Final Fantasy XV is finally here, and with it comes an array of fantastical beasts, wondrous worlds, and place some of us would dream to be in real life. With the amazing set pieces when you are introduced to the Astrals, Final Fantasy XV’s form of summons which are found in every iteration, and in more quantities, now while some may be believers of the quality over quantity outlook on life. But when the mechanic of a system is so broken that you seem to forget they are even there until reminded by a prompt at the bottom of the screen, something is very wrong. I found myself not even bothering to summon Ramuh as that was the only one that every came to my aid, and when I say aid. I mean like a mother who kisses a bump on you forehead, helping in almost no way at all except for a pure psychological reassurance that no matter what, you’ll be ok, because at the end of the day, apart from a handful of enemies, not a single one is even a match for the game’s main protagonist and party.
The reason that the summons aren’t needed and the game is extremely easy results from a misguided attempt to blend the open world reality of adventure RPGs with the linear fantasy that Square Enix is known for. We are left with a game that teases us with a huge open world map to explore only to strip away any reason for that open world in the second half of the game. The side quests were used as a form of farming experience and Gil (the in-game currency) instead of enriching the world we are in. And that world we are in can only be truly experienced if we put the time and effort hearing the banter between Ingis, Prompto, Gladiolus and Noctis, listen to radio chatter, and unfortunately, spend too much time leveling up. All the build up of a not only the game but also the anime miniseries Brotherhood and also the CG movie Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV ultimately leaves you disappointed knowing that if you are above level 40, the ending will be too easy.
That is the completely opposite of what this game should be doing. not making us feel overpowered and able to destroy anything we see, but suffer through a battle, beat the odds, and come out not only victorious but dumbfounded on how we managed to achieve the impossible. After all, we are supposed to be playing the role of the main player who is having to save the world, sounds like a nearly impossible task, not something you can quickly do between a cross fit session and a marathon. With the battle system comes other issues that take away from its unique fight style. The camera is glued to Noctis in ways I never thought were possible or wanted. During tunnel fights or battles in forested areas, the camera seems to enjoy putting itself out if harms reach, either behind trees or slammed up against Noctis. Making the otherwise fluid battles with the warp mechanic almost enraging at times. The only way to solve this is to not lock onto a single enemy, something the game wants you to do but approaches it the wrong way. The battle system is also amazing due to its adaptive team up moves with the other party members through the link strikes, which consist of Noctis and a teammate doing a combined hit on the enemy. Unfortunately, the mechanics seem to have that as a priority as Prompto, the ranged teammate and weakest of all four seems to be in the middle of the battle screaming “Leroy Jenkins” before I even have time to finish Libra. Resulting in an overuse of potions, Hi-potions and elixirs for the blonde.
When the camera does work, and the party is in smooth synergy of combat the system looks great; With Noctis warping between enemies, gladiolus breaking enemies guards, Ignis casting magic and Prompto shooting and taking photos. It truly excels when there is more than one target to attack or else it can become a bit of a loop for animatons. the fadings and decoys that Noctis leaves behind as well make for interesting strategic opportunities.
Due to the set up of the game world, as I mentioned earlier, the narrative isn’t exactly up on par with previous installments in the franchise and opts for a narrative that is told through chatter between party members, radio broadcasts and knowledge of Kingsglaive. With the story told indirectly instead of through the traditional cutscenes, the pace of the game begins very slowly and rises to climax too quickly at the end of the game. Voice acting seems to be a hit or miss for the NPCs of Eos. Dino, for example, sounds like an Italian mob boss named Dino but looks like a wall street broker named Charles. Even though there weren’t very many moments overall with the character, Matthew Mercer’s Cor Leonis was an impressive performance. able to bring life to the character as he aided Noctis. It just a shame we weren’t treated to more of him.
About half way through the game you are whisked away to different cities and places gather even more power to help take back your kingdom, which sounds perfect on paper, but when we have two Astrals located in the open world map before getting the third, it’s rather disappointing that we aren’t presented with more interaction with either the areas or Astrals themselves later in the game. While on the topic of Astrals, one astral that I was thoroughly impressed with was Bahamut, while shifting from his regular dragon-like appearance to a knight in Dragon armor it was nice having the all mighty in the game.
Just before New Years, Square Enix released an update for the game, fixing a chapter in the game, bringing new items and cosmetics and a New Game+ mode. New Game+ brings you back to Chapter 1 with almost everything you earned in the previous game, Square Enix seemed to have missed the memo on how New Game+ modes work though as there is no difficulty increase what so ever, so expect an even easier playthrough of the game on your second run. With more DLC and Expansions set for the coming year, including an episode focusing on each of the party members before releasing a multiplayer DLC. At this present time, while the game is good, it needs work before I can honestly recommend this to people. I would suggest holding off until a complete edition is released later in the year including the DLC and buy it then to get the complete story all at once.