Final Fantasy XV Game Review
Likable core characters. Fascinating battle. A great world to explore. Many quests and side-quests.
Not the most comprehensible or well-told story.
Rotten fight camera. Poor magic system. No save points in some dungeons.
About The Game
Final Fantasy XV introducing its new action-oriented real-time battle system which is brilliant, but it’s reliant on a camera that seems hell bent on losing track of you, enemies and also the action entirely. Your hero, Noctis, has a fantastically useful Warp ability that should play a core part in almost any fight, but can only use it when there’s a specific point to warp to, and a lot of the battlegrounds feature no such thing. If there’s, finding it with the aforementioned camera is often a nightmare.
It is a game that’s designed to be accessible, yet contains tons of nested systems, a few of which you’re guaranteed to forget for hours at a time. Dungeons commonly come with no checkpoints or save points, but then feature a tough boss right at the end with all the potential to send you back to square one, all progress and experience will reset. The whole magic system is a near-disaster, first dismissing subsequently controlling your usage of the series’ touch summons while focusing on an elemental type of sorcery that seems purposefully made to wipe out your comrades as well as your foes. Both the PS4 and PS4 Pro variants suffer from noticeable frame-rate issues, though nothing that may make the game unplayable.
Subsequently, there’s the storyline, FFXV’s storyline appears to lurch from one beat and object to the next with just the smallest attempt at any causality. You’re often left guessing whether the motivations of key characters are mysterious or just incomprehensible, while the sudden shifts of tone between happy go lucky and gloomy and mournful or angry and vengeful. A lot of the actual story appears to be occurring elsewhere, glimpsed only indirectly, and there’s no doubt that FFXV game has something of a villain problems.
By setting a quartet of likable guys on the road to open-world experience, Square-Enix has built a game with room to breathe, laugh, discover and explore.
It helps that the world is a great one, blending the series’ conventional sci-fi, sword, and sorcery with a variety of gold-hued 1950s Americana, swapping route 66 for twisting highways linking up isolated outposts, dungeons, wilderness areas, and cities. Your car may not be much fun to drive – even when you drive it manually it directs itself – but it’s a great way to get from A to B while shooting the breeze and listening to classic FF soundtracks. Go off the road on foot or on Chocobo and there’s always somewhere to go and something to do, whether that’s fishing, hunting for meal fixings, taking bounty hunts on colossal critters or locating the treasure caches scattered liberally around.
Meanwhile, it’s difficult to think of some other RPG where the party feels less like a group of characters with distinct gameplay and narrative functions, and more like a genuine couple of buddies. The more you play the more you’ll come to adore Prompto, Gladiolus, and Ignis – even miss them when they’re absent for a time.
Each has a function, thanks to the combat system’s Techniques, but even then you never view them as the healer, ranged fighter and damage dealer, just the men you trust to get your back. Their extracurricular obligations – cooking and photography – should be irritating, yet obtaining a fresh meal from Ignis or another batch of candid shots from Prompto is one of the remarkable happiness of settling down to camp. And while this focus on your core group comes at the expense of other characters – even individuals who get a guest slot in your party – FFXV still finds time for some other memorable faces, despite some doubtful wardrobe choices for vital female members of the cast.
Most of all, FFXV is compelling, despite the silly camera, it makes each battle fast paced, intriguing and surprisingly strategic, with a real emphasis on placement and resource management. You are required to understand where and when to use Noctis’s summonable royal weapons and when to stick to more basic arms, when to trigger ability moves and when to hold back. There’s a real art to using warp and warp strike moves, and making the majority of the Techniques that let you call in your friends and their skills, and then combine them with your own. It requires getting used to – and more old school RPG fans might prefer to make more use of the pause-capable tactical mode – but this is the first Final Fantasy in years that hasn’t felt bogged down by the fighting.
There are some well-designed dungeons and missions in here too, even if some leave you wondering why Noctis doesn’t make more use of his Warp skills to sneak past guards or get through chainlink fences and over walls. The set piece fights and chief battles are often astonishingly strong, the creature hunts can be anxious and exciting and only the eccentric, badly-handed stealth and driving sections allow the side down, though these are, at least, happily brief. And though the structure grows more linear as the game goes on, there’s a corresponding ramp up with intensity, and you’ll still discover moments of downtime where you’re free to explore.
This is a strange one. It’s not a conventional Final Fantasy, a traditional JRPG or even one that plays to all the strengths of the genre or the franchise. Yet there’s something actually engaging and deeply satisfying about FFXV.
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