previous games, and that, my dear readers, is called a botch up.
  • TGBarighmTGBarighm Member Full Members
    edited February 2014
    I found Fang way more interesting than Lightning. And they're the same kind of character. It's funny. Lightning kind of feels like another Vahn.
  • AiddonAiddon Member Full Members
    edited February 2014
    Wheels wrote: »
    For sure, but at least the staff working on the games managed to try some new things. I genuinely like XIII despite its issues, XIII-2 has some amazing music (and uses it very well though) though I'm not a huge fan of the actually game, and XIII-3's battle system is a lot of fun. So much about the trio of games could have been so much better, but at least they have some interesting bits.

    A LOT of bad projects have interesting bits, but unfortunately bits don't amount to much. None of them work as a whole so saying they have interesting parts is faint praise. Still, there's little reason to dwell on it; they're probably going to go down as the troubled sub-series of the franchise and an episode people will give little attention to. Probably for the best
  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed Full Members
    edited February 2014
    Sandy wrote: »
    I think you're mixing up characterization and story here. I really like Lightning - and I think many others do too - as a character because of her determination, stoic appearance and deep voice, and because her initial portrayal as an average female soldier with no love interest or royal bloodline is really unique in the JRPG genre.

    Now, what they did with the character in the storyline of the games... that's a whole other issue. In the original game, Lightning quickly faded into the background storywise, with nothing to do but be angry at Snow for some ridiculous reason. In the first sequel, they just retconned the entire story and world of the original game, gave Lightning a whole new purpose and never really did anything with it. In this second sequel, it looks like they have just revamped the story and the world again, and gave her a new purpose unconnected to the previous games, and that, my dear readers, is called a botch up.

    I'm with Sandy, and I empathized with Lightning as the older sister with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Did they make the most of her character in the game? Nope. Did they make anything of her character in the sequels? Nope. It's really too bad.
    Becky Cunningham, Happy Snappy RPGamer Alum
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited February 2014
    Ocelot wrote: »
    I'm with Sandy, and I empathized with Lightning as the older sister with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Did they make the most of her character in the game? Nope. Did they make anything of her character in the sequels? Nope. It's really too bad.
    She showed more of a personality in the Lightning events in A Realm Reborn, which is really sad if you think about it.
    "Yes, because apparently blindly jumping headfirst into a firefight without a grasp on the situation or any combat experience is a sign of genius these days."
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2014
    Aiddon wrote: »
    A LOT of bad projects have interesting bits, but unfortunately bits don't amount to much. None of them work as a whole so saying they have interesting parts is faint praise. Still, there's little reason to dwell on it; they're probably going to go down as the troubled sub-series of the franchise and an episode people will give little attention to. Probably for the best

    I don't think it matters that they don't "work as a whole". These are video games after all. If playing XIII-3 is fun for example, than it's pretty easy to get past the horrible story and other issues. Video game history is littered with flawed games with interesting bits, often going not to be used in more complete games. The point is these games are in fact not utter garbage, and we can only hope the developers/artists/composers involved produce more complete works in the future.

    I also don't think people will "pay little attention" to this sub-series in the future.

    I mean people have heated discussions about Final Fantasy 2, so not really expecting XIII to become the forgotten never talked about segment of the series.
    Ask Wheels- This Week's Episode
    sig.gif
  • freykinfreykin Member Full Members
    edited February 2014
    I really wish I had gone with my doubts and not pre-ordered this one. I played about 2 hours of it last night and had to put it down, realizing that this game just wasn't for me. Ah well, can't like them all. At least the soundtrack is great from what I heard of it, so will be picking that up in the future.
  • Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2014
    I hear ya, Freykin. I used to be a pre-order maniac when it came to Final Fantasy games. No longer. Now I wait for reviews...especially from my friends here. They know their stuff!
    Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!
  • AzilisAzilis Member Full Members
    edited February 2014
    This one actually interests me a lot more than XIII-2, which I skipped. I enjoyed XIII's battle system until about the midpoint of the game, when I started getting bored by the auto-battle mechanic. I know you can issue direct commands to the lead character, but the game was clearly designed and balanced around auto-battle. On top of that, the character customization was incredibly limited.

    I like the look of the new battle system, and the nonsensical story isn't likely to bother me very much. I'm definitely not rushing out to buy this game right away, but I might pick it up at some point.
  • InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinion Guy RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2014
    Wheels wrote: »
    If playing XIII-3 is fun for example, than it's pretty easy to get past the horrible story and other issues.

    This is just a random aside, but can we all just stop referring to the game as "XIII-3"? That's not its name.
    "To tell you the truth, I like drinking tea and eating fresh vegetables, but that doesn't fit with my super-cool attitude. I guess I have to accept this about myself."
  • Anna Marie PrivitereAnna Marie Privitere Purr RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2014
    I've been trying to get people to use Final Fantasy XI Online's correct name for a decade. Don't hold your breath :highly_amused:
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    edited February 2014
    Paws wrote: »
    I've been trying to get people to use Final Fantasy XI Online's correct name for a decade. Don't hold your breath :highly_amused:
    Ugh, no. Never. :P

    Dropping the stupid Online part of the name is waaaaaay different that calling LR FFXIII-3. :)
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • KiralynKiralyn Member Full Members
    edited February 2014
    InstaTrent wrote: »
    This is just a random aside, but can we all just stop referring to the game as "XIII-3"? That's not its name.

