Square Enix revive the spirit of the award-winning series of classic gaming titles as we take a look at Final Fantasy XIV and give you the story so far…
After a month of roaming the land in Final Fantasy XIV Online, in which we have fought countless monsters and faced many trials and tribulations we bring you our first report on Final Fantasy XIV. This is the story of Square Enix’s flagship title.
Now regular viewers will already know that we do our reviewing a little differently here at GamesMediaPro. For one thing, we don’t do as the vast majority of the ‘view hungry’ reviewers do and jump on the first passing band wagon and cling on for all the ratings and followers we can get. We review titles as they were intended to be reviewed, by the people who support the genre that they were intended to be played by, and that my friends is why it is very rare that you will see a game being given an ultra low score, or a right cussing out.In the case of Square Enix’s return to the fold of their mainstay flagship title, Final Fantasy XIV this is not the case, but we are still having to alter the format of our reviews somewhat as the game is very different from the norm, and unlike the vast majority of other titles out there, Final Fantasy XIV is an ongoing interactive experience, and as such we will be offering periodical reviews of the game that will, be updated and added to every three months or so. If you have read any other reviews out there regarding this game already and they have given this game a ‘final score’, or even attempted to tell you that they have ‘played it’ then we urge you to proceed with extreme caution, as the game is just simply too immense to have been completed by even the games developers yet.
With that in mind please be aware that the review that you are about to read will be an offering based on the first month of gameplay, and it is not intended to be portrayed in such a way to indicate that we have by any way completed all that this truly massive multiplayer has to offer. With that we get straight down to it:
Final Fantasy XIV lives up to all expectations that true fans and devotees to the long-established franchise have held on too during the game’s development. Never was there a title more deserving or more true to its defining genre of ‘Massive Multiplayer Online’ than Square Enix’s supreme demonstration of what a JRPG should be.
Ever since I first played the Final Fantasy series, and ultimately became so enamoured with the titles after the crowning moment that was FFVII, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for this, the very best of all the Japanese Role Playing Games. No matter on which platform, whether it came to me via a handheld, console or PC it mattered not. All I wanted to do was continue my time with the characters and delve even deeper into the realms of the Final Fantasy universe. Some have cried crocodile tears for the series after the some of the original designers and development team went on to pastures new after Final Fantasy XI, however I was not one fo these. I just love to play the games, and everything about the series has had me gripped for the best part of my adult life. Even when the purists howled with pain and anger at the arrival of the franchise on the Xbox360 I still felt the title did not deserve the criticism that half-baked ‘re-voowers’ had thrown upon it. The title may have had its combat and control system modified and simplified to appeal to a wider audience, but let’s face it, would you rather play Final Fantasy XIII or Two Worlds? Lost Odyssey even? I thought not. What it actually was that people criticised the game for not being of a standard that they were used to seeing for the game, but even after all it was still far superior to every other title that was released around the same time in its genre.
So now we come full circle and Square Enix have brought their critically acclaimed powerhouse full circle as the latest edition of Final Fantasy returns to its roots nd has been launched on the PC a good six months or so before it makes it much-anticipated release on the Playstation 3. Looking so sublime and feeling smoother thana silk worm in abed of the finest satin the graphics treat your disbelieving eyes to such a visual feast that you wonder at times whether or not what you are actually witnessing are scenes played out by actors, and not digitally created characters from the hand of a designer. Such is the stunning level of content that is laid out before you that you will, at times, be sat staring into your HD TV with your jaw hanging slack and agape like some drooling madman questioning the very images that his eyes are informing his incredulous brain. The beauty that we have all come to love and expect from Square Enix when it comes to the Final Fantasy series sets its stall out for business very early on, and even in the opening titles of the game you are treated to scenes so beautiful that they will quite possibly take your breath away.
