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Thread: REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~

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    The Old Skool Warrior REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ LocoColt04's Avatar
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    News Post REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~

    Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: A grandiose finale to the Fabula Nova Crystallis trilogy

    The world of Nova Chrysalia: bruised, battered, broken. This is the world in which Lightning wakes from her crystal slumber. For five hundred years, Lightning has lie in wait as the realm she once knew disappeared. There are six days left until God - perhaps more familiarly known as Bhunivelze - destroys the remaining husk of humanity’s folly and builds the world anew.


    The introduction of a doomsday mechanic stacked with Lightning’s role as God’s personal savior generates a small level of panic almost immediately. Fortunately for Lightning, she quickly discovers that the impending apocalypse can be stalled by harvesting the good will of thankful souls, ready to be whisked away into the next life. By completing main quests, side quests, and Chocolina’s Canvas of Prayers (notice board) quests, the citizens of Nova Chrysalia will unknowingly grant Lightning their souls to be carried through to the other side. By design, the doomsday system gives users a reason to charge headlong into the wind while still granting the ability to roam freely. Spend too much time without doing anything productive, though, and the darkness at the end of the tunnel closes in. On more than one occasion, I sat back and thought to myself, “wow, I just wasted an entire day. I’m going to lose.”

    Like its predecessors, Lightning Returns suffers from a slow start, in spite of its climactic beginning. The story takes a couple of days on the game clock before it sincerely kicks in, but it has a fairly large hook by the start of day three. Once rolling, the urge to move forward to discover what comes next plays perfectly into the doomsday mechanic. Lumina, the semi-antagonist revealed in the early stages of the game, seems to hold all of the cards. Her motives remain unclear throughout Lightning’s journey, as she switches from helping to hindering and back, embodying the very nature of the Chaos around them.

    Graphically, the game is a mixed bag of tricks. My first thoughts when the opening cinematic began to roll were “wow, this game is bloody gorgeous.” This should hardly be a surprise given Square Enix’s track record in this department. Right up front, players are treated to glimpses of people from Lightning’s past scattered about in their day-to-day lives, all in jaw-dropping beauty. Throughout the game, however, the character models appear to suffer a bit of inconsistency. Little details like odd shading issues or hair disappearing in a polka-dotted manner may not seem like much, but they become increasingly noticeable as you spend more time adjusting your various schemata. There are also periodic camera faults; swing too close to a wall and all you can see is the sky, or round a corner too fast and you find yourself turned back the way you came. The scenery is still a delight to look at - though you shouldn’t waste too much of your dwindling time doing so.

    The aural experience, composed by the trinity of Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, and Mitsuto Suzuki (with chocobo themes provided by everyone’s favorite Uematsu), is incredibly immersive. Every zone springs to life with an appropriate soundtrack, as emotions flow freely through every major story event. Likewise, the voice cast does their characters justice; even many of the extras are handled appropriately, which makes up for some of the admittedly awkward visuals as the camera pans to see characters speaking away from one another. Ali Hillis’ portrayal of the characteristically “dry” Lightning may seem entirely emotionless at first, but it is not without reason; as the days progress and the plot is revealed, well… it is indeed quite masterful.

    Combat is incredibly engaging once more garb, accessories, and abilities become accessible. It would be fair to look back at Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy and ponder whether that was Kitase’s genuine vision in designing this system. A steady blend of recharging ATB and flowing between Schemata forces rhythmic patterns to form as you encounter familiar enemies. I found myself generating three distinct Schema each with its own specialty. Yellow was my starting point; an HP powerhouse filled with guards and debuffs that would change based on my area. Red was my physical punisher, constantly seeking anything that would boost attack power while keeping one slot handy for a relevant elemental attack. Blue was my magical powerhouse, by far outputting the most damage of all as each of the four ability slots were lined with heavy-hitting elemental attacks, typically covering the full elemental spread. This was quite contrary to my opinion last January during the preview event when I quite literally said “Personally... if the game allows me to do so, she'll be the quintessential Red Mage, with all three equipped Styles containing a little bit of everything so that I may pace myself through the various ATB bars without ever running dry.” Good luck with that, past-tense Cesar. The subtle inclusion of a “perfect timing” boost to your combo chains and guards is certainly more important. Practice timing commands in the final frames of the previous command to maximize your effectiveness.

