|System: PS4, Xbox One|
|Dev: Square Enix|
|Pub: Square Enix|
|Release: November 29, 2016|
|Players: 1 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Language, Mild Blood, Partial Nudity, Violence|
When it comes down to brass tacks and it's time to pull out the swords and spells is where I suspect Final Fantasy XV will be inspiring debates for years to come. I'm the kind of RPG fan who loves turn-based and action combat equally, but this is like no other action-RPG system I've encountered. Some parts are brilliant, like Noctis' ability to warp around the battlefield, his extensive arsenal that can be swapped around on the fly, and the flashy (and incredibly useful) cooperative attacks he pulls off with his party.
Other parts of the combat system are questionable. I'm still not sure how I feel about holding down buttons to auto-dodge and to pull off weapon combinations. The camera (even with the patch that improves it) has issues that can lead to moments of major frustration. And battles with lots of enemies can be overwhelmingly chaotic. I definitely had a lot of moments where I felt like I wasn't really in control as I was learning the system. I'm better at it now, but I'd love to see further camera improvements and a "wait mode" that really lets me survey the battlefield instead of limiting my point of view. The system definitely grew on me as I played through the game, but it's going to annoy some action gamers with its idiosyncrasies and frustrate the generation that is in love with the classic, more turn-based Final Fantasy battle system. Even with the "wait mode" ability to stop time when you stop moving, there's nothing turn-based about this game's combat whatsoever. It is extremely fast-paced.
If it feels a bit like I'm of two minds about many elements of Final Fantasy XV, it's true. I love its world, though there are aspects of it that fall apart or simply aren't explained if you start looking closely are asking too many questions. I love the epic moments delivered by its storyline even while the actual story feels a bit thin and underdeveloped. And I have a blast with the combat except when my camera gets stuck behind a wall just as ten ugly scorpion monsters decide to stick their stingers in me.
That's what makes Final Fantasy XV an ultimately fascinating game. It's an attempted masterpiece that feels somewhat fractured by years of development and multiple directors. Thanks to its moments of brilliance and the warmth behind its casts' relationships, it manages to become more than the sum of its parts. Even when I'm feeling a bit frustrated with it, I'm still compelled to push forward, search for new challenges, or simply take a joyride down the highway listening to tunes from Final Fantasy IX and seeing if Prompto finds us a good place to take some pictures of the scenery. I'm glad Square Enix stuck with it despite all the years of struggle and shifting priorities. It was a game worth making that will no doubt inspire other developers with its creativity and bold choices.
Final Fantasy XV is imperfect, but the high points of this journey outweigh the messy bits. I recommend you learn to go with the flow, spend some time with your bros, and really get lost in the game. Don't try too hard to be a completionist, but don't forsake the open-world adventures and cling too much to the main storyline. It's in the balance between the two that this tale is at its absolute best.
Date: November 30, 2016