Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a continuation of Final Fantasy XIII. Many of the characters from Final Fantasy XIII will be in Lightning Returns. However, the story focuses on the main character, Lightning, who awakes after 500 years from the crystal stasis. Her goal is to save the world from destruction by fighting her former allies. An old friend, Hope Estheim, based in the Bhunivelze Cocoon, helps her. Lumina, tries to help out Lightning but ends up doing more harm then good. Also, Snow Villiers is a rogue protector. He was engaged to Serah, Lightning’s sister, but she died because he failed to protect her. Snow hates himself and everyone around him. He now “protects” the town of Serah from destruction as the rest of the world falls apart.
The battle system is interesting because Lighting fights alone in battle. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII has an interesting tactical support system in place. Hope talks to Lightning on a headset to coordinate the tactics in the battles. Special abilities include Energy Points that can be played in or out of combat. The “slaughterhouse” is a challenge mode where battles are held every night and can be played on or offline. The Paradigm Shift system that helped with leveling up powers in Final Fantasy XIII is not used in this game (to read impressions on the PAX demo, check it out here).
The main feature of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is that only Lightning can be played. Besides carrying a sword and riding a chocobo, she can be customized with costumes and weapons. The selection of what she wears and the weapon she uses is critical because it affects her abilities. Action oriented combat is both new and old in this game. Lightning is stealth-like in her actions and can jump, climb, swing and slide on just about any surface. The player has diverse choices on where the character goes or what she does. This aspect has not been seen in the Final Fantasy series before.
Lightening Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a RPG much like the previous Final Fantasy games but has more action. The gameplay is along the lines of its Square brethren Kingdom Hearts, but more turn-based. It is a “world driven” game, which means there is a persistent time and everything is organic as far as non-player characters (NPCs). The NPCs are in certain locations at certain times of day regardless of if the player is there or not. The battles are different in action because the player can interact with the environment and do more than just swing a sword. Final Fantasy fans will want to check this out when it comes out in February.