    Many abilities are earned as loot drops from battles, but otherwise combat is mostly nonessential in this game. Lightning does not “level up” in the traditional sense; rather, most of her stats are boosted via completion of quests. I often found myself feverishly avoiding wild swings of enemies in an effort to turn in a handful of quests to the Canvas of Prayers before the clock expired on any given day, securing another day for Nova Chrysalia’s dwindling existence.

    Lightning Returns is a bit uncharacteristically rough around the edges, but overall is a rather enjoyable game. Fans of the saga will be treated to a lot of closure (and a few more questions if you didn’t get the proper ending in FFXIII-2) while finally being set free to roam the world to its fullest extent. Those who faltered after experiencing the first entry in the trilogy may find enough variety in this finale to catch your attention.

    Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII receives four cheery moogles out of five. Kupo!


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  2. #2
    The Old Skool Warrior REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ LocoColt04's Avatar
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    Andromeda already put up a handy dandy topic for periodic upkeep of your playthrough statistics, so be sure to check that out as well: http://www.thefinalfantasy.com/forum...-progress.html

    It has been a pleasure working with Square Enix as we approached the launch of this game. I can't wait to see what's next!


    At the dawn of the 8th day, Lumina tells Lightning something she can't possibly believe...
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  3. #3
    attempting to bribe the Mayor of Lambeth REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ Xanatos's Avatar
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    Seeing as this game got plethora of mediocre scores at best all around the net 4/5 came as a bit of surprise, not saying it does not deserve such score as I have yet to play Lightning Returns, thus judge it for myself.

    What puts me off this game though is the time limit, I would love to explore freely without additional pressure (did not love that even in Majora's Mask), that and from what I read "random" battles have never been so unimportant. I'll still give it a go, once I beat XIII-2 that is.

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    The Old Skool Warrior REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ LocoColt04's Avatar
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    4/5 is roughly the same as 8/10 (roughly due to interpretation, not math) and I've seen reviews ranging from 50% to 90% so it's tough to get a read on the crowd. I have noticed that most of the lowest scores come from people who HATED the first game, so they probably had a negative bias going in.

    I like that we use a five-point scale because I feel like there are a lot of great things about this game to pair with the mediocre and negative things. It's really somewhere around 75% in my books, but I'm not going to divide up moogles!


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    I thought I was going to be able to play with Loco and then I remembered he doesn't game. He just turns on the game for an hour and then forgets about it for two months only to remember that he bought it.
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  5. #5
    A game that plays itself. Why can't FF games be like 7 or 8 with real rpg elements? Alot of people are jumping boat now because of this new trend.

  6. #6
    attempting to bribe the Mayor of Lambeth REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ Xanatos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odin1199 View Post
    A game that plays itself.
    Do explain.

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  7. #7
    The Old Skool Warrior REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ LocoColt04's Avatar
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    Yeah, I was a little confused by what you meant as well. Was that in reference to the clock always running? Because if it wasn't, then I have no idea what you mean.


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    I thought I was going to be able to play with Loco and then I remembered he doesn't game. He just turns on the game for an hour and then forgets about it for two months only to remember that he bought it.
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  8. #8
    Big, buff cheeto puff REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ Kurt Zisa's Avatar
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    Great review Loco

    I don't really like the idea of the clock counting down, it would make me feel like I have to rush though the game, or to the next quest. The fun thing about rpg's is that you can take your time and it's still enjoyable. How much can you stall the clock when you collect souls etc?

