Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Mediocre role-playing game with violence, blood.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The game is about saving the innocent and attacking evil -- which is inherently a positive message -- but the main character relies heavily on violence -- which is not a very positive message.

Positive role models

Gamers play as a seasoned warrior named Lightning, who attempts to save human souls while battling creatures big and small. It's a noble task, but the game has a lot of fantasy violence, which doesn't make for positive role modeling. Plus, a character buys alcohol to replenish her health.

 

Ease of play

The game isn't difficult to play on the PlayStation 3 version tested for this review. Along with a short tutorial on how to control Lightning, players can pause the game to review the controller layout. Combat does get tricky, however, with timing playing a critical role in attacks and blocks.

Violence

The game is centered heavily around violence. From a third-person perspective, gamers use swords, guns, and magical attacks to fight against beasts, robots, and humans. Some of the battle sequences are dramatized in slow motion. There is blood and some potentially disturbing cut scenes with characters impaled, piles of bodies, and pools of blood.

Sex

Many of the game's female characters -- including the lead protagonist -- often wear revealing clothing, including low-cut tops that expose cleavage. Plus, the camera angles sometimes zoom in and lock on a female's chest or buttocks. There are no sexual references in the dialogue, however.

Language

The game has some mild profanity, including the words "ass," "damn," "hell," and "bastard." 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There are a few references to alcohol in the dialogue sequences, and Lightning can purchase beer and tequila as an energy boost. In one mission, Lightning must obtain some expensive alcohol for him to accept a quest.

Privacy & safety
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a role-playing video game that is rated "Teen." This is largely due to frequent violence -- using might and magic -- as well as blood and potentially disturbing death sequences. The game also features women with revealing clothing, a camera that often focuses on it, and mild profanity. There is some alcohol consumption, and there are some alcohol references, in the game.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • storytelling

Social Studies

  • exploration

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • decision-making
  • strategy

Self-Direction

  • time management
  • work to achieve goals
  • effort

What Kids Can Learn

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • storytelling

Social Studies

  • exploration

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • decision-making
  • strategy

Self-Direction

  • time management
  • work to achieve goals
  • effort

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

This Learning Rating review was written by Marc Saltzman

What's it about?

The latest in the Final Fantasy XIII series, which has shipped more than 10 million games worldwide, Square Enix's LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII is a conclusion to the Japanese-made fantasy role-playing game (RPG) franchise. In this single-player game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, gamers play as Lightning, a young heroine on a quest to save a doomed world, and can change up Lightning's look, abilities, and actions throughout multiple, expansive environments. While adventuring through Nova Chrysalia, gamers will master the fast-paced battle system that lets players choose whom to attack, how, and when. This final chapter in the Final Fantasy XIII saga also includes some familiar faces -- including Serah, Hope, Noel, Snow, Sazh, Vanille, Fang, and others -- and somewhat ties up loose story lines from previous games.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

It's not as good as the previous Final Fantasy XIII games, but this final chapter does excel in deep customization options (weapons, skills, and outfits), stunning graphics (especially the cut-scene sequences but also the huge set pieces), and an interesting combat mechanic that blends speed with strategy. Problem is, this concluding adventure in the series feels more repetitive than its predecessors -- encounter enemies, defeat, move on, and start the process again -- plus the story is unnecessarily convoluted (many Japanese RPG fans already expect this, but Lightning Returns is even more difficult to understand). It's not a bad game overall, mind you, but only major fans of the series will get something substantial out of it. Note: The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions are the same.

Families can talk about...

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Price:$59.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Square Enix
Release date:February 11, 2014
Genre:Role Playing
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Robots
ESRB rating:T for Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

This review of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Gorgeous fantasy RPG with combat & some suggestive scenes.
  • Great graphics, great story, great sequel. Tweens.
  • Old-school role-playing remake stands the test of time.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 10 years old February 21, 2014
 
LEARNING

Pretty good...

Lightning returns is good and is violent. Lumina is mean, and scantily clad. Snow is mean, and betrayed lightning. Lightning wears the savior uniform, which is slightly revealing. It does have a good message. Kids can use outer world services, which allows you to chat.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 15 years old Written bySaad1Khan November 19, 2014
 
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass