Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 Review: Lightning Strike-Out
On the visual side of things, Lightning Returns is a mixed bag. As you would expect from a Final Fantasy game, the character models of Lightning and the rest of the main cast are all gorgeous. Careful attention to detail has obviously been paid to all of Lightning’s costumes. The environments, on the other hand, are a different story. Muddy textures, boring architecture, and an inconsistent framerate leave an ugly blemish on Lightning Returns’ visual presentation.
Thankfully, the audio holds up much better, with some memorable returning tunes from FF13, fantastic remixes of some classics like the “Chocobo Theme,” and another strong performance from Ali Hillis as Lightning.
If the fact that there are only five main quests and four regions makes you concerned about the game’s length, don’t be. It took me about 45 hours to get through the game on normal, even bypassing many of the hardest sidequests. Once you finish the story, a new game plus mode opens up along with a harder difficulty and even more costumes and weapons to unlock that weren’t available in the first playthrough. Needless to say, if you enjoy Lightning Returns, there will be enough content to keep you playing for a long, long time.
There’s a great game buried in the code of Lightning Returns, and if you’re the sort that’s willing to dig through a seemingly endless amount of mind numbing sidequests, then you might be able to find it. For me though, Lightning Returns was a draining gauntlet of fetch quests and gathering missions that occasionally allowed me to have fun with its deep combat and customization options. Unfortunately, occasional fun is not something I can recommend for a game that lasts upwards of 40 hours, especially when the rest of time spent playing feels like running errands.
- Deep battle system that rewards both skillful play and careful planning
- Customizing schemata by mixing and matching various garbs, weapons, shields and accessories is fantastic and allows you to play your way
- Completely non-linear structure allows players the freedom to go wherever they want pretty much right from the start
- While the various costumes that Lightning can wear are silly within the context of the story, they’re all very well designed and fun to experiment with in your schematas
- Awful sidequests, which is especially frustrating when 80 percent of the time you play, there’s nothing to do other than complete sidequests
- A lack of waypoints leads to a lot of aimless wandering, hoping that you eventually find a person you need to talk to or item you need for a quest
- Extravagant spell effects can obscure the view of battle
- Rewards from defeating monsters could have been balanced better to make tough battles against standard enemies feel more satisfying
- Time locked gates are a huge frustration and seem to only be placed to waste your time
Final Score: 65/100
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