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3.8 out of 5 stars
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2014
A moving finale to the series. Lightning has been a refreshing change from the usual angsty teen, and she gets a worthy send off.

It was slow to start, and the time limit was a little annoying (no stopping to take in the view), but it grew on me, and so did the character Lightning as we got to know her far better than in the previous games.

I watched the ending FMVs yesterday, and was quite emotionally affected by it. We see a rare bit of vulnerability from Lightning, a point at which my heart went out to her in a way I've rarely experienced over any movie or videogame characters before.

The very final after-credits movie is very clever too, hinting at a certain connection between different worlds. Perhaps Lightning will find the others - or perhaps she will find us.

I guess tastes vary a lot, because this XIII series is up there with VII for me. Lightning really is the female Cloud!

And so beautiful in the Midnight Mauve...

Thanks Square Enix. You made a long time FF fan happy.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
There haven't been that many RPGs about for the PS3 lately and having played through Diablo several times it's good to have a new Final Fantasy on the horizon. As expected, the introductions and cut-scenes look very good on the PS3 and a lot of time and effort has gone into the look and feel of this game, to bring it up to the high standards of the series.

But this is almost like a re-issue, as we have characters who have all appeared before in previous FF games and while the series has always been self-referential, this is a new level of "milking it". So if you like the Final Fantasy games and are prepared to go along with it, then this can be an entertaining game - but it certainly won't convert any new fans and it may bewilder those who haven't kept up. Having played all the previous games, I'm still not sure what's going on, most of the time.

Initially this game is quite frustrating - where are you supposed to be going and what are you supposed to be doing? OK, there's some stuff about saving souls and saving the world, but basically you are thrust into a city and have to make your own mind up about what to do. There are plenty of tutorials and you certainly need to follow these, as on "Normal" mode, which is the default - battles aren't all push-overs where you just press buttons as fast as you can. Maybe you will get through a few minor enemies like this - but you need to understand the battle system, if you are going to progress any further.

In many ways this is a standard RPG set-up, but with its own twist, using various costumes for your main character, who can switch between these easily in battles, to deploy different sets of abilities and different strengths/weaknesses. Like in most RPGs, you can use brute strength - weapons and shields - or use magic for distance attacks. You can set up 3 sets of these, to use in battle and can build up further sets in reserve, as you gain items and purchase things in the various shops throughout town.

So, you build up a lot of stuff and you end up with loads of minor quests, with not much time before you are whisked back to the "ark" with your mission controller/buddy "Hope". It all throws you into a panic, where you are re-tracing your steps and going round in circles. I found the best thing was to constantly bring up the full-screen map - this highlights your objectives and then you can plan routes to get where you want, when you want. Some gates are timed and only open during certain hours - so unless you plan carefully, you get stuck and waste a lot of time.

All in all - it comes down to being organised and making best use of what time you have in the day. The better you do, the more souls you save and the more time you get before the end of the world. It's almost like a time management exercise. Whether you like such games will determine how much you like this one. You could spend all your time fighting and you do need to develop your skills in this area - but it won't help you save souls and get more time to play - you will waste a lot time - when you could avoid a lot of fights and make more progress.

So, this is a balancing act, as if you are not strong or wily enough, when it comes to a boss battle - then you will hit a brick wall there. It makes for a diffcult game to start out and can be a bit frustrating. But the further you get and the more comfortable with how it works - it does get more satisfying and you are rewarded with more graphical "feasts" where you can relax and admire the scenery!

It's all very much an acquired taste and the whole "alternative religion" and weird dress code is what makes Final Fantasy distinctive - but at its heart, is a conventional RPG "engine" which is about resource and time management. The time element can induce panic and is no doubt deliberate - but you can always start again, as all of these characters have done. Not the best of the series, but still worth playing and certainly good to look at - the further you go, the more it makes sense - don't give up too easily.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2014
Unlike some of the other reviewers, I actually loved XIII-2, and actually don't mind the corridor. XIII-2 leaves the game on a massive cliff-hanger, so I couldn't wait to play XIII-3, but it was a huge disappointment. There was basically no plot or character development whatsoever.

Without really spoiling the game, you play as Lightning throughout, and find out right at the beginning of the game that the world is ending in a few days and you're on a divine mission from God to do as many side quests as possible before the world ends. That is literally it. You probably think I'm joking, after the complicated plot and build-up of XIII-2, and the though-provoking ideas of inescapable fates and self-sacrifice, but I'm not.

Whats more, the side quests don't make any sense. The world is ending, and people are asking you to round up sheep and fetch books. After the dark ending of XIII-2, this is just farcical. To add insult to injury, the side quest elements often aren't rendered very well, such as the hexagon-shaped dog that you have to find, and the screen going black for a second rather than the programmers having to render something complicated like putting on a hat. Which brings me onto my second major gripe...

