Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Save up to 69%
Empire
Film Studies 101
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

PACKSHOT
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

GAME DETAILS
Released
14 February 2014
Format
Xbox 360, PS3
Developer
Square

LATEST GAME REVIEWS
Mortal Kombat X
4 Star Empire Rating
Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin
4 Star Empire Rating
Bloodborne
5 Star Empire Rating
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D
3 Star Empire Rating
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Bloodborne
5 Star Empire Rating
Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Elite: Dangerous
5 Star Empire Rating
World Of Warcraft: Warlords Of Draenor
5 Star Empire Rating
Super Smash Bros. Wii U
5 Star Empire Rating

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII


submit to reddit

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2014)
Review
Final Fantasy is a series that has spent many years appeasing its long-serving fanbase’s idea of what a Final Fantasy game should be. That all changed with Final Fantasy XIII, however, which made a bold attempt to revitalise the creaking formula with a more action-orientated campaign. The move was rewarded with vitriol from franchise purists and Lightning Returns is unlikely to make remedy that, taking an even larger step away from the traditional FF playbook.

Shucking traditional experience point systems and turn-based combat in favour of a straight-up action approach, Lightning Returns (FF XIII-3, if you will) introduces a surprisingly thoughtful and engaging battle system. It’s simple enough for easy entry but successfully stringing together attack combos requires skill and timing, while juggling the switchable outfits mixes up abilities. It’s a far cry from the menu-based melees of Fantasies past but will stand as one of the series’ most gratifying combat systems for those willing to learn its intricacies.

The world itself is vast and explorable, enabling players to venture into each of its districts in any order they like – despite some obvious signposting. And what a captivating world it is. Each area is roughly the same size as some of XIII’s biggest locations, boasting some of the series’ most arresting scenery and packed with a variety of interesting objects and people to uncover. But there’s a delightfully cruel twist to prevent players from finding every secret the world has to offer. The story takes place in the fortnight leading up to the end of the world and things react to the passage of time in different ways as the apocalypse nears. Nintendo fans may remember a similar temporal conceit in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, but while Link in the ‘90s adventure had the luxury of time travel to complete a series of contextual objectives, here the clock is more foreboding: characters disappear and die, enemies grow stronger and quests have added urgency as the end draws near.

Temporal progress impacts the local wildlife as well. There are a finite number of monsters within the world and you’re able to hunt each of them to extinction. It’s an interesting mechanic, not least because the last remaining creature is a relentlessly tough beast to slaughter, but it also establishes the consequences of a world on the brink of destruction better than the story does by rehashing XIII and XIII-2’s baffling plot threads.

Narrative has always been one of Final Fantasy’s more inconsistent elements and in that regard Lightning Returns offers a wholly forgettable addition. Ignore the overarching story though and this is a far more enjoyable experience. It may not gel as cohesively as it should and the necessity of multiple playthroughs is frustrating, but as a decisive step into more interesting territory this is a welcome change of pace for the series.


Reviewed by Bryan Murray

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Updated! Stan Lee’s Marvel-lous Cameos – Now With Even More Cameos
From Daredevil to... Daredevil?

11 Of The Silliest Sesame Street Film Parodies
From Aveggies: Age Of Ultron to Big Birdman (and back again)

Astonishing Movie Star Music Video Cameos
Hiccup, Rhodey and Spidey join the party

Podcast #158: Paul Bettany, Charlie Cox
The Vision vs. Daredevil

Daredevil Season 1 Spoiler Podcast - Featuring Charlie Cox
The team discuss and dissect the Marvel / Netflix show

Richard Armitage Bids Farewell To The Hobbit
On goat-riding, keepsakes and saying goodbye to Thorin

Empire's Jurassic World Covers Unveiled
You're going to hear her roar

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Subscribe now and save up to 70%

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire Digital Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe now and save up to 69%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)