Ah Final Fantasy, you sneaky temptress you. Every time I think I have you figured out you throw me a curve ball…..not usually a good one….but oh well. Now, I was one of the 6 people that actually enjoyed XIII and XIII-2. Before you grab your torches and pitchforks YES I know the first game was a glorified hallway and YES I know both games really decided to screw with the usual conventions that make a Final Fantasy game….well….a Final Fantasy game. Despite it all I decided to just play it like it was just another RPG and i enjoyed it all the same. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13-
3 Revengance Saga Awakening 5 hits stores next week, so I decided HEY, let’s give this a fair shot, since there is a demo out there on PSN and XBLA that anyone can go get now.
Boy this game shocked me at first, at its reveal I began to wonder what the Hell the folks at Square were thinking. This is by far the strangest looking main series Final Fantasy game I had seen. XIII made it so you could only control 1 party member at a time, fans complained. XIII-2 reduced the entire main party to 2 members with a monster AND you could still only control 1. I thought Square was just trolling their fans when they decided to give you ONE single party member. That’s pretty ludicrous for a Final Fantasy game, the game series that revolutionized the party system turn based RPG.
But ya know what’s funny? It works.
Final Fantasy/Turn Based RPG traditionalists may not be happy with this game but I gotta tell you, from what I played it’s a blast. I love me some turn based RPGs, I even can’t wait to pick up Bravely Default tomorrow, but this game is just plain fun. It is VERY different but don’t let that push you away. The best way I can describe it is a mix of FFX-2 and Devil May Cry. Strange but good. You can see a good example in the video posted below. It all relies on a simple combo system full of traditional Final Fantasy moves strung together, the FFXIII ATB system which is now more of a stamina meter, and active immediate class swapping/customization.
Class swapping is probably the most important part of the battle system in this game. At first glance it may seem like all the different outfits and DLC dress you obtain is just some sort of dress up game made into an RPG. With some of the accessories that may be true but each outfit and weapon give a whole set of skills and stats to your class. There are the standard Final Fantasy classes with their stock style, but even better is customizing to make the class your own, naming your own classes if you want. The demo didn’t have too much options for customizing them but gave a good variety of classes to choose from.
All in all, if you’re a Final Fantasy fan (or even a DMC or action RPG fan) you owe it to yourself to at least give the demo a shot, at least in my opinion. It looks like a well balanced game with a fun style that’s very different among its turn based brethren. Even if you disapproved the other 2 games, I wouldn’t count this one out, though I wouldn’t hope for the most amazing Final Fantasy story cause it seems as confusing/strange as the other 2.
If you love the Final Fantasy series, you will also enjoy all the costume style cameos, along with my favorite Final Fantasy class…..
Michael Kenney February 4, 2014
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