Square Enix was at PAX Prime in full force, not only showcasing upcoming games like Hitman: Absolution and 2013’s prime release Tomb Raider, but also its long-running Final Fantasy series.  To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the series, the company held a huge event for fans Friday night in Seattle, setting up virtual living rooms for them to relive memories of playing the classic games on NES, Super NES and other consoles.  They also had interesting mini-games, including a cactus ring throw and a “launch Chocobo” game, where you try to launch a stuffed animal into a box by pounding a seesaw.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing to happen at the event was an announcement involving the future of Lightning, one of the series’ more recent superstars.  She was notably absent in Final Fantasy XIII-2, save for certain sequences surrounding the story.  But that will change next year when Square launches the final chapter in the latest series, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.  The company talked about the game last night, with fans eager to learn more about it.

The story is set to take place hundreds of years after what unfolded in Final Fantasy XIII-2, and though who Lightning is battling or teaming up with hasn’t been divulged yet, we do know about one major factor that will be a consistent pain in your rear end – a doomsday clock.  This thing actually counts down in real time in a corner of the screen, and continues running no matter what you do, whether you’re in action fighting enemies or traveling to a new area.  The clock will adjust accordingly depending on your activity.

However, according to Square Enix reps, the clock may also play in your favor to some extent.  Lightning will have various combat features that tie in with the game’s new combat, incluing some time-based ones that take advantage of the clock directly.  That’s not to say you should abuse the system, because, well, you don’t want the world to end on you, right?

In addition, “direct control” over Lightning’s movement and combat techniques is being promised for the new game, possibly laying out some new controls that would be a first for the Final Fantasy XIII line-up.  Again, we weren’t able to go hands on with the game just yet, so we couldn’t see what that entails.  However, it won’t just be another sequel that follows the same old cookie-cutter role-playing element design.  This will definitely be different.  You can also expect new characters to pop up within the game, as well as a couple of familiar faces for good measure.  When we asked about the possible return of the Chocobos, Square Enix reps didn’t really have much to say.   But at least they enjoyed the thought.

We’ll have more details on Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII as they emerge, such as what platforms it’s being released for (we’re guessing Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) as well as new story and character details.  But if you’re a fan of the long-time series character or just want to save the world using a bunch of sweet abilities, this just might be the game for you.