Here we are again, another final fantasy game in the Final Fantasy 13 story line. The first game being decidedly unworthy of a sequel let alone two of the bloody things. It’s not that they were terrible games, their predecessor games such as FF7, FF10 etc set quite a high bar for the RPG (Role Playing Game) genre. A bar that the FF13 series misses by a huge margin, stupid story, dense characters and a battle system that would bore you to tears, but it just goes to show how much pull the Final Fantasy name has, even in this day and age (the franchise is at least 20 years old).
So yes there are changes in this edition, but for the life of me I cannot work out whether it was for the better or not…..
The basic premise of the story in Lightning Returns is that our heroine “Lightning” has been awoken by none other than God and she has 13 days to save as many souls as possible on the doomed world that she used to call home, with the promise that if she is successful in her mission then God will resurrect her sister Serah from the dead. Not exactly a masterpiece of story telling although the regular MO for the stories of Final Fantasy games were, earth is under attack, go kill Satan, that’s about it, so there is a slight bit of variation….
Quickly getting down to the nitty-gritty of the game part of the actual game, I couldn’t stop noticing that this seemed very much like an MMORPG, quest boards disguised as a “Prayer Canvas Board” NPC’s (Non-Playable Character) that have quests for you to do have stars above their heads, and lo and behold there’s a vaguely online element to it all. That online element as far as I could tell gives you the opportunity to share screenshots or (kind of) messages to what I presume is Square’s online service.
The way they’ve changed the quests are a little different too, as completing them are the only way to “level up” (get stronger). I don’t mind this particularly, except that it does leave you completely open to getting stomped on by over powered enemies that you’d need a vigorous round of grinding your stats before you even stand a chance against them. There is a reason for this however, Square are crafty bitches after all, it is there to promote multiple play-throughs, since you are on a time limit there is every chance that you’ll fuck something up and miss the deadline, so going through the multiple play-through route allows you to keep your stats and your kit and to go through the game again a little bit easier than before (in theory anyway).
All that just says to me that the developers were too lazy to properly balance the game, one example of that being my sheer pain with one of the bosses. I didn’t know this at the time but depending on what day in the games timeline that you fight the certain bosses, they can get stronger and there-fore harder….. This boss in particular usually had about 300-400k health, but since I was a bit slow this fucking boss ended up having nearly 800k health points…. What in the actual fuck!? Its punishing the player for being inexperienced with the game, considering this boss is quite early on in the game, its teeth grindingly frustrating, believe me.
One point I definitely have to touch on is the seeming objectification of Lightning as a woman…
There was much controversy during the game’s development due to one of their talking points being that Lightning now had breast jiggle physics, and how you could definitely make them jiggle about as much as you want. What is more there is something called the garb system which allows you to “dress up” Lightning with various different outfits which give her different powers, some of these range from the bizarre to the downright skimpy (courting the teenage boy demographic eh?)
The actual system IS fun to use, mixing and matching gear adds a layer of depth and strategy that you don’t see on the face of it all. But I could never get over the unpleasant feeling that it was rather juvenile at face value, I would hope most of the gamer public is grown up enough without having to revert to skimpy outfits.
Moving on from that, the game of course visually is very impressive for this generation (Xbox 360 & PS3) but that seems to be par for the course these days, looks will only get you so far these days.
But is it a good game?
Its average, yes it is quite fun in places, but when you replace that with repetitive combat and a story so un-involving, it tends to override any of the good times that you might be having. Unfortunately I would have to say steer clear of it unless you are a big Final Fantasy fan.
Thanks for reading