Final Fantasy XV (PS4) review
For those wondering about the plot, the game involves the Kingdom of Lucis being destroyed by the rival Empire of Niflheim as Prince Noctis is on route to marry the oracle, Lady Lunafreya. The attack by the Empire leads to chaos, and Noctis has a new role, he is now King and his duty is to save Lucis by reclaiming the crystal that protected Lucis from daemons, and find Lunafreya. The plot is simplistic in appearance, but as the game progresses, it becomes far more interesting and darker. I don’t want to say too much about it, but the game uses the transition from open-world to linear progression as a way to start a tonal shift, as Noctis goes from journeying to his wedding to saving his Kingdom and the world.
Final Fantasy XV’s story is decent. It very much starts out as a road trip with Noctis being escorted to the wedding by his friends/guards Prompto, Ignis and Gladiolus. Everything feels normal for a large portion of the trip, but when the Empire attacks Lucis, the fun aspect begins to disappear, as the goal is now to save the world from the Empire and daemons that now prowl the night.
There is something important to mention about the story, and that is how the story does tend to dump information, with the majority of the plot specific information being dumped on you as you leave the open world portion of the game.
So, speaking of character motivations, let’s talk about the characters. The main four Noctis, Ignis, Prompto and Gladiolus are well fleshed out. They aren’t wooden, they have personalities that evolve as the story progresses, as we see the four going from arguing to becoming almost like brothers in their friendship. The main antagonist, Imperial Chancellor Ardyn, is a compelling character from the start. He follows Noctis wherever he goes, helping them but also teasing and messing with their minds. While he is a strong antagonist, his goals and motivations do seem to be rushed.
In terms of locations visited in the game, there is a nice spread of rural outposts, towns, beach resorts, and gorgeous cities. However, while there is nice spreads of locations, few of these locations are populated; there are in fact only two locations with any sizable population. They are Lestallum, which is a hunter city that has a strong population, and Altissia, which is a beautiful Venice-like city. While the lack of populated areas could be considered a poor choice by some, I believe it works with the story the game is telling.
In regards to gameplay, Final Fantasy XV offers players a lot of content. Each of the four main characters has their own skill: Noctis has fishing, Gladiolus has survival, Ignis has cooking, and Prompto has Photography. You can ride Chocobos, perform side-quest, drive your car, explore dungeons, create magic, and spend ability points to increase various elements of your characters. It is easy to say, that all the features mentioned weight the game down, but for me, I liked all the features as it made the game bigger. My favourite feature is the rest system. When it reaches, night or you find a rest spot you can sleep, as you prepare to sleep all the experience you accumulated since the last time you rested are delved out, you also see some of Prompto’s photos, and if you are camping outside you get to eat some nice healthy stat boosting food created by Ignis.
Now before getting to combat, I want to talk about ability points. Ability points are used via the Ascension menu, and on this menu, you can spend ability points on any one of the nine nexuses, these nexuses are magic, recovery, techniques, combat, teamwork, stats, exploration, wait mode, and Armiger. While being able to increase combat effectiveness and stats is fun. The Ascension menu feels like an unnecessary weight with some options requiring staggering amounts of AP with some as height as 333 ability points.
In terms of combat, there are two combat modes: Active mode, which is the standard battle system, and Wait mode, where time stands still while you are stationary. Active mode makes FFXV your basic action game, while wait mode adds a tactical element as it allows you to slow down the battle and let you strategise. So, how does combat work? Well in its simplest form you can equip up to four weapons or magic, which you can change at will with the directional pad or via the menu. In terms of the pace of combat, it can get overwhelming especially when fighting large groups of enemies, because if you mess up a block or dodge you can find yourself in a world of pain. Speaking of dodges and block, Noctis has the ability to warp, this means he can throw his weapon and teleport to where it lands and fade out of the way of an enemy attack. Mastering warp and fade dodging is very important to staying alive.
My overall thoughts on combat is that while it can be an absolute mess at times, especially when in a corridor, it is fun, and honestly for all its flaws. I loved getting into combat.
Before leaving combat, I want to talk about the magic. Magic in Final Fantasy XV is essentially a consumable item. To use magic you need to go to your Elemancy tab and select from fire, ice and lightning. You can strengthen the magic you want to create by using more elemental energy, and add additional effects by using a catalyst; some additional effects include experience boost and poison.
Ok, let’s talk graphics and audio. Graphically, Final Fantasy XV is breathtaking. The game offers loving vistas and a great design. In terms of audio, the voice work is spot on and the music blends well with the action and emotional aspects of the game.
Final Fantasy XV has proven it was worth the ten-year wait. The story while feeling rushed at parts is fun, and the high number of features doesn’t hurt the overall flow of the game.
|+ Well paced combat, with a choice to slow it down if it gets too fast||– Ascension skill progression is needlessly padded|
|+Story is enjoyable, although it can be rushed at time|
|Square Enix||Square Enix||JRPG||16+||PS4, XBOne||November 29, 2016|