Final Fantasy XV Review
After ten years in the making, Final Fantasy XV has emerged at the end of 2016 as the embodiment of the modern JRPG. “A Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers”; These words are displayed prominently across the screen when you first start playing, and it is extremely telling of the overall development of the title. Final Fantasy XV is both a love letter to long time series fans as well as an invitation to everyone else to jump into the series.
The story, which is much better understood initially if you have watched the Final Fantasy XV anime, starts with Prince Noctis embarking on a road trip with his three trusted companions in order to wed his fiancée Luna. During this trip, his car, the Regalia (essentially the royal car) breaks down, his home is attacked, and he is left to figure things out with his three friends.
“Some great character depth as well as an overhaul to both the Final Fantasy formula and battle system makes Final Fantasy XV a delight for existing fans and new players.”
The story in Final Fantasy XV starts relatively simple, but expands as the game progresses. Interesting side quests as well as a memorable main cast and side characters make the narrative unforgettable. Unlike the more contemporary Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy XV has opted for just four main party members. While this lesser number almost seems like a step back, the depth of the characters and their relationships more than make up for the quantity. Each character has their own hobbies, relationships with others, and nuances that make for some great banter in and out of combat, as well as providing one of the strongest bonds showcased in video games.
The gameplay is structured similarly to previous Final Fantasy titles, with a main quest and side quests to supplement the story. Unlike previous Final Fantasy titles however, the game throws you into an open world right away, allowing you to go on advancing the story or choosing from a variety of side quests. The open world allows for the use of the Regalia, that you and your companions can utilize to traverse the vast world despite it is essentially being on rails. For those looking for an off road route, you can always utilize the Chocobo, which makes a triumphant return to the series. The game plays very well, and the series has shifted to a fully real-time battle system (alongside a “Wait Mode”) that still comprises of series staples such as swords, guns, magic, and summons. Despite a new combat system, Final Fantasy XV plays very well and feels similar to other action role-playing games. A minor issue with regards to the gameplay was the movement, the sprinting sometimes runs out instantly, and Noctis runs around on his own at times as well.
Visually, Final Fantasy XV is breathtaking. Whether in combat, cutscenes, or a scenic car ride down towards the shore, the art style complements the style of the game superbly. While there are some outdated textures that are visible, the game as a whole is both technically and artistically beautiful. In addition to the occasional texture issues, the camera does have its problems as well, though it is nothing more than somewhat annoying. The characters are done well with attention to detail both for the main characters as well as key side characters. The various character outfits, weapons, and even the customizable Regalia allow the player some freedom with regards to how the characters look. The different locales are also varied enough to make them unique; the problem with some open-world games is that everywhere begins to look the same. However, Final Fantasy XV does a good job in making sure each location is unique, from the look of an outpost, to the culture of a city.
The soundtrack of Final Fantasy XV is typically what you would expect from the storied franchise: excellence. Do you enjoy listening to one song on repeat for the duration of a roadtrip? If so, you can certainly listen to same track on repeat. Or if you prefer variety, you can choose from a huge list of songs, ranging from Afrojack to the vast amount of music from previous Final Fantasy titles. In addition to the soundtrack, Final Fantasy has solid voice acting in both English and Japanese, with French and German also being an option. The voice acting, including various moments such as Prompto singing the Final Fantasy Victory Fanfare after finishing a battle, really brings the different characters to life.
Some great character depth as well as an overhaul to both the Final Fantasy formula and battle system makes Final Fantasy XV a delight for existing fans and new players.The title is a huge step in the right direction for a franchise that has staggered in recent years. Final Fantasy XV honors past titles and brings the series into the contemporary gaming culture. Though a few small things hinder the title from absolute greatness, Final Fantasy XV remains one of the best JRPGs I’ve played in recent memory.
***A PS4 review code was provided by the publisher***
- Exhilarating experience
- Well crafted characters
- Breathtaking visuals
- Finely tuned audio
- Camera issues
- Frustrating movement