It wasn’t playable on the show floor at New York Comic Con, but I was able to get my hands on some of the upcoming Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. The section of the game I played entailed Lightning questioning a couple people in a small village, then setting out into the Wildlands to rescue a very special Chocobo. Naturally this entailed a battle with a rather nasty Chocobo Eater…
The game looks gorgeous, but that’s to be expected where Square Enix is concerned. And especially with a Final Fantasy game, too. What I thought was fun was that Lightning Returns borrows a little from the much-maligned FFX-2, where you switch costumes to change powers. Although here the gameplay works just a bit differently. Each outfit has four slots, and while one ability is predetermined, the other three are customizable. So you can assign the abilities that you like to use the most, or you’ve found to be the most effective. The thing is, your ATB meter will drain as you use your abilities, necessitating the switch to another fabulous ensemble where the ATB meter will be full, and you can continue attacking and defending. So it actually behooves you to have balanced attacks and defense on each outfit, otherwise you could get stuck.
Lightning can dress up in various garb, including some familiar ones like Red Mage or even “Spira’s Summoner,” which is basically Yuna’s outfit from FFX. Naturally, some of them are a bit on the too-sexy side, but I guess that’s typical, really. You can customize your garb with various accessories, and even go in and tweak the colors of the pieces, so if you really want to go all Project Runway on it, have fun!
I was a little concerned with the time limit imposed by the game. Basically, there are seven days before the end of the world, and you have to save it before time runs out. If you don’t make it, you have to restart, but on the plus side, you will retain all your progress except for some key items. But time only drains while you’re wandering in the field, not in battle or conversations or cut scenes, and completing main and side quests will earn you extra time, so it might not be as much of a problem as it seems.
I had a lot of fun with the demo once I got the hang of the battle system, swapping garb to attack and making sure I used the powers the enemy was most vulnerable to. I also kind of enjoyed that I was just controlling the one character instead of a whole party. Even though there’s still a metric ton of customizing and menus and RPG elements, I rather liked that it felt more like an action/adventure game.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is out for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on February 11, 2014.