Well, it's time to do a real video game review for once and we're reviewing the big one, Final Fantasy XV. Now, lemme say a few things:
1. I haven't played a single player based FF game since 12. I completely skipped 13 despite having a PS3. Weird huh? But that's how it is. I played FF14, and I have a review of it too. Let's say that it didn't live up to my standards. I did enjoy it more when I picked a dps class and I feel it does the FF theme a lot more than this game, but it's just not for me. Mostly, my crappy internet connection, but still... >.>
2. I avoided mostly everything about this title. Meaning I watched no trailers, played no demos, didn't want the movie/anime, or anything. The MOST I saw was when Angry Joe played FF15 demo on his stream one night about a year ago? I barely remember it (The only fight I remember is the deadeye fight and it was a bit different when he played it) and I can't even remember the combat. Other than that, I went into this game expecting nothing. Or at least expecting a decent story. Sigh... :/Title:
Final Fantasy XVRating:
9/10 - This is probably the best part of this entire game, the graphics. They're visually stunning. Some of the pictures that Prompto took for me, it looked like cutscene graphics. I also like when it's raining, the characters clothes will get wet and stay wet in the main menu. They get dirty after traveling and not camping out. The food that Ignis makes is so freaking detailed, that it looks freaking real.
This is even prettier than FF14. There's a few clipping issues here and there, but overall, this game is just pure eyecandy. And that's sadly, the only real postitive thing I can say about it. ~_~Plot:
3/10 - The ONLY reason this score is so low is while the game does have a plot that feels sort of FFish, the way it's presented to the player is a garbled mess. Like holy shit. Look at it this way, they needed a movie and an animated series to explain stuff that happens. When you need a movie AND an anime to explain stuff that happens in a game... Why the fuck didn't you put it IN the fucking game!? Movies and animes are supposed to add on to what was already there, NOT explain to us the stuff that is NOT there.
Basically, you start out as playing Noctis, a Prince of some Kingdom. You're being sent out to meet up with your Fiancee, Lunafreya, along with your 3 bodyguards, Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto. And I swear this is real, the game starts out with you 4 pushing a freaking car down the road, bickering to each other, while the song, 'Stand by Me' is playing in the background. I blinked and said, 'Are... we for real!?'
But anyways, you find out that your castle (?) was invaded by the Imperial Empire while youre trying to hitch a boatride and your father was killed. Supposedly, before 1.03, this was ALL OFF SCREEN! But the added in patch added in cutscenes from the movie (Which REALLY stand out, and I didn't know they were cutscenes from the movie till I saw about it on a message board. I just thought they were unusual cutscenes, but didn't think anything of it). Yeah, do I even need to say anything more than that? That is piss poor story telling, and we're only at the beginning.
First off, we can't even feel for Noctis, because we never felt attached to his father, not to mentioned this happened off screen!? How are we supposed to feel anything for characters when the game just blazes through the way it does? The second example would be Jared. The old d00d from the 1 big town on the main map. When we come back and find out he's dead, I'm like, 'wait, who was that? Oh, the old guy! And I'm supposed to feel bad/sad, why now? Was this guy a friend of Noctis or a mentor of some kind? Who was he in relation to the characters?' All he told us was where to find a weapon and that's all. And when Noctis and his gang want to crash an Imperial Garrison to avenge him, I'm like, 'Uh, guys, we got better things to do than trash one Imperial site... We should be going to our destination so we can get rid of them for good instead of... You're just going to go anyways? Right...' Another example is Ravus (aka, Cecil-clone!), and I can't say why without spoilers, but when I saw what happened to him, I felt nothing. Why? Because the fucking character is on screen for 5 minutes! I heard he has more backstory in the movie, but fuck that noise.
And I'm not going to spoil the rest, but after Chapter 9 launches, it's like the story goes into overdrive and so much shit is thrown in your face with almost no time to take a breath and take it in. Basically, it's like I blinked and during that short time, something really important happened, and when I opened my eyes again, I just look at the outcome and scatch my head. And chapter 13 will make you hate everything about the game, but I'll get to that one in the gameplay section.
