PSXGAMEREVIEW

Final Fantasy XV

It has been a long time coming but Final Fantasy XV has finally arrived. Again, SquareEnix has created a new way of playing Final Fantasy which is even a further departure than what we played in XIII. However, Final Fantasy XV is more enjoyable even though it feels that the executives pushed for the game to come out earlier. If they waited one more year this could have been a shoe in for game of the year. With all this aside, Final Fantasy XV is enjoyable and a good springboard for the series in a more action-orientated system. 

You play as Noctis, royal prince of Insomnia and are tasked to go obtain powers to fight an empire that is taking over his land. Three companions, Gladious, Ignis and Prompto follow you on your journey as your bodyguards, but are really more like brothers to Noctis. You travel outside the destroyed kingdom of Insomnia seeking tombs of past kings to obtain royal arms and meet Astrals, which are like past summons, in order to gain power. Unlike Final Fantasy XIII you are given a huge sandbox to explore. The land is huge and lush with beauty. However, this time the game goes in the opposite direction and becomes narrow as soon as you hit the last 5 chapters of the game. I mention XIII a lot because this game was originally part of the Crystallis and was referred as XIII-2.

Regarding the biggest change in the series, XV is not turn based in any manner. Taking huge cues from Kingdom Hearts the game is action-based without an active time meter for actions you take. It is a hack and slash affair when it comes down to gameplay. The most impressive thing beyond imagination is the ability to warp and hit enemies. I think this was ahead of its time and I think it might make going back to an active time battle a little harder. When confronted with enemies Noctis slashes at them but then can warp hit them, warp out of danger or warp to specific spots to replenish mana. This made fighting fast and enjoyable.This focus on action made magic take a back seat. Magic is equipped and only has three elements. This was not a good idea but I guess they wanted the world be a little less reliable on magic. 

I was scared of the tracking after playing the beta but Square fixed it a little more; albeit it is not perfect as the camera can get lost behind a tree a lot. The only thing is that because of this system you only control Noctis. I wish you were able to take control of the other three characters. One last thing worth mentioning though is that XV fixed that beyond awful mechanic of the game being over if your main character fell in battle like in XIII. When Noctis falls you are given a chance to heal or use a phoenix down. Points just for fixing that problem.


One of the categories that Final Fantasy XV shines in is the graphics, which is not a surprise due to their work and resume on how to make great looking games. The world of Eos is absolutely beautiful and the detail is outstanding. Small things from grass to rocks look so real and the enemy models are so detailed. The main characters and main antagonist look so real and good. Let us not forget the amazing depiction of the Astrals. The evolution of the summoned beasts has gotten better with time. The only thing keeping it from beating Uncharted for the best graphics is that some of the NPCs are not that detailed and clean like the main good and bad characters. No matter, XV is a beauty to watch.

Another part of the game that shines is the music. Final Fantasy XV has the best soundtrack of 2016 by far. I can safely say that it has the best battle themes in the entire series. Yes, music sounds better than it did 10-20 years ago but the music is downright perfect for the game. Again, the battle themes are exciting and powerful. The theme for Ifrit is top 3 all time for major boss battle themes. I just wish the environment music when you are just strolling around was on the entire time. There is no music when you are out and about but then kicks in after a little time but fades away if you enter a menu. In addition to all of this, Square has put songs from all numerical numbered Final Fantasy games and a few others which can be purchased to play in your car while you drive around. This fan service was a great idea since Final Fantasy games are pretty unmatched to their music. It is great to hear old classics while cruising.

What keeps this game from being a perfect title is the execution of the story. There is so much lore to this game based on the few things you find out in the game but there are many holes in the story and things are not explained or just happen without a good explanation. You have to watch the movie Kingsglaive to have an idea of why Insomnia was attacked and give some background information. It feels that the executives at SquareEnix pushed the game to be out earlier than it should of. Maybe with one year year the story would have been developed. There are so many things I wish were focused more in depth. Noctis's childhood, Luna's actions behind the scenes and especially the villain. Ardyn seems to have a very deep background and his story is rich with intrigue; if it ever was detailed out. The one thing though is the comradery of the brothers. Their interactions are priceless and you feel you are part of the gang. A closenit group of friends struggling together and doing their best. The ending scene between them is one that pulls on your heart. 

If sidequests are not done the game is shorter than most Final Fantasy games besides XIII. It seems small but there is quite a few things to do. There is a postgame dungeon questline that takes you into harder parts of the dungeons you have explore via hidden doors. There are also some that are only open after the main game. XV also has hunt quests. One of the hidden dungeons actually secretly tells the story of Ifrit a la Dark Souls via hidden meanings and displays. Much like the exciting hunts of Final Fantasy XII, you have hunts that get harder as you move up the rank and some only open once you are at a certain rank. In addition, much like the exciting hunts of Final Fantasy XII, you have hunts that get harder as you move up the rank and some only open once you are at a certain rank. 

Final Fantasy XV is not a prefect game at all. Its biggest fault is the messing story and lack of depth that is only disappointing because the lore of the Astrals and the kingdom of Insomnia had so much untold potential. Even with this the game is very good due to its graphics, music and ingenuity of the battle system. Like mentioned before, I think it would be a hard sell to go back to the back and forth active time battle system since this new system seems like a prototype for future installments. The friendships between the four friends was also a plus. I felt close to their plight and wanted more and more information about them. Again, the music has some of the best themes in the series and serves its purposes in most parts of the game. The game was a good experience and I cannot wait for future content regarding this world. 

Grade 8.8

Pros:

Great looking graphics.

Great music; battle themes best in series.

Warping is very fun and innovative.

Brotherhood among the four.

Cons:

Weak story explanations.

Seemed rush with plot holes.

Camera angles can get in the way at times.

Update!

Final Fantasy XV won 1 award and was nominated for three others in 2016. DLC music that came out in 2017 were among the best as well.

2016 Game Awards
5th Place Overall Game of the Year
Best Music/Sound of the Year
2nd Place Best RPG
2nd Place Best Graphics