    Also, no exp from battles? If you find yourself wanting to avoid battles all together then that seems a bit sad really. That said I'll end up getting this once I finish XIII and XIII-2 (and once the price has gone down), just so that I can form my own opinion.

    Can you mix and match outfits to get different boost and abilties, or are they set costumes? Oh also, is it like in X-2 and XIII where the only equipment you have is weapons and accessories, but with outfits added in too? I like being able to kit my guys out head to toe, like in XII, Tactics etc.
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  9. #9
    The Old Skool Warrior REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ LocoColt04's Avatar
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    The clock rolls any time you are not in battle, in a menu, or in a conversation. Always. There is only one way to stop it - spending EP to pause the clock for a short while. Given that you earn partial points of EP at the end of every fight, it's not a huge deal.

    "Garb" is one single piece but you can customize anywhere from 2 to 6 pieces on any given outfit. Weapon slot and arm slot (shield, bracer, etc) are the other two pieces. There are also slots for one accessory (not visible) and one adornment (no stats, but visible).


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    I thought I was going to be able to play with Loco and then I remembered he doesn't game. He just turns on the game for an hour and then forgets about it for two months only to remember that he bought it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Che's not a girl. Not good enough explanation. Please elaborate.
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    Yes I am. I will bust out my vagina right now.

  10. #10
    Big, buff cheeto puff REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ Kurt Zisa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LocoColt04 View Post
    "Garb" is one single piece but you can customize anywhere from 2 to 6 pieces on any given outfit. Weapon slot and arm slot (shield, bracer, etc) are the other two pieces. There are also slots for one accessory (not visible) and one adornment (no stats, but visible).
    That alone makes it worth getting in my book

    Would you say it's more challenging then the other XIII games?
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  11. #11
    Boxer of the Galaxy REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ Rowan's Avatar
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    i know what Odin is saying. It is blatantly obvious to anyone who has played XIII what the phrase "plays by itself" means. You have the illusion of tactical combat, when in reality you are just switching costumes and mashing a button. Even the creators stated they dumbed the game down for more casual gamers so that they could enjoy it. Which is basically saying "hey, any kind of complex rpg elements that we included in our previous titles have since been abolished in order to cator to a wider and more casual non-rpg audience". And audience is such a perfect word to describe how one would feel playing the XIII series.

    Ive said it once before and I'll say it again. Ive played and completed botch FFXIII and XIII-2 to be able to say this. You know what? If it wasnt for the time limit (the absolute worst thing you could do to an RPG), I'd more than likely give XIII-3 a shot. Purely because I am a fan and want to finish what I started with the first 2. But the thing is, how the hell can I enjoy an RPG with its lush landscapes and immersive towns if I constantly have to fkn rush against the clock? Stupid stupid stupid ****ing idea, enix. You shame the goddamn series and when I think you cant come up with anything furthar from the original series, you surprise us all with the worst possible concept for a game in which taking your time and exploring would once be considered the point of an RPG, you steal it from us and tell us to rush through the game. I'm glad you are getting enjoyment out of it Loco, but I question the kind of review you would be writing instead had it of been something... better. I dont know, perhaps if Square made a game with the kind of standards they used in the past, we wouldn't see a critical line of text in your review, rather a review of a game to be revered. But alas, no surprises since XIII. An ubsurd story with a character 'returning' that noone gives a shit about NOR was ever, EVER cool enough to 'return' in the first place. I mean cmon, im sure we can all admit this is beating the horse to death. The series is a laughing stock. No final fantasy game should ever recieve a score of 7, its pathetic. X-2 had more flavour, style, strategy and playability than all XIII games if they were to be combined into one big mess. I remember when a certain employee of square was asked the almighty question, "Will there ever be an FF7 remake?" and we recieved an almight response "Not until we make a game that surpasses it"

    Low and behold, our answer; Lightning Returns. I feel sick. Like literally sick to my stomach if this is their attempt at creating something 'better'. Holy shit, what the hell is going to happen? Square has stained themselves with this.. abomination of a game. This dull, fan-service dredge of a failed trilogy. Lets give lightning breast implants, a plethora of costume changes, a bad story and a ****ing time limit.

    wow. Im speechless.

