Let’s start off by talking about Final Fantasy XIII itself. The main series game has plenty of haters. I am not one of them. Is XIII the best Final Fantasy? Absolutely not. Is it the worst? Absolutely not. Where would I rank it? I’d say that it is between I and IX for me which places XIII in 5th place in my all-time list for the franchise.
I had a lot of fun with Final Fantasy XIII and it wasn’t the story or “linear” gameplay that made it that good for me. It was Lightning, Sazh, and the Paradigm Shifts. Sazh was a colorful character. He always had something to say and he was so unlike Barrett. He wasn’t the muscle. He wasn’t, as I called it in my cliche post, the “burly black guy who thinks he’s the $#!%”. Sahz was the older, wise party member who tried to keep everyone on track but didn’t take everything so serious that it brought him over the edge.
The Paradigm Shifts made combat fun. So many people complained about the Auto-Battle yet all you had to do was ignore it. Why use it if you knew it would ruin the combat for you? I used it once to see what it would do and I never touched it again. Combining attacks with items and the constant Paradigm Shifts made the game really fun for me. I would change Shifts about 2-5 times a battle just to make it interesting. Even in a battle where one Paradigm would be best to use, I would also make use of my defensive Paradigms just to give each character a reason to be there. Paradigm Shifts, in my option, are the best add-on to the Final Fantasy combat engine since ATB.
That leaves us to the subject of this post: Lightning. I will admit that Lightning is my favorite female lead and almost my favorite female in all of gaming (yet Terra still holds that crown). Lightning is a very strong and confident woman. She knows she skill set and she employs them with such efficiency that she outclasses just about every other female video game character (again, not Terra but she was an Esper so that’s a bit unfair). Lightning is a woman with a sense of duty, dignity, and leadership. She is a soldier and a damn good one. She has set morals and rules and she never breaks them. Even when it came to Snow and her sister getting married, it took the entire journey and seeing Snow rescue Serah and embracing her to think that he was right for her. She has he never quit and he stuck to his own rules. She saw that Snow was a mirror image of Lightning, albeit without the seriousness level.
Right now you might be cursing at me through your screen. However, think about this. The biggest problem with Final Fantasy XIII is that it did not stick with Lightning. It broke and split the party up so many times that it was extremely tough to get used to Paradigms, branching storylines, background stories, and the biggest point of it all: care for most of the cast aside from Lightning and Sahz. Lightning was obviously the main character. Her story was front and center but we got it in fragments. It was a complete shame that the game took us in so many directions.
Square-Enix knew this, too. How? Because in XIII-2 they stuck with one character: Serah, Lightning’s sister. I’m okay with Serah but the decision to do this really told me that Square-Enix knew what they had with Lightning and how breaking the group up like that in XIII hurt the game and the rest of the cast. With that said, I agree with the role they gave Lightning in XIII-2. It set Lightning up as the most important character in the XIII sub-series and gave her plenty of room to open up and show us who she really is. It also introduced another very strong character in Noel, one that I hope we will see in the Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Saga.
So with Square-Enix telling us that they will be creating this Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Saga, I couldn’t be more excited. I am really hyped to see what Square-Enix will do to further this character and finally give her the spotlight she deserves. If you’re a fan of XIII, you should be excited. The XIII series so far has been releasing with haste, compared to the other games in Square’s library. This saga should keep us entertained and not waiting too long for a conclusion.
If you’re a hater of XIII, or at least a doubter, look again at Lightning and past the “linearity” or auto-battle and just focus on Lightning, her story, and what she does in both games. She is primed to become one of the best characters in gaming history if Square-Enix can pull this off. I know that is bold but I really see a ton of potential in Lightning.
If any of these saga games have Lightning and Noel team up, I’m sold beyond recognition.