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Final Fantasy Hero Comparison: Where Does Lightning Rank?

Square Enix has now dedicated three games to this heroine, so where does she rank on the all time Final Fantasy list?

I think Lightning started out relatively strong in Final Fantasy XIII. Granted, for the first half of the game, she came across as a one-dimensional bi***, but she got much better during the second half. I still say Fang and Vanille sort of stole the show at the end but even so, Lightning's appeal did increase over time. Thing is, FF prides itself on producing strong, sympathetic protagonists who we identify with in some way. I've had difficulty sympathizing with Lightning.

It doesn't help that the writing has become so convoluted, I'm not sure even the developers know who or what she is anymore. She was almost nonexistent in FFXIII-2, where she wasn't even a playable character (unless you beat her in combat, which I did). Yeah, she was still part of the story but let's face it, that narrative focused almost exclusively on Noel and Serah. As for Lightning Returns, that game appears to be a colossal piece of donkey crap; that's based on my demo impressions. Then again, maybe because it's only Lightning this time around, she'll have a chance to earn her spot in franchise history.

Still, I'd really hesitate before comparing her to the likes of Cloud, Squall, Terra, Tidus, etc. Even Zidane and Vaan were better in my estimation.

Tags: lightning, final fantasy xiii, final fantasy xiii 2, lightning returns, final fantasy heroes

1/28/2014 10:08:55 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (44 posts)

xenris
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 @ 10:22:06 PM
Reply

I think she is the worst character in any final fantasy game ever.

Her dialogue through all the titles is cringe worthy, and she is just a annoying to listen to.

So last?

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Banky A
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 @ 10:44:01 PM

I've only seen videos and she even annoys me from listening to them. That isn't meant to happen... usually I wanna hear morrre.

I cringe to think how I'd feel to play three whole games like that. She'll most likely grow on me though.

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xenris
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 10:32:26 AM

I didn't play 13 I watched all the cutscenes online, and all of the dialogue was pretty bad but hers takes the cake for making me want to vomit in my mouth.

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telly
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 11:02:45 AM

I hate to overstate things but man, she really is just the worst. She's just so... generic. She literally looks, acts and talks like a composite of previous FF protagonists. There's nothing inspiring (or, as Ben notes, sympathetic) about her. At all. Really can't wait for SE to hurry up and get FF XIII-3 over with so they can please MOVE ON to something new.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 @ 10:41:46 PM
Reply

Even though you only played as Light for the first 5 minutes of FFXIII-2 she was still damaged by that game. The third one hurts her further, and now I don't like Snow any more (though it's nice to hear the soothing tones of Troy Baker).

I did like her in XIII though, whew that game seems pretty damn good in retrospect.

I'd put her pretty low on the totem pole, or the stripper pole she slides down as the case may be, but not the bottom. I didn't connect with anyone in Final Fantasy VI.

Top 5 mains:
Cloud
Squall
Tidus
Zidane
Cecil

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 12:03:12 AM

I'll go with the top 3, definitely. I'd put Terra at #4, though. Didn't care much for Zidane.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 1:34:37 AM

Hmm...

I'm gonna go with:

Cloud
Balthier (The leading man!)
Galuf
Auron
Vincent

But let's be honest... I could swap any of those for a totally different 5 and be just as happy with the list. (I know they weren't the top main, but still main and playable, I figure)

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 1:43:23 AM

Okay, but Auron and Vincent weren't the main characters, and Balthier wasn't really, either (it was Vaan, despite how the story went).

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 3:36:59 AM

I don't know, While Vaan was set out to be the main character he was almost none existent, if anything I would say Ashe was the main character from XII, but Balthier was the only thing salvageable from that disaster...

Top 5:
Squall - really well developed, the problem is the he got to much focus and other characters like Irvine, Selphie or Quistis were left 1 dimensional... But considering the job they did on Squall it was a worthy sacrifice.

Zidane - what made Zidane wonderful was his value for friendship, he was so supporting and caring and it was refreshing change to have a FF lead with charisma.

Cloud - another moody boots, but Cloud was such an interesting character, especially when you learn about his real background when you enter the life stream. The thing is people forget that Cloud while grouchy would also make many jokes saying Barrett looks like a bear in a marshmallow in his sailor suit, he's much more amusing in FF7 than he is in any spin off or AC.

