‘Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII’ Breaks New Ground

'Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII' tries new ground

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is attempting a new approach to the RPG.

According to the game’s storyline, it has been 500 years since the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2, and as the title indicates, the protagonist Lightning is returning. The defeat of Caius Ballad has triggered the death of the goddess Etro. Etro’s main job while alive was to maintain the separation between two worlds; the world of humans, and the dimension of the gods (Valhalla).

Now time doesn’t work the way it should, so humans have stopped aging, and the world has settled into four islands connected by a rail system. Religion has become almost a new fad, and the city of Luxerion has developed an eerie feel to it.

Final Fantasy XIII was story-driven and gamers complained that it was too long. It took 10 to 15 hours to earn the freedom of the airship and get away from the world of endless corridors. Final Fantasy XIII-2 was player-driven and consisted of a bunch of smaller maps scattered throughout, making it appear as though it wasn’t a world so much as a “choose your own adventure” scenario.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is attempting to go world-driven. Shopkeepers have returned as well, and the world moves on in spite of you. Everybody just goes about their own lives this time around, and sometimes you have to find people to get quests from them. This level of realism in storytelling has rarely been done before in a videogame.

The world will end in 13 days, giving you more urgency to do as much as you can in game time. This isn’t such great news for those RPG fans that enjoy powering up and grinding to maximize their power before facing a boss, but that’s how life itself goes.

The fighting system should be very familiar to fans who came along in the Final Fantasy VII era. All fights take place in the Active Time Battle system, meaning that if you put the controller down to use the bathroom in the middle of a fight, you will most likely find your videogame character dead when you come back. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII pushes the realism even further than that, by making you map your individual battle actions before fighting, thus eliminating the menu system when you’re up against something trying to kill you.

In general, this is one RPG that will make you pay attention when it naturally matters.

What do you think of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII trying a new approach to the series?