on 6 April 2014
Before starting, I just want to point out that I purchased the Limited Edition from GAME.
I also recently created a PlayStation 3 review for this game (since the reviews are for separate console formats and not shown together on amazon), but I have also updated this review, so while the wording is not exactly the same, they do reflect on the same points.
I have so many things that I want to say about the Xbox 360 version of this game. I really do love this game, but at the same time, I hate this version so much... So where do I start?
The best part of the game by far is the gameplay. Even though this title departs from the traditional gameplay you would expect from the series, as well as this trilogy, it's fast-paced, it requires strategy and fast thinking instead of just pressing an "auto attack" button like in the previous games, and it's also easy to screw up (draining the ATB gauges too quickly from using powerful attacks too often, for example), making you want to get even more involved. Unlike the previous games, you only have Lightning in battle for the majority of the game, but the battle system is similar to both the Paradigm Shift system from the previous titles in the trilogy, and the Dressphere system in FFX-2.
Now I have noticed a major performance flaw with the Xbox 360 version of the game (and I suggest you read my PS3 review if this is an issue for you, and you actually own a PS3). During certain battles, the frame rate drops so low, that it looks like the game is going to crash. It seems like it goes at about 5fps at times, and it even seems to slow down slightly. It makes the game feel like it is unresponsive when it happens, and it is just unbearable at times. It only occurs with a couple of monsters, but when you think about how many times you'll be engaged in battle with these monsters... Well let's just say it'll get old really quickly.
The story is okay. Unlike FFXIII, Lightning Returns is not linear at all. You have 5 main quests, numerous side quests and then the "Canvas of Prayers" quests. To level up in this game, you have no choice but to complete these quests, as they grant you stat boosts, and so are the only way of leveling up. The quests are spread throughout the world, so you shouldn't be stuck in the same area for the majority of the game. The only bad thing I would say about this game (although it very much depends on taste more than anything) is that the religion theme almost feels like it's being shoved in your face during certain parts of the game. I personally don't have a problem with it, but I have seen a lot of people who have been pretty upset or annoyed by this.
Some people may also consider the time limit a bad thing, but I actually like it. Yes, it does mean that you have to use a guide to get the most out of the game, but it makes the world feel alive. Every day, quests open or close, which can be annoying, but shows that the world is constantly moving. Even if the time aspect affects how you are progressing, there is an ability in the game, which allows you to stop time for a short amount of time, which is very helpful when travelling between places. Although I should add that this ability can be easily abused in Easy Mode. I completed the majority of the quests in the first few days of the game. If you do want a challenge (and believe me, it is) go straight to Normal Mode. Believe me, it's harder than you think...
Like always in this series, the soundtrack in Lightning Returns is amazing. The sound is so diverse, unlike the FFXIII soundtrack, and if you're like me and enjoy listening to these soundtracks over and over, you'll love this one. As well as the new tracks, Lightning Returns also borrows a few tracks from the XIII and XIII-2 games, which I feel makes the game a lot better to play, since it means you don't listen to the same track over and over again. Some great tracks include "Equilibrium", "The Dead Dunes", "The Glittering City of Yusnaan", "Sneaking In" and "Nova Chrysalia". The sounds and styles for each of them probably couldn't be any more different, but that's what makes the soundtrack so enjoyable. It's definitely one of my favourite soundtracks in the entire series to date, even if it doesn't sound like what people have come to expect from the series.
The graphics does actually seem worse in this title though. Whilst character models look decent, some of the scenery looks like something from a PS1 game. Some walls and textures just look flat and look like they've been poorly painted over, making them look unrealistic. Having said that, this is a minor (very picky) flaw, and doesn't affect the game too much.
There is also a large amount of DLC "garbs" (dresses) available from the PSN/Xbox store, ranging from outfits specially made for Lightning, to fan favourite costumes such as Yuna's FFX and X-2 costumes, and Cloud's FFVII costume. Not only do these look pretty on Lightning, but they also prove to be very effective early on in the game, giving a considerable boost to Lightning's stats early on in the game.
Overall, this is a good game which I personally think uses some interesting concepts, and I think that even though it has it's flaws (both minor and serious in the Xbox 360 version), it seems that Square-Enix have really tried to make this as best as they can. While I can't say the story is amazing, the game is probably the best one in the FFXIII trilogy, and the gameplay does make up for it. Having said that, the framerate issues in this version really doesn't give a good impression, and makes the game so frustrating to play, especially if you're dealing with the same monster over and over again, causing the issues to happen over and over again.
I wouldn't go as far as saying I'd recommend this to anyone, but if you enjoyed the previous titles in the FFXIII trilogy, or if you generally enjoy games in the Final Fantasy series, then it's possible that you may love this. I loved it so much, I bought a PS3 copy to play at Uni, which I think kinda speaks for itself...
on 27 February 2014
I pre-ordered this game 9 months ago, i was that excited.
It really is a huge improvement , it's miles ahead of XIII and XIII-2.
XIII was alright, the second one was a huge improvement and now LR is a completely new game.
The combat is very nice, not lack lustre like the others before. The costume system is quite fun even if people look at and sigh at the thought of Light showing more skin than Yuna in X-2, keep in mind 90% off the outfits barely show any skin and aren't girly at all. They're a substitute to the party members that are no longer there.
Another advantage is that this game is *hard*. It actually offers a chalenging experience to the player unlike before. You can only carry a limited amount of potions/healing items and fleeing from battle will result in you being penalised.
The music is great, it has a theme and it isn't all over the place like 13-2.
Flaws: the religious theme can be quite in your face, but bear with it. It gets better.
Hope, who became one of my favourite characters in 13-2 has now gone back to being an annoying little kid. He treats Light like he is the always present parent. Very annoying.
You no longer level up by beating monsters, now you must do quests. It makes killing monsters a bit of a chore
The story is all over the place, you can go to new places but it will start that place's mainquest and it can be hard to keep track of what you're doing. But i think thats part of the HUGE freedom you have in the game.
Locations are beautiful, there are light hearted moments which make up for the depressing tone of the game and it's fun to play. Story is very interesting too. I definitely recommend it.
on 28 March 2015
Good points are, lightning’s costumes are a novelty as you change your attacks, and she’s nicely voiced, the fans of the series asked for a changed from the first game because it was to linear, and they took this to heart, and misinterpreted more exploration and freedom, for totally boring non-intuitive side missions, for a totally confusing story, and I know let’s just throw in a time limit, so exploring goes out the window. The graphics go steeply downhill in the trilogy, character models always look good, but mediocre environments start creeping in, play number 1-3 and number 1 is far around better visually. The combat system changes that much through the series, it feels like going from Tales of Graces f, to call of duty. Maybe they should revaluate what the series is now, and where it’s going.