Almost everything is rendered in-game, often poorly. If you enjoyed the cut scenes in XIII and XIII-2, then be prepared for major disappointment. This game supplies a grand total of 1 beautifully pre-rendered cut scene, right at the beginning. After that it's all 2D flowers, NPCs standing between Lightning and the person she's talking to, and the surprisingly often occurrence of a cat walking into Lightning and pushing her right out of the 'cut scene'.

The third major thing that annoyed me is having a liner story line that can be completed in any order. It's a cool idea I guess, but the result is that any bit of story has to cater to the fact that you might not have played the other bits first, so be prepared for a lot of repetition, and ultra-cool Lightning sounding surprised by stuff she's just learned earlier that day. Plus, since the game is time-limited, you can complete the game without doing a single thing, which means that most of the story has been designed to be non-consequential.

All in all, it feels to me that the creators had originally intended to finish off XIII-2 with a 2-hour DLC, and then decided to quickly slap together a full game at the last minute, cutting as many corners as possible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2014
So this game is a big step in a new direction for Square Enix and Final Fantasy games. In a way it's good to see that they are expanding their horizons (and having seen the video for FFXV, it's a step towards that), I can't help but feel a little disappointed.

One of the joys of playing previous FF games is the fact that you can use several characters who have their own abilities and quirks. Here you only play as Lightning, and although you get help from other characters at points throughout the game - Chocobo and Fang - it's just not quite right. Sure you can "change garbs", but it's more like a poorly done version of the "jobs" system that's been used in previous games.
Then there's the levelling up system - completely based on the completion of quests. It's a bit weird, and found myself frustrated that I'd fought loads of enemies but not actually levelled up or done anything towards the completion of a quest that might lead to some sort of levelling up.
The 'free-running' aspect of the game, in that Lightning can jump on things and run around and slide down poles, feels like a very, VERY poor attempt to copy Assassins Creed. It simply isn't good enough.

The story is great (I've been a massive fan of the storyline since the start of FFXIII) and as long as you complete the main quests in each region it progresses nicely. But there are lots of snippets from side quests that fill in little gaps in the story here and there that would be missed if you didn't go and do them. Another downside is that, although you appear to have plenty of time to do the main quests, the pressure of the clock counting down makes you want to rush through them. I found myself going back into areas because I'd rushed through and not picked up treasures or collected quest items.
The CGI scenes are epic, as usual, but there aren't enough of them!!

All in all, it's an OK game. Certainly not the worst FF game, but definitely not the best. It's a sequel clearly designed to finish things off in preparation for the next gen games.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Here we go with my first review on Amazon.
First of all, I read so many bad reviews, claiming this game is the third in the worst trilogy ever. False.
This game is what FF XIII and FF XIII-2 should've been since the beginning.
Lightning Returns left back a boring fightning system, where you had to change roles during fight, for a more action-oriented one.
It feels like playing Dissidia sometimes. Lightning is free to run, jump, attack and climb ladders. FF XIII never allowed you to do that before now.
Role switching left place to "dress changing" and this happens instantly during fight, no cutscenes every time you switch.
Every dress has a full set of attacks and magics, and you can customize all of them.
Story is a little bit obvious, feels boring sometimes (the classic God VS Chaos plot), but, thanks to the side quests, is a little more interesting.
Graphics are beautiful, like every FF games so far. But they are not as good as you may expect, simply because PS3 is outdated.
If it came out for PS4, it sure had better graphics, but I like the decision Square Enix took to end the trilogy on the same console.

Conclusions: if you are an old school's FF fan, you may be a little disappointed with this game, but it's still a great game.
If you never played FF before, you'll sure like this one, even if, at this point, it is more "Final Sci-Fi" than "Final Fantasy".

I'd give this game 4/5 overall.

I'm italian, I hope my english is good enough and this review will be of any help. You won't regret buying this game.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I want to be clear... i despised the ticking clock on this game... i thought it was just about one of the worst things ever for a FF game.
I sort of had a bad start... Ignored it... in the end I thought screw this and i ran down the time in hotels just to see what happend when the world ended. It ended, you started again with all your stats... and lots of loot.

wow... when you sort of know what your doing this game is a lot of fun.

the battle system is great... the reflex system is fun and does not (IMO) detract from the roll play.
A lot of the ff13 story is side stepped... and could be regarded as a story in itself.

