February 9, 2020 at 3:26 AM #858
Final Fantasy XV
Rating: 3.0 – Fair
More like a FRACTURED Fantasy
As the old saying goes, "Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth." I believe this is where my major disappointment with Final Fantasy happens to be. It changed platforms (from PS3 to PS4 and XBox One)… it changed Directors … it changed graphics engines for gosh sakes … all within a 10 year development cycle that probably should have been twelve in order to work out some issues with storyline, characters, and play mechanics. First the GOOD NEWS :
GRAPHICS – 4 OUT OF 5
The open world portions of the game look FANTASTIC. Beautiful vistas and engaging locales were definitely a major plus. Spell effects, combat animations, and in-game cutscenes all were very well implemented … with the former giving the game a frenetic and lively feel. Also, the addition of a camera feature gave you the opportunity to capture these sights for yourself in an easy-to-use interface … a definite plus. The BAD NEWS here was for me twofold : The combat system was befallen whenever the fights involved wooded areas or cramped quarters. Visibility of your controlled character became elusive, and constant camera correction and readjustment became essential to even telling who your character was engaging with. The second issue was that the open world was tossed out during the latter portions of the game. Maybe because of the development switches, but you go from a vibrant, teeming atmosphere to a cramped, generic, dungeon-like keep, where the rooms seemed interchangeable and a vastly limited color palette was utilized.
COMBAT – 3 out of 5
Again, the strength of the game was in the open world combat, where monster hunts and daemon encounters felt actually perilous and required utilizing the proper set of weapons and magics at the right moments. Also, your companions had techniques of their own, which when properly implemented could change the tide of a fierce boss encounter or higher level daemon fight. The game also featured magics ( though not enough for a Final Fantasy title ) which usually severely damaged an opponent when they were weak to that particular spell. Fire enemies were devastated by Ice attacks, Ice enemies got their arse kicked by a good Firaga blast … and MOST enemies hate a thunderbolt to the shorts. You can also COMBINE these three for a spell that could be stronger and more powerful. In addition, the ability to add Items to the mix made for spells that could poison enemies, stop them in their tracks, lower their attack abilities, and/or increase the number of times a spell could be cast in each sequence. A welcome addition to the magic system. As a drawback though, I have seen alot of criticism that the spell choices are too limited versus prior installments … a valid concern. Let’s face it though, some FF games have TOO MANY spells, some of which you might cast only once in a blue moon ( remember FFX …where there were 22 Spells JUST IN THE WHITE MAGIC WHEEL !! ) Again, though, the combat in the latter portion of the game falls apart for me. For one, you have all your hard-earned spells and weapons removed from your repertoire and you are given a RING that starts with ONE SPELL. Although it eventually gains two more spells, I played this entire section of the game using ONE SPELL (the death/drain spell ). Given my level, it was VASTLY overpowered and required none of the strategies I had been perfecting for 3/4 of the rest of the game. Another instance where I was left wondering about design choices and implementation by the developers. The second drawback for me regarding combat was the lack of variety in my weapons. Every dealer and shop seemed to be selling the SAME weapons I had already bought, and upgrades to the select few that possessed that ability didn’t seem to amount to a big enough pay-off to warrant expending the time. Also, why did I have to wait for a new game + for new gear, including the first new clothes since the beginning of the game ? Upgrading your equipment is usually a significant portion of the RPG experience, yet here seemed cast aside and underutilized. Oh, and I won’t even mention "Wait Mode", which was more of an annoyance rather that a viable way to play the game. As the comedian Billy Crystal says " Don’t Get Me Started ! "
STORY — 2.5 out of 5
I know, some of you are going to argue with me that the storyline between the Prince and his companions is a strong one and exposes them all as strong, resilient characters each in his own right. I would agree that that particular aspect of the story is its strong point, but several issues I have with the overall story override these plusses. For instance, we’re told a little in a chat with Prompto about he and the Prince’s backstory, but what about the other two ?? Are they just bodyguards … friends in the past … known each other since childhood ?? I shouldn’t have to watch a movie ( which in itself was very confusing ) to learn about what happens in the game. Also, several main points in the story are neither explored nor explained adequately. Gladiolus, for example, is supposed to the SHIELD of the future King, keeping him safe and sound as is his family’s DUTY. And yet, he leaves the Prince after learning their country was destroyed by the Evil Empire to do "something important." He reappears as a GRUNT laborer, carrying out menial Hunter duties involving clearing out a power plant, and to my recollection, NEVER explains where the heck he went. Oh right, it is my sworn duty, like my father before me, but I gotta split and catch a burrito ?? Does not make sense. Also, we never witness the fall of their Capital City ( except in flashbacks from the movie ) other than THEY READ ABOUT IT IN A PAPER !! Say what ?!? And so on, and so on … Ignis’s blindness in a fight we don’t witness (maybe it’s in the DLC … I dunno)… The death of Jared, although recounted later by his grandson, Talcott, we are not witness to. And finally, whatever happens to the rest of the group AFTER the climatic battles. Are they alive ?? What about the garage vixen, Cindy ?? I was hoping when the story jumped ahead 10 years we’d see her again (had a thought that they’d show her like 30 pounds heavier, which would have been a hoot). Again, very little story, very little substance, very little exposition … a real missed opportunity given this was TEN years in the making !!
OVERALL – 3 out of 5
Finally, Final Fantasy XV is NOT a terrible game by any stretch of the imagination. But that is what it lacks, imagination. It sticks to the proven FF formula but fails in the details. The equipment system allows for very little customization, the combat system is flawed in close quarters and simply jettisoned for some story segments, and the storyline has gaping plot holes that are ill-explained or not even exposed. The bold headline when you boot up the game says " A Final Fantasy for Fans and First Timers". A more appropriate tagline would have been " A Final Fantasy Ten Years in the Making, and We Still Didn’t Get it Right."
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