Scheduled release date:
February 11, 2014
Publisher:
Square Enix
Developer:
Square Enix
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
Action/RPG
Release Date:
February 11, 2014


Faster and dumber. In some ways, you can't blame Square Enix for taking that route. If you want to cater to the masses, unfortunately, "faster and dumber" is usually the easiest and most effective method. Of course, the company in question made a critical mistake: They thought Final Fantasy could – or even should – be designed for the casual masses, those who love shooters and high-impact action games. They never even considered for one second that such gamers would have zero interest in FF, regardless of its speed or dumbness. And the long-time fans? Yeah, they'd hate it.

For the record, if Square Enix had simply wanted to reinvent the IP to make it more accessible and appealing to more consumers, I'd be fine with that. Or even if they kept it relatively niche and wanted to overhaul the "outdated" turn-based mechanic. Go right ahead. If you want to make an action/RPG, there are plenty of great ways to go about it. I was against the quasi-real-time system used in Final Fantasy XII , too, but it was designed so beautifully that I ended up loving it. So, it's not about the legions of older FF fans whining that it's not the same.

We're complaining because it's starting to suck .

A playable demo for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is now available on the PS3 and Xbox 360. In it, we step into the shoes of "the savior" (Lightning) as she attempts to track down and subsequently "free" Snow. Those who played FFXIII will remember Snow as a regular party member. The guy who used his fists and was in love with Lightning's younger sister, Serah, remember? Well, here, he has somehow become the leader of a city that's just gonna party like it's 1999. In other words, they're celebrating the end of the world; there isn't much time left, so they're just living it up until it's all over. For whatever reason, Snow is presiding over this vivid yet grim spectacle, and Lightning shows up to "save his soul."

Let's get right to it: As usual, Square Enix does excel in the realm of CGI. It really is beautiful. There's a ton of awesome choreography and the character design is better than ever (I'm only referring to this particular trilogy when I say that, by the way). Unfortunately, the in-game graphics are extremely dated; zooming in close turns everything into an eyesore and really, the environment you explore in the demo is downright ugly. Now, after finishing the sample, you catch a glimpse of brighter, possibly better created areas, so maybe there's more beauty and diversity in the final product. Still, the technical achievement is way lower than anticipated.

You have control over the camera, which isn't a good idea. It sits too close, rarely keeps up with the action (frequently leaving you blind in the midst of battle), and is sluggish besides. Lightning moves surprisingly slowly when you move her about manually, although she does jump around nimbly when outside of combat. Jumping seems tacked on, as does the actual movement in battle; sure, you can get away from the enemy, but there's always an invisible barrier around the battlefield. You can only go so far. It makes each encounter feel cramped and rushed. Then there's the combat itself, which appears to be a collection of missed opportunities.

Lightning can change classes on the fly, switching between her available "Schemata." With a press of a button, you can change from Black Mage to Dragoon or Savior to Dark Muse. Each Schemata is fully customizable, too. Here's where I started to have some hope. But that hope was dashed when I realized that when in battle, because Square Enix dumbed things down , you only have access to four abilities for each Schemata. See, each skill is mapped to a face button (to make it feel more like a straight-up action game), so that's all you can access. The saving grace is that you can switch between multiple Schematas at any time (usually when the AP of one is depleted), but that hardly makes up for the lack of options.

I like that each character can equip a bunch of stuff, and I like the full customization of the Schematas. Beyond that… Using only Lightning feels like a total rip-off, having such limited combat abilities per class when in battle is infuriating, and all in all, it feels sloppy and insanely watered down. Outside of battle, in the character menus,it feels like Final Fantasy . In combat and exploring the environment feels like a half-ass attempt at a genre FF should never be, and a genre with which Square Enix has minimal experience. They also have no idea who their fanbase is, anymore.

So, needless to say, I'm not looking forward to this when it shows up. Have you seen some import reviews? Fair warning; I've seen 3s and 4s.

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WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

I really hope that the terrible scores on this game serve as some kind of wake up call for SE concerning the direction of FFXVI (which must be in production at some stage).

It was almost sweet/cute how they thought that having Lightning do stuff that was a big deal in the PS1 days was going to elevate this Frankenstein to big action game status.

It is ugly, but like I said I'm gonna play it anyway. I wanna see how this wreck ends and I do like weirdo Japanese stuff, which this qualifies for.

In the end it's clear that FF, which was once the most mainstream a JRPG could get has pigeonholed itself into being a game that's "not bad" for a certain subset of new fans that connect with bizarre hybrid combat systems.

