So, as I have been seeing aspects of Lightning Returns, my brain has been turning to mashups of different plots with this, comparisons to other Final Fantasy games, and other things.
Helping my case, they seem to have dived right in to other games, with outfits and schema (the job system) based on other SquareEnix games – mostly other Final Fantasy games, but also Tomb Raider. So, thank you for helping my case.
And then, just to help a bit more, they built in screenshot-sharing functionality, through Twitter and/or Facebook. Is this going to be dangerous? Indubitably. But it also makes these screenshots easy to find and share with others. So I took a few, found a few on their site, and many more from around Twitter, and thought I would share. My comparisons are perhaps tongue-in-cheek, but the screenshots show a game that is going to fascinating to experience once it arrives.
Doctor Who – The Big Bang
So first off, the very premise sounds very much like the Doctor’s explanation at the end of Series 5 – The Big Bang. The universe is burning out, is coming to an end, but as they are at the epicenter of it all, at the eye of the storm, they’re the last things to wink out of existence.
In Lightning Returns, the world has 13 days left before it all ends – time already died at the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2. Everything is falling apart, or collapsing together, and we’re at the middle of it.
Or maybe it’s not coming apart, maybe it’s not ending – maybe it’s already ended, and we’re just playing out a simulation of it to think that it is. After all, that’s the sort of thing the Fal’Cie could and would do – is even the sort of thing that happens in a paradox ending in XIII-2, with the AI of a man-made Fal’Cie (Giant robot demigod things) taking over the characters, but making them think they are going around saving the world.
Add to that the enemies coming in from tears in the edge of the world – slipping in through the chaos – and the sunglasses, and, well… Enter the Matrix?
My favorite thought from playing through the demo of Lightning Returns is with Hope talking to us over the comms – and giving Lightning advice for the mission. It very much reminds me of Snake and Otacon or the Colonel in Metal Gear Solid.
Mission to save the world? Limited time to do it in? Sending in your best person for the job? Sounds like time for some Tactical Espionage Action.
Lightning or Lara Croft?
There’s been some buzz lately around the announced day-one DLC of a Tomb Raider schema for Lightning. The outfit is Lara Croft’s, and then for a weapon you get the axe, and for shield the riot shield, from the most recent game. Now, for a single-woman action game, where you’re running, jumping, fighting, and exploring, isn’t Lara Croft the archetype?
However, is it too much of a crossover? Is it just a hype machine? I don’t feel like it; in XIII-2 there was an outfit for Noel to look like an assassin from Assassin’s Creed, and an outfit for both Noel and Serah to look like Shepard from Mass Effect. So this isn’t actually anything new as far as I’m concerned. If anything, it’s a nice touch that there’s a solid melee weapon and shield to go with the outfit, from the game, to tie it all together.
Lightning or the Flash?
Unfortunately I couldn’t get the screenshot I wanted from the opening video, but let me explain: Lightning can so bend time that she can “Overclock” and get in lots of hits while the enemy sits still. You can do so in battle, and, extra fun, they included it in the opening cutscene of the demo, with Lightning shooting through some enemies like a red bolt of… well… lightning.
So hey, maybe she could be cast as the next Flash, right? Fastest woman alive. We’re in need of the Flash coming back on Arrow, so… someone make this happen, right?
Snow or Booker DeWitt?
Alright, can’t just talk about Lightning… what about the game’s seeming antagonist, the once-hero Snow? Voiced by the once-Booker-DeWitt Troy Baker? After playing Bioshock Infinite it’s hard not to hear a bit of Booker in Snow’s voice.
So is that how he’s alive and there at the end of time? Did Elizabeth bring him there? Leave him there? Or will she show up – cause a tear, beat us all? Heck, the sorts of things Snow can do in the demo… maybe those are tears too. Probably. Just by a different name, right?
There’s probably a Restaurant at the End of the Universe joke in there somewhere too about Snow in his party at the end of time…
Another Final Fantasy Game?
Final Fantasy X and X-2
So here is potentially people’s fear: another Final Fantasy X-2. It’s not what they gave us with XIII-2 – which was instead an improvement on XIII. But then, is this game going to be it instead? The indicators are there – the outfit changing, the likely necessity for multiple new-game-pluses to experience all of the game.
However, there’s good and bad with that, in my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed the jobs in X-2, even if the outfit changes were a bit Sailor Moon. And having to play through New Game+ was just an interesting difference to the game – the sort that could make far more sense fighting up against the time-limit of Lightning Returns. So I guess: the jury is out, but the demo put many of my fears to rest.
Any Final Fantasy with a Job System
So as I mention the job system in X-2, I should point out that this game is not only making me reminiscent of that game – but other Final Fantasy job-system classics, like V, and even the more recent Final Fantasy Dimensions. All in a good way.
However, only having one of a class out at a time… although, you’re switching due to ATB, so really, it can work like having each character’s ATB come up, one after the other… I dunno, the one-character battle system is an interesting departure for the series, and we’ll have to see how it goes. That’s why I’m glad they’re falling back to a background of something they have figured out: the job system. The demo had Red Mage and Dragoon playable, so basically, I’m there.
Final Fantasy VII
And then, there’s comparison going on to beloved Final Fantasy titles as well: especially, the preorder sales including a code for Cloud’s outfit and a Buster Sword. Which I am seeing a lot of people talking about on Twitter: it sounds like it’s going to be pretty excellent.
The thing I failed to know about before looking through screenshots, however, was that this was not the only Final Fantasy VII outfit in the game…
Final Fantasy XIII?
For a closing thought, and given the disappointment that Final Fantasy XIII is viewed as by many gamers, the number one fear for anyone wanting to play a new Final Fantasy game: is this just another Final Fantasy XIII? And I think the answer is no.
We get the world. We get the characters. We have staggering still. But gone is stripping down the classes to their base role – gone are Ravager, Saboteur, Medic. Back is the job system, where you might do a bit of healing and damage both. In fact, from the demo, all the classes had an ability to block, many had magic and damage, there were big hits and strong staggering abilities… the combat is completely redone.
And you have to take the helm and control it. Because of how the ATB works, you can’t just auto-fight everything (though you can hold down a button to use the same ability several times). And, without a party to back you – and with only 6 healing items in your inventory – you’re going to likely have to be on your A-game while playing this. It should require skill and tactics, strategy in picking our three schema, and that should all be to the good.
And it also should not be linear – if it is someone needs to be sacked. Seriously. This is a game with an internal timer going, with limited time to save the world. We absolutely need to be able to choose what we’re going to try to do, directions to go, things to prioritize. It should not be like Mass Effect 3, where the world was ending, but we also had all the time in the world, and had to do all the major events along the way. We should be able to go anywhere, do anything, far more openly, like XIII-2. I’m imagining something like Baldur’s Gate 2 after a point: you’re set loose, to decide what fights you want to go for, and whether you think you can take that Red Dragon to get a Holy Avenger…
But I digress. You may be able to tell: we don’t have this game yet, and I would like to be playing it rather than talking about it. I will try to keep my future blog posts about it minimal, but expect a decent amount of screenshots on my Twitter, and probably Holly’s as well! And if you’re considering this game, think it’s gotten to a place where you can enjoy it – check out my post on the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy.
And if you have any mashups or screenshots to add, let us know in the comments below!