  12. #12
    attempting to bribe the Mayor of Lambeth REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ Xanatos's Avatar
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    I found XIII to be far more challenging than most games in the series, and I don't mean just difficulty, farming for gil alone is insane to say the least. Battles were often quite hectic due to constant paragridm switch, easy to make a mistake. If this was indeed aimed to casual audience I feel they failed at their task as numerous other FF titles are less challenging and lot simpler.

    I do agree with rest of your post though, save for that X-2 sentiment, that game is pure and utter garbage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    "Not until we make a game that surpasses it"
    Depends what he meant by this. In sales or quality? Because I feel they succeeded at later.

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  13. #13
    The Old Skool Warrior REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ LocoColt04's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    i know what Odin is saying. It is blatantly obvious to anyone who has played XIII what the phrase "plays by itself" means. You have the illusion of tactical combat, when in reality you are just switching costumes and mashing a button. Even the creators stated they dumbed the game down for more casual gamers so that they could enjoy it. Which is basically saying "hey, any kind of complex rpg elements that we included in our previous titles have since been abolished in order to cator to a wider and more casual non-rpg audience". And audience is such a perfect word to describe how one would feel playing the XIII series.
    I'll at least comment on this part for now - there is NOTHING about LR that plays itself. The combat is fully engaging, and definitely not the spectator sport that it was in the previous games in the trilogy.




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    I thought I was going to be able to play with Loco and then I remembered he doesn't game. He just turns on the game for an hour and then forgets about it for two months only to remember that he bought it.
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    Yes I am. I will bust out my vagina right now.

  14. #14
    LR has been turned into an action game of swapping stat based equipment and staggering opponents for massive damage. Also you don't get xp through fighting, you just complete quests and get orbs. Is this very rpg like? Yeah, this one might not play itself, but it's still not what people want. It's more of ARPG with a big focus on action and rpg just being as a small decoration to it. SE has been very obsessed with creating something new and original for some time now without realizing people just want their FF's to stay in traditional rpg category.
    Last edited by Odin1199; 02-11-2014 at 09:32 PM.

  15. #15
    The Quiet One REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ Andromeda's Avatar
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    The game is still governed by the same ATB system that has been in every FF game since FFIV. The only difference is you're able to take more turns back to back. It is more active than older FFs, but it's still a RPG. If it was a Action RPG it'd be more like Kingdom Hearts, but it isn't. FFII had you leveling up stats by usage to "level up" rather than killing things for exp. And FFX it all went into a pool, you didn't level automatically. Any levels there weren't related your character's strength.
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  16. #16
    Yeah, but you change your stats on the go by swapping gear to gain stat bonuses for particular times and that to me is more like action oriented rpg game. Your your whole strength lies in your items that you just change back and forth instead of your skills that you build from xp. You don't build yourself, but your gear. More like craft rpg.

  17. #17
    The Quiet One REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ Andromeda's Avatar
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    Many regular RPGs allow you change equipment in battle, it usually eats a turn. Even Action games don't let you swap equipment on the fly, if you want to do that you have to dig through menus. The skills you used are equally as important as the gear you have in the game. There are tons of skills and you need to plan out your strategy well if you want to succeed. Lightning still has core stats that increase, it is just your leveling in from quests. However, if you look at most RPGs, you'll find it is the gear that makes the character more often than the core stats of the character. Strip away the gear, and that character will likely not survive a single hit against the same enemy they might be rolling through with the gear on. One of the core components of any RPG is going to be the gear and the improvement of said gear to be able to be stronger and survive.
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  18. #18
    This is what Escapist says:

    The battle system itself has further changed in this latest outing to be even more action oriented. For starters, you only control Lightning, and fight with a Paradigm replacement system known as Schemata. A Schemata is a collection of garb, weapon, shield, abilities and various additional items. Every piece of equipment has its own stats and bonuses, and equipping abilities to that Schemata fleshes out what it can do. You might create a Schemata that favors heavy defense with a leveled-up Guard ability to soak lots of damage, or another set that emphases magic damage. It's a bit like building your own class or job.

