Final Fantasy XV
Lunafreya faces the Leviathan in ‘Final Fantasy XV’ (SquareEnix)
It feels like this game came out forever ago. By now, most people have played through it, played the added content or just passed on it altogether. Early reviews were welcoming of the fifteenth installment in the long running Final Fantasy series. It didn’t score the highest accolades of the past iterations, but didn’t necessarily fail to enchant either. At best, the experience I had with Final Fantasy XV would be slightly higher than average when compared to the others I’ve completed (FFVI-IX).
Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto posing for a picture (SquareEnix)
The story of four young friends completely convinced me of their emotional connection to each other. Some of the secondary characters such as Noctis’s doomed fiancé Lunafreya, were impactful and provided the catalyst to explore deeper character development. The voice acting was surprisingly well done with the cinematic scenes flowing naturally between gameplay and storytelling. Watching the summons was filled with awe inspiring moments. Too bad they occurred too infrequently. I never quite grasped figuring out how to directly use them in the right moments. The world was thoroughly thought out, save for the forced driving between locations. For some travels, you’d literally be watching the four friends banter for several minutes while driving which became old quick. Where’s Cid’s airship when you need it?
Speaking of Cid, his granddaughter Cindy served as your mechanic point of contact. She was oddly over sexualized for a Final Fantasy game. The series frequently feature strong, capable female protagonists throughout so her scantily clad presence felt a bit out of place. No slut shaming here. I’m all for sexual empowerment and there’s nothing wrong with throwing in eye candy for an audience, it just felt a bit over the top in the context of this game. It wasn’t enough of an issue for me to ding the game for it however. I wonder how the female fans felt about it?
The game is gorgeous, in true Final Fantasy tradition. The fighting is fun and spot on with the perfect balance of modern action and traditional strategy. I thoroughly enjoyed playing through all the chapters. I’m excited for what the future of Final Fantasy can bring given how well SquareEnix married the traditional and modern take on RPG fighting mechanics. There were some epic moments from the game, my favorite being in Altissia when I met the Leviathan. The bickering amongst the main four was believable and didn’t annoy as much as I expected. Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto stand out with distinct (if not cliche) personalities who manage to almost sell me on the games finale.
Altissia from ‘Final Fantasy XV’ (SquareEnix)
For long time Final Fantasy players, while we can be impressed with the relational details explored in the four characters (in which only one is playable), there’s a bit lacking in the overall story narrative. Main problem I had is when I finished it, I didn’t really care all that much about Noctis’s fate. I just wanted to roam around freely and fight more. Is that bad? Ultimately, I was left feeling grateful that it wasn’t a bad effort and was really fun to play. The add-ons are starting to come out and I’m only interested because of how fun it is to actually play with the game mechanics. Yes, games are supposed to be fun but Final Fantasy is supposed to also have this epic scope that pulls you into this massive story. The cities were massive, the drama was over the top, the stakes were high, but the game failed to really pull the pieces together in a memorable way. I guess I’d concede that the game itself is indeed epic, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was all that coherent.
This wasn’t a disappointment at all. I honestly wanted to be pissed off at first once the end credits rolled. I sat there wondering at what point would the game truly pull me in emotionally like the Final Fantasy games before. Considering the quality of the overall production and the well executed play mechanics this ended up being a step in the right direction despite my issues with the story. SquareEnix has the mechanics working well in order to move Final Fantasy back into full relevance for the next generation. Now it just needs another Final Fantasy VI, VII or IX to do a mic drop on all the JRPG haters. With a remake of Final Fantasy VII on the way, maybe that’ll just do it. Either way, I look forward to more iterations of the series. Is this a must play for the series? Absolutely.