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‘Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII’ demo impressions

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A week ago on Jan. 21, 2014 Square Enix released a playable demo of the upcoming “Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII” on Sony’s Playstation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live. The demo once again puts players in the role of Lightning, voiced again by Ali Hillis, as she traverses the chaos-infested Yusnaan palace of her old ally, Snow. As you would expect from a “Final Fantasy” game there is plenty of gorgeous animation. The beginning animation sequences actually play twice; first as a unvoiced video and then through the course of the playable section. The most notable addition, evidenced early in the demo, is the game’s completely new battle system.

As impressive as the new real-time battle system is, there are plenty of other new additions to “Final Fantasy XIII.” Lightning will be completely customizable in “Lightning Returns.” Not only will her abilities be upgradable, but the hundreds of weapons and variety of outfit customizations will all be reflected in the field, in battle, and most importantly in those gorgeous cutscenes that we all love. Square also promises four completely different and branching locations. Of course fans of the “Final Fantasy’s” first trilogy will be happy to know that Serah, Hope, Snow, Noel, Sazh, Vanille, Fang, Caius, and Yeul will all return in some fashion.

The demo itself does include a few bonuses too. For those who activate the Outerworld services and submit their battle scores of the final fight against Zaltys, the ‘Siegfried’ outfit will be unlocked in the full retail game. Players who download the PlayStation Network version of the demo will automatically receive the Utsusemi Garb DLC, which includes the Heavenly Fan weapon and the Kaminari (meaning “Lightning” in Japanese) shield item. The DLC pack will download with the demo and will be unlocked in the full retail game on February 11, 2014. As an added incentive to buy and play the game early, the Japanese voiceovers will be downloadable for free for only two weeks after the game’s launch.

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