While those who have read our full review of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 will know that the game falls short of fan expectations in several key ways, one area that does deserve praise is the combat. So, in order to better highlight what makes Lightning Returns‘ combat unique and sets it apart from previous Final Fantasy titles, even those within the same FF 13 umbrella, we have put together the above gameplay video.
In the video, viewers will see Lightning Returns‘ new, schema-based combat system. Based on what costume, weapon, and shield combination Lightning is using, the player can deploy any number of attacks. Moreover, the different schemas act like full turns during which the player can attack, guard, or use magic until that particular schema’s ATB bar is depleted. Then they move on to the next schema, use its abilities, and so on.
Square Enix also adds a few extra wrinkles into the fold with EP abilities. EP abilities can be used in and out of battle and they offer everything from basic spells like Curaga and Esunada, or even a means of escape from particularly challenging battles. And trust us when we say that Escape comes in plenty handy.
Ultimately, the new combat system in Lightning Returns is one of its biggest selling points, as it combines the more active combat of something like Kingdom Hearts with a new riff on FF 13‘s paradigm system. It’s a shame that players only get to control Lightning, but that’s a small gripe for a genuinely inventive combat system. We’d also hoped combat would be a more integral piece of Lightning Returns‘ gameplay, but as was mention in the video it is the game’s numerous quests that factor into leveling up, while combat is responsible for earning new abilities for new schema combinations.
One thing that we didn’t highlight in the video, coincidentally, due to lack of time is the ticking clock in Lightning Returns. The ticking clock (seen underneath the mini-map on the right of the screen) is always present in Lightning Returns — it does pause during battles and cutscenes — and adds a Majora’s Mask type urgency to the quests. Unfortunately, the actual quests themselves are rather rote, calling to mind the needlessly tedious fetch or “kill X of this enemy” quests featured prominently in MMOs.
All in all, Lightning Returns is a botched landing for a franchise that was needlessly tumbling through the air, unsure of its direction or purpose. There are elements to enjoy, or at least admire, but few that make the experience as a whole worth recommending.
Make sure to read our full review of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13.
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What do you think of the combat in Lightning Returns? What about it intrigues you? What do you have concerns about? Let us know in the comments below.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 is available now for PS3 and Xbox 360.
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