Final Fantasy XV, games

Final Fantasy XV Review

"The Tale of the Chosen King, Savior to the Star."

As far as technical hiccups go, there were none. Final Fantasy XV ran like a dream on the PS4. Its presentation is as polished as I expected from a game that spent ten years in development, but there were some annoyances found in its gameplay.

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Your party members excel in offense, making them great damage dealers, but they aren’t always wise when it comes to defense. Against weaker enemies you can leave them to their own devices, but far too often I found myself having to babysit the likes of Prompto and Ignis. Even against single foes, they managed to fall in battle, requiring my constant aid and many restorative items. It wasn’t for a lack of stats or equipment either, as I endeavored to give my team the very best. It’s just that they couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of avoiding massive damage. While it was expected to have to work with my team, I needed to tend to trained warriors a bit too much. Yet even that wasn’t the most frustrating part of the experience. That title belongs to the Regalia, your royal vehicle.

Driving is an absolute bore. Yes, the road trip is central to the game as a whole, but the mechanic is largely uninvolved. You can’t go off-roading and steering is incredibly stiff, allowing you to slowly drift left or right. You basically hold down the gas as it takes you along a set path. Things do become a bit more interesting when you unlock the Regalia Type-F, the flying version of your vehicle, but this quickly loses its charm. Flying has an air of majesty to it, and it releases you from the on-rails system of the regular car, but it won’t take you anywhere new. The vehicle is not very easy to control, and you must always land on a road, which can lead to a fiery death if done wrong.

I would have much preferred driving be kept to short, skippable cutscenes. The presence of the Regalia adds a lot of unnecessary padding to a game that really doesn’t need it. There are conversations to enjoy while you’re riding in the Regalia, but they’re no different from what you can experience while simply walking around. The car is a royal symbol and vital to the basic road trip premise, but its use feels overly cumbersome given the surprising amount of time it adds to the game.

FINAL FANTASY XV_20161126152022

But, even with those gripes, I found myself mesmerized by Final Fantasy XV. Over 25 hours into the game, I watched the credits roll for the first time and couldn’t help but long for the moment when I would rejoin Noctis and his friends out in the world. The silly banter and countless quests sunk their hooks into me. The free-form action, though tough at first, was surprisingly fresh and exciting, and something I’d never expect from a Final Fantasy title. The world was large and vibrant, housing beautiful monstrosities for me to slay, adding that same sense of overwhelming power that the summons brought along. My brothers-in-arms pushed me forward and made the daunting tasks all the more bearable. It all felt new — this is not the classic Final Fantasy experience I was looking for coming in as a fan, and I’m happy that it isn’t. The franchise has been confined to such strict genre parameters and though they’ve been refined, ten years is more than enough time to throw everyone a well-crafted curve ball.

Final Fantasy XV, true to its opening promise, is indeed for fans and newcomers. This is a legitimately new Final Fantasy that offers remembrance to dedicated fans while being something worthwhile in its novelty. It may take some time for its new methods to convince long-time fans, but once it does, it clicks in a way that feels like a worthy addition to the beloved franchise.

As Noctis found his way through his ten year journey, it felt as if I were watching the troubled, ten-year development cycle unfold before me. He set off on a hopeful road trip with his friends, but spends years lost, frustrated, and left to find meaning and purpose for what he knew he had to do. At times it seems pointless.

As I moved ever closer to the end, it all started to come together. I was reminded of every struggle, every hardship that had befallen myself and my friends. That seemingly silly road trip came full circle and I was left appreciating every mile I traveled without the parlor trick of a cheaply sentimental epilogue. I took that journey, drove that boat of a car, traversed mountains, and journeyed deep into dungeons, and I had the scars and memories to prove it. There, at the end, I found the classic heart of Final Fantasy waiting for me. Noctis’ journey, and that of the developers, brought me the essence fans have worried would be lost at either’s hand. Final Fantasy XV was quite different from everything I had ever expected an entry to be, but it turned out to be exactly what I had been looking for.

Score: 4.5/5 – Great


Pros

  • Final Fantasy XV’s world is huge and beautiful.
  • Combat is fast-paced and challenging in the right ways.
  • There’s a layer of strategy under all the glitz and glam.
  • Strong story arc with a Final Fantasy essence.
  • The road trip is actually pretty enjoyable.

Editor's Choice smallest

Cons

  • Driving the Regalia yourself is the most pointless thing in the game.
  • Ally AI can be problematic when it comes to defending.

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Author
Ishmael Romero
Just a wandering character from Brooklyn, NY. A fan of horrible Spider-Man games, anime, and corny jokes.