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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ‘Not Entirely An Action Game’


Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII 'Not Entirely An Action Game'“[I] had a long conversation with Motomu Toriyama and Tetsuya Nomura about which character we should use in the third instalment of the series.”

“They thought we were going to have to have a female one because we hadn’t had a sole female protagonist in the franchise before.”

Director, Square Enix, Yoshinori Kitase

What we think:

Of all the female characters that Kitase and Toriyama decided to flesh out for the purpose of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, she is the most interesting.

In previous interviews Toriyama has said that she is so cool a character in their minds that she may have come off as a bit aloof.

For us, she lacked a certain amount of depth, so it will be very interesting to see if the team manage to flesh her out enough so she can carry the game. That right there is the ultimate test.

“In XIII and XIII-2, you have to set a role on your character and you switch between those different roles, but in Lightning Returns you’re going to set styles for Lightning so you can combine different elements to establish a few different styles, which you can switch back and forth between […] You can make your own original Lightning.”

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII 'Not Entirely An Action Game'Character Designer, Square Enix, Motumo Toriyama

What we think:

It’s all well and good allowing players to customise their character, but will the supposed choice of variety dim the sense of repetitiveness we experienced with Final Fantasy XIII (see below)?

Every player likes variety, so we expect this fresh addition to certainly spice things up a little.

However, we’re curious to see how hardened Final Fantasy fans react to the significant changes the team have made for Lightning Returns. Will it be too much? Or is something like this a necessary evil to reel in gamers who lack an affinity for JRPGs? Our guess is a bit of both.

“The strategic elements and command battle elements, which were the case with Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2, [are] still there in this latest instalment.

In this game you can see three Active Time Battle bars on the screen and you can change into costumes for the best customisation possible, so it’s not entirely an action game; it’s not action-game enough to be solely intuitive.”

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII 'Not Entirely An Action Game'Character Designer, Square Enix, Motumo Toriyama

What we think:

From the gameplay we’ve seen so far the newfound Battle System doesn’t seem that far removed from the one we became accustomed to in Final Fantasy XIII.

The strategies are the same: switch between skills and exploit enemy weak points.

The biggest difference of course is that Lightning can now dodge, block and move during attacks. What we want to know is how deep the new system will be. Are brawls going to be repetitive, or possibly too long?

This was a problem with XIII, so lets hope that issue has been addressed by the time the game ships.

“[I’m] not sure about the future of the Final Fantasy franchise itself, but obviously there are a lot of other studios under the umbrella, and I myself have been communicating with creators in those studios […] I’ve been very impressed that these developers are very enthusiastic about making great games in the future.”

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII 'Not Entirely An Action Game'Director, Square Enix, Yoshinori Kitase

What we think:

Interesting that Toriyama brings up the idea of a US collaboration considering there has been talk in the past of other studios dipping their toe in the realm of Final Fantasy – namely the now defunct studio, Grin.

At one point there was talk that this title, a spin-off called Fortress, was being nurtured by another announced studio, but subsequently suspended.

If the title is no longer in development but Toriyama is talking to Square Enix’s Montreal studio and Crystal Dynamics, it makes us wonder, is this the potentially mooted project, or are they mulling the idea of something entirely different?

Yeah, but…

The multitude of gameplay and design tweaks that Kitase and Toriyama have worked to implement has certainly piqued our interests. We’re titillated by the possibilities of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, but the biggest question is this: can she carry a game all on her own? Only time will tell.