8 Lightning-Quick First Impressions From the FFXIII-3 "Lightning Returns" Demo.

By Holden Hodgdon in Daily Lists, Video Games
Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:00 am

(6) The Combat System Is Like Valkyrie Profile.

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Yeah, there is still the framework of switching paradigms from first game, but you are no longer doing so to manage party tactics. How it works is that you get a costume piece which acts like a frame for equipping weapons, accessories, and skills; sot of like each costume is a visual load-out profile. The costumes themselves are NOWHERE near as customizable as the earlier trailers let on. Each costume is a single item, full body outfit, with no additional customization options besides the weapons you equip and a single slot for an appearance accessory (like Zidane's tail or the Black Mage's hat ... but only one at a time). Once you have your costume slot set up, you assign 4 different skills to the face buttons; one skill per each button.

It is pretty limited per each costume, but you get to queue up three different costumes to take into battle and switch between on the fly. Taping the shoulder buttons will hot switch to another costume, giving you access to the different abilities you have set up, and each costume has its own independent ability gauge you fueling your skills. Basically, each costume is like a generic character unto itself, except they all have Lighting's head. Fighting isn't actually as live-action as it looks, since it is less of button mashing to attack and more like you hit the buttons to activate skills; some of them have pretty low animation timers so it is almost like button mashing, but it's really not. If you have any idea what Valkyrie Profile is, you will understand this system.


(7) The Costumes Rock!

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I was actually impressed with the costumes, they are highly details and show a lot of variety. That standard outfit they keep showing for promotional materials, it's actually the blandest one in the demo. Throwback Jerseys are pretty much the name of the game, as there is alot of them, and the gender swapping on the male outfits is pretty well integrated. Costume swapping to access different class types has got a feel to it like they pulled on the job change system of Final Fantasy 3, but they did it without actually lifting it wholesale.

The Demo comes with 6 costumes, 4 of which are Throwbacks; there is a FF3 style Red Mage, a classic style Dragoon (but I can't recognize what version), Zidane from FF9, and a heavilly modified version of Black Waltz (also from FF9). You can tell they had fun making these things, and that they really are the core of the game. I am honestly interested in seeing what and how they do all the other Throwback Jerseys in the full game, but I don't know if I will actually pick this game up when it is brand new; double epilogues with crap plots, and no relevancy to the main title, are not something I want to support ... but that Black Mage was pretty cool looking.


(8) The Costumes Also Blow!

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Most of the costumes involve some form of crotchless pants or chaps; don't ask me why the Dragoon is a full set of platemail except for the crotch, which is cut out so Lightning's little black thong can get some air...I don't understand it myself. I'm kinda guessing that this world is riddled with dysentery; so much so that everyone was constantly shitting themselves and decided it was easier to just cut the crotch out off all their pants. Yes, I try to find a logical rational behind these sort of things - it's honestly something of an illness. On top of which, there is no consistency between the proportions of each costume's individual body style and Lighting's base proportions in her generic armor (or the prior games). These are not different outfits for Lighting; they are completely different bodies. I don't get why they didn't just make each costume be a different individual character, as all that was left to do was give each one a slightly unique head.

The easiest example is how Lightning's breast size fluctuates wildly between costumes; so much so that I thought the Red Mage was actually a male body. It took me a second to notice the raisin bumps on her chest, which is not that big of a deal except the other bodies have at least B cups, if not outright jiggling knockers. The Black Waltz costume actually has a totally different skin tone than her head! The body has black/tan skin, while her head is still stark white, not to mention the body is about a size smaller than it should be while Lightning's head stays the same size; the end result looks like a leukemia patient who waded neck deep into a vat of liquid tanning spray.

And that Black Mage one was my favorite costume styles!


End Conclusion: This Is an Experimental Tech Demo.

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Like, the whole game is an interactive, experimental tech demo as Square Enix tries to rediscover how to make Final Fantasy. It's playable, and it will probably end up being a damn sight better than the other games in FF13 - Saga, but it is still not a cohesive project.

The engine improvements are noticeable and welcome, as the game plays smooth, quick, and none of the pauses to buffer between battles. The artwork is great, even if there is no consistency with style, and the environments are quite a bit more open. Yeah, they are still just hallways, but they are bigger hallways, with some jumping and climbing, and a few of them even loop! There are good concepts, but it's just not a solid project and the voice actors are phoning it in like they are waiting in line to cash their checks at the bank. Not that I can blame them since the plot is nonsense, there is zero depth, and characters suck so much that no amount of acting could save them from being vacant shells. The team behind it has talent, but they obviously have no idea how to glue everything together in right order to make a Final Fantasy game. They are trying but they just don't get it.


This game is like Square Enix stapled a tech demo to some fliers for now hiring notice:

Skilled Production Manager / Content Directed Wanted!

Please?

Unlimited Budgets Available, Look At The Cool Toys You Can Play With.


I wish Square Enix would you just cave in and ask Hironobu Sakaguchi to help fix the franchise; I don't care what kind of a mess it was - compared to the crap titles Final Fantasy has become; The Spirits Within is starting to look like an intellectual art flick.

Get with the program, Square Enix: have Mistwalker freelance the design while your in-house people do the actual development; people will be in such a hurry to give all their money that they will end up tearing off their pants to to throw everything in their pocket at you in one lump.



Previously by Holden Hodgdon:



Nine Ways Hollywood Gets Nuclear Energy Completely Wrong


Six Unfairly Neglected Games From Square, Enix and Square Enix That Are NOT Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior.


10 Reasons Why Shadow Warrior Is the Best PC Game in Years.



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