Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the third of the FFXIII line of games and will be available on PS3 and Xbox 360. Not really having extensively played the first two I was unsure how I’d manage picking up the game this late in the series.

I was pleased to find this did not make things too difficult to follow.

You are flung in the picture fairly quickly and whatever you might have missed out on (that has any relevance to this chapter) is soon explained.

When I first picked up the game I was hurled into the action within a well-created environment with great detail and character. The graphics, despite being on the now older generation console, it still impresses.

Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Returns

The line between in-game graphics and that of the cut-scenes appear to blur. The character models, being typical Final Fantasy style, really do come to life. Lightning, the protagonist, looks better than ever.

The premise of the game is one of the more bizarre that I’ve come across.

As the title clearly states, Lightning has returned, apparently after a rather long sleep from what I can gather. Not only is she back, she is also here as a servant of some God, on a mission to save the souls of the world.

While sounding religious, it’s a more unusual take. Pretty much the world is going to end and the only thing you can do as the saviour is slightly delay this inevitability to increase your soul-saving count. It’s up to you to save these souls for the new world that this God is going to create an of course it wouldn’t be a Final Fantasy game if it didn’t get weirder from there and from the looks of it, it does.

Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Returns

The game seems to involve a lot of tutorials, now this isn’t a bad thing as they are staggered throughout the main Intro. This helps break up what can be a rather tedious task into manageable sections. For new comers like myself they were all rather informative.

The combat system is a bit disorientating at first. There are Schematas, which are suit type things that you can later upgrade, modify and change up by equipping abilities and jewellery.

The game states there is more than 80 types of garb, asides from all of the other trinkets you can add to increase your overall power. Schematas can be equipped with different attack (magic and melee) and defence moves. Attack commands can be synthesised together to be made into more powerful versions.

Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Returns

When in battle you have three Schemata to rotate through, each with their own gauge that drops with usage of both attack and defence commands. So in battle you are required to flick through them often if you want to keep your attack or defence going.

I found this to be a bit dull and repetitive. It’s hard to follow both the battle and the gauges, pressing one or two commands and then rotating and repeating.

I feel due to the limited amount of gameplay I got in, it could have potential as there seems be a lot of modification available. A more personalised and engaging battle format might be just undiscovered.

Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Returns

Many games threaten with impending doom, but this is one of the few which actually seem to make real on that threat. The clock is quite literally ticking and you have a set amount of time each day to complete as much as you can.

This clock can be temporarily paused with certain special abilities given to you as the saviour. This can only be used every so often as it costs Eridia Points (EP) which are only earned through saving souls. Time is precious, so you are given plenty of motivation to get a move on.

Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Returns

So with this not so Final Fantasy on its way, they have tried to add and subtract in all the right places to keep that core feel of the series but still offer new gameplay initiatives.

Only time will tell if they managed to entice newcomers and keep old fans returning. Personally I feel this game has real potential and would happily give it a full go at release on the 13th February 2014.

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