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Highs and Lows, Yet Not Looking For a Roller Coaster Ride

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    Final Fantasy XV

    Rating: 1.5 – Bad

    Highs and Lows, Yet Not Looking For a Roller Coaster Ride

    As with many of the entries in the Final Fantasy series, I went into this release with great anticipation. A promise of an open world, dynamic characters, action packed combat and stunning visuals I read about prior to the release got me even more excited to get into this game…so as a late birthday present to myself I ordered the day one edition and jumped in almost immediately. The first few hours of the game weren’t too bad as the world of Eos begins to open up more and more to the player. So, let’s look at how the final product stacked up in regards to delivery.

    1) Open World: As I touched upon above Final Fantasy XV’s main selling point was an open world experience which initially was hopeful. As I played on however, it became more apparent that the open world was more smoke and mirrors than reality. The main method of transportation is the Regalia, a luxury car which seems really out of place in many of the games landscapes; a sore thumb. Nevertheless it is a beautiful piece of machinery with an added bonus of being able to accrue AP and Exp with the appropriate skills learned. After a few hours and realizing the car more or less drives itself even on manual mode I opted for the auto pilot, which while convenient did little to help me engage with the game. With that said, it eventually came time to venture out of the car and explore on foot and Chocobo to complete side quests and explore. What I found especially frustrating with this was that there would be many times on foot or Chocobo where invisible walls and barriers were encountered, prohibiting me from continuing even though in some cases it looked as though I could continue on. Very frustrating…after a few chapters of this open world the game switches pacing and direction becoming incredibly linear and closed in. Why the developers thought to do this is beyond me.

    2) Dynamic Characters: Your main party consist of four friends: Noctis, Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus all from the Kingdom of Insomnia. The story from the start is vague, you are forced to flee the kingdom due to invasion from the awful, evil empire, their goal to collect crystals and dominate the world. Do we learn more about this empire, their motivations, their dynamics? Not really…your characters continue on, collecting ancient artifacts from long dead ancestors a premise I thought was actually really interesting. Being forced to journey with your companions isn’t all bad though they are likeable and somewhat relatable characters. The problem is that like other characters their motivations, conflicts aren’t always clearly defined. The other issue I had was that the leading female character is seen for maybe a total of 5 minutes the entire game even though she is supposed to be a driving force behind the plot. In all honesty there is more insight into Cindy’s character than the leading ladies and she is a novelty character at best…

    3) Action Packed Combat: I had a love/hate relationship with the battle system. It was simple, yet had complexities. Magic could be very rewarding and powerful with the right modifications. Being able to switch between weapons on the fly is a huge plus except that a lot of the weapon types were better in theory than in practice. I found myself only using two weapon types the whole game. Although battles are often fast paced they become more and more frustrating as the game progresses and you find yourself being undone by your allies and terrible camera angles as well as a fail hardy lock on system. This brings me to my next point which is terrible ally AI. As there are often no dedicated healing spells(unless you choose to craft)you must rely heavily on items and I mean heavily. Your two weaker allies Ignis and Prompto will die, and often and having to constantly revive them becomes jarring and almost pointless.

    4) Stunning Visuals: Each landscape, enemy, character, cityscape, etc. has been beautifully done. There is a city towards the mid game which is absolutely breath taking visually. Dungeons were dark, dreary, and unforgiving which helped set the mood. Out of all things visuals are definitely a high point in this game.

    5) Music: Probably one of my favorite aspects of the game is the soundtrack. There were many dungeon tracks especially which really helped set the mood along with the visuals. As an added bonus you can listen to many past Final Fantasy tracks.

    On the whole, Final Fantasy XV was a less than stellar experience. Where there were some high points with visuals and music, other areas which promised to deliver failed to. After many promises of greatness and a few years in development you expect a finished product which is just that, finished. Instead we have a game that failed to deliver in these regards and aside from FFXIII: Lightning Returns is one of the few Final Fantasy games I could barely finish. Even with the advent of added content coming out I haven’t had the desire to play this content or even replay this game.

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