Final Fantasy XV | Square Enix

FINAL FANTASY XV: A FANTASY 10 YEARS IN THE MAKING

A wondefully FAN-tastic voyage.

by Felipe Parada

I can't begin to explain how I'm feeling towards Final Fantasy XV but i am going to try to do my very best. It's very rare that games nowadays evoke a sense of feeling or attachment for that matter. The Final Fantasy Series has always been that type of game. My earliest memory of Final Fantasy was back in 1992 where other games like Wolfenstein 3D, Mega Man V, Sonic 2, Contra 3 and Streets of Rage 2 dominated the console market. I didn't even know what Final Fantasy was or what an RPG was at the time.

 

A friend lent it to me and my Fantasy began. I didn't know what I was experiencing but I wanted to continue. Being able to experience a different world was very refreshing. I didn't get a chance to finish it but the series was how imprinted on my subconscious. 

 

When Final Fantasy 7 came around, the gaming industry was in the middle of a shift. It was 1997 and the industry didnt know where to go but Final Fantasy 7 took it in the right direction. The masterpiece turned the video game industry on its head. Story, graphics and sound, the game had it all. One of the only games that had my cry when a character died. I spent so much time playing that game that I barely saw my own family. 

Fast forward to 2016 and here we are again. A game with story, sound and graphics. Another game that has it all. From the very start of the game you hear the rendition of "Stand by Me" by Florence + The Machine and it's at this very moment that the developer was preparing you for a long and emotional journey. But this time it felt a bit different.

From the onset you are introduced to a new open world mechanic, a first for the series. Traditionally the game has always had a hint of open world exploration but it was always linear. This time around you can tackle side missions and hunts as you unravel the story of your past. You can explore the world of Eos at your leisure and it really does feel like a breath of fresh air. Its beautiful, charming and committed to keeping the the player engaged in all facets of the game and thats just on the surface.

Square Enix is betting big on the Final Fantasy XV Expanded Universe including movies, anime and episodic content that all meshes in well with the overall experience. The more back story you have on the universe overall experience but this doesn't mean that missing out on the extra content will hurt your experience. On the contrary, you will want to seek out the extra content to fill in the holes. Every character you meet has a purpose in the overall scheme of things but it really isn't clear until later in the game. You will come to find that the band of brothers have a specific role to play in the war against the darkness.

Prince Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto take on evil of epic proportions (trust me, we'll get to him later). At first you think that Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto were just assigned to Prince Noctis as his bodyguards but overtime you come to find out that they have a long history together. The are more than just acquaintances, they are friends, they are brothers and there is a bond between them that can't be broken. As the player you start to feel a connection with the band of brothers with each area you discover and every enemy you defeat.

At the onset of the story you are in distress, a common theme in the Final Fantasy Universe. Even the simple act of pushing a car has this herculean feel to it. With your determination and friendship along for the ride there is nothing you can't overcome. 

The real-time combat is the the biggest difference from the turn-based systems of the past, and while it doesn’t feel like the other Final Fantasy games, the way you feel like a cohesive fighting unit makes it extremely fun and addicting. Fast paced striking along with team-up attacks keeps each encounter new encounter new and fresh. With each victory you are given experience to level up all your team members but the way you level up in FFVX is one of the most unique game mechanics in gaming today. You actually have to rest in the game, sounds simple enough right? 

Now this isn't something new in the Final Fantasy series, you used to save a game by resting at an inn. Now in order to acquire all your experince points you have to rest at a campsite or inn. Resting at a camp site gives you the ability to cook some of the most realistic meas in gaming which give you stat boosts, while resting at an inn gives you an EXP bonus. Its a nice touch that adds a bit of strategy to XP Gain. Knowing this at the start of each day gives everything you do a bit of meaning and you have to do a bit of planning in order to maximize your XP gain. 

This is just what you have to go through in order to save the world of Eos from the main antagonist (I wont give that away for you). In the history of gaming I have never wanted to defeat an antagonist so badly. He tortures you along the way physically, mentally, spiritually where you can't take it anymore and you want to get your hands on him. This is what is so great about the game, it actually gives you a sense of emotion that many AAA games fail to convey. Sure the game has certain aspects that don't work well but its all about the emotion, the emotion that continues to drive you forward. Once at the end the emotion stays with you and you feel a sense of pain, anxiety, anger and even loss.

Regardless of how you feel about the series, that's basically what it comes down to.....a feeling, an emotion. I always thought that Pixar was the only company in existence to successfully weaponize sentiment but after playing FFXV, Square Enix is definitely giving them a run for their money. Now it is time to go back and uncover the mysteries of the hidden dungeons which can take a while. FFXV may not the best game of 2016 but it is one of the best gaming experiences of 2016 by far. I am eager to see how Square Enix can follow this up but from the looks of it, they are definitely up for the challenge.

RATING:

MUST PLAY for any Final Fantasy fan, plain and simple.

Did you get a chance to play Final Fantasy XV? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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