    Bottom Line: If you were hoping that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was going to be a return to Square's RPG greatness of yesteryear, you're going to be disappointed. This latest title continues to attempt to straddle the line between RPG and action game.
    Read more at Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Review | Reviews | The Escapist

  19. #19
    The Quiet One REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ Andromeda's Avatar
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    Many places continue in insist on labeling the XIII series as an action RPG, but I personally don't see it as anymore of an action RPG than FFX-2 was. It is simply an evolution of the original ATB. Ignoring FFX, which was strictly turn based, all the past FFs since FFIV have been active combats where turn order is based on the speed of your bar filling up and your ability to input a command quickly enough. Depending on the FF, they could even attack you while you were in the menu's selecting your spell. The XIII series is the same thing, you just get to stockpile your turns to spend quickly. Not really any different from the others. You'll have to call FFIV-FFXII all action games.
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  20. #20
    attempting to bribe the Mayor of Lambeth REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ Xanatos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odin1199 View Post
    Yeah, but you change your stats on the go by swapping gear to gain stat bonuses for particular times and that to me is more like action oriented rpg game. Your your whole strength lies in your items that you just change back and forth instead of your skills that you build from xp. You don't build yourself, but your gear. More like craft rpg.
    You mean the same way your stats depend on magic you stock in FF VIII which you can change or remove at any given moment, somewhat even during the battle. Speaking of magic casting offensive magic has never been useless and counterproductive as in this game. Plus FF VIII encourages you not to level up, you don't even need to draw magic from random enemies, almost everything from items to magic can be gained by a mere card game. Not to mention there's no such thing as equipment in FF VIII, save for the weapons, one of the biggest trademarks in classic RPG's (you do however have GF attributes so there's that). You can also make your party literally invincible fairly early in the game rendering any difficulty whatsoever. But do tell how this is more of a classic RPG than LR or any FF XIII game for that matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andromeda View Post
    Many places continue in insist on labeling the XIII series as an action RPG, but I personally don't see it as anymore of an action RPG than FFX-2 was. It is simply an evolution of the original ATB. Ignoring FFX, which was strictly turn based, all the past FFs since FFIV have been active combats where turn order is based on the speed of your bar filling up and your ability to input a command quickly enough. Depending on the FF, they could even attack you while you were in the menu's selecting your spell. The XIII series is the same thing, you just get to stockpile your turns to spend quickly. Not really any different from the others. You'll have to call FFIV-FFXII all action games.
    It's a classic ATB, albeit somewhat "improved" upon. Clear as day. If waiting for ATB bar/s to fill up to make your move makes LR an action RPG God knows what that makes Kingdom Hearts and Crisis Core then. Then again some say exact same thing about FF XII and that game has an even more classic battle system. I'm honestly not sure where all of this confusion comes from.
    Last edited by Xanatos; 02-12-2014 at 05:18 AM.

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  21. #21
    The action part comes from the speed of throwing the commands. That's why it doesn't feel as traditional but more reflexive, action like. First you had to manually go, pick commands, select all the time, now you're just zipping and zapping non stop without taking the steps of manually selecting commands each time. The process has been hastened alot and simplified. Granted, things are faster so you have to react and think faster, but it still feels like dishing out combos on the go in arcade fighter games. At least that's how I see it. The speed of things is what makes the game feel like action. Also you can dodge enemies in real time to avoid battles. Not very action like? Needless to say, I still want to try this game out and play it. If it's engaging, why not? The only thing that kind of bugs me though is how certain rewards can be attained only by doing certain missions, so you have to do certain paths to get the right attribs. That's what I've dug up from reviews. It might be more balanced though, I don't know.