Throughout the entire game, I felt emotlonally distant from just about everything that happens and that's because the game presents the story so piss poorly. From it's very bizarre beginning to it's 'bitter sweet' ending. In fact, if you do the math of my playthrough, maybe 10-15 hours were with the main story. In fact, it took me less than 1 hour to go from Chapter 3 to Chapter 5. Why EVEN have chapters when some of them are done within 30 minutes!? Did they think if they divided them into 14 chapters, no one would bitcn about the length!?
The sidequests are basically water down versions of any MMO quests, look for this item, go collect this thing, go get me this thing. They add NOTHING to the story or the characters, with the exception of a few, like helping Ignis find his glasses or when you talk to Prompto after staying at a Hotel.
Anyways, let's talk about the cast. Or... really, there's not that much to talk about. Noctis is your snarky grumpy protag. Gladio is your big buff guy that kind of acts like your mentor? Prompto is the happy-go-lucky guy that you know has a deep dark angsty past (This cliche is way overdone nowadays) who likes taking pictures of just about anything. And Ignis, well, I'll call him 'Bulter-san', because that's exactly what he is. He's the 'nerdy intellectual guy' who supposedly comes up with the strats, does quite a bit of work (And by that, I mean cook, drive the car, and mend Noctis' shirt? He totally is a Bulter!).
I guess these guys are all friends. I get that more between Prompto and Noctis, since they went to High School together. And what the fuck, the FF characters going to High School!? FANFICTION NIGHTMARE FOR ME! Not to mention but the PRINCE going to high school??? Cause that's not going to draw a lot of attention! But... I can't really tell, because the game doesn't present it well. And the only way I get that feel is because Prompto loves to take selfies of him and Noctis in my playthrough a lot.
The whole game is supposed to be a kind of 'bro trip' type of thing, and I wouldn't really mind that at all (Fuck, I'll admit, the idea appeals to me because the 4 guys are pure eye candy material and I'll admit, I'd like to see 4 guys who start as strangers, but end up as, well, brothers in arms at the end)... Except it's not executed well here at all. It feels forced and I sometimes feel that this is just Noctis and his bodyguards trying to get to a destination with 'silly moments' demostrated by Prompto's pictures, not 4 guys randomly bonding with one another. Outside of combat, they make banter with one another, but I don't feel this closeness that the game should be aiming for. A better example of developing characters would be skits that the Tales of series is famous for.
Let's talk a little about the main pairing in the game, Noctis and Luna. Or... not? This is the most bland couple I've ever seen in a FF series, if any JRPG ever. Mostly because Luna spends maybe 10 minutes of screentime in the entire game. She's not a party member, so you don't see any interaction between her and Noctis. You get short flashbacks of them talking about stuff and you are told they communicate to each other through some magical notebook. And... that's it. You get the sense that these two are childhood friends. But lovers??? I barely get the sense that they are even close friends. Hell, you could give very cold answers to her via the notebook if you wanted. There's more chemistry between Noctis and Iris (Gladios' sister), mostly because Iris is on the scene more than freaking Luna!
Seriously, I don't want to hear any fucking Final Fantasy fan tell me about how piss poor Squall and Rinoa's relationship from FF8 is after seeing Noctis and Luna.
There's other characters that show up, like your Cid, his daughter Cindy (Urgh), Iris, some general guy named Cor, some messenger that I won't say for spoiler sake, your Biggs and Wedge, and the badass Highwind of the game, Aranea, but they are pretty much forgetable. Except Aranea, but I've always been a fan of the 'Dragoon' characters of the game (Hello, my favorite character from FF4 is Kain Highwind!), so... Nah, I think Aranea is a kick ass character and I heard she may be playable in DLC, so here's hoping!
This game is a perfect example of good ideas, but executed in the worse possible way. In fact, a lot of fanfiction in the past that I've read would qualify around this, good ideas that aren't presented well. What we have is a good idea: A prince losing his kingdom and has to go on a journey of self discovery with his 3 bodyguards that end up being like a second family to him. Along the way, he has to make tough choices and decisions that turn him from a sheltered prince into a worthy King. That's what I think they were going for.
