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Well Square Enix unveiled the worst kept secret of the year and even though it isn't exactly titled XIII-3, that's what it is. The game that seemingly few asked for is coming in 2013, yet it seems there is more to this than meets the eye. A doomsday clock akin to Majora's Mask that gives you thirteen days to do your worst and a seemingly all new take on the gameplay we've come to know and love (or in many cases, hate) from the Final Fantasy XIII universe are the big differences that stood out in the press conference held in Japan today. With the scant few details that were provided, we can only assume that with Lightning being the only character controlled, this will be more an action RPG than any previous offerings in the series. I suppose it makes some sense as Lightning is the only real standout among the cast introduced in the XIII series of games, but with the new action elements coming into play the question arises, will this genre departure fall flat like so many others that deviate from their tried and true roots? Games like Final Fantasy VII's Dirge of Cerberus give a shocking reminder of what happens when Square decides to tackle something else with an existing games cast. We can only hope the opposite is true for Lightning Returns when it is released in the later half of 2013.
All conjecture to be sure, but the saving grace is that Square can finally close the curtain on Final Fantasy's most controversial chapter and move forward to what the majority of fans are truly asking for. I'm not saying the XIII series are a bad set of games, but they certainly haven't grabbed the attention of fans like past games have, at least not in the way Square would have liked and with with the negative aura that surrounds the XIII universe, stubborn is the only word that comes to mind when contemplating why they thought this series warranted three games. These thoughts aside, I hope once this game is out and finished, Square can move on and work on a new addition to the franchise proper, Final Fantasy XV and finally release the oft delayed and just as controversial, Final Fantasy Versus XIII.
There is no denying the Final Fantasy name has taken a hit to its popularity in the past few years, but let's hope that like the summon Phoenix, it can rise from the ashes and return to its rightful prominence among gaming's elite.