I hope now that we have evidence in front of us more people know what I was trying to say when I wrote this editorial here:

https://temp.psxextreme.com/feature/978.html


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 1/22/2014 10:43:20 PM

telly
telly
8 years ago

Imagine this — you visit the 1997 version of you, the one who treated the super nes final fantasies like scripture and ff VII like the New Testament. You tell that version of you that final fantasy will become the most atrocious, bloated, nonsensical embarrassment of perhaps all the AAA series out there. What would you say to that?

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

I'd laugh or cry.

Killa Tequilla
Killa Tequilla
8 years ago

I would set myself on fire because back in 1997, that would have been the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard and the only way to get rid of it, of course, is to burn it with fire.

Kidding, I don't play final Fantasy even though I did try to play FFVII.


Last edited by Killa Tequilla on 1/23/2014 12:00:02 AM

Banky A
Banky A
8 years ago

I'd say "SquareSoft do wrong??? HAH". Then cry after you tell me about SE.

Teddie9
Teddie9
8 years ago

well, granted you evince that it wasn't squaresoft anymore, than I could believe just about anything.

Breadlover
Breadlover
8 years ago

Personally, the only saving grace for Square Enix right now is a remastered HD release of FF VII…

homura
homura
8 years ago

Dumbed things down? Lack of options?

Where are you gonna put the other abilties? L1 and R1 are for changing schemata, R2 is for the Libra, I think. You can equip 3 schemata in a battle accompanied by an outfit, each schemata have 4 abilities, so you have 12 abilities you can access on the fly. Isn't it enough?

The only problem I see in the battle system is the stagger cue, it's hard to notice.

But still kudos to SE for making the combat still being menu based. Not like true Hack and Slash Action where your command is (hold circle, while in the air press triangle 3 times, pause then press traingle for two times).

I'll get this game someday, probably when it's cheap. I'm a few of those who loved Final Fantasy XIII and wants to see Lightning's story ends.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

What do mean, where are you going to put the other abilities?

Uh, MENUS? Those things that RPGs have? Only straight-up action games limit your skills to the buttons on the controller and even THAT'S not always true.

This isn't menu-based at all. This is action-based. And that's what kills all semblance of depth and role-playing complexity.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

The PS3 version of FFXIV manages to allow you to allocate 64 commands at once. It shouldn't be difficult for the same company to pull that off for this.

homura
homura
8 years ago

Ben,

Maybe it's not a true menu based, but it's an evolve ATB system, it still has an RPG genes in it. You select abilities in the menu and map it into the buttons for quick access. Call it whatever you want. Whatever.

But still, the combat is not dumb or lacking in options. If Square Enix made the schemata selections into 4 instead of 3, you will click R1 or L1 twice to switch between 1st and 3rd schema causing a millisec delay in a fast paced real time battle without an AI help. So, I think 12 abilities is enough, that you can edit anyway you want thus adds depth and complexity.

Underdog,
How fast can you switch and execute between those 64 commands? In Lightning Returns, it takes only a second to switch and execute between those 12 abilities without help from an ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE while still having a direct control of the movement of the character.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

12 skills? You think that's enough for anything that claims to be an RPG? I had more skills at my disposal in God of War, for crying out loud.

You're missing that well-constructed RPGs are supposed to give you TONS of abilities and class-specific skills.

Having a mere fraction available during battle is indeed dumbed down. They did this because they had to, because they needed to make the game faster. …which is retarded.

FFXII. A zillion abilities all available to each character during quasi-real-time battles. Actually, it's basically the same in Lightning Returns, except it has 1/100th of the depth and you can't pause to select new commands.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

Homura: Very fast. Each palate has 16 choices. 8 when you hold R2 and 8 with L2. By pressing a direction on the D pad, you can change the palate instantly. Since you start with 1 skill, it's easy to grow into it. On top of that, there aren't actually enough skills one job can use to completely fill it, but you can program 100 different macros ahead of time. Almost like programming. So 1 macro could be a set sequence or combo.

A basic example I made up is:

/ac "Swiftcast" <me>
/wait 1
/ac "Raise" <t>

That means, use action Swiftcast on myself, wait 1 second, cast Raise on my target. It acts like an insta raise. Normally it's an 8 second cast time.

And that is a VERY basic example. You can also set it up to automatically communicate to your party and even add a sound effect to help your team know when you're making an announcement or performing a skill. You can assign each macro with an image (another 100-ish images or so to choose from) and assign that macro to one of those 64 slots. There's even more slots on PC!

