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Round Up: Reviews Rain on Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Posted by Sammy Barker

A perfect storm

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII raised the impeccably groomed eyebrows of the entire gaming industry when it was announced in late 2012. While there’s often reason for celebration when publisher Square Enix unveils a new game, the previous two entries in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series proved divisive. As such, not many people expected a third instalment.

And judging by the reviews, the Japanese company may wonder why it even bothered, as its pink-haired protagonist’s latest escapade has not exactly emerged glowing with critical acclaim. Current evaluations are mixed, with the battle system drawing plenty of praise, but the dismal script and woeful characters attracting the wrath of most reviewers’ reports.

In classic round up style, we’ve compiled a number of must read appraisals for your viewing pleasure. Our own verdict is forthcoming, so if none of these tickle your fancy, you may want to wait a little longer for that.

Eurogamer.net - 8/10

It's a strong end to an uneven trilogy, then. There is little consistency across the three games, from the ultra-focused linearity of Final Fantasy 13, to the dimension-hopping skittishness of its sequel and on to this almost entirely freeform conclusion. It's a deliberate demonstration from the team that it's able to deliver on various approaches to game design (and tone) within the Final Fantasy umbrella. From its dazzling battle system to its overarching temporal puzzle, this is the best of the set – even if it's dragged down by an exhaustingly impenetrable plot that its creators will no doubt be pleased to be done with.

IGN - 7/10

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a strange end to Square's trilogy. Its fresh combat system is a great success, and the well-designed world provides more than enough reason to play through the end of Lightning's journey. At the same time, the incredibly inconsistent tone and underwhelming plot caused any story-based satisfaction to completely elude me. Lightning Returns is a good game, but one that forgets that a big part of what make the Final Fantasy games so memorable is how they created characters we could care about.

Game Informer - 7/10

Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2 trained me to look past a bad plot and appreciate good gameplay, but the positives are more buried and harder to see in Lightning Returns. It makes the same mistakes with its narrative, and swaps out systems that worked (like monster collection and the crystarium) for half-baked concepts that don’t hit the same high notes. The conclusion of a trilogy presents the opportunity for an emotional farewell to a beloved cast and world, but Lightning Returns only left me relieved to see this adventure end.

Metro - 5/10

Compounded by the nonsensical script and one-dimensional characters it’s as if the game is specifically designed to feel as shallow and disconnected as possible. Lightning Returns might be an enjoyable enough folly for fans, but there’s very little here for anyone else. And it certainly offers no compelling glimpse of the franchise’s future, just a long list of things it should avoid doing again.

Gamespot - 5/10

This supposedly final chapter of Nova Chrysalia's story leaves me befuddled. It's a collection of ideas and concepts that don't come together in a coherent way, led by a character who has shown no identifiable growth since her first appearance four years ago. The promising schemata system and grandiose cutscenes are solid pillars from which a great RPG could have been constructed, but Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII falls well short of greatness.


Are you disgruntled by the downpour of criticism being pointed at Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, or do you think that the assessments seem fair? Are you glad to see an end to the Fabula Nova Crystallis story arc, or will you be sad to see it go? Whimper like Hope in the comments section below.

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User Comments (18)

FullbringIchigo

#1

FullbringIchigo said:

well I figured it would het a low score off gamespot because none of thier staff actually like the series (in fact one of thier reviewers even say it in a review, cant remember wich one) but all round not bad scores

banacheck

#2

banacheck said:

Not bad scores not really into FF I'm more looking forwards to a port over FF, Kingdom of Hearts 2.5HD remix & obviously Kingdom of Hearts 3.

Bliquid

#4

Bliquid said:

XIII trilogy has the most unappealing, convoluted, baroque for the sake of itself plot Square Enix has ever allowed. And they are no strangers to the topic. I won't talk about the characters because, well... What characters?
I tried the demo, and i honestly failed to see the beauty of the combat system. It's probably me, sure thing.
But why allow me to (slowly) move around if it doesn't make any difference?
Just take a page from your own book, SE, and go no further than XII to see a CS done right. Or Ni no Kuni. Or even FF XIV.
But all is well, when you can dress your Barbie however you want.

rjejr

#5

rjejr said:

Those scores don't seem too bad for the 3rd game in a series where everybody pretty much hated even the first game.

