Are you excited for Lightning Returns? No? Well I am, more so than I thought I’d be. I’ve been trying to stay away from spoilers as much as possible since its release in Japan, but I have been checking out the official trailers and such that Square Enix have been putting out, specifically the ‘Inside the Square’ three-part series that showed off a little of the behind-the-scenes work that went into it.

Today, Squenix have published an extended, all-in-one “director’s cut” of these short clips. Weighing in at half an hour, it collects all the material from the previous instalments and adds in more besides, going into detail with the developers themselves as they tell us about their creative process. We get some glimpses into the work that goes into the game, including motion capture and sound design, and get a good look at some of the impressive landscapes we’ll see in Lightning Returns. Watch the full thirty-minute doc below.

The more I see of the final part of the XIII trilogy, the more interested I become. It looks like it’s taking a leaf out of Final Fantasy XIV‘s book, for a start – every time I see footage of the Wildlands, I am instantly reminded of the La Noscea region in that game’s world of Eorzea. Experience is also handed out differently in Lightning Returns, where it’s given for completing quests rather than taking part in battle (much like XIV, where your largest XP rewards come from quests), and customisation looks far more in-depth than any other offline Final Fantasy game and more in line with something you’d expect to see in an MMO (indeed, you can even change the colours of Lightning’s garb, much as you might dye your gear in FFXIV).

Spin-offs and sequels have generally been the titles that Square-Enix have used to experiment (consider Dirge of Cerberus – a third person shooter; Crisis Core – an action RPG; Revenant Wings – an sRPG), and innovations there have often found their way into numbered titles (FFX-2‘s dressphere system inspiring XIII‘s paradigm shift system). This seems to be changing recently however, with XIII-2 being the closest thing to traditional Final Fantasy that we’ve seen in a long time and Final Fantasy Versus XIII‘s recent promotion to full numbered-series status.

At the very least, it’s encouraging to see the team experimenting with the franchise, and it’ll be interesting to see the direction Final Fantasy heads in from here.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be released on February 14th for Xbox 360 and PS3. Ten days, people!

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