THAT'S what I call customization. 🙂

Best part of the macro I showed as an example is that Swiftcast is a lvl 26 black mage skill while Raise is for a White Mage. Some skills are cross class enabled, and you can have up to 5 cross class abilities on your job. Each job has a certain number of skills that are cross class, although not all are. (gotta have some specialties, right?)

It sounds complicated, but it's really not. Like I said… you start the game with ONE skill. And it builds up over time. So you really do grow into it.

Also, no AI automatically doing stuff for you in FFXIV, either except for the macros. But those are very finely detailed things YOU have to make from scratch. The game won't decide anything for you. And you can move freely as well… including jumping.


Last edited by Underdog15 on 1/24/2014 1:30:52 AM

homura
homura
8 years ago

Ben,
As I said. I'm glad that Lightning returns didn't turn out to be a true Hack and Slash Action game where you need to input list of buttons to execute attacks like in God Of War, DMC etc. In Eternal Sonata, Folklore, Tales. Abilities are mapped in buttons.

Underdog,
You still use AI on macro. The AI execute the commands for you. In LR you manually press the buttons to execute, no AI. And if you use the D Pad. you'll lose direct control of Lightnings movement. And it takes a few seconds to navigate. Do you think it will work on Lightnng Returns? Where every seconds is critical, and you have no party. Lightning Returns is an action RPG. But RPG nonetheless.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

:
If you use macros, the AI doesn't make decisions for you. It is very specific actions you have decided and is unique to you. There is no AI. It won't deviate from what you specifically plan for.

Every second matters much… MUCH more than in LR. Go look up some boss fights on YouTube. You have to dodge attacks quite often and things like positioning matter. There is also a million times more strategy. Titan hard mode or extreme mode are good ones to observe. And yes, you have to input every single action. And you don't lose control of movement. That's what the analog stick is for. Quite frankly, by giving movement to both the d-pad and the analog stick, you've wasted a method of inputting commands. And the other analog is for the camera, which you can zoom in and out, by the way.

I'm a little disappointed my explanation didn't portray the intense lvl of customization that -SHOULD- be present in LR. Remember… I've played both now. I know what I'm talking about. :p


Last edited by Underdog15 on 1/24/2014 8:36:36 AM

homura
homura
8 years ago

Underdog,
Let me simplify it for you.
In Lightning Returns you have access to 12 abilities and can execute any one of them in just 1 or 2 clicks of a button in just 1 second without removing you're left thumb in the left analog stick meaning you still have direct control of Lightning's movement.

Now in FFXIV, tell me how many abilities that I can execute in maximum of 2 clicks of a buttons in just 1 second while still holding the left analog stick with your left hand.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

No need to simplify. I've played the demo. I get it. Moving Lightning in battle is somewhat pointless, but that's besides the point. I also would argue that you aren't in direct control of her movement… she can only walk… or rather, creep slowly, can't jump… it's like pushing a heavy box across a floor, really. But again, w/e.

To answer your question, in two button presses, 16 on PS3. Another 48 with 3 button presses. Sort of. One button press gives you another 16 to choose from, so the third press is only necessary if you need to switch to another whole palate.

When on PS3, I keep my main attacks on the R2 side, so I hold it and then it's just the one press for those 8.

-So 8 require one press. (double that of LR. And yeah, there is an AI feature, by the way… your combo gets carried out by holding the attack button in LR…)

-A second 8 requires a second press. (getting to the third costume requires 2 presses, right? I might have missed the back one costume button if there was one.)

-All others require a separate press for a new palate. Kind of like switching costumes, if you will.

On PC, you can use 100 choices in one press, although it's not necessary.

I play on PC primarily, and I have 24 available that I can do in a single button press with just my index finger. If I wanted, I could set up more (or fewer), but for my play style, 24 is enough.

Now for the sake of argument, lets say even if both had exactly 12 skills to access in 1 or 2 presses. In LR, those 12 are decided in a menu before battle. Once in battle, that's all you have. If something happens in a fight in LR, you have only the pre-set 12. In FFXIV, I can switch palates and have literally dozens upon dozens of additional skills.

Then there's the party features… I stand by the fact that one single character cannot have the same strategic options as a party of 4 or 8 or even 24.

Lastly, LR really limits your movement. That kinda sucks.

TLDR: I've played both now, and my argument is that I don't really understand why the same company can't make something with just as much variety or complexity.


