Don't like reading? Check out the video reivew below! -Editor note, I have no fucking clue how to fix the screenshots down below sadly, they look fine in the draft, but once "published" they end up like that, COOL!
Released in November of 2016 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and developed and published by Square Enix, today's review is based off the PlayStation 4 version, running on a standard PS4.
Final Fantasy XV's history goes very far back, originally announced at E3 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII as a PlayStation 3 exclusive as part of the “Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy”
Which means “New tale of the crystal” in Latin, originally intended to be a compilation of games under the Final Fantasy XIII banner, the trio of games originally intended to be was Final Fantasy XIII, Versus VIII, and Agito XIII. With the goal of each game to be based on and expand upon common mythos of the universe in Final Fantasy XIII.
The theme of versus XIII was “a fantasy based on reality” Basically meaning to take place in a setting similar to modern times and a more contemporary Earth.
However as we all now know, Final Fantasy XIII would end up becoming a series all in to it's own.
Final Fantasy Agito XIII would end up becoming Final Fantasy Type-0 for the PSP and aims to become it's own series. As for Final Fantasy Versus XIII, it never ended up going anywhere initially.
The game would stay in pre-production with extremely long periods of media silence, years even.
Which left many fans and news outlet assuming the worse and that the game was canceled, however nine years later, at E3 2013 the game was officially re-branded and re-announced as Final Fantasy XV.
As for the plot of the game, without spoiling anything, you play as “Noctis Lucis Caelum” the crown prince of the royal city of Insomnia. Without much context you and your three friends, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto set out on a road trip to Accordo's capitol city of Altissia, where Noctis is to be-wed Lunafreya the Oracle for plot reasons, however on the way there in-between car troubles... Hours of fishing... Camping.... Hunting... Sleeping in a single tent together...
Your city gets leveled by the “Empire”, a big crystal is stolen, Jesse from Breaking Bad is there, and you're presumed dead, which is all explained and shown in a separate movie! But we'll get to that later. So it's up to Noctis and pals to gather the weapons of his ancient ancestors and former kings of Lucis to get back the crystal and reclaim his throne.
But is the game... Any good? Let's find out first with...
Which is what XV certainly has, traveling around and exploring with Noctis and his friends is easily the highlight and most enjoyable aspect of this game.
Each of them are vastly different in personality, they all have their own bits of dialogue they share when exploring and their own unique skill sets. From Prompto's photography and use of pistols, to Ignis's cooking and primarily playing support and using spears, to Gladio's survival skill and basically being your tank, to Noctis who can... Uhh.... Fish!
And of course with Noctis and his best pals in tow, you have a vast open world to explore and road trip in, with plenty of side quests to do. Such as monster hunting or hunt quests in general, taking photos, and collecting specific or rare items.
Then of course you have the different dungeons you can explore as well, everything from going down into a spooky mine, to climbing a lava ridden mountain, most of which usually reward you at the end with a weapon from your ancestors. The dungeon designs are all varied and well done and thankfully the game doesn't have any form of level scaling either, so these dungeons also give you a good reason to come back later. Or you can try to explore them at a lower level just to see far you can get before either dying or leaving... Or in my case usually dying.
Now graphically speaking, Final Fantasy has always been a series with incredible visuals and art style, and that is still definitely present here in XV. If you can get past the boy-band aesthetics of the cast of characters, the world of Eos has plenty of different sights to see and explore and it looks gorgeous.
But not only that, the presentation is distinctly Final Fantasy, everything from starting up the game for the first time and hearing the sound effects, to the sprites of your characters in the menu, to the soundtrack, Final Fantasy XV definitely is deserving of it's name-sake in this regard.
As for the gameplay, XV has gone with an action RPG approach like most of the modern Final Fantasy games as of late, as opposed to being a turn based like the older Final Fantasy games, and to be honest I'm perfectly ok with this.
The combat in Final Fantasy XV may seem a bit on the simple side at first, as you basically hold down circle to attack and square to dodge, but then you start moving the analog stick around to do different combos, you start finding that depth and you just dig deeper, switching up weapons mid combo or using specific weapons on enemies that are weak to them.
