I realize that I'm a bit late with this review but as a long-time Final Fantasy fan, I wanted to properly immerse myself in the game before giving my final opinions on it. So, after finishing the main story, completing around 100 side quests, collecting all 13 Royal Arms, defeating the Adamantoise, toppling the level 120 superboss Naglfar, receiving all the legendary weapons and in the process unlocking the game's platinum trophy, I'm finally ready to share my thoughts on Final Fantasy XV.
Graphics & Design
Final Fantasy XV is a beautiful game. There's no denying that. I played this game on a regular PlayStation 4 and during my playthrough, I didn't notice any significant graphical issues. There were some texture pop-ins at times especially when flying the Regalia over denser areas but for the most part, the game looks incredible. Besides that, the frame rate never fell to stupidly low numbers. Even in hectic fights against 20 or so enemies with sparks and particle effects going on, it still felt relatively smooth.
Considering the sheer size of the world map, it's amazing how much detail was put into it. Each structure and creature was purposely designed in order to fit the world of Eos. What's even more astonishing is how all the different structures are put together. You get a sense that the map was properly planned out in order to make it feel like a real lived-in world and for the most part it does feel that way. Each area you visit looks and feels a bit different but at no point during the journey from one place to another do you feel a jarring and sudden change in aesthetic design. It all flows together very well. The only complaint I have is that many of the outposts in the game reuse the exact same diner and motel designs with very minor tweeks. It's by no means a big issue but I would have liked to see a bit more variety in that respect.
The music in this game is absolutely amazing most of the time. While you do hear some uninteresting music when you enter certain areas on the map, these instances are few and far between. Adding to the enormous amount of music from past Final Fantasy titles available in this game, most of the new music composed specifically for Final Fantasy XV is brilliant as well. Yoko Shimomura did a truly fantastic job. The original pieces she composed for Final Fantasy XV like Somnus and Gratia Mundi are just beautiful even on their own. Final Fantasy XV's battle theme may have become my favourite battle theme in the series. Even the classic Chocobo theme has been revamped in a way that enhances the musical depth but at the same time preserves the charm of the original. Overall, Final Fantasy XV's music is some of the best I've heard from any game in a long time.
Being a long-time Final Fantasy fan, I was a bit worried about the new active battle system but after spending a few hours with it, my worries faded away and I began to understand why they opted for the active battle system over the classic turn based system. Firstly, what you need to understand is that the active battle system in Final Fantasy XV is not like a typical hack and slash. You do have control over a lot more than just swinging your weapons about. It's hard to explain it in words but if you took some time to get acquainted with this new battle system, it's immensely satisfying even if, like me, you're not very good at it.
(Gladio's epic faceplant!)
The primary complaint everybody seems to share is regarding the camera. The camera does struggle to keep the attention on Noctis during battle. It works fine in open areas but when fighting in denser areas, you will find yourself looking at some leaves or a wall or whatever structure is present at that particular location. This is a bit annoying but I can understand why this hasn't disappeared even after the huge patch. Programming the camera for an open world RPG such as this isn't a simple task. What makes it even more difficult is Noctis' fighting style. Can the camera be improved? Yes, I think it can be slightly improved. Will it ever be perfect? No. Realistically, the real time camera angles could only be significantly improved if the developers also altered Noctis' fighting style and the environment design. That seems very unlikely. That said, the camera issue does not make the game unplayable in any way. It can become annoying at times but it still works quite well for the most part.
Here lies my biggest complaint. It's not the story itself because I love Final Fantasy XV's story. It's an amazing tale which I shall not spoil. The complaint I have is in regards to the pacing of the story. Due to the poor pacing, the game's story just feels rushed. There are many points throughout the story where I felt the plot could have been fleshed out a bit more. Some characters felt as though they weren't as integral to the overall plot as they really were due to their lack of participation in the story being told to the player. Many have expressed their disappointment and outright hatred for Chapter 13 which, again I shall not spoil. All I have to say is that Chapter 13 isn't actually bad. It's actually very appropriate to the plot of the story. However, the way the game is paced makes Chapter 13 feel like such a sudden change and this has caused many players to dislike it. Square Enix have said that they will be addressing this soon. I'm not sure what they plan to do exactly but I just hope they don't change it too much and in the process neglect what that particular section of the game is supposed to be.
Once you're done with the main story, I'm sure you'll want to do more stuff with your now quite powerful party and thankfully that wont be a problem at all.
Just like many Final Fantasy games before it, Final Fantasy XV has a lot of side content. This includes monster hunts, fetch quests, optional dungeons, secret bosses and mini-games. While not all of Final Fantasy XV's side content is incredibly interesting, there are quite a few that will keep you excited long after you've finished the main story. Some of the optional dungeons are amazingly well designed and are extremely fun to attempt even if you aren't quite able to reach the end. The secret bosses provide a welcomed challenge besides just looking incredible. Fighting them takes quite a bit of skill and quite a lot of patience. Overall, despite some quests being overly simplistic, the side content in this game is abundant and enjoyable.
This is what I believe to be the most important aspect of any game. A game can be very well designed and developed but if it doesn't charm you into loving it as more than just a game then a good game is all it will be. I'm very glad to say that Final Fantasy XV has become more than just a game to me. Throughout my time playing this game I've grown to love the world of Eos along with all its quirks. It's a game that is truly worth more than the sum of its parts.
Score : 8.7/10
This game is incredibly enjoyable. I love it but as a reviewer I have to be objective so I simply cannot overlook its flaws. All things considered, 8.7 just sums it all up nicely in my opinion. Hopefully the game will become even better after all the updates and DLC have been added to it.
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