With Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII finally releasing in the US in only a couple weeks, I thought it would be a good time to look back at the two Final Fantasy XIII games thus far. As a result, I came up with a list of my top five favorite characters from either Final Fantasy XIII or Final Fantasy XIII-2. Yes, I know the Final Fantasy XIII games get a lot of hate, but I actually quite enjoyed the games, especially Final Fantasy XIII-2, and this was helped by some very enjoyable characters in there along the way.
For this list, I chose not to rank them in order, so these are just my top five characters from the series in alphabetical order. Be warned of some spoilers about main events in the games, but I will try to avoid specific moments that you should experience for yourself
As the main villain of Final Fantasy XIII-2, Caius Ballad easily became one of my favorite Final Fantasy series villains. Perhaps what helped most with Caius was the fact that he worked more in the gray area as he wasn’t a full on villain, but just doing what he felt was right. In an almost Lex Luthor type mindset, Caius actually becomes somewhat of a tragic villain, who is harder to fight later in the game as a result. His backstory with Noel and Yeul really gripped my emotions, which is reason why I enjoyed the sequel more than the first Final Fantasy XIII game. On top of his story, the fights with Caius are very intense and some of the best in the game, which is expected from your main antagonist.
Lightning may receive a lot of flack for being the centerpiece of this series of games, but that doesn’t mean that she isn’t a very interesting character. She may seem a little boring at first, but she grows through the first game while trying to save her sister Serah. Through this process, Lightning becomes a little more vulnerable and gains some character growth once she realizes that she was blaming herself for something she couldn’t prevent. She hands over the reigns to her sister in the sequel, but still has a powerful presense throughout. Now Lightning is returning as the lead of the first game, which means we should learn plenty more about her along the way.
This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with Caius Ballad on the list due to their backstory. However, Noel starts off as more of a mystery, after being sent by Lightning to find Serah and bring her to Valhalla. As a result, we learn about Noel’s backstory as he begins to remembers parts of it, which is a nice touch. Noel truly shines in the latter part of the game when the past between Caius, Yeul, and himself come to light, which leads to him having to make some very difficult decisions, one which will haunt him forever. It also helped that the character had the always solid Jason Marsden as his voice actor.
Sazh Katsroy is one of the first characters you meet in the first game, and features some of the strongest character moments throughout the game. With his son being taken away from him, Sazh sets out to find him, which brings some of the lowest points for a single character in the Final Fantasy franchise. I won’t elaborate further, as it is really something you should experience first hand if you haven’t done so yet. As perfectly stated in Batman Begins, “Why do we fall sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” This is the definition of Sazh’s story arc throughout Final Fantasy XIII, and I loved every second of it.
Serah Farron is the sister to Lightning that you are working to save throughout all of Final Fantasy XIII. Due to this, I was very surprised to learn that she would then be taking over as the lead in Final Fantasy XIII-2 when it was announced, but I’m really glad we got the opportunity. What I really liked about Serah is that she had a very big heart, but wasn’t a caricature, which would quickly get annoying like Vanille could be at times. Serah was voiced by one of my favorite voice actresses Laura Bailey, so it definitely was a joy to have her take over in the sequel. The last few hours of the game was a fantastic ride, and it helped to solidify both Noel and Serah’s places on this list for me.
Now don’t forget that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be finally releasing in the US on February 11 in the US. The demo can be downloaded right now on both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, and you can read my demo impressions right here.