Geek Revolt

Let’s Be Honest, Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Looks Like a Hot Mess


I defended FFXIII against hoards of detractors, and I thought FXIII-2 was a good game. But after watching the trailer for Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, I feel like my love affair with the series is about to come to an abrupt end. How should I put this – it looks like a hot mess. Hopefully this was just a bad trailer, but here are a few reasons why it doesn’t do a good job at convincing us to buy the game.

The first thing I noticed was the poor framerate. It looks really choppy and unstable, some feel like this could be because of poor video encoding, but I find that hard to believe. If that were the case Square Enix would have just released a trailer with better encoding. The Japanese version looks a little better, but it’s still disappointing when it comes to the framerate. I could forgive the framerate if the city was truly a bustling metropolis. This brings me to my next point – the city is dead.

There’s hardly anyone around, it’s beyond barren, and it looks like there’s no land behind the buildings. Like the city is floating in the sky. Hell, Hekseville (the city in Gravity Rush) was floating in the sky and it looks 10x better, so that’s no excuse. Running and jumping around that city looks as fun as going to the dentist.

During the trailer we’re shown some platforming, Square Enix is obviously trying to sell it as a feature. The problem is it looks too isolated, by that I mean it looks like it doesn’t mesh with the city’s layout. It’s too obvious – “Oh look, there’s a red pole, I guess I should climb on it!” One of the reasons the platforming in the Assassins Creed games works is because it’s seamless. You just run up to a building and start climbing. Here it looks like you’re directed towards a few awkwardly placed poles and ledges.


I brought up Assassins Creed in the last paragraph and that brings me to my next point. The influence is apparent, this isn’t shown in the trailer, but in the screenshot above you see Lightning tailing someone stealthily. I’m not against trying new things, but it seems like Square Enix is trying too hard to appeal to western audiences. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’re going to emulate something — make it better than its inspiration. Everything in this trailer makes it look like a poor man’s version of a sandbox game.


Don’t even get me started on Lightning’s outfit, it looks like she raided Ezio’s and Lady Gaga’s wardrobe. Growing up you probably knew a kid who tried to look like a badass, but failed miserably. The outfit feels forced, like she’s trying too hard to be cool. The sunglasses were the final nail in the coffin — it’s just too cheesy. Someone has been watching CSI Miami.

The only thing I didn’t absolutely hate was the combat system; it could be okay. It looks like a mix of the system from the first two games with some added freedom. It’s hard to discern its quality from a trailer, we won’t know how good it is until we get some hands on time with it. You may be thinking, “The same could be said about the rest of the game.“ And while that’s true in some ways, you can basically tell the platforming, city, and story are going to be subpar by watching the trailer.

Sigh, I don’t enjoy being right. Hopefully this was just a bad trailer, and Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII turns out to be one of 2013’s best games. I want to believe this, but it looks like we may have another Dirge of Cerberus on our hands.

I'm DeShaun Zollicoffer, and I approve this message/bio. "28-years-old, Proud Northeast Ohioan, a Gamer Without Loyalties, an Equal Opportunity Offender, Apple Evangelist, Apple Hater, Music Lover, Anime Junkie, Little Monster, Frequent Flyer, Dexter Fanatic, Title Case Addict, and Geek Revolt's Founder and Editorial Director."
  • Agreed. It looks like shit. Worse than the previous two. I hope they bring Versus soon as that game looked far better. *sign* I hope I am wrong too but it seems we’re both right

    • Me too, I’m hoping we finally hear some news on Versus after this game ships. Though, I doubt it’ll still have FXIII in its name.

  • Josh Gordon

    Thank you for writing this article. People are TRYING to like the game just to be different.

    • I want to like it, but I’d be lying to myself if I said it looked even remotely interesting.

    • Or you know GASP there are people who don’t share your opinion and think the game looks fine >.>

      • Josh Gordon

        Im not saying you have to be a true final fantasy fan to like this but… This is garbage compared to FF1-10… It looks shit. Lightnings as boring as ever. The people dont want this, a small portion does but not true fans. This is why SE dont run the JRPG scene no more, They are near bottom.

        • Yup, they give us the opposite of what we want. Everyone asks for Versus, but they’re like “You don’t know what you want, here’s a RPG/Action hybrid staring Lightning!” The same thing goes for all the Kingdom Hearts remakes, enough already.

          • Josh Gordon

            Yeh i feel you brother. I would much rather KH3 then Kh1.5 but imma still play the hell outta that. Just dont like the fact they have took so long to announce it, Ive watched both Bbs and 3ds online and i have a feeling they will do 2.5. Also i dont like the fact they changing mechanics i dont want to be able to do all these stupid triangle moves that take off like a bar of a bosses health. KH2 was way 2 easy

  • I posted elsewhere that I’d like to see some “comparison” videos, showcasing the original Final Fantasy XIII, and the clusterfudge of baseless, poorly thought-out ideas we see before us.

    I wasn’t a fan of the original XIII (for gameplay reasons), but I know a number of people who were, and I can’t understand why SqEnix is trying to push them away by morphing the game in ways THEY can’t appreciate. I just don’t understand who they’re targeting anymore…

    • They’re trying to appeal to a few demographics (RPG and AC fans), but in the end they’ll appeal to no one.

  • Kamille

    I couldn’t stop laughing while watching that CSI Miami video. lol

    He reminds me to Morpheus from The Matrix. XD

  • Wow, come on now…just wait for the game to come out before trashing it. You gotta realize that they’re not nearly done with the game yet.

    • I’m not the only one who thinks it looks poor, and obviously I’ll reserve final judgment until it’s in my hands.

