Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: RPG
Release Date: 02/11/14
Alright. For Square Enix’s new game Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, first, and foremost, I have to say - Throw everything about the combat system, and mechanics that you’ve known from previous Final Fantasy games out the window, because that’s Square Enix did. Not literally, but, I’m not kidding - The combat system has been completely switched over, from the turn and menu-based play that we’re all so familiar with, and has now taken on a real-time, action system. You hit a button, and Lightning attacks, or uses a spell.
Though the base-play has changed so drastically, there are some elements that Square Enix has managed to adapt to the new combat system - The adaption is known as the Schema mechanic. For instance, most Final Fantasy players are familiar with the Paradigm, Garment Grid, and Job systems - Well, the Schema mechanic pretty much embodies all three of these things, in one. Lightning has several different skill sets, and equipment to compliment, and match the skills - Each of these skill and equipment sets resemble a Job, like we’ve seen in past Final Fantasy games.
Another mechanic that we see carried over, is the ATB gauge - Though it’s been changed up a little bit. But before I go on to mention any more about this, I should probably mention the fact that in Lightning Returns, she’s all that returns. The only character that you play as, is Lightning. There is no party. And, as far as we know, so far - The only character you’ll see, that you recognize, is Lightning. Let me allow you some time to think on that, for moment... Okay, moment’s over. Moving on. Anyway, the ATB gauge, is more of a meter, now, that starts full, and decreases as you make attacks. Once the ATB meter is empty, you’ll have to either wait around, and wait for the meter to re-fill, or change your Schema - Each Schema has it’s own individual ATB meter, allowing you to rapidly change your Schema to suit the combat situation and still have ATB to utilize.
In addition to these new and reworked mechanics, is the block command, which, in normal battles, may not be incredibly important, but, in boss battles, it will be pivotal. Spotting normal mobs’ attacks is fairly easy, whereas, in boss battles, it will be slightly more difficult to analyze your opponent’s movement, and, more importantly, be able to tell the difference between light, and heavy attacks, which you may need to choose between which to ‘take,’ and which to block.
Along with the reworked ATB meter, the Stagger gauge has also been brought back, and reworked a little. But, for instance, in a boss battle, in order to make use of the the Stagger gauge, you will have to utilize another new mechanic - Otherwise, you will most likely never quite reach a full Stagger gauge. This new mechanic is the ability called Overclock. In order to use Overclock, you will have to fill, yet another gauge. To fill the Overclock gauge, you will have to sustain constant combat against your opponent, which, in many cases, will require the use of most, if not all of your ATB gauges, from your various Schema. So, what Overclock does, is, in essence, speed up the refill of Lightning’s ATB gauges, allowing almost limitless ATB, and the ability to bombard your enemies with a barrage of rapid attacks. Learning to utilize this, and then, in turn, filling your Stagger gauge, along with properly timing your blocks properly, should spell success for you in most, if not all boss fights.
Though not much can be said about the storyline of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, as not much has been revealed - The new combat system, alone, bring a new crisp feel to the Final Fantasy series. Some long-time fans of the series may find it tedious to switch to this new system. But, once you get a hang of it, you’ll find yourself hacking, slashing, burning, and frying your way through enemies, in no time - And, more than likely, having a blast doing it!