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Square Enix let loose a new gameplay video for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, where gamers get to see Lightning partake in a mission that involves finding a White Chocobo. The video is actually more impressive than I thought it would be and there are features that seem like it puts Square back on the right path.
First up, the whole fashion fetish thing in Lightning Returns is pretty weird. I imagine the developers are just kind of fulfilling a deep rooted fascination with cosplay and transmuting that desire into the virtual space of Final Fantasy XIII. All the different color options and outfit mixing and matching would probably make fans of Project Runway light up with cheer, but um... yeah, it does seem a little like cosplay-fetish overkill.
On the upside, the whole creepy-cosplay fascination does actually play a role in the game and how Lightning can react to the way battles unfold. Being able to setup various combat roles that you can switch to on the fly during battle. Each armor and weapon set offers Lightning a new kind of attack strategy that can weaken or wear down an enemy.
The ability to house various combat styles on the L1 and R1 buttons with attacking and blocking mapped to the face buttons means that you can whip out combos and attacks as fast as you can think them up. I think it's a slick mechanic and it compliments the overhauled battle system greatly.
Speaking of the battle system, I personally believe this is the future of active-battle RPG systems. Square has found that perfect balance between strategy, real-time combat and a dynamic, almost-cinematic approach to JRPG battles. It would have been awesome to see a system like this used in a game like Resonance of Fate, as that game had a pretty awesome combat concept that felt like it could have been better utilized than how it was.
As for Lightning Returns... the brief mission glimpsed in the video above, courtesy of Gematsu, shows a game with some measure of promise. I was really not fond of the confusing and uninteresting stories told in Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2 but I'm almost digging the whole end-of-the-world bit for Lightning Returns. I'm not sure how I feel about the game being on a timer, but it definitely adds some incentive to believe that what's happening within the game world is very important.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is set for release this upcoming February in 2014 for the Xbox 360 and PS3. It feels a little like a wasted opportunity to still churn out such an expensive game for such dated hardware, but Square does what they want to do and it doesn't seem like sales or fan protest will deter them otherwise. You can learn more about the game by paying a visit to the official website.