Monday, February 24, 2014


The only review that matters.

Okay, so it's official - Lighting Returns has been explored about 90% by us and is ready for a honest review. Being fans of the first two Final Fantasy XIII games, we thought we knew what we were getting into. We were a little cocky with that assumption. We tried our best to avoid major spoilers for this game or anything pertaining to the main story-line

The games battle system is a huge improvement over the previous paradigm setup as you have full control over lightning this time. The ATB gauge is something that you can juggle consistently since the player can switch between three set garb schemata during a battle.

Leveling up during the game is done through completing quest, not defeating enemies. This can be irritating for players who have a hard time completing side quest and find themselves on the unprepared end of an enemy attack. 

Speaking of enemies, the spawn process is the same as XIII-2 - Enemies appear sporadically in certain areas and can strike you first bringing you into battle. You can also sneak up on them and strike first giving you an advantage in battle. 

Unlike XIII-2, the Colosseum is not full of previous characters from the Final Fantasy series. The battles within the "Slaughterhouse" consist of average enemies. This was a huge disappointment for us since we found the Colosseum to be one of XIII-2's strong points. 

Lightning has close to 100 different garbs in total allowing the player to mix and match different weapon / shield / garb combinations. Some have compared it to Final Fantasy X-2's system, but we feel it's so much more. The combinations seem endless as you can focus on Magic, Strength, HP, and other auto abilities.

Accessories seem rare, unless you are on a hardcore killing spree. Creatures spawn in limited numbers within each species that can be knocked down to extinction. Fighting the last of one's kind opens up for a more difficult version of the monster and leaving a very rewarding accessory when defeated.

There are 4 worlds to explore, which seemed short at first. The fact is the story starts off when the world is crumbling so these are the only area's left. When you dive into these worlds, you realize they are a lot bigger than you thought. Taking a look at the map can overwhelm you when first starting out. 

Some of the side-quest seem pointless or just plain ridiculous, but what game's side-quest aren't? Completing these missions not only help you level up but contribute to extending your time. 

The games clock system isn't that bad. At 6am everyday you are automatically transported back to the Ark with Hope. The Ark is a "safe zone" where all your health and energy is replenished. Time also stands still in the Ark and gives you a chance to fight enemies you have previously defeated. 

Completing quest is what extends your time in the game and running out of all your time does mean game over. If you aren't able to extend to the thirteenth day, you are forced to start the game all over again. This can be frustrating but you do get to keep all your stats so battles should be a lot easier the second time around. 

The "Chronostasis" ability allows you to freeze time for a short period. The ability consumes EP which can be replenished with an Ether or by defeating enemies. We started a new game and spammed it as much as we could and was able to complete all main quest in one day. So the given amount of time and the "Clock system" really shouldn't be an issue for you. 

We also recommend your first play-through is in "easy mode" regardless of how talented you think you are. We consider ourselves pretty hardcore gamers and we had difficulty with chocobo eaters and earth eaters throughout the game. Our first run was on normal and we were forced to start the game over again because we didn't complete the mandatory soul fragment quest.

Beating the game unlocks a device within the Ark that allows you to quit the game and start over from the beginning. This can be useful to those who are experimenting with difficulty levels post-game.

Playing the game on hard pretty much gives you the ultimate experience as item drops are more valuable and abilities are given almost at full level. You can also upgrade weapons through "forging" which allows you to tweak the strength, magic or auto-abilities of your items. 

Optional bosses were a highlight in XIII-2, so hearing the news that there were only 2 optional bosses in Lighting Returns really hit us hard. Fortunately, they are hard enough to have you bang your first on a table and there are more than enough monsters in the game to keep you busy.

The main bosses in the game get stronger as the days go by. After a certain amount of days, they become an extremely strong version of themselves. The Dead Dunes boss was too hard for us on our first playthough, it took about 6 different schema combinations to actually move forward in the story.

Hope's communication with Lightning can be a bit annoying. This was a negative for us, especially if you're putting a quest off purposely. The game's soundtrack is pretty incredible. Some of it sounds like it's pulled from Star Wars. Like XIII-2, Lighting Returns has a mix of new tracks as well as old favorites. 

The games main story-line is amazing, considering it is a FANTASY game. Most reviews we've read shunned the game saying the ending wasn't that great, but it was great. The entire game was great. We didn't rush through it, we took our time and really made it fair. 

The visuals, the game-play, the vast worlds to explore, the voice acting, so much time and effort was put into this game. There are some people within the Final Fantasy community who love to complain about every new game that comes out. The fact is, if this didn't have "Final Fantasy" slapped on it, they may have some different thoughts on it. 

The sloppy negative reviews of the game really don't do it justice, considering the other games out there right now. Nothing compares to this game at all. The bottom line is, if you're looking for a new adventure and a game worth playing in 2014 - then dive into Nova Crystallis. 

Platform: PS3
Difficulty played: Easy, Normal, Hard
Main quest completed: Yes
All side quest completed: No
Defeated all "Last Ones": No
All Garbs: No
All Weapons: No
All Abilities: No
Optional Bosses Defeated: Yes
Trophy completion: 94%
Rating: 4.5 out of 5