Last edited by Underdog15 on 1/24/2014 2:18:15 PM

bebestorm
bebestorm
8 years ago

I played the japan demo long ago and it just feels weird that there is no party and no summons. I'll eventually get it one day. Final Fantasy XIII was a really good game and I wish SE would of left the sequels alone because XIII-2 was horrible and this is just weird because I was originally into it when it was first announced but as information started to release things changed. Im looking forward to FF XV!!!

johnld
johnld
8 years ago

i hated the demo. gameplay to me is slower. it was just so dumbed down. combat is just bad. i couldnt stand it. also, i could only carry a limited items? what the hell is that about? one person party? i pass. i was planning to buy it alot later but now its a pass. maybe ill just watch story somewhere. dont like unfinished stories.

goodbye square enix. RIP final fantasy.

also, 13 days till the end of the world… where did that come from?XD

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Yeah, throw in a freakin' time limit for the entire game and the fact that you only control one person in battle, and that's game, set, epic fail.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

13 days till the end of the world makes perfect sense when you take into account the fact that Lightning became Jesus for no particular reason and time travel can be accomplished by sheer will to do so.

Zemus101
Zemus101
8 years ago

The only thing I kept thinking while playing the demo is that I wish this was a new Parasite Eve game. The game mechanics would fit. Blah. Whatever, I'll wait and see what FFXV is like. Super excited for FFX/X-2 though!

TrueAssassin86x
TrueAssassin86x
8 years ago

@ Zemus101

I hope FFXV & FFX/X-2 The remake bomb out on you. i don't see the hype in FFXV as for FFX/X-2 remake i bet some you just want that game for the "love" seen i the game. grow up pervers.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

I'm with you Zemus. That's a good call on the Parasite Eve thing! FFX/X-2 was a masterpiece. The part I'm most excited about is the international version aspect of it.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

lol, perverts? Dude you don't know what you're talking about.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Remember that dude's age. He's like 17, so he has no clue about this subject.

Zemus: Absolutely! I could see this working for a new Parasite Eve. But the mechanics would have to be cleaned up a lot.

Zemus101
Zemus101
8 years ago

Oh, it would absolutely have to be cleaned up a bit, Ben. You're spot on with that. I just imagine customizing and switching during combat some type of "form". Playing with a single protagonist in battles, lots of ranged and close quarters combat. Yeah, just throw it into a big realistic US city on the verge of a mutant apocalypse, and we're all set 🙂


Last edited by Zemus101 on 1/23/2014 1:56:23 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Yes, definitely. This would've been an awesome format for a new Parasite Eve, a series I really miss.

Corvo
Corvo
8 years ago

Played the demo, saw Lightning do a pole dance as she went down a pipe, not impressed.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
8 years ago

Like wise. The problem is looking at the trailers you can see that same generic candy cane pole slapped over various points in the map, the majority of the time the pole does not suit the environment. Its a poor attempt at trying to make this an 'action' game well when you compare something like that to Assassins Creed it falls at the hurdle. If Lightning was human I would understand why she can't run up walls or be as diverse as a character in AC, but shes now this Goddess thing that can capture souls into here chest?… I don't know…

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

No one will ever top the pole dance move in Lollipop Chainsaw, why try?

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
8 years ago

I spoke most of this yesterday but one thing I noticed upon playing the demo was that the new combat system encouraged me to button mash. All I was doing was button mashing until I ran out of AP for that class and then moving on to the next one, occasionally holding out the guard ability. The thing is people whined about XIII's battle system but I felt that had so much diversity and control. You didn't have to use auto battle as you could assign the cursor to start on abilities (wish you could have removed it though.) and as I have said before the combat system was more focused on having the right paradigm for the right moment. I never felt that with LR, just thrashing the attacks out and moving onto the next class – it was a real bore.

Worse off all is that you have to pause the game to use healing items. pretty much because when it comes down to it you only have 12 attacks in the battle and if you assigned healing abilities you wouldn't have enough offensive actions. So to disguise the broken combat system you have to pause the game for healing items… and they praise this combat system for being real time? Not impressed.

Also, I just cannot stand Lumina, its like they looked at all the traits of a generic anime and slapped it into this character, as soon as she spoke I had to turn the volume down – & this is coming from someone who had no problem with Vanielle. I wish they had more focus on Caius, despite the convoluted story of XIII-2 he was a decent villain. I'm sure he'll appear in the game but I would rather see more of him than this stupid pixie shrimp.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

I tried keeping XIII and XIII-2 command based by loading the commands without autobattle but the game just seemed too fast to ever keep up with that strategy. Maybe it's just cuz I've gotten slow but the autobattle was the only way I could keep up and stagger on time so it was like this inevitability I had to give in to.

Lumina is definitely out of a moe anime.