Tidus - what makes Tidus a great character to follow is his how he is experiencing this new world with you. The dynamic between TIdus and the players exploration to the world worked really well. Also, his sub plot with Jetch was very touching.

Terra - Terra goes through so much doubt through out the game, while I don't think she was my favourite character in FF6 she certainly had her moments. When you see her let her hair down in confidence, possibly one of my favourite FF moments overall actually.

If we're talking about Lightning, I don't mind her in FF13-1. But when the story took a nose dive in 13-2 I just disconnected with her completely. I like my FF characters to be the underdogs and now Lightning is this god figure... It's just too much. Still it beats Serah by a long shot, either her or Vaan would be my worst FF lead.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 9:24:41 AM

Was I the only one who dug Penelo? Vaan should have tried to snag her away from that little brat.

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 10:32:06 AM

Penelo was just as useless as Vaan. Once again she had no purpose to the story and was just there. She didn't even have much of a personality.. so like Vaan there is just nothing going for her.

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xenris
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 10:38:50 AM

I might be the only person whos favourite FF main character is Zidane. I just really loved his personality, playfulness and charisma.

I really disliked squall, not nearly how I hate lightning but I just can't relate to moody angsty characters.

I really liked Balthier even if he wasn't the main character. Although it seems like there wasn't a true main character in FF12, every character seemed to have a nice story in there. Except Vaan, and Penelop, for Vaan being the supposed main character I felt he had very little story.

I also heard rumors that he was just shoehorned in to help the game sell better in Japan because of his androgynous looks, not sure how true that is though.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 11:06:25 AM

Well, let's face it, there probably wasn't a "main character" or "protagonist" in FFXII. That was the only FF I can think of that really wasn't character-driven, but plot-driven.

Unfortunately, that's also why I didn't care about the story (or the characters) in the slightest. Even so, I LOVED the gameplay, which is why I ended up putting 120 hours into it. That includes taking down Yiazmat (50 million HP), by the way. ;)

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telly
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 11:08:25 AM

@ultima, it makes me so sad that seemingly everyone at Square Enix forgot that Squall was actually pretty funny, and that FF VII had LOTS of slapstick/totally bizarre humor to leaven the deadly serious dark parts of the story. It does a disservice to the character of Cloud to pretend he was just this goth weirdo who never smiled and kind of hated everything. He had moments of very strong leadership!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 12:26:05 PM

I liked Zidane because he fit the typical rogue model and yet they managed to make him deeper, at the time I played it I really personally felt his change from being interested in just one girl instead of many. And that relationship had some cute moments. So many memories and life parallels in those games.

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xenris
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 2:37:38 PM

Yeah Ben I put in a comparable amount of hours into FF12 as well. I think I did Yiazmat but I'm not sure. I did all the hunts and stuff like that. Was Yiazmat the boss that was underground in the sand dune area and the map was all distorted? Either was I loved the gameplay of that game it was really fun.

@World, yeah he just had a lot of elements that I related with and I liked seeing him develop as a character. Also the part where he finds out *spoilers* that he is a weapon type genome thing I think? He got emo for a little bit, but then youre not alone starts playing and his friends show up and hes like sorry about that I wont be emo anymore. Loved that whole arch :)

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 9:42:22 PM

No, that was some giant sand worm thing. The "secondary" major optional boss; it had 10 million HP...a mere appetizer to Yiazmat's 50 million. ;)

The latter was the one in the giant arena. You could actually leave and heal up and come back, and his health would be where you left it. I think it took me two and a half hours to take him down.

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ArcticPhoenix
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 @ 10:51:47 PM
Reply

As a character I agree that the first game gave her a great arc that you come to like her by the end. However I am loving the battle system of the new game. I hope the story pans out, no high hopes though. I also enjoy the voice actress Ali Hills I heard her interviewed a few times and she has great passion for the character of Lightning. I'm new here so I hope my like of action RPG's won't get to too much hate. Nice to meet you all.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 @ 11:10:18 PM

Nice to meet ya too. There are both supporters and detractors of the new direction here. I also like her voice actress, she seems like a passionate type as you say.

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 12:35:22 AM

Welcome!