The characters are lovingly adorned in fantastical outfits and there are the return of the larger than life swords and weapons that are trademarks of this ground-breaking franchise. Once you begin the game, and you recover from the visually impressive opening scenes you will be asked to open your account and set up your online registration so that you may begin to fully experience the astounding and revelatory world that the developers at Square Enix have painstakingly created for you to enjoy. A fairly painless affair, once that is completed you will then create your character. You get to choose from a variety of races ,and also whichever class you wish to assign to your nearly birthed avatar. From this point in you will make good your way into the vast and panoramic landscapes that await you in the realm of Eorzea. As you traverse the land and encounter other travellers and characters you will begin to uncover the main storyline of the game, a point which we are not going to include in this review as the word ‘spoiler’ is not something that we would like to be associated with. Suffice is to say that you will have plenty enough to do before you can even start to concern yourself with getting on with the games main plot. There are more important issues at hand, like leveling up, purchasing supplies and that all-important sword, as well as getting some quests so you can get some much-needed coin in your purse.
The map is static and we feel likely to be patched at some point as there is no zoom function to offer you insight into your surroundings. But whatever teething troubles we may have encountered are really quite ineffectual and are likely to have vanished long before the expected arrival of the Playstation 3’s due date for inclusion into the magical realm of Eorzea.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not here to tell you that we didn’t experience a little lag and a couple of bug’s here and there, but when you have just launched what is surely the biggest MMO that has console inclusion then surely the fans and players of these game must understand and appreciate that the first few months are generally going to be littered with niggles and giggles as the developer irons out all the creases and puts some starch into the collar to stiffen it up, but generally the play has always been very good whenever we have taken the game online and the though we hear the shouts of dissent from the masses, we can only tell you of our own personal experiences within the game, and we have to say that the buggy, glitchy whining’s of some other reviewers just don’t hold water with us as we have met a few of the said same reviewers online in the world of Eorzea and they all seemed to be having a field day in there? So just bear in mind that its easier to pull something to bits than to praise, and the more controversial the review the more hits it generally receives. Just have that in the back of your mind when you are reading the latest rantings from your favourite reviewer.
The interface also has come in for a certain amount of flak, and once again we cannot agree with the misgivings of others as we have found that there are always shorter options than some have stated, and as we have just said, this type of thing can be patched, and probably will be. We found the use of the menu system to be a lot easier than most are leading gamers to believe, but can understand some moans about weapons selection coming easier and faster, Apart from that, Final Fantasy XIV has no real gripes or issues.
If you like your RPG’s then you will positively adore Final Fantasy XIV. Just bear with the control system and be safe in the knowledge that whenever Final Fantasy has arrived on the PC, just as it did in the hugely successful FFXI then you can bet your bottom dollar that Square Enix will be listening to all the feedback from their fan sites and community forum’s and implementing any patches that the title may require. Just as with a newly created character in a title of this magnitude, you must give the game time to flourish and grow if you are to truly get the most enjoyment out of this simply stunning title. Yes, it is tough to level up. No, crafting and the obtaining of currency and items don’t just fall into your lap. But for all their moans now about how in-depth and involved this title is we would refer the same whining reviewers back to their scathing accounts and reports of Final Fantasy XIII when the said same people ranted on about how that game was too easy and how they longed for a Final Fantasy title that offered up challenging gameplay as well as beautiful scenery and graphics. Well, my friends, you have got your wish. If you would only now look past the end of your upturned noses to see the potential of this awesome ga,me then you may just realise this? But we doubt it.
For the rest of us out there we leave you with these words. Final Fantasy XIV is everything you wanted FFXIII to be, and so much more! The sheer innovative and involving gameplay will steadily build over many months, and even years as you fully appreciate just how enormous this game really is. For those of you out there who have the stomach to take on the challenge set before you by the games developers at Square Enix we say this, ‘Hats off to you’ You may well just have bought yourself the most interactive and superior JRPG that has seen the light of day.
So with that we wil give the ‘mini-review’ of Final Fantasy XIV an ‘out-of-ten’ overall score, as opposed to our normal format which we will eventually use when we have completed the game. Which, judging by our first look at the game, could well be around 2023.
Based on the first imp[ressions, the quality cobntrols and the fact that these are some of the most stunning graphics that we have ever witnessed in a video game, we award Final Fantasy XIV an interim score of 8 out of 10. We are now off to play said game and will see you all for the next review update in a Christmas Special on December 20th, 2010 when we will be bringing you a Final Fantasy Competition care of Square Enix and GamesMediaPro when a few lucky winners may walk off into the sunset with some FFXIV goodies and collectibles.