The weighty awesome feeling of using a massive sword or clever, to switching to a small single handed sword or blade for quick and precise attacks perfect for doing counter attacks, or using a spear and jumping around in mid-air and unleashing a barrage of ariel assaults, to then also commanding your team mates to do specific techniques, or hitting an enemies blind spot and landing a group combo, to then using magic and you're blowing shit up and the environment is getting charred around you
I think the combat in this game is great, especially after having sunk over a hundred hours into it and still have fun with it, not to forget the Chocobos in general, they're an absolute blast, here's my #1 tip, screw doing side quests and race to chapter three and do them then, so you can then use chocobos, it's the only way to travel in this game, Regulia be damned.
DIFFERENT FOODS TO FEED THEM FOR STAT BOOSTS! JUMPING! SWIMMING! DRIFTING! To that incredible- CHOCOBO THEME MUSIC! On the topic of music, this is a Final Fantasy, an incredible soundtrack is just to be expected and Final Fantasy XV is no different, but not only that if there is one redeeming factor to the Regulia, it's that you can listen to previous Final Fantasy soundtracks in it, making those long road trips all the more comfy.
As for the voice acting, surprisingly enough the English voice acting is pretty spectacular, which is something I definitely can't say about previous Final Fantasy games. My favorite being Ignis, he has so many memorable quips and lines that will forever be burned into my mind.
But now let's discuss what I'd rather forget with...
Whoever thought making X the button to interact with NPC's and also the button for jumping, is hopefully out of a job or soon to be at Square Enix.
But next up, despite watching the movie and seeing the insane car shenanigans... In the actual game however, unfortunately the car in this game is basically on a rail system, you more or less can just set the controller down if you wish and let Ignis drive or you can drive, but you still don't actually have any real control over the vehicle except for speed and you can make very slight shifts of movement on the road itself and do u-turns by pressing square and turn when needed.
On a technical stand point, as I mentioned earlier the game looks fairly solid and has some nice art direction, but honestly this isn't really much of a graphical showcase, sure the character models look fantastic, but just don't look far off in the distance behind them...
The textures in most of the environments in the distance look absolutely dreadful and can even be really jarring at times, there is also some minor pop-in issues, but nothing too bad.
Compared to the original Duscae demo over all though, the game's frame rate is a huge improvement, so I am happy to report during my over a hundred hours with it, I very rarely suffered from any frame rate drops.
Although I will say this and this is just personal, I do prefer the color pallet of the original Duscae demo, but that's just me.
However as for bugs and glitches, during my time spent with Final Fantasy XV there are definitely a few notable things such as pop in issues, characters going invisible, weird things in the environment, to just other craziness in general. But probably Final Fantasy XV's weirdest and possibly the absolute worst thing about this game... And this is gonna sound a bit off, considering how much I praise the cast of characters... Is the story.
In short, it's a cluster fuck.
Square Enix attempted this quote unquote “ expanded universe” by giving the game it's own movie, it's own anime, and at first I just thought “Ah whatever, it's just a spin off probably or something, nothing too important” but honestly after watching the movie... It's almost required if you want any kind of context or set up to the story when you first play the game, otherwise you'll feel extremely disconnected to the events going on in the city, as the game pretty much never touches on that and almost just expects that you watched the movie.
As for the anime, it's in the same category, if you want any of the character's back story or knowledge of how they all first met, you need to watch the anime, mind you it's only like an hour long. The problem with it is, people who have no knowledge of this and are just buying the game out right, or get it as a gift or something and start playing it aren't going have a lot of very important context.
But funny enough, despite all that stuff... That's not even the worst aspect of the story in this game.
Without giving away or spoiling anything, the last three or so chapters of this game are absolutely dreadful. It's such a change in tone and design, in such an awful way though and it's just an absolute slog to play through, I would say it almost ruined this game for me... It's that bad.
One of the key reasons, once again being the story, there is just out right missing context, story, and character development and the story pretty much just falls apart into an obscure mess by the end of it all. Worse yet, it seems like it's gonna be just sold back to us through DLC in the season pass and that is just completely unacceptable.
But now it's time I give...
At the end of the day, Final Fantasy XV is still a great game in terms of gameplay, the gorgeous world of Eos that you can explore filled with tons of side content to do, to the memorable cast of characters, But in terms of the over all story, it's obvious its been through so much development hell and story re-writes and design changes and despite this ridiculously long development cycle, it yet somehow ended up being rushed out the door and arguably in some ways is unfinished and because of all this...
I can't genuinely recommend this game right now, wait for the Director's Cut or Ultimate edition or whatever version has the finished intended product.