It’s weird. Ten years ago, we received the announcement from Square Enix of a Final Fantasy spin-off game known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII. After going through countless delays and reworks, Square decided to push it back until it became what we know as Final Fantasy XV, a solid ten years later, and I’ll be honest, I thought it would never come out. But as I sit here, having just gone through the emotional ending, and hearing the dramatic chorus-filled credits roll, I’m honestly a little glad it was delayed for so long. Yeah, ten years is a long time to wait, but I feel like they delivered. But with that said, it wouldn’t be a review if I just talked history, so let’s dive in.
The gameplay is phenomenal. The action is so quick-paced and definitely relies on your ability to dodge and parry your opponents. There are a ton of options to mix up your battle styles and it really helps to call upon your friends. Each teammate has their own moves that combine with yours to do massive damage, and the time it takes to load these attacks isn’t so fast that it’s over-powered, but not so slow that it’s annoying. Casting spells is always a blast, though I do wish there were more options. How it works is on an inventory system. You can carry up to 99 of each basic spell, be it Fire, Lightning, or Ice. These are refillable at most campsites and in a few towns where campsites are nowhere to be found, even a few dungeons have them. You can mix and match these spells with certain items to do different things, such as cast all three of them, heal and cast, or many others. However, I do miss other spells, such as Water, Earth and the like. But for what’s there, there’s still plenty of options.
As for weapons, you have a decent share of options there too. There are ten different types of weapons you can equip. These include Swords, Greatswords, Polearms, Daggers, Firearms, Shields, Machinery, Royal Arms, Spells, and Arcana. While each type, from what I’ve personally seen, there are few options, outside of the options for Royal Arms, of which there are thirteen, and the Arcana of which there is only one, I still feel like it suffices, though I may be incorrect, as the world is massive and I could have missed half of the weapons of each type for all I know.
As for the rest of the gameplay, I feel as though it was balanced well. There wasn’t any real bullcrap mechanics that were impossible. In fact, whenever I did die in the game, I knew it was my fault. Whether I wasn’t high enough level or got too cocky and died from something I could have killed if I only blocked it when it mattered, there wasn’t anything I felt was particularly impossible. Except for Castlemark Towers, though that may be more of a post-game area, like the Emerald Weapon in Final Fantasy VII.
The cinematics were, as they always are, phenomenal and very memorable. I’d describe my favorite one, but I’d like to keep this as spoiler free as possible. But trust me, you’ll know it when you see it.
The story was also really good, though I did have a few issues with it. For starters, there’s a lot that’s not explained, particularly towards the ¾ mark of the game. I feel like if I read something in one of the final areas, it’d explain it, but in honesty, the characters should be explaining that for me. This isn’t a game like Bloodborne or Dark Souls where the majority of the story has to be put together by a team of experts.
And while it feels like I’m doing nothing but praising this game, there are its problems, believe me. For starters, I had a problem where the textures would pop whenever I was talking to someone. Whenever it changed camera angle, it took a minute for the space behind the characters to pop. This happens a number of areas, though it doesn’t harm gameplay, though it was annoying. I had another issue near the end of the game where for some reason, Gladio was translucent the entire battle for no particular reason. It was for the entire battle too, like there was no change until I continued on without the other characters, as per story reasons.
The rest of the game, however, looked pretty consistent. I had maybe one issue of graphics glitching for a moment when Ignis used his Mark ability on a group of enemies, but there was so much going on the screen at the moment, I honestly wasn’t shocked, though it was annoying as you’d expect it to be.
It wouldn’t be a Final Fantasy game review without talking about its music. While I don’t find it to be as memorable as music from, say, Final Fantasy VII or Final Fantasy X, it clearly has its own beat and the choice of Stand By Me as the promotional song, while an odd choice, does fit very well with the theme and I was very pleased with its use, as sparing as it turned out to be. Square also added some music to listen to in the car, from each of the previous Final Fantasy games. Nothing like heading towards a bounty monster blasting One-Winged Angel. The chorus music that plays whenever a boss monster appears is also excellent and is a great warning so that you know you’re in for a trip.
The controls are very well implemented, though I did have one major issue. Since the jump button and the interact button on the default controls are mapped to the same button, I’d sometimes have issues where I would try to pick up an item or start a quest, but instead I’d be jumping around like an idiot. Same goes with the run and slash controls, though they have a secondary run mapped to L3 in case you need to run away from a monster. Though in honesty, a single L3 mapped run with no stamina would have been a much better choice.
As for the replay value, I might start a new game in a few days, once I feel like I’ve accomplished fighting everything that I wish to complete. However, the game does have a problem in how long it takes you to get anywhere. Sure, you can Fast Travel to places you’ve been before to cut down on time, but in the beginning, since you’ve never been to those places, it takes forever to get to somewhere. Though there is an upgrade that gives you AP for long drives, which is nice. However, until that point, it takes a long time to progress, but at least the scenery is nice, though not nice enough to forget that. So the replay value is there, but it comes at a cost of the long driving scenes.
There is one glaring issue with this game, however. One that shines above all else. If you do not watch the Kingsglaive movie and the Brotherhood series, a lot of the plotpoints in the game do not make sense. A lot of the plot is missing without the media that leads up to it. I hate that about games. Just like when I hated that all of Final Fantasy XIII’s data was in the datalogs, I hate that people, in order to understand the plot of the game, have to watch everything else before diving in. It’s unforgivable as the plot of the game, without my understanding of the movie and animated series, would not make sense by any means. Does this make the game bad? By no means. However, it is something that games tend to do that I simply cannot overlook in my final analysis.
The last problem this game has, by far, is the lack of usage of characters they introduce to us. While I do understand the need for focus on the main characters, as they are the main characters, the game has a habit of giving us characters that they never delve in on. People who play a big role in the background, but are only seen a handful of times. Characters like Cid who, have huge roles in the background as in the preorder bonus GameStop game, are never given screen time despite how important to the lore they are, which is an absolutely terrible crime. Thought the game does well on its own, I only wish we could better know the side characters like Cid, Lunafreya, and the like.
Replay Value: 4/5
A lot of people, myself included, feel as though Square lost their throne when Final Fantasy Versus XIII was replaced by Final Fantasy XIII, as the game was… not impressive, to say the least. However, I feel as though this game, though lacking a couple of details to make the plot more understandable, makes up for it, even though it was a long wait. No, this game is not perfect. I don’t believe it’s Game of the Year, by any means, but I do feel like a lot of effort was put into this game. Clearly, as half of its plot is for the promotional material such as the movie and animated series. I can only hope that this is a new start with Square Enix, and that they are capable of keeping up the good work in the future.
Title: Final Fantasy XV
Developer: Square Enix
Format: PS4 and Xbox One
Genre: JRPG Action
Resolution: 1080p – PS4
Release Date: 2016-11-28
Spent Time: +58 hours
Average Grade Internationally: 82.35% Gamerankings.com
PEGI/ESRB Rating: PEGI 16/Rated T
Robin Ek – Editor
Our review copy came from Play-Asia.
The Gaming Ground
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