You will probably hate this game unless you have a main story lines walk-though... i sort of messed it up going for it on my own. (but to be honest... i thing that this game will be a gift to the FF speedrunners in the future)
Dialog... tooooooo much. If character have something to say... a sentence is not enough... they fneed' 5 paragraphs.
Can feel a little like your playing an mmopg in a world all on your own with just the NPCs
Story.. I feel FF has been lacking in this department for a while, and there is a tendency toward quantity of story rather than quality.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2014
While the consensus is rather against me, I actually really liked Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2. I had fun with Lightning Returns, too, but it has several major flaws that make it a far weaker game than it should be.

Gameplay-wise, the battle system is pretty great. As much as Square may want you to think otherwise, it's actually very similar to XIII and XIII-2. The ability to move Lightning around using the analogue stick is present, but wholly unnecessary as it is far too slow to be meaningful. The combat is satisfying and for most of the game the difficulty curve is quite fair and requires a good amount of planning and pre-battle preparation. Taking the correct Schema for the job really is the difference between life and death, and on normal difficulty you can't just power through fights with stupendous ease like in XIII-2. It's a great system to wrap your head around and I had a great time doing so. The difficulty does spike in parts. but overall the game does a good job of maintaining a difficulty curve.

And I even quite like the time mechanic. It could be implemented better, but I like the sense of urgency that it gives. In old-school RPGs where you had limited save points and items were expensive and rare, you had to manage resources well to stay alive. LR:FFXIII recaptures some of that spirit. Time management is essential as quests are the way to level up Lightning's stats. It's a mechanic which I personally feel is very well done.

Of course, the quests themselves leave something to be desired. This is one part of the reason for that review score - most are generic and annoying kill and collect quests. This is by no means an issue exclusive to LR (I actually feel that Skyrim has a similar problem, but that's another rant entirely), but in any case they're quite a bit less than engaging.

Another plus is the music, even if a lot of it is just remixes of music from the first two games. But this leads me into my next criticism - the game feels rather cheap. It feels like it was callously thrown together from existing assets. Graphically, it's far weaker than the first two, especially original FFXIII which was and still is incredibly beautiful. The game even rubs it in your face a bit with flashbacks taken from the original - the difference is stark. The art style is strong, especially in the two cities, but overall the graphics leave a lot to be desired (that said, it kind of goes without saying that the CGI is beyond stunning, especially the end sequence which is breathtaking).

The other big fault is the story. This is a problem, I find, in most games with a 'do the story in whatever order you like' structure - it just feels disjointed and rushed. The opening sequence and ending sequence are fixed, but the other story quests are open to do in any order. And they all feel just a little bit crappy. No character gets any development. It really feels like they may as well not have bothered, frankly. I enjoyed the conclusion, but the rest was mostly awful - and I liked XIII's and XIII-2's story.

So that's why it ends up being the worst XIII game. If you've played XIII-2 then you undoubtedly want to see the conclusion, just don't go in expecting a flawless masterpiece.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Tick Tock Tick Tock it’s all against the clock!
While I feel the series has gone downhill and that they should concentrate on releasing a new number rather than push lightning onto us for a third time (Although technically she wasn’t really a big part of the second game) this game isn’t really at that bad.

My biggest issue is the change from previous Final Fantasy games and how you level up. Now change is good if done correctly but I dislike the way that you have to do boring fetch side quests and awful side stories in order to gain EXP instead of killing stuff! I’d probably done the side quests anyway but I’ve always liked fighting to gain experience, it’s true to life that the more you do something the better you should be at it.
My other gripe comes in the form of a clock! I dislike timed based games; I don’t want to feel pressured into rushing through places especially in an RPG where you really want to explore. The timer can be stopped for brief periods of time so long as you have beaten enough monsters (which can be an issue later on for reasons I won’t mention here). Turns out that near the end of the game I had loads of time spare so unlike myself if you are reading this before playing just know that you have a lot more time than you expect especially if you do the side quests and save souls.

The game itself looks worse than the previous two. I don’t know if this is just going back to a PS3 game after playing the PS4 but I did put in the second game and that did look a lot more polished. I am not sure how they have made it look worse using the same engine, my only thought is that the game may have been rushed. There are also lots of glitches, within the first hour of playing I came across a chap trying to walk through a wall! Everywhere around the town are people bumping into each other, I also witnessed a kid falling down, getting back up and falling down constantly! One more on the subject and that’s the cut scenes, now it is nice to have a scene shown to you with in game graphics but when your character can be barged out of the way and sometimes out of camera shot by an AI is really bad game mechanics! One time my chocobo’s feathers was all I could see during one whole scene and the characters chatting were behind him!

Having said all this it’s nice having big places to explore worlds back in Final Fantasy games. The battle system is excellent and I love having the ability to change what you are wearing during battle it brings back memories of the underrated Final Fantasy X-2 (which is now out on HD remastered). I do miss having other characters in my party but I can accept this in this game!