    But it's a shorthand that makes sense. Third game in the XIII series = XIII-3. :P
  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed Full Members
    edited February 2014
    I am not typing out Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII every time I want to talk about this game. :-p
    Becky Cunningham, Happy Snappy RPGamer Alum
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited February 2014
    Ocelot wrote: »
    I am not typing out Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII every time I want to talk about this game. :-p
    And we sure as hell can't use LR, I'll start thinking we're talking about The Last Remnant!
    "Yes, because apparently blindly jumping headfirst into a firefight without a grasp on the situation or any combat experience is a sign of genius these days."
  • Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2014
    And we can't use LRFFXIII because I'll mix that up with "Look Right For X-rayed Foxes In Icy Igloos!" :P Teeheehee.

    Not that I personally got a horse in the race, but what's the prob with calling it FFXIII-3? Granted, that's not the technical name, but it IS the ending game of the trilogy, tying up a lot of story ends and the such. It's FFXIII-3 in spirit, if not actual name. Either way, we all know games we're talking about.
    Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!
  • ClixClix Former Listmaster Full Members
    edited February 2014
    I attach -# to a lot of the titles, regardless. The After Years? FFIV-2. A Realm Reborn? FFXIV-2. I will be calling this game FFXIII-3.

    On FFXI: Original game and Zilart is XI to me. Promathia is XI-2. The rest are unrelated spinoffs.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    edited April 2018
    deleted.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    edited April 2018
    deleted.
  • Anna Marie PrivitereAnna Marie Privitere Purr RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2014
    Maybe we can find some middle ground? 13-LR?
  • ironmageironmage chaotic neutral observer SaskatoonFull Members
    edited February 2014
    The review is better than I expected, but still bad enough that I'm going to wait. I might reconsider once the price drops to $20, provided that the forum hasn't overflowed with the tears of the faithful by then.

    On the naming issue...mixing Arabic and Roman numerals seems mismatched to me. I vote for S/E-FF-XIII-III-LR.

    smacd wrote: »
    Roman numerals and letters are lame.

    I agree, Roman letters are lame. Let's stop using them. ひらがなのほうがいい。:)
    Only the livin' have the privilege of sayin' they'll fight ta the last breath.
    And words like conviction and resolve don't mean much to a dead man...
    --Raven (Tales of Vesperia)
  • Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2014
    ironmage wrote: »
    The review is better than I expected, but still bad enough that I'm going to wait. I might reconsider once the price drops to $20, provided that the forum hasn't overflowed with the tears of the faithful by then.

    The recent drop in quality and change in format is one reason I stopped pre-ordering FF games. A very close 2nd place is the way the last few dropped in price faster than a bar of solid granite. Seriously...I saw 13 and 13-2 hit the $20 bargain bin price within 90 days or less. Scary. After forking out three times that amount that months before, I made a definitive mental note :P

    With that said, I pre-ordered Bravely Default once I saw some early, good reviews. I totally support well made RPGs, potential price drops notwithstanding.
    Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!
  • LaephisLaephis ... Full Members
    edited February 2014
    These sequels to FF13 have just seemed so pointless. It's not like the first game was a raging success that demanded a direct follow-up. Perhaps reusing the art and assets made sense financially so SE could recover some of the original expense?

    In any case, while there are some elements of FF13 that I enjoyed, part 2 (and now 3) have been disappointments. I've be playing the series for nearly 25 years and I've reached the conclusion that I prefer my Final Fantasys to have parties of at least 4, proper towns, and turn-based/ATB combat. Guess I'll be sticking with the Bravely Default series for the foreseeable future.
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited February 2014
    Laephis wrote: »
    These sequels to FF13 have just seemed so pointless. It's not like the first game was a raging success that demanded a direct follow-up. Perhaps reusing the art and assets made sense financially so SE could recover some of the original expense?

    In any case, while there are some elements of FF13 that I enjoyed, part 2 (and now 3) have been disappointments. I've be playing the series for nearly 25 years and I've reached the conclusion that I prefer my Final Fantasys to have parties of at least 4, proper towns, and turn-based/ATB combat. Guess I'll be sticking with the Bravely Default series for the foreseeable future.
    For me, #2 was a disappointment. I'm playing Lightning Returns right now, and it does feel interesting, open-ended, and all that. Time limit...I haven't noticed it much, Chronostasis has made it laughable right now.
    "Yes, because apparently blindly jumping headfirst into a firefight without a grasp on the situation or any combat experience is a sign of genius these days."
  • Phillip WillisPhillip Willis Certified Polygameist RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2014
    Laephis wrote: »
    These sequels to FF13 have just seemed so pointless. It's not like the first game was a raging success that demanded a direct follow-up. Perhaps reusing the art and assets made sense financially so SE could recover some of the original expense?

    In any case, while there are some elements of FF13 that I enjoyed, part 2 (and now 3) have been disappointments. I've be playing the series for nearly 25 years and I've reached the conclusion that I prefer my Final Fantasys to have parties of at least 4, proper towns, and turn-based/ATB combat. Guess I'll be sticking with the Bravely Default series for the foreseeable future.

    Check out this article about NIS' focus and direction. And this is my concern about FF. There's nothing wrong with changing some things up. Earlier FF's thrived on evolving the formula with each release. But somewhere, they jumped shark, and decided that they needed to change the core mechanics with each iteration. And when you reinvent the wheel with every release, it's hard to build off of your prior mistakes and successes.

    But, of course, SE won't take the NIS approach with FF, because that means keeping the series focused on its core set of friends instead of becoming more inclusive across the board. Because, as we all know, RPGs are just much more fun when they become more actiony and appeal to a more broad audience! :P

    With that being said, I never want to see any FF game fail, and I'm disappointed with the legitimate issues and short comings this game has (I saw a number of them just playing through the demo).
    Co-Host on RPGBacktrack. Follow me on Twitter and sub to my blog if you would like!
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