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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Trailer Impressions

December 23, 2012
Finalfantasykid

The debut trailer for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was released at Jump Festa, and in the trailer are some good aspects, as well as some bad (and a little ugly) aspects. Before I go through my impressions of the trailer, there are some things that you might have missed, so I will go through those first.



Chocolina Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
Whether you liked Chocolina or not, she makes an appearance in the trailer. At the 1:07 – 1:08 point in the trailer, you get breif glimpse at Chocolina. Whether she plays the same role as she did in Final Fantasy XIII-2 remains to be seen, although it is more than likely that she will remain your primary source for all your merchandise.

Chocolina is seen at the left of the screen

Paradigm System
Although Lightning may be the sole playable character, the Paradigm system still appears in some form. During battles, Lightning will have access to four different commands, however, these can be switched to another set of four commands by switching paradigms. In the trailer we see three different paradigms: Divinity, Enchanter, Cerberus.

Day/Night Cycle
We already knew there would be a day/night cycle, however now we see it for the first time. I missed this the first time watching the trailer, but it was obvious the second time I watched it. It is difficult to say what really is different between day and night other than visuals at the moment, however there will probably be significant gameplay changes done during these times.

Impressions

My impressions of the trailer are quite mixed. While some areas show definite improvements, others show dissapointment.

The Good
One of the biggest complaints of the first game was the total linear gameplay for the majority of it. I have no problems with a linear story since it usually results in better writing, but corridor gameplay in an RPG is something I do not like. This was addressed in XIII-2 for the most part, with many more branching paths, but now with LR:XIII, they have gone all the way to explore the vertical dimension. In the trailer it is obvious they wanted to show off the platforming aspects of the game. My one concern with this is that if the execution is poor it may give a negative impression. However based on what I have seen, I think the platforming will at least be good enough to be a positive aspect of the game's gameplay.

Lightning still needs some practice if she is ever going to show up Altair with her Leap of Faith

 

The Bad
I am a little worried about the battle gameplay, since when the developers were first describing the it I somewhat expected that the battle system would be radically different than before. I was picturing the gameplay to be closer to an action RPG, where there would be no battle transitions when fighting monsters, with totally free movement during the battle.However, the trailer suggests that it seems to have almost the same battle system as before, but only with Lightning as the sole party member. The way attacks are done looks pretty similar to how XIII and XIII-2 was, except probably not automatic like it was before. Some people may like this style of gameplay, however I think it might get old fast with only having a single playable character. With only one character it would have been better to go with a battle system closer to FFXII with some refinements (in particular with respect to the pace of battle). Everything else about the battle system could remain the same, like the paradigm system, but not having free movement is unacceptable in my opinion. I hope I am wrong about the free movement, and that perhaps it was just not apparent in the trailer. 

The Ugly
Graphically, the game looks no better than its two predecessors. I know people have said that the screenshots look better than the trailer, but when you downscale a screenshot to less than half its native resolution of course it is going to look better since it hides all the bad aspects like aliasing, poor polygons and textures. Other game series typically have graphical upgrades when there are sequels. A good example of this is Uncharted -> Uncharted 2 -> Uncharted 3, each one had a huge graphical upgrade. Now I can understand XIII-2 having more or less the same graphics since the time between releases was so short, but now that LR is coming out 2+ years after XIII, I think I would expect a reasonably large graphical improvement. I think this just shows lazyness, and them minimizing cost and sacrificing quality. If they are saving the cost of making the game by making next to no graphical improvements then we should also be able to save money by paying a reduced price ofaround $40-$50 instead of the usual $60. Graphics are only superficial, but they are a good indication of the amount of effort that has gone into the game. If the graphics have no improvement, who's to say they actually made any improvements in other areas, or maybe they reduced budget there as well. We will have to wait for a proper 720p trailer to appear, and this should be a much better estimate of where the graphics are. They could be much better than what I think they are, in which case this point will no longer be valid, and infact it will be something to go on 'The Good' points.

This is a beautiful tree that looks very non-2d [/sarcasm]

Conclusion

After the initial anouncement, I was pleasantly surprised in respect to what I was hearing. Now, some of those thoughts have disappeared, however I still believe that this could be the best of the three games. We will have to see more gameplay and story to know for sure whether it will be good or bad (or ugly!).

 

 



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Posted By: Bjork
Date: December 24, 2012

STELLA?!
Posted By: mithi9
Date: December 24, 2012

well that escalated quickly
Posted By: tanto
Date: December 24, 2012

this article is bullcrap
Posted By: Yaizmat
Date: December 24, 2012

wow, you guys do realize this isn't even the beta of the game yet right? :o
I mean its running at 40fps for crying out loud; the fans asked for news and they got it really early as per request, and now that we have it we complain about graphics?!
Our fan base totally sucks, I feel bad for being an FF fan let alone SE for just the fan base :/
Posted By: Rei
Date: December 24, 2012

Actually FFXIII and XIII-2 looked miles better in terms of graphics, this game looks like an upscaled ps1 FF.
Posted By: yok
Date: December 24, 2012

@nappa Sure it's a beta, but the game is also coming out in JP/US in the next 12 months, so says SE. FFXIII-2 definitely did not look as good as the original because it was not given the same polish. The third entry won't look better than the first two if they don't apply polish to it either. Textures and models in the second entry are noticeably worse than the first entry. They've got a lot of work ahead of them, but also needed to show a video of something since the game release is nearing.
Posted By: Shion
Date: December 23, 2012

Forgot to mention that the "paradigms" are called Styles now (at least that's the JP name, wonder if it'll be changed for the English release).
Posted By: Shion
Date: December 23, 2012

I think your impressions focused on the graphics way too much, this is our first time seeing any footage, of course it'll look better later. But at the same time graphics can't be used in gauging how much effort is being put forth. I'm actually glad the gameplay resembles XIII and XIII-2, I would hate if it was an action RPG. It looks like they made improvements to the system (no more auto-battle whiners!) while still having it retain it's FFXIII feel. I was so excited when I saw the battles looking a lot like XIII's, I was worried it wouldn't retain the soul of the series. But yeah I do agree that this could be the best of the trilogy (XIII is my favourite game but this one's concepts are really pulling me in).
Posted By: nappa
Date: December 23, 2012

You do realize this is the beta build of the game, right? LR:FFXIII is nowhere near being completed, and for you to automatically think the entire game is going to look like this is premature. LR:FFXIII will no doubt look better than the previous two games. One of Final Fantasy's greatest features is superb graphics, and this one looks fine already. Sure, the framerate was poor, but this game isn't even halfway complete yet. Might want to slow it down before you assume the game looks like crap. Again, this is the BETA, and you must have missed the 720p trailer that came out 3 days ago.
-_-
Posted By: kouta
Date: December 23, 2012

Actually, the "paradigms" you listed haven't been confirmed to be paradigms. Paradigms in this game don't exactly exist as there's only one character to control. They're more like roles, and I believe LR:FFXIII devs explained that her outfits and weapons will help to customize her different roles.
Just some information I noticed that I believe might be a little wrong.
Posted By: JESUS
Date: December 23, 2012

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