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Knightzane
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 12:48:26 AM

Action RPGs? I hope that means you play Dark and Demon's Souls haha

Welcome and nice to meet you too good sir.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 3:51:44 AM

Nobody that likes RPGs are hated here, regardless of subgenre. Even the weirdos that prefer jrpgs are treated kindly. :)

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Masszt3r
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 8:27:05 AM

Welcome to the RPG haven!

You will get along greatly here. :)

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darxed
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 10:50:38 AM

Welcome! and don't worry about RPGs, the majority of us are quite the fans of the genre, Ben, the mod/admin/main contributor of the site is practically a bible on it.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 11:07:43 AM

Where did you come from where your love of action/RPGs got you "hate?" You don't have to worry about that here. :)

I mean, I freakin' abhorred the Lightning Returns demo but if you liked it, cool.

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telly
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 11:11:28 AM

I LOVE Action RPGs, even if I'm not particularly interested in this one. Welcome! Post often :)

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Knightzane
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 12:47:23 AM
Reply

It's really hard for me to rate Final Fantasy characters because there's so many good ones. Personal favorites without an order is:
Yuna, Auron, Rikku(ff10), Zidane, Garnet, Vivi, Steiner, Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Vincent, Zack, Gabranth, Ashe or Ashellia, Basch, Balthier, Rydia, Ramza, and finally Gilgamesh.

The only thing I liked about Lightning was her voice actress and kinda how cool she looked in FF13-2. I could honestly say I like Yuffie more than Lightning, and I don't like her much either.

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Draguss
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 12:53:29 AM
Reply

I'd hesitate to place her below Vaan, since he was pretty much just along for the ride, designated protagonist by virtue of being the first guy you control. But she's below everyone else with zero doubt.

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ethird1
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 1:23:00 AM
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Sephiroth is the greatest FF HERO of all time. I went there!

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Majima1990
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 4:23:40 AM
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Nowhere. My opinion of lightning... well I think she is the worst character of all time. She has zero personality, shes boring and generally FF13 was poor. It was a corridor simulator with no interesting factors and a battle system that is SO primitive.

Ranking from 5, 1st being my favorite:
1. Tidus XX10 - For me Tidus is the best. He keeps such a positive attitude throughout all the hell he is put through in the story of the game.
2. Zack FF7
3. Cloud FF7
4. Cecil FF4
5. Terra FF6

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 4:37:25 AM
Reply

The thing is, I generally didn't mind Lightning in XIII-1. It's her transition into an almighty being a god-like figure which has put me off her character completely. XIII-2 broke the connectiong you had with Ligthning in putting her in the distance, I know why they did it, to make her seem more empowering when you had to put up with Serah as the lead character (Thank god for Noel is all i'll say...) but it just didn't work for me, I look at LR and ask "What is she?"

But a lead character does not make a game, you have to have a well rounded party which is something XIII managed to do very well, my favourite character was Hope and one of my favourite moments in the entire series is when Hope finally manages to confront Snow.

In other Final Fantasy's the other characters have stole the show, Vivi from Final Fantasy IX is a prime example. Vivi's journey of self discovery and self accepting is just outstanding. You just cannot helot but feel sorry for the little guy and it is wonderful for the cast of IX supports him through troubled times. I am not saying IX's story is bad, not by any means its fantastic but Vivi's own plot within the game is what is so memorable to me and why he is my favourite character within any video game.

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Edito
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 4:54:33 AM
Reply

Who is Lightning???

Sorry but i just can't recognize and accept her...

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JackC8
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 7:38:00 AM
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I thought she was extremely one-dimensional, not to mention cliched, in XIII (though maybe we learned more about her in the second half, I can't remember) but she seemed to gain a lot more depth in XIII-2. I'm looking forward to Lightning Returns, though I'll probably wait until sometime this summer to get it.

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bldudas1
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 7:40:03 AM
Reply

Lightning was just fine in Final Fantasy XII. By making the other two games, they ruined her and the first XIII game.

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Ninja_WafflesXD
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 8:35:07 AM
Reply

Eh, never liked Lightning's character...and I definitely won't now.
The first in the XIII series presented us with a cliched, 1-dimensional character. Yes, by the second half she approved, but in a way that I found so uninspiring, that it just turned me off completely.

