I’ve played a lot of games in my life, but there’s also a lot of games I haven’t. During a moment of recent wisdom I decided that I need to play even more videogames, and I should probably write about them too. Maybe people can even  read about it later on and think “Hmm, yeah this guy might have a point” agree with me. Who knows?

I’m starting this epic quest with Final Fantasy 15, the latest entry in the long running series. My experience with the franchise is pretty minimal; I’ve finished Final Fantasy X, played a little bit of 12 and Tactics Advance and I dipped my little toes into VIII before giving up because it felt old. After spending 10 years in development hell, was the finished product any good? Well…

 

Let me start off this review by saying that I didn’t follow this game’s development at all, nor was I caught in the hype train. I didn’t play any of the demos nor did I watch any of the trailers. Hype can be a dangerous thing and if you get caught up in it you’ll probably end up disappointed. I know, I’ve been there.

Believe me, I really have.

So with that out of the way, here’s my review of Final Fantasy Fifteen.

GAMEPLAY


The game is an action RPG that features gameplay that’s a far departure from previous entries in the series. The turn based battle system has been replaced by an entirely real time  combat system, though there’s an optional setting that allows you to pause combat and choose your next move, if you prefer. I used this setting because it allowed me to take a breather and plan out my next move if the battle gets too heated. Prince Noctis can roll, warp, parry and link strike his way to victory as he travels the open world and teams up with his best buddies to reclaim his throne. The only Final Fantasy games I’ve really played are Ten and Tactics Advanced, and I found this game’s combat took me a little while to get used to but not too long later I was zipping around the arena and rolling like a madman, phasing in and out of danger like a mother trying to do Christmas shopping at the last minute.
Teamwork is a big focus on combat, and while you’re only able to control Prince Noctis, your band of merry men fight independently along side you.  By stringing together hits when they are near, you are able to perform link strikes on enemies for MASSIVE DAMAGE. Doesn’t it just feel so good when everyone’s together?

Noctis is able to use all weapons but the squad is pretty limited to what each members can use. The brawn, Gladiolus, is focused on heavy weapons like greatswords, while the brains, Ignis is based around quick weapons like daggers and polearms, with Prompto bringing up the rear with guns and tech based weapons like drill breakers. While there isn’t a massive variety of weapons available for you to pick up, some of them are pretty cool. Especially the royal arms, the ancient weapons of kings that you can nick from tombs.

The open world is pretty fun to explore, being able to traverse on foot or in car, and later on even able to ride the fan favorite chocobos. By stopping off at the various outposts scattered around the world you can stock up on items, gather intel about the area and take on the million fetch quests  that pepper the world. You’ll be spending a lot of time in the car and you’re limited to the roads while driving it, no off-roading for you.  You don’t really need to worry about the controls for the car because all you have to really do is accelerate or break because it automatically sticks to the road. If you don’t feel like driving you can also use the car to fast travel to previously unlocked areas.

PRESENTATION


This game looks good. From the vast landscapes to the monster designs and noodles, everything here on show looks great. I mean look at that hair, DAMN! While the lip syncing can be a bit off sometimes, it didn’t bother me that much because I was too focused on how nice everything looked. I didn’t notice any glitches at all, actually which is a good thing. I have to talk about the music, it’s so damn good. The battle music is just awesome, and really gets me pumped. In addition to this game’s great soundtrack you are even able to acquire and listen to the OSTs of past Final Fantasy games to listen to in your car! One issue I do have is the loading screens, be prepared to see a lot of them if you prefer to fast travel. It helps if you have something else to do while the game loads, maybe go read a book or something. While the combat looks and feels great, the screen can tend to be a bit cluttered if there’s too many enemies around and it can be a bit hard to tell what’s going on. I mean, what the hell is going on here, where am I? What do I do? Or this time? Oh god, I’m so small, where am I going?

STORY

Let me just preface by saying this game will make a lot more sense if you’ve seen the Kingsglaive movie and the Brotherhood anime. There are things in this game that might be lost on you if you haven’t seen either of those things. While it’s a bit loose in some parts, I didn’t find the plot too hard to follow to be honest. This is the tale of Prince Noctis, rightful heir to the throne of Lucis who must travel to his capital and reclaim what is his. He is aided in this quest by his best friends, Prompto, Gladiolus and Ignis who seem to have modeled themselves on an early 2000s boy band. Jokes aside, a big focus on this game is teamwork and friendship and I really enjoyed seeing their brotherhood and carmaderie play out. I genuinely liked the crew and seeing the way they interact, from cracking actually pretty funny puns to playfully taking the piss and goofing off around the campfire. In the second half of the game you start getting railroaded down a more linear path towards the end goal, and excluding one incredibly tedious section, it’s pretty good and took some surprising twists. I enjoyed the story and characters, it had some pretty fucking cool looking setpieces that were just incredible to see, though there were some parts of the story I felt were lacking or could have been explained better.

CONCLUSION


Final Fantasy 15 is a sprawling, enjoyable game that will keep you hooked for hours on end. The fetch quests can be a bit tedious and farming for experience or items can get boring, I guess that’s just baggage that comes with being an RPG. I had a blast with this game, and over 50 hours in there’s still loads for me to do. Even if the story gets lost on you towards the end, I think you may enjoy the friendship between the squad and amazing visuals. While there are things I find disappointing like the lack of a large cast of usable summons and some issues with the story I still found the game to be hell of a blast to play. As I said at the start, I didn’t follow the game’s development at all so I pretty much went in completely blind and was pleasantly surprised by all of what this game had to offer. If you’ve been burned by the hype fire then you’ll probably have a lot more problems with it than I did but hey, we all feel differently.

This game is a time sink that will keep you invested for hours on end, if you can put up with the driving, fetch quests, hunting, fishing, cooking and everything else. The game claims to be a Final Fantasy for fans and first timers, and as someone who’s barely played the series it did a right bang up job of welcoming me to the world and keeping me interested.

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