Final Fantasy XIII was released for the PlayStation 3 on December 17, 2009. By fall of this year, we'll have the second followup to that game in the last two years. Whether there is actually a demand for these sequels to a game in a series that used to pride itself on never doing direct sequels is a matter of debate among fans, but the sales numbers for anything Final Fantasy say there is, at least in Japan.
In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the story kicks off with 13 days remaining until the end of the world. Time will apparently play a huge factor in the gameplay as the the game will play out in some form of real-time (it's yet to be confirmed how long a day in the game is in real world time) with a constantly moving clock while you are playing. Day will shift to night, and events will occur in various parts of the world, whether you are there or not. This is the core concept of the game according to game director Motomu Toriyama, who says Lightning Returns will be "the most complete and polished in the Final Fantasy series". This is in an effort to encourage multiple play throughs if you want to see everything that can happen.
In a departure from the previous two parts of Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning will be the sole playable character this go around. The story follows her fight to save the world from destruction after the awakening of an ancient god. Following the theme of passing time in the game, Lightning's actions will cause her to gain or lose time as you progress. This suggests you will need to complete certain missions or tasks to push the 13 day deadline back further.
The battle system has changed somewhat this go around, with attacks and abilities able to be mapped to buttons on the controller. Lightning will be able to move around freely during battle, giving it a more action RPG feel perhaps, but you will still be confined to the battle area.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is due "Fall 2013" from Square Enix. In the mean time take a look at the extended trailer for the game below. We'll have more on Lightning Returns as it is revealed.