    And yeah, race against the clock is bad for exploration. Damn. I wish there was a way to go back in time, like in Majora's Mask. That game was wintastic.
    Last edited by Odin1199; 02-12-2014 at 05:39 AM.

  22. #22
    attempting to bribe the Mayor of Lambeth REVIEW ~ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ~ Xanatos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odin1199 View Post
    The action part comes from the speed of throwing the commands. That's why it doesn't feel as traditional but more reflexive, action like. First you had to manually go, pick commands, select all the time, now you're just zipping and zapping non stop without taking the steps of manually selecting commands each time. The process has been hastened alot and simplified. Granted, things are faster so you have to react and think faster, but it still feels like dishing out combos on the go in arcade fighter games. At least that's how I see it.
    You can still manualy choose each command, no one's forcing you not to, plus as most FFs FF XIII gives you an option to slower down battles. Even at its worst, when battles tend to be quite hectic I found myself doing things on my own.

    Have you actually played any game in XIII series?

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  23. #23
    Permanently Banned loaf's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure every Final Fantasy has action in it. That makes it an Action RPG.



    Every Final Fantasy plays itself.
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  24. #24
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    As for numerous moves all at once you do realize thanks to certain items, mostly weapons, characters in FF I (not quite sure about this one), FF II, FF V, FF VI, FF XII did exact same thing. To make it even worse enemies in those games have far less HP. I once saw a guy do 15 turns in a row in FF X before Nemesis even flintched.

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  25. #25
    I haven't but I've read enough about them to know they or the last 2 pretty much played themselves.

    That stuff in earlier games you're talking about was limited. You couldn't do that all the time. Big difference. Yeah, Quick, Haste2, Offering, speed rings. Can't compare it like that. Here you can up the pace just by setting up your gear and hitting a button repeatedly for reusing it every turn.
    Last edited by Odin1199; 02-12-2014 at 06:02 AM.

  26. #26
    Permanently Banned loaf's Avatar
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    You didn't even play it and you're bashing it? I'm sorry Odin but that isn't even right.

    I have played FFXIII three times and two out of the three times I input every single command the game offered me. Only on my 3rd playthrough I actually did Auto-Battle.

    Did you know, if you put Beserk on your characters in Final Fantasy, the game plays itself?
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odin1199 View Post
    I haven't but I've read enough about them to know they or the last 2 pretty much played themselves.
    The exact same way you knew about Mass Effect?

    They play themselves! Damn. And here I've gone through all the trouble to tackle down Long Gui on my own. Fesky beast. 3 million hard earned gil spent on nothing. I should have just let the game do it for me, that trophy would have been that much easier.

    Quote Originally Posted by loaf View Post
    Did you know, if you put Beserk on your characters in Final Fantasy, the game plays itself?
    Did you know loaf if you have controller with turbo on it games literally play themselves? Or at least you don't have to grind.

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  28. #28
    Why did you do that if you could auto battle lol?

    P.S.: ME was and still is a bad game. Your sheer obsession with defending it is just your opinion. The fact that it pissed off alot of people and still does just goes to prove they suck. Now try prove me wrong, I care not. They didn't please alot of people when they could've. All it takes is one screw up in the story to mess up a game and that's what they did with glory.
    Last edited by Odin1199; 02-12-2014 at 06:21 AM.

  29. #29
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    You can set gambits in FF XII where game plays itself. Is it games fault or yours for choosing so?

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  30. #30
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    I remember playing FFVII, and I put a bunch of Counters and Counter Attacks on my character, even Magic Counter. I then went AFK and the battle was won. FFVII plays itself.
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