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 1/23/2014 10:26:20 AM

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
8 years ago

Really, oh I found it very easy. For instance, when using Lighting combining the Blitz and attack to raise the chain bar was very effective. I can't imagine playing the game just using auto battle… ruins the fun, must make it far more challenging and is lazy.

homura
homura
8 years ago

Ultima.
Keep in mind, XIII battle system has an AI to help you with the battle system and you don't have direct control of the movement of the character. And you are also limited to six paradigm slots. So you have to select the right paradigm for certain type of monsters. Schematas are also like that. The difference is that you only have one character and no AI and have direct control to the movement of the character.

World,
There's a REPEAT function in the ablilities menu in XIII and XIII-2.


Last edited by homura on 1/23/2014 9:21:42 PM

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

I don't really think you have direct control over her movement. You can decide which way she tip-toes around, I guess. But that's it.

And LR does have an AI function… one of the first tutorials tells you that in order to perform a combo, just hold the attack button down. And voila… 5-6 hit combo done by the game on your behalf.

TrueAssassin86x
TrueAssassin86x
8 years ago

I've played the demo w/ a open mind & i've played it all the way though. How many of u can say that that have aready replyed to this? i bet some of you didnt even play the demo all the way though and quit it after 15 minutes. Anywho i personally cant wait for the game bad scores or not im giving this game a far play though. True FF fans should give this game a chance or STFU the end.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

Well, at least some of that was legible.

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
8 years ago

Isn't the demo only 6min?

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
8 years ago

Wrong . True final fantasy fans HAVE been giving this nonsense square enix has been doing to the series a chance since ff13.

How do you spot a true final fantasy fan? By how upset they are with the direction of franchise .


Last edited by shadowscorpio on 1/23/2014 8:20:58 AM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

You sir are the new FF fanbase.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
8 years ago

If you're wondering how some of us have played the demo before, I played it at a gaming convention last September (Eurogamer) and this demo has been on the Japanese PS Store for a while which is not that difficult to access.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Like I said, he's a kid. Just ignore him.

I played the demo twice, by the way. Didn't get any better the second time.

World: You're right about him being the new FF fan. Hopefully, there won't be anywhere near enough of them and the franchise will either die or be rebooted…

darxed
darxed
8 years ago

I read some of the import reviews, I was gonna get this anyway, cause I liked the characters and I wanted to know how the story ends. Didn't care much about gameplay and mechanichs cause this is just a sequel. Then I read the import reviews and they all said the ending was "Nonsensical, ridiculous" and worse than the one in XIII-2, which I thought was made that way as a cliffhanger for this game.

Now I maybe get this when It's 10 bucks or something… or maybe I'll just watch the story in Youtube, disappointment should at least be free right?

I'm still kinda pissed though. The one thing I wanted this game to have is a good conclusion to the story, and SE wouldn't even do that.

Sigh….

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

Yeah it'd be nice if the end of this wrapped everything up in a package so things make sense.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
8 years ago

I have yet to even see the true ending to XIII-2 as I have not played the Lighting DLC scenario, I will be playing it again soon and playing it this time as I bought it on sale ages ago. But I'll have to replay XIII-2 just to see if I can understand what is going on it was convoluted enough and Lightning Returns seems to go even more…. obscure story wise. But I, like you do like some of the characters and want to see how they just finish this thing off – I was content with XIII-1's ending but now it is not concluded I just have to… despite the poor gameplay of LR.

darxed
darxed
8 years ago

Well I'm back to waiting for the FFX remasters. I'll still keep hope for FFXV, but if SE messes that one up, I'll probably be done with FF. I'll become a PersonaTard instead, even if the waiting on the Persona games is even longer than on FFs, at least they've all been good so far.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

The story in the demo didn't even make any sense based on what I saw in FFXIII and XIII-2.

I shudder to think how much more ridiculous it gets in the whole game.

darxed
darxed
8 years ago

@Ben

Yeah, I know… One reviewer (who has a heck of a lot more sense of humor than I have, apparently) said that it was "cute" to see such a serious character as Lightning going through "wacky fetch quests and hilarious situations". So, first they put this ridiculous time limit, there's thirteen days left in the world and Light has to save as many souls as she can in those days, and you have to complete "wacky fetch quests and hilarious situations"?

Another thing that really irked me. They say that one good thing in the game is the extensive customization you can do to a lot of things, like weapons… buuuuuut most of them are only available in hard mode, aaaaaand you have to go through the game once in order to unlock hard mode. So they had a good thing in their game and hid it so you can only access it after a playthrough…

As I said above, Sigh…

telly
telly
8 years ago

The FF X remaster can't get here soon enough…