Lightning Returns Gets Mixed Reviews, Long-Time Fans Aren't Amused
Although I've been a Final Fantasy fan for decades, I'm not too surprised to see the critical reception for the latest installment, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
The game hit store shelves in North America today and plenty of critics have already weighed in, as seen on Metacritic. Currently, the game averages only a 68 and sadly, it seems the score might only decrease over time.
As a few examples, Game Informer and IGN gave the game a 7, GameSpot and GamesRadar only awarded a 5, and on the low-end of the spectrum, there's EGM (4.5) and GameRevolution (4). A few sites such as Destructoid and Machinima saw fit to give the new title an 8 or higher, but the game has yet to receive a single 9 score. Not even one.
Don't we all remember when any new FF title was guaranteed at least a 9? Hell, most of us were expecting 10s. It wasn't as if only a few titles generated such widespread critical acclaim; all were viewed as masterpieces and instant classics. Therefore, if you had told me 15 years ago that a new Final Fantasy wouldn't even manage a critical average of 7, I would've either laughed or cried (the former if I didn't believe you, the latter if I did).
You may also notice that most any FF fan over a certain age, who began playing the series way back when, really can't stand what has happened. Some assume these fans are merely annoyed because the franchise doesn't feature the same gameplay, and the aging followers are just bitter.
That isn't the case at all, though. At least, not for me. Had Square Enix opted to change the gameplay and still made it as deep as ever, and the quality had remained appropriately high, I would've applauded the move. Even if I hated it, I would've said the company had successfully adapted to a new era of gaming. Unfortunately, it's not only that they changed a winning formula, it's that they replaced it with an inexplicably mediocre one.
And that's where they lose me. An average game is an average game, regardless of personal preference and gameplay style, and an average game does not belong in the vaunted Final Fantasy franchise. Period.