Final Fantasy XV – It’s actually quite good!
By now no doubt you’ve already read about how good Final Fantasy XV is by most critics, but what you get from me is an opinion of someone who’s played the franchise from the early days (FF I – FFX), fallen out with it when Square-Enix didn’t have a clue what they were doing (FFVI – FFXIV) and then fallen back in love with it again (FFXV). So you’re not getting a biased opinion who’s been paid off by a publisher, you’re getting someone who knows the intracies of the series for what works well and what doesn’t work well.
So what makes this instalment so different to the rest? Well I’ll tell you why.
Battle System: The real time battle system is something that the previous installments had actually dabbled with, most notably FFXII. This was real time but was strategic with it. It worked fine but the progression system seem to lack behind the previous Final Fantasy’s. This time round you take control of the main protagonist, Noctis. When in a battle you have 3 main commands to utilise: Attack, block and Warp-Strike.
The developers have done a great job of making it actually feel worth while for once to defend in a Final Fantasy, this now gives you the chance to open up your opponents for lethal counters allowing you to destroy your enemies quickly and easily. As well as attacking the enemies now have weak spots, usually located on their rear. Attacking the enemy from the rear will open up link-strikes with your party members which again will make easy work.
Noct can warp strike his opponents from quite a distance, making it easy to change whom you want to focus your attention on. The added bonus of using this skill is that the further you are away from the target, the more damage this will do.
The Ascension System: To help your party progress through the game you can improve different areas arranging from Teamwork to your ability to recover in the midst of battle. To acquire this skills from within the Ascension system you have to acquire and spend your AP (Action Points). At the beginning of the game it can be quite difficult to acquire these until you start investing in the development areas which reward you AP if you perform a particular action for example if you take a long drive in the Regalia (your car). This does make it feel that when you do open a certain skill or invest in a certain skill tree you are rewarded for investing the time to do so. Normally after investing in a new skill I do like to try this out in battle; when you notice these battles start to be come a lot easier you know you’ve made a wise investment in acquiring that particular skill.
Non-Linear Areas: I must admit one thing that did wind me up more than anything in a role playing game is the feeling of no freedom. For me this absolutely kills the entity of what an RPG actually is. So I’m glad to say this time round they have definitely listened to the fans and made sure that you can pretty much go where you like (within obviously reason). At the beginning of the game, the area which you can venture into is somewhat limited, but it is still a huge area.
As you progress through the game these regions do open up. I did find they do this at the right pace to the story so it does mean that you aren’t feeling that you’re in a constricted area. The one thing that really did catch my eye on a console game is something which you don’t normally see unless you’re playing a game on a high-end gaming PC is the draw distance. This game engine is something else, they’ve made a under-par console really shine with it’s hardware. When you get into open areas you literally can see for miles ahead, this again really does reinforce that feeling of freedom from the linear pacing of a storyline.
These areas are also quite varied, in the north it is quite arid like a desert environment whilst as you drive further south it becomes more green and in some areas, a feeling that you are somewhere which is tropical. When you are in these areas, they do feel like realistic places that do live and breathe. There are lots of little touches to the environment which you expect to see in real life but sometimes would forget about in a game. The little quirks like under-ground sewer systems peering through the desert floor or telegraph poles which are bending over from being blown by the wind really does make the game feel like you are somewhere unique.
Story: Now this is what you need from every Final Fantasy. If you don’t have a good story then the game will fail. It’s as simple as that. The setup for the story is essentially just an epic road trip with 4 of your friends / servants. You have Prince Noctis who is the main character, Gladious whom is your personal body-guard but acts more like the big-brother to the group, Ignis whom is your personal butler who loves cooking a little too much and then you have Prompto. Ah Prompto at first I found him very annoying but once you get used to him and his sense of humour, he’s actually quite a funny character making fun of situations he feels uncomfortable with and also gets involved what other people are thinking too. He does start off that character you love to hate but after a while you’ll be rooting for him. If you listen carefully to his voice he might just sound like another very famous character Final Fantasy.
Conclusion: If you want a game to sink your teeth into – currently I’m 50 hours+ into the game and still wanting more from this. If you see this game on offer I strongly recommend giving this a go, it’s aimed at both new people to the franchise as well as experienced veterans. Give it a go!