Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lightning Returns Trailer Goes Out Early

So, this is a thing that technically happened yesterday, but, well, so did something else, so I talked about that instead.  Since THQ filing for bankruptcy is kind of a bigger deal than a leaked Squeenix trailer or a trailer that Squeenix released early because it doesn't make any sense and thus makes perfect Squeenix sense.  If you were not aware or have forgot forced it from your memory, the next game in the Final Fantasy XIII series is called Lightning Returns™:  Final Fantasy® XIII and it is....well, it is a thing.  A thing that probably shouldn't exist because it only exists to finish XIII-2 which was a tacked-on mess which I assure you that I am still working on reviewing it to let you know the extent of that.  Lightning Returns is also something that is completely not what I expected going off the trailer versus what we were told in the 'announcement' of it.

As a refresher, Lightning Returns was sort of introduced as a more Action-RPG hybrid game in which Lightning is out to single-handedly save the world because she is so special for reasons that are inherently unapparent.  Don't get me wrong, I -like- Lightning, I'm just saying there needs to be more to a whole "Savior" angle than "Well, she got picked to be a Guardian for something", and I don't care if that -something- was important, it's still kind of dumb that there wasn't really a lot of backstory about it.  Presumably that will be -in- Lightning Returns, or maybe they'll just run with it still and we'll just figure the reason is "The creators of the games really liked Lightning", since that's as good an explanation as any.  The main theme to Lightning Returns is that, basically, 'Time is of the essence' in the most literal way possible because it is a malleable thing for Lightning at least, which, as I said, sort of gives it a Majora's Mask feel to it.

The similarities end there, however, especially since this trailer has come out and shed a little more light on the battle system.  Now, you see the way it was described gives you an inkling of something a little more....well, like I said, Action-y than RPG which we're all pretty much used to by now.  The pessimistic part of me looked at Dirge of Cerberus which was meant to be an action game and despaired and then looked at Crisis Core and only felt the barest bit more comfortable with the idea.  Still, there was a chance that that sort of thing could've been cool - I don't know how it would've worked magic and paradigm switches but I would've left that up to Squeenix.  You'll notice that is all in past tense and that is for a pretty obvious reason if you looked at the video (provided it's still up, I'll try to replace it with a new one if it gets taken down) and this is the point where I urge you to test the video and, if it works, move on to the next paragraph.  Of course, if it doesn't, move on to the next paragraph anyway.

So yeah, that is definitely still a turn-based battle system.  It does look like, indeed, there is more direct control over Lightning with it, but it is still Turn-based and that is positively worrying.  Even though I liked Final Fantasy XIII, the battle system was -only- good when you had three characters in the party, which is to say nothing of XIII-2 which spent most of the game having three characters in the party and -still- ended up being terrible.  To say that I can imagine a single-player version of either system being fun is a stretch that I'm not willing to make and while I'm sure it will be more tailored to the single-character experience, I cannot move away from being skeptical at best.  I mean, unless they throw a good portion of the battle system and encounter design out the window, it's going to be a rather large annoyance and I don't think Squeenix is actually -capable- of balancing the game properly to keep the experience fun but challenging.  Hell, I don't think they can manage just making it -fun-.

Honestly, there's not a whole lot in that entire trailer that instills me with anything resembling confidence.  Lightning's new outfit is stupid - it's backless with all sorts of poofy things that flap in the wind as she walks and jumps around, generally just being superfluous and adding a lot of area to her character which is unnecessary.  The game itself as it's shown in the trailer has to be alpha footage because it's...well, it doesn't look very good.  And the animation is a bit choppy looking.  Which begs the question "Why did they release a trailer that looked like that" and the answer is 'Nobody knows!'  Hopefully some follow-up trailers paint the game in a more positive light, but, well, the whole 'skeptical at best' thing.  If there's one positive that came from this whole thing, however, it's that this gif came from it.  I mean, just look at that gif.  How can you -not- love that?

But no, seriously, that's about it for positives.

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