I played the demo up until the point where the first cut scene ended then I turned it off, figuring it was all down hill after that.

I used to really love all the FF games, up until FFX-2 (that's 10-2, not 13-2) but it's certainly been awhile. Too bad. Fortunately Level 5 has been making some good games the past few years.

Cloud7794

#7

Cloud7794 said:

@Gemuarto Why so? The plot may not have been too great, but the game has its high points like any other (well... except for some. Refer to "Ride to Hell: Retribution").

Glad to see it was at the very least halfway decent, though I never got much of the hate behind the first XIII. Sing praises about the FFX world all you want: the game is just as linear. Spit on Vanille/Hope all day, but give Vaan a pass? I do kinda wish they would have ended FFXIII at the first game, but that's because it has a very definite ending.

I'm not saying that XIII was a shining point in the Final Fantasy series, but it was solid enough game nonetheless. I would rate it nearly equal to XII, which in itself lost points for having the worst main character of any Final Fantasy I've played. Balthier as the main character may have made it one of the best.

Gemuarto

#8

Gemuarto said:

@Cloud7794 I never liked FFX. And like you, I can't understand why people like FFX and hate FFXIII =). I liked FFXIII better than FFX. But FFXIII-2 and 3 are horrible crap. Also, I think FFXII was really great regardless that they put Vaan as main chracter and simplified battle system after Matsuno left SE. They could create so good FFXIII by continuing to develop FFXII ideas. Instead they made FFX clone, meh...But I liked it, but never wished to play something like that again =). It was good for once and it has really epic cinematics and felt like Final Fantasy. But 2 and 3, meh... I can't take that stupid battle system anymore, and is idiotic, and design of characters, locations and monsters are beyond crap. All that could work only for once and when it had big budget =).

Ryumoau

#9

Ryumoau said:

This game seems like it would be best as a rental, judging from reviews and the demo i played. i liked the combay system but the story was meh. Also not a fan at all of the time limit.

kupo

#11

kupo said:

I avoided FFXIII for years since everyone was saying it was garbage and it turned out to be my favorite game of the past two years so...in general, I tend to not take reviews too seriously. In the case of this game, I'm not surprised that the people who didn't like the previous games don't like this one, and vice versa. Shocking.

Kohaku

#13

Kohaku said:

@Darklutz

It is not only IGN, other reviewers aren't that happy about this game also. An average score of 6.7 (out of 34 reviews) is not that high on metacritics.

Gamer83

#14

Gamer83 said:

I wasn't a fan of the battle system in the demo, so I won't be buying but I am interested to see how this does at Pushsquare, I mean, this game isn't reviewing well at all but in the case of Gamespot I've noticed people there generally give poor reviews to non-Nintendo Japanese games for the sake of giving poor reviews, Pushsquare is a bit more fair I think so if the game scores similar here, really poor job by SE.

@get2sammyb, who's got the review on this one?

ToddlerNaruto

#17

ToddlerNaruto said:

I still need to beat Final Fantasy XIII-2 first, but I'm definitely looking forward to playing Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.

I'm just waiting for the eventual price drop to $30 New (hoping this will happen by Black Friday/Christmas 2014).

Cloud7794

#18

Cloud7794 said:

@Gemuarto Sorry about that, but yeah the first sentence was a response to you and the rest was a general rant @_@ But honestly, the battle system wasn't so bad, but the XIII feels almost like just one large testing ground for Square Enix.

The only things about Vaan that get to me is the lack of development at all and his irrelevancy to the story. If he was going to be that kind of character, he really would have been better off as a silent protagonist like in Persona. On the flip side, the XII world is one of the best I've seen in a FF game, but the story was so low scale that it really wasn't anything but an excuse to throw you into a new area at times.

The only thing that makes XII stronger than XIII in my book was that XII had a better hunting system.

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