The game is designed for more than one play through but I managed to do nearly everything in one 65hour session. The only thing that annoyed me at this is an ability you only get during a new game + stopping anyone getting 100% of trophies on a single run through. Those last remaining 3 trophies for synthesize is what has stopped me get a platinum and that has annoyed me a little.

The soundtrack takes some memorable tunes from the previous two games which is no bad thing unless you are purchasing the soundtrack. The story isn’t very good at all. The start is very religion heavy which can be a turn off straight away and you just don’t get gripped about what is going on at all.

Reading through my own review makes it sound like I thought the game was rubbish but it really wasn’t I just feel that it was worse than the previous two of the series and maybe should have never really been made.

Take what you will from my review, I did play it to near on 100% so it can’t have been that bad right?
the battle system really is what kept me at this game and my love for Final Fantasy, I just hoped that the next game lives up to the hype!
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on 11 May 2015
This review is for the PS3 version of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. I have made a separate review for the Xbox 360 version as I have played this game on both systems, and for some weird reason, amazon doesn't show reviews from both versions in one list like with some products. Odd...
Anyway, I've played both console versions of this game, and I have to say, this is the more superior version of the two. You may see similarities between the two reviews since, well... they are basically the same game. They are basically the same, other than a few... technical issues (which will be explained later).

So what's great about this game then?
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 Final Fantasy series (as well as the FFXIII trilogy) it's fast-paced, it requires strategy and fast thinking instead of just pressing an "auto attack" button like in the previous FFXIII games. It's also easy to screw up (draining the ATB gauges too quickly from using powerful attacks too often, for example), which makes it more engaging. Unlike the previous FFXIII 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 Final Fantasy X-2.
Now here is where the PlayStation 3 version is more superior. During certain battles on the Xbox 360 version, the frame rate can drop so low, the game looks like it 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. The PlayStation 3 version is nowhere near that bad. There is one monster in the game that caused this problem a lot on the 360, but the issue barely happened on the PS3 version. It does get choppy on very few occasions when engaged with this one particular monster (which can be repeated over and over), but it is nowhere near as bad as it was on the 360 version.

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, which is the only way to level up in Lightning Returns. 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 your personal 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. This doesn't bother me at all, but I've seen a few cases where it has actually discouraged people from playing.
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. I should also add that while useful, the ability can pretty much ruin the whole game in Easy Mode, because it is so easy to abuse. I managed to complete all but a couple of side quests in the first few days of the game.

Like always in this series, the soundtrack 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.

As odd as it may seem considering the previous Final Fantasy XIII titles, the graphics actually seem worse in this title. Whilst character models look pretty 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 currently 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 its flaws (which can vary between both versions of the game), it seems that Square Enix have really tried to make this as best as they can.
While I can't say the story is the most fantabulous thing to come from Square Enix, the game is probably the best one in the FFXIII trilogy, and the gameplay does make up for it.
Having said that, the graphics and framerate issues in certain battles (albeit minor in this PS3 version) really doesn't give a good impression, and may become frustrating overtime.
I wouldn't go as far as saying I'd recommend this to everyone, but if you enjoyed the previous titles in the FFXIII trilogy, or generally enjoy playing anything within the Final Fantasy series, then it's possible that you may love this. I genuinely didn't think I would enjoy this as much, but I thought it was so good, I even bought a second copy so I could play it at Uni. I think that would kinda speak volumes.
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on 3 September 2014
I've kind of gone on an emotional roller-coaster with this game, i've gone from not liking it, to loving it to being bored with it. To make this review more concise i'll just break it down to it's top 3 pros and cons...
1) Whilst I wouldn't say that the majority of the enemies were hard, some of the random encounter battles can really take a while, it get's so boring after a while just repeating a process to wear an enemy down.
2) The story line isn't as gripping and is just a little confusing. The story has dwindled from game to game and it's so strange that the original story has boiled down to this, it'so different from the original game, if the protagonist wasn't the same, you wouldn't even think you were playing a FF13 game.
3) It's trying to seem non-linear whilst hiding in a linear story line. Yes you can do things in any order you like, but things are still compulsory if you want to stand any chance with the higher-level bosses and monsters.
1) I like going back to the old RPG ways of completing tasks for people and the perks you receive are what 'level' you up in the game. Some of the tasks are just, 'go here then go there' and others are quite fun but still, listening to NPC's and their stories is nice.
2) The idea of garbs is kind cool and different(ish) for a FF game, combining FFX-2 and FF13 combat styles.
3) It's something to do.. The New Game+ is pretty good too.

I've gotten to near the end of the game, wanting to get the best weapons but some of the enemies and tasks... it just get's boring after a while and I needed to do something different, I haven't played it in a few weeks and it'll probably be another few weeks before I pick it up again.
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