Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PlayStation 3)

The final instalment in the Final Fantasy XIII aims to wrap up the entire storyline while bringing further tweaks to the gameplay

Square Enix Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
  • Square Enix Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
  • Square Enix Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
  • Square Enix Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Open world gameplay
  • Well tuned battle mechanics

Cons

  • Characters and dialogue are forgettable
  • Side quests can become a bit repetitive

Bottom Line

Lightning Returns is the strongest effort out of the Final Fantasy XIII series, but it is still saddled with the same unremarkable characters and setting as before.

Would you buy this?

In an uncharacteristic move for Square Enix, the Final Fantasy XIII series receives a third instalment with Lightning Returns. Final Fantasy X was the only other game in the long-running franchise to receive a dedicated sequel.

In 2010, Final Fantasy XIII introduced the protagonist Lightning and her companions consisting of friends and family. In 2012, Final Fantasy XIII-2 took the story in a different direction by focusing on Lightning’s sister, Serah, and her companion Noel Kreiss.

The final instalment in the Final Fantasy XIII aims to wrap up the entire storyline while bringing further tweaks to the gameplay. As the game’s title alludes, Lightning returns as the protagonist in the third instalment.

Passage of time

Five hundred years have passed since the conclusion of Final Fantasy XIII-2, which ended with chaos being unleashed on the world. Humanity has spent those five centuries waiting for the cataclysm to take its course.

The game begins six days before the world is expected to end. The god, Bhunivelze is creating a new world and wakes Lightning, who encased herself in crystal, to gather the souls of humanity so they can be used to populate the world.

The ticking clock is a new addition to Lightning Returns, requiring you to complete quests as quickly as possible in order to beat the destruction of the world. The soul gathering also forms a key component of the adventure, where the souls are purified in order to be reborn.

Familiar faces

Not only does Lightning return for the third title, but so do her companions from the first instalment. Surprisingly, not much has changed with her friends over the five centuries that have passed, except for Hope who has gotten younger from the second game.

Final Fantasy XIII received criticism for its linear level structure, and the second game introduced more of an open world. Lightning Returns takes this further and lets you travel freely between each of the game’s four expansive zones.

Where Lightning Returns really excels is in its combat system, and gameplay has been tweaked to make it more action packed than before. There is no longer a party of team members to control, as Lightning does all of the fighting herself.

Growing wardrobe

The game comes with a large amount of customisability for weapons, defences, and accessories. You’re also able to customise Lightning’s appearance with the numerous outfits that can be collected within the game.

Lighting Returns does a good job of addressing some of the shortcomings of the earlier instalments, such as the linear gameplay. The characters and story are mostly as forgettable as before, though the solid battle system just about makes up for it.

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