Now, XIII-2 rolls around, and they've turned her into this "protector of the goddess" with these supernatural powers, that any connection one would have had with her in the first game, is completely gone.

Now, we have Lightning Returns, and playing the demo made me physically ill...all while battling she's spewing nonsense like "repent for your sins" and just....cringe-worthy lines. That's all it is.

While I wouldn't rate the first XIII as a game all that low (some enjoyment could be derived from the combat at least...), Lightning wasn't a very good character in of herself, nevermind a good hero for to lead a main FF game.

My rank would probably be (at least in terms of character development):
Cloud
Cecil
Tidus
Squall
Zidane

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darxed
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 10:56:25 AM
Reply

Well I actually liked Light in XIII, along with Fang, but in the top 5, just no. My rank would be:

Squall
Cloud
Tidus
Terra
Cecil

The only protagonist that I have disliked is Vaan... It was like he didn't do anything on that game.

Now, how about a ranking in antagonists? my top 5 would be:

Sephiroth and Kefka, tied on first
Kuja
Caius
Ultimecia

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 11:09:45 AM

Antagonists:

1. Sephiroth
2. Jecht/Sin
3. Ultimecia
4. Kuja
5. Kefka

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telly
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 11:22:23 AM

Dare I say it, the antagonist question deserves it's own story :)

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MACHOFLEX
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 11:50:34 AM
Reply

My Top 3:
3. Jecht
2. Cloud
1. Lighting

If anybody needs a 16bit recap of FF13 this is it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQrBSO74DzA#t=28
And surprisingly it's made by sqaure-enix!

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Lunar_Miyuki
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 1:59:47 PM
Reply

heroes
Terra
cloud
squall
Bartz

antagonists
Sephiroth
Kuja
Seymour he really feels like the true antagonist of FFX
Kefka
Ex death

as far lightning goes shes a terrible character she feels like a rip off of squall and a terrible one at that

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Bio
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 5:49:07 PM
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Having only played FFXIII, I'd put her dead last among main characters, and near the bottom of all characters ever. I'd say only Fujin and Raijin from FFVIII were more annoying. Maybe Irvine, too.

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ArcticPhoenix
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 10:48:10 PM
Reply

Thanks for all the Welcomes! Everyone is so well spoken here. I think if Square Enix ever brought Type-0 over here we might have some competition for best heroes. I started liking Final Fantasy at X and Kingdom Hearts especially so even though I owned a copy of Final Fantasy I for NES. I never had the nostalgia for the series and was a Nintendo and Dreamcast fan when VII came out. I have bought all of them and put them on Vita but haven't had time to play them. Work. I've become a graphics ___ (fill in the blank) thanks to mostly SE and NiNo Kuni, so going back fills me with dread, lol. Will try Bravely Default, Danganropa, Ragnarok Odyssey, Tales of Symphonia, and maybe the one piece RPGs all coming this February! My poor wallet. Once again thanks for the warm welcome and have and will continue to read this site very nice news, reviews and commenters.

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MrAnonymity
Thursday, January 30, 2014 @ 1:06:27 AM
Reply

I love lists.

Top 5 Main Protagonists:
1. Squall
2. Cecil
3. Cloud
4. Terra
5. Warrior of Light (Sometimes, a man of few words is just awesome.)

Top 5 Main Antagonists:
1. Kefka
2. Sephiroth
3. Garland
4. Ultimecia
5. Ex-Death

Top 5 Characters:
1. Zell
2. Cid Highwind (FFVII, just to clarify.)
3. Steiner/Vivi (Tied because of how amazing they are to have in the same battle.)
4. Sabin
5. Laguna

Top 3 Favorite Games:
1. VIII (Yeah. I'm THAT guy.)
2. IV
3. IX

As far as the article, Lightning was hardly tolerable in Dissidia 012 let alone in her feature game. As far as I am concerned, if what is now FFXV turns out to be as much of a failure as XIII was, I'm done with the future of the series and have absolutely no qualms sticking with the treasured old and familiar. (Flippin' rabbit trails...)

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Asuno
Thursday, January 30, 2014 @ 2:15:23 AM
Reply

@Xenris Agreed and go see Spoony's review of this. He completely explains of how Unheroic these guys are. They basically ended the lives of millions and destroyed there homes when cacoon fell.

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