Square Enix released a playable demo for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. The demo is available on Xbox 360 for Gold Members and on Playstation 3 now while becoming available for Xbox Live Silver Members on January 28, 2013. 

Gamers who play the demo and participate in the Outerworld service by activating the connectivity feature and submitting a battle score will receive the Siegfried Garb outfit as free DLC when the full game releases. On the Playstation 3, players additionally receive the Utsusemi Garb DLC for playing the demo which includes the Heavenly Fan weapon and the Kaminari, a shield item. Following the promotion, the free DLC will be available for purchase.

Under Settings Outerworld Services can be disabled or enabled and separately the Facebook and Twitter links can be similarly disabled or enabled. The Outerworld service is a networking feature that connects players with in-game text messages as well as encourages posting battle scores and screenshots.

The demo occurs in Snow’s Yusnaan palace and tutorials showcase the game’s battle system that combines the tactics of JRPGs with real time combat.  The demo culminates in a final battle against Zaltys. 

Preordering the game awards the Cloud’s Strife Soldier 1st Class Uniform and Buster Sword as free DLC. The Collector’s Edition is available exclusively through Square Enix’s online store here for $89.99 featuring both physical items, a hardcover art book and a pocket watch, as well as digital DLC, Aerith Gainsborough’s Midgar’s Flower Girl outfit.

Accessibility Angle:

 

After I downloaded Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII’s demo I did what all disabled gamers initially do when playing a new game, I headed into Settings.

 

The Settings include a variety of feature tweaking that provides video game accessibility. For fine motor disabilities, controller settings include Camera Controls that allow for choosing Standard, Inverted Y-Axis, Inverted X-Axis, or Dual Inverted. Additionally, the Camera Sensitivity can be adjusted along a scale.  

For deaf and hard of hearing gamers, subtitles include three settings that can be enabled separately which are Event Subtitles (subtitles for cut scenes), Speaker Names (tagging subtitles in cut scenes with the speaker’s name), and Non-Event Subtitles (in-game subtitles).  All three options are turned on by default.

For visual disabilities, options for adjusting the visuals include Brightness, Magnify Font (magnifies the font of the selected menu in the menu list and increases the subtitle’s font size), Mini-Map Settings and Map Settings both can be set for Fixed to North or Facing. The Camera Mode at Battle Start allows for Default (Near Mode) or Long-View Mode.  The Magnify Font setting does not enlarge the battlescreen font which is cramped and shows the current schema selected along with its attacks.  Additionally, the battlescreen depicts Lightning’s health and ATB (required for carrying out battle actions) both numerically and with stacked colored bars. 

The battle system combines tactical strategy with real time combat. The player controls Lightning and battle actions such as defensive postures and different attack types are mapped to the controller’s face buttons. Lightning switches during combat between schemata which are different outfits that are accompanied with unique battle actions. Schemata swaps are mapped to the bumpers and combat occurs by pressing the desired face button while flicking the left analog stick in the direction of the attack.  The attack button can be held down rather than pressed repeatedly for consecutive attacks. Pausing the game during battle allows for using inventory items such as health restoration items.  The inventory menu is impacted by the Magnify Font setting and if enabled the font of the selected item is increased.

 

The user interface appears initially complicated requiring time and use for becoming acclimated. For example, the in-game subtitles are on the far left of the screen and jump is mapped to the face button B/O (the right face button) rather than A/X (the bottom face button). The game includes a variety of disability related settings and a unique battle system. Disabled gamers interested in the game can play the free demo for determining if the available options meets their disability related needs before purchasing.

 

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