  • dingo_egret

    Not sure why they are making another one of these games!!! Of all Final Fantasy characters to bring to life again…Enix continue to focus on this chick. Last I heard, people weren’t lining up to buy this game because of her. Throughout the series there have been a number of leading characters who deserve follow ups…i.e. Cloud for Final Fantasy VII.

  • Seems like youy wrote this articlke just to get the csi miami finalle,dont ever wrote an article about final fantasy DEEp SHIT!

    • You’re comment makes no sense, but you’re obviously a hardcore FF fan judging by your avatar. Blind fanaticism is never good, trust me this isn’t just me bashing this game for fun. I want it to be great, but only a super-hardcore FF fan would look at this and think “OMG, this looks awesome!”

  • I deliberately avoided watching the trailer you posted of this latest Final Fantasy game simply because I didn’t want to get spoiled since I haven’t played the second one yet (though it’s sitting on my shelf right now just waiting to be played, which I’ll get to next month hopefully LOL!)

    But I’m concerned with what I’ve read here. It seems like Square Enix isn’t giving the Final Fantasy name justice anymore. I thought FFXIII was okay, but it just didn’t give me the same feeling as FFX or any of the previous titles did. A friend of mine said FFXIII-2 started out okay and was even pretty good midway, but fell short at the end. I suppose that’s because the developers knew they were going to throw a third title to conclude everything, but now it seems like this third installment might not be as great as it should be. Well, it’s still early to say, but I know what you mean in which if the publisher’s already throwing out trailers then we’re pretty much close to the final product/release and there’s not much room for overhauls or improvements at this point. I would know since I’ve been in the beta-testing business for so long, at least with online games lol…

    With that said, I’m worried that Square Enix’s quality is just deteriorating. FFXIII isn’t the only one to be worked up about. There’s FFXIV, which started out as a complete mess, but now its revamped version known as “Reborn” or “2.0” is just as bad, if not worse. Then there’s the mysterious absence of FFXIII Versus. And did the mobile-turned-to-PSP “Type-0” ever get released? Square Enix, man, what’s happened to you?

    • Ha-ha, I figured as much. I don’t think the story in this one has anything to do with XIII-2, well that’s not true. But it’s so disjointed, anyway…

      Yeah, Type-0 came out in Japan, it’s still missing M.I.A. here in the states.

  • Yo! It’s Jimmy Lenoir

    As a long time Final Fantasy fan, I’d love to like Lighting Returns, and while XIII-2 was an improvement, at this stage I just want them to forget about Lighting and move on. Return to basics, and create a Final Fantasy game that remembers where it comes from.

  • monkey

    ff had the best games this gen of any gen. But this doenst look good

  • interesting

    i am supries about the comment here like from people who already
    get hand on the game..come on you just get this from 2 minutes trailer and blabering about gameplay ,assasin creed seamles and others…besides the outfit are based on white mage not assasin creed and each part represent each role…
    …there will be more outfit..dont be alarmed earlier..seriously did you read any info regarding this game earlier?

  • interesting

    this just 2 minutes trailer and comment especially the article like he already got hand on the game..wait for actual game..this game still not finished….about cs i dont think tetsuya nomura applied that..only you watch csi to much and related to this….lot of people,character wear black glasses…and about the cloth doubt it related to lady gaga….i already see that type of pant before definetly not gaga’s..the writer watch lady gaga too much….and the white cloth are based on white mage..and not assasin creed especialyy the pocket on the cloth,more like lighting ffxiii soldier outfit….this is tetsuya nomura he probably not watch al thos western influence….beside if writer read previous info regarding this game,the lot of info about more 20 outfit,and character might be can change cloth part and use it part like paradigm..looks the gameplay probably didnt finished..not mention the fps…this game in on development….come on this is just 2 minutes….dont comment like this whole game…and this is not action type like assasin creed…it still rpg like crisis core…dont comment about the pole..assasinc creed seamles ..all those different league…just thinks SE trying to pull things like dragon dogma..and they were experimenting….beside i think if this game were made by western..probably those guy are the one licked their ass too much

    • English clearly isn’t your first language. You bring up some valid points, but I’m going to disregarded your comment because its so poorly written.

      No, I’m not that big of an asshole. There’s nothing wrong with commenting on a game’s trailer. We do it all the time, if I said this looks amazing no one would say “Wait until you play the game, you can’t judge it based on a trailer!”

      Obviously, final judgement is reserved until I review the game.

  • LG67

    I love how people keep saying that the game hasnt been released yet so dont judge it until you played it. This game is coming out quarter 1 next year. You really think they can make this game amazing in less than 3 months? What you see here is WHAT you will get… Just like with FFXIII-2 the trailers for the gameplay are what we got… nothing really changed.

  • My main concern is the framerate. I don’t think the city needs to be rustling and bustling because I have this feeling that it is literally a “ghost” city. The places in Lightning Returns are fragments of memories…kind of like in Bastion. As for the jumping/sliding/stealth… of course it will not be Assassin’s Creed caliber but I think the combat and the time management will be the main part of the gameplay and that those features are just added on to make exploration a little more fun…. but the framerate still worries me.

  • Bardock72

    Wait a minute. NOW “Square Enix is trying too hard to appeal to western audiences”? You played through FFXIII AND FFXIII-2, and only just now you realize they are trying too hard to appeal to westerners? 6 years ago they released an action/adventure game as a main entry in the Seiken Densetsu series, and have you seen the crap they tried to pass off as Star Ocean? Square Enix lost the ability to make JRPG’s a long time ago.

  • i have to agree, and you are not wrong, the game looks like shit, just like the rest of ff-13, im hugely dissapointed by square, the last good game was final fantasy 10, that was awesome in every way, then came this shit, i have loved all final fantasy up untill now, this gen, i really want ff 10-hd, and versus 13, which i believe is made by the old final fantasy team, so there is still hope there i suppose