Today I got my platinum trophy for Final Fantasy XV, not because I couldn’t get enough of the game. (Which is what normally happens with the ones I do.) It was just that playing through it was such a breeze.
After spending almost 70 some hours total doing BORING side quests and the occassional fun monster hunt. I decided to finish the story and all that remained left in the game. Sadly, I’d have to admit this was worst Final Fantasy experience in all of my days playing them. Before I begin, you’ve gotta know, I’ve been playing the SNES version of Final Fantasy IV (then titled Final Fantasy II). So I know my FF games, including the random spin-offs Square has been spitting out since the post Final Fantasy X days.
In the end, I will have some lighter things to say about the title. But lets finally get all the bad shit outta the way.
FFXV’s world is a beautiful thing to see, with all of it’s greenery, mountain trails, lakes, mystical caves and dungeons. The enemies interact with the environment and the on-foot music is pretty sweet. But 50% of that is ruined by the repetitive commentary of the “four friends”. (Which is barely what they seem like to each other! But I’ll get to that!) Couple this with the sparse placement of NPCs and lack of real reward for exploration. I get that developers made the side quests to encourage exploration. So why the hell wasn’t there more to hear from the team than “ohhhhs and ahhhs”, “take a look at that” or “whoa”.
It seems that the relationship between the four guys is always strained and never about being real with each other until too late in the game. By that time, the player is so prepared for the end-game, that you’d rather not hear about everyone’s personal demons or why a certain event happened to this guy. Noctus (the primary protagonist) was protrayed as a spoiled whiney emo kid. Okay, I get that; why?! It wasn’t just because his daddy never cared about him, cuz if you pay attention to the story you can kind of feel that King Regis was a good father. Also, I get that he was bummed out with getting hitched soon and all the other crappy things that happened to him. So why didn’t they eleborate on it put in some real scenes with the guys. I mean, for fuck’s sake, the only time Noctus truly sheds tears is in the final camping scene with his “buds”. Even then, it seems like there is sort of a male psuedo-social repression thing.
This happens to ALL of the characters, which is garbage, as there could’ve been so much potential to have a social affection system for the four, much like many other RPGs out there nowadays. There are hints of it here and there, but it never seems to really be something that would get you to like the bond they all have.
For example, take the little morning adventures Noctus’ buds call him out to do. They are too sparse and you’ll probably engage in about 10 total in your entire playthrough. Considering as much as the team camped and toured the world, that chance to interact was WASTED IN A MONUMENTAL FAILURE. Especially, when the team begins to visit the big cities in the game and truly get to enjoy the sites. Where were the welcoming parties, festivals (the lil’ DLC “Moogle-Chocobo Festival” doesn’t count, as only Noctis gets to enjoy it solo, which was also a bad move. Despite the DLC being a nice touch from the developers.) Honestly, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this.
What bothered me the most was the bad portrayal of some of the cultural references throughout FFXV’s worlds. Particularly during pit stops along the highway, where you’ll experience a seriously disenfranchised version of Western American culture. (BTW, not even gonna touch the whole Cindy the mechanic thing.
All I can say is, Noctus’ team acted VERY TAME to how it really would’ve went down! CAN SOMEBODY SAY DIXIE HAZARD RIP OFF!! Okay, fuck it, I touched on it and you guys would, if you were a customers at Hammerhead, you’d be tryin’ to WORK IN HER GARAGE; MARRIED OR NOT!!!! BTW, Square must’ve had a few former Koei-Tecmo staff members join their character design staff. This is included terrible voice work used to to imitate American back country yokles. It almost seems as though the development team, spent more time on the road during their research and less time trying to communicate with the local cultures. Sure there the areas are captured respectfully in a visual sense. (Again, visuals are Square’s speciality, they NEVER have a problem making things PRETTY! I can talk about how good they are until the cows come home!)
Now there are some exceptions, like the big cities which are probably the best parts in the game. Yet again, there was so damn much potential for further story arches, additions to the story, chances to strengthen the bond with the “four friends”, have memorable side stories, etc. (Mind you, would’ve helped want to love the four guys even more.)
In the end, the story stumbles to catch up with most players who are either burnt out from over-questing and exploration or giving us a story with more holes than a buckshot-torn target. Sure, the ending does leave on a high note, but it end up being unremarkable and too ambiguous as to Noctus and company’s fate. (In the end, I kinda did care to see what actually would happen to him and his mates. It is a story I invested $60 and 80+ hours of my life into.)
As a conclusion to this quasi-rant, (Okay, it’s more of a full-on, one) the is are some great qualities to the game I loved. Visually, this was the most beautiful open world I’ve seen in a game, thus far. The surrounding world outside of the lengthy roads, tunnels and rest stops; is vibrant and seems to breath on its own. The floura and fauna blend perfectly with the fantasy creatures well know and love.
Magic and summons are sparse in terms of variety, but they truly are spectacular to see and use. (FYI, summons can to used ANYWHERE and were fairly common during my journey. One badass instance in particular was in the Tower of the Tall and Ramuh used his Judgement Bolt, right into the fuckin’ dungeon!!! (New animation and all, as opposed to the regular one used outside.) Another part I liked, was when a certain dragoon NPC jumps in during some of the later more difficult, night time battles and helps you win, when you might be in a pinch.
The last thing I did love about the game were the dungeons!!
Typically, most RPGs have made the dungeon sections either a chore or the enjoyment made strictly to the battles. FFXV DOES ONE THING RIGHT, it makes the dungeon crawling a full adventure with its mixture of the atmosphere, monsters and the Four Friends’ reactions. For example, the first dungeon you go into, you’ll run into goblins. But it’s HOW you run into them, is what makes FFXV’S dungeons some of the most we’ll thought out scenarios since Atlus’ Persona series.
I loved that I was able to customize the Regalia a bit, was cool and didn’t try to steal the show. Save for the post game ability to literally tranform the Regalia. All I can say is, it ended with my in a ball of flames, a GAME OVER and me falling on my ass in histarical laughter.
Honestly, it would’ve helped if we had access to it BEFORE THE FINAL CHAPTER, cuz by the time you get the upgrade, it’s loses it’s charm after about ten minutes to a half hour.
Ultimately, I left this experience with caring less about how the characters turned, but more about the adventures dated in dungeons and the rare unique hunt, like fighting a behemoth for the first time.
Had the story been on part with anything on part with ANY of the other Final Fantasy games I’d probably loved the experience more!