Editor’s Note: T-13 days until Christmas, and we continue to bring you guys fresh content every day. Today’s entry is a review of the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV, the perfect gift for PlayStation fans, jrpg fans, or the guy you knew in college that had a giant replica sword or like three katanas. Plus, you know, fans of one of the most iconic video game franchises ever. You can purchase Final Fantasy XV at a discount here!
By: Matt Alexander
“Final Fantasy XV” is finally here, and it does not disappoint. “A Final Fantasy for Fans and First-Timers” is the motto that pops up on the first load screen. This holds true; the game manages to incorporate the lore of the entire series while having a self-contained story and engaging gameplay. This entry is deftly handled in its balance and tone, and will be highly regarded in an already outstanding series.
The first installment of the Final Fantasy franchise on the next-gen systems stars Noctis Lucis Caelum, the unruly heir to throne of Insomnia with an even more unruly haircut. He kicks it with his boys as they keep it Old School as the Four Warriors of Light, whose names are roughly the Latin for cool stuff like “Quicksilver”, “Friendly Swordsman”, “Night’s Light of Heaven”, and “Fire Knowledge”. Things start out cool when you go off to get hitched to the fine babe Lunafreya, but, naturally, things sour between the many kingdoms, war goes down, and our heroes have to fight together to learn the truth and save the day for the Kingdom That Never Sleeps. The stakes have never been higher, nor the squad goals realer.
The voice acting comes with many different language choices and sounds almost overpolished, yet the banter keeps things playful. The free-roaming is reminiscent of FFXII, but the story is infinitely better, and the backgrounds are simply stunning. The musical score is balanced by modern-day classics such as “Stand By Me” and a plethora of easy listening instrumental, as well as classics from the franchise (you know you have to jam the “Prelude”).
The ever-evolving battle systems of the Final Fantasy games take a positive turn here. Building off the solo character play style of FFXIII, this game employs manual controls for everything from strikes and parries to magic and warps. The movement is pretty wide open, and you can access the menu during battle to switch equipment or spells. You receive a grade at the end of every battle, which factors into extra experience, but it is more a point of pride. The real-time aid of your allies and the ability to seek shelter during a battle is different from what your average RPG, but this fast-paced strategy style provides a lot of fun, particularly for those new to the genre. After years of tinkering, the Final Fantasy series has gameplay that excels on all fronts.
Also of note is the grid system, which allows for customized development of perks like increased health regeneration or more experience from combos. There is even a grid for each character’s special actions (dance moves not included). The level of detail in both gameplay and production quality matches the usual top-notch storytelling, and you won’t want to put down the controller.
Hunt and gather to gain materials for equipment or meals. You can make camp, fish, craft spells, and even take pictures, all of which gives the important excuse that video games teach valuable life skills. The amount of questing will vary based on your prefeference (most quests are optional), but the main story is deftly balanced in the midst of all the extras.
This Final Fantasy manages to bridge the gap between futuristic, modern, and classical styles, while appealing to new and old gamers alike, even while transitioning to next-gen consoles. Square Enix has done remarkable work here in what will be a noted entry in a storied franchise. You’ll have to register your masamune as a deadly weapon, but it’s a small price to pay.