To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t initially excited to play Final Fantasy XV. As a longtime fan of the Final Fantasy series who has played and completed every single core title and many of the secondary titles since its inception, I felt almost obligated to play this side story-turned main title. Final Fantasy XV was originally introduced as Final Fantasy XIII Versus as a part of the XIII universe along with Final Fantasy Agito XIII (later re-branded as Type-0). After 10 years of production the long-awaited FFXIII title was finally launched as Final Fantasy XV, now a primary title of the Final Fantasy Franchise.
Prior to FFXV’s release, Square Enix provided the fans with an initial demo, a revamped version of said demo, and a second demo. With each demo release the games battle system was changed and tweaked to accommodate the demands of the players and subsequently was the catalyst for piquing my interest in the game. Let’s see how the newest edition of Square Enix‘s flagship title stacks up to the expectations of this Final Fantasy veteran!
Final Fantasy XV takes place in the world of Eos, an earth like planet with advanced technology and a structured system of magic. As the game opens we find our main protagonist, Prince Noctis, on a road trip of sorts with his friends/servants on a journey of diplomacy gone awry. Noctis is next in line to rule the only country left that has yet to succumb to the rule of the Niflheim empire and as tensions rise between the opposing forces, conflict ensues. The story of Final Fantasy XV is decent but not the sort of thing that will be herald for years to come. I would strongly suggest watching the companion movie FFXV Kingsglaive first which will provide you some much needed insight into the conflict at the beginning of the game and does a much better job of setting the stage for what is to come than just relying on the in-game opening alone. The part of the story, and the game as a whole, that shines the most is the bond between Prince Noctis and his travel companions as they make their way through the world. Final Fantasy XV is a Bromance of epic proportions and the fraternal bond of war hardened men as they live, laugh, play, fight, and mourn together makes this game worth every moment.
The Battle system for Final Fantasy XV has made a new step for the series as the first main title to use real time action based combat, a major leap from the traditional JRPG turn based style of its predecessors. However, the Final Fantasy franchise as a whole is not entirely devoid of action based battle systems in it’s side titles and you can even see the influence of games like Kingdom Hearts, Crisis Core, and Type-0 in FFXV’s gameplay. Your party wields an array of bladed and projectile weapons with which they can dispatch their foes with a combination of tactics and brute strength. You also have at your command a hand full of magic spells that when used correctly can absolutely decimate the battle field. The targeting system is a little hap hazard at times especially if you don’t lock your reticle on a specific foe and the camera during battle could use a little more refinement as well but these are my only real complaints about the mostly solid formula for Final Fantasy XV’s newest Battle system. While I do enjoy the new battle style I still personally miss the turn based combat that I grew up with through the ages.
As for the overall gameplay of Final Fantasy XV you certainly have some options on how to execute your journey. There are a wealth of areas to explore with quests, hunts, treasures, racing, fishing, cooking, photography, and gambling to keep you occupied for a multitude of hours. None of these have anything to do with the main story of the game but provide a nice distraction form the heavy plot and also provide a wealth of money and experience to help you along the way. Travel in FFXV is it’s own special source of entertainment and frustration as well. Whether it be on foot, chocobo, or car you will easily spend at least a third of your game traveling from one location to another. The game also makes use of a day/night cycle wherein the difficulty of the surrounding environments can change drastically from light to dark hours similar to that of Final Fantasy XI online. Luckily, should you want to skip the night terrors you can sleep the night away by camping in the wilderness with your boys or slumbering in nicer indoor digs that also offer bonus experience gains if your willing to fork out some cash.
Visually speaking, Final Fantasy XV is a gorgeous game with interesting environments and fantastic character models. I often get lost in staring at the landscapes as they pass while traveling across the vast world of the game. Additionally, there are a myriad of weather effects that occur throughout the various biomes of FFXV that help add a sense or realism to the game experience.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Final Fantasy XV is a bromance for the ages, and a very good installment, yet far from the best of the series (nothing still compares to the older installments) – let’s break it down in a simple pros & cons comparison…
Pros: Final Fantasy XV’s new battle system, top notch graphics, and lovable main cast make it a must play for new and old fans of the Final Fantasy Franchise.
Cons: A convoluted plot and lengthy amount of travel could discourage some players from completing the game.
So yes, not the best, but certainly not the worst, and definitely worth getting. – 7.0/10
Contributing Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine