Heya, Kaushik here again this week, with a video game! This time it’s the demo for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, generally known as FF13-3. The demo was released on PSN earlier this week, so that’s the version I’ll be covering. I know a lot of people dislike the series (that may be putting it lightly) and I can understand their frustrations with the direction Final Fantasy has taken in recent years. I liked FF13 more than most I think, but even I’m getting a little sick of this universe and these characters. Still, I’ll approach this demo as impartially as possible! So without further ado, let’s go~
The demo starts on something of a weird note. There’s a great opening cinematic set to some thematic music, which is cool to watch. I know Square-Enix puts on great graphical shows, but over the course of several games I get it. You guys have a really pretty graphics engine to make games off of. Yeah, they’re pretty. Yes, I like it. Congratulations. Moving on, directly after the cinematic cut scene… The same cut scene plays again, except the music is replaced with the voiced lines. To me that felt a little lazy, and I was kind of annoyed by it. I can’t quite tell what’s going on with the story honestly; the demo isn’t much of a primer for it. The most I got out of the demo is that the world is ending in 13 days, and you’re working towards stopping that.
The most interesting thing to me, and probably most important aspect of the game, is the game play. In that respect, I think this game delivers quite strongly. It’s a massive revamp of the ATB system that was being used in the previous FF13 titles. While FF13 and FF13-2 started to push the player to switch to different paradigms (or job roles) constantly throughout the battle, FF13-3 makes that an absolute necessity. Instead of going into a separate menu to change roles, instead it’s tied to a simple click of a button. The trade-off to this, of course, is that you can really only have 3 going at a time (so you can access any of them with 1 button push). Moreover, and most importantly, ATB is separate for each “job”. And it recovers quite slowly, so you have to constantly be shifting in order to remain combat-ready. Each action takes a different amount from the ATB gauge, which is now in discrete units rather than a continuous meter. Overall it feels like a more fluid, fast-paced system which I feel like they were aiming for in the first FF13, and just now started to get right.
Another huge change in the combat system is the fact that you can actually move. It’s a little odd, but during battles you can move in order to position yourself for attacks or dodging enemy attacks. I’ll be honest, it didn’t seem very useful in the demo (you could mostly get by with just mashing attacks), but it’d probably be much more useful throughout the full game. These jobs are highly customizeable as well, which is something I really enjoy. Every job is based off a starting “garb” which determines what kind of utility it has. Usually this results in some sort of job-specific command, such as the Dragoon garb giving you access to the “jump” command. Beyond that you can modify it with a weapon and a shield, and then various accessories which can give various statistical benefits. More than that, each garb can have 4 commands attached to it, which you can pick and choose at will. Between all of this, I think I’ll enjoy the customization aspect of this game.
In a nutshell, I think the that the game could actually be promising. I’m not saying anything for the plot, or the characters. I think the graphics will be stellar as usual, the music will be pretty good, and the gameplay seems surprisingly engrossing. Moreover, it has more depth than any of the previous games, and that’s something I’m looking for. Am I going to buy the game at launch? Probably not, mostly because of Bravely Default releasing around the same time. Still, you can bet I will purchase this game somewhere in the near future.
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