But it's not executed well at all, and it's due to how it's presented to the players. Stuff that's supposed to make you sad only leaves you empty because you can't get on the wavelength or identify with the characters. ( Massive spoiler for chapter 9! )
What's worse, after you get into the meat of Chapter 9, the game goes pretty much linear, completely abandoning the idea of a 'brotrip' and open world all together. Wasn't that one of the biggest complaints about FFXIII, that it was too linear?? Why the hell would you think of doing that in FFXV!? I feel like they put too much into the open world aspect of the game and put the story later. And it's funny, because in order to access that open world aspect, you have to travel through time. Yeah, leave the time travel shit to Chrono Trigger, SquareEnix.
I also feel like SquareEnix wanted to make this a 'darker' type of story, kind of like Type 0. But it doesn't work, because the game's starter tone is more light at the beginning and then just suddenly goes 180 and turns dark, and some of the stuff that happens, specifically to Ignis and Prompto, just seems to be thrown in just cause FF games need angst. Sorry to say, but if you want a more darker FF story, just go play Final Fantasy Tactics. Or just play the Shin Megami Tensei/Persona series if you want darker plots.
This could be a really good setup for a game. Actually, it IS a really good setup for a game. But that's all it seems to me, a setup. We have the bare bone basics, SquareEnix decided we didn't need the meat and stripped it off the bone, leaving us with a bare basic story with little to no substance.Music/sound:
5/10 - This is where I'm going to say nostalgia plays against this game. While you're in the car or the field and not on a chocobo, you can actually play music from previous Final Fantasies. Which sounds awesome in concept. But in practice, it works AGAINST the game, because besides the Chocobo music and generic pit stop theme, I cannot remember any music from this game at all. Why? Because half the time I'm listening to FF4/FF5/FF6 music that I forgot that this game has it's own freaking soundtrack. Yeah, ask me about a single tune in this game and all I can tell you is the chocobo music and only because I can't play my recorder on a chocobo. And the chocobo music is good, but it's the freaking chocobo theme, you can't really mess that up.
Beyond that, I cannot recall any music from this game, cept maybe for the battle music, and even that is forgetable. I don't get it. Even the FF11 and FF14 battle themes are memorable in my mind and I barely played much of FF11!
Though I really wish I could forget the 'Stand by Me' song played at the beginning and ending of this game. I mean, seriously, why that song? In the 80's and 90's, that song was used in a phone commercial and that's all I can remember it from. Not to mention, isn't Stand by Me a romantic song? Doesn't really fit a 'brotrip' theme. MAYBE it's supposed to represent Noctis and Luna (Though I'm sure it's supposed to represent the bonds between the 4 main guys, but reading the lyrics to the song, it's clearly a LOVE SONG), but like I said above, the game doesn't present that well at all.Gameplay:
6/10 - I don't know why SE keeps going with a more action type combat. They simply aren't good at it, end of story. This game can be done just button mashing the O button. And dodging when the box pops up. And oh, it will a lot, because you'll be doing the tanking. And the dpsing. And the healing. You'll be doing just about everything while your bros will stand around and do nothing. Sure, maybe Gladio will help out sometimes, but Prompto and Ignis will probably stand around and die (Well, Ignis made himself useful with his 'regroup' skill, which basically, you run to him and heal). Like a lot. Unless you overleveled like I did and did every single bloody sidquest you see on your map.
I mean, it's not like SE is incapable of making a good action RPG. See Secret of Mana/Seiken Densetsu series. Or Brave Fencer. Or Dewprism/Threads of Fate. But it seems like they just want to copy Western games at this point, like Skyrim and Witcher. It works with those two games because you are only controlling one character usually. When you have 2 or more party members, that kind of combat doesn't work, moreso when the AI is bad. It works in the Tales of Games because you can change the AI's behavior and change what character you are controlling, but it's not 100% flawless.
I also forgot to mention this, so I'm going to now. The camera sucks in this game, it kills what could be a good battle system. And targetting sucks. When you're trying to land blows on a specific part of a monster to weaken it or maybe get an item (Good idea), you have to angle your camera so that it targets the part and try to lock onto it. The problem? It's very hard to angle the camera in the right position and can take some time. It's hard to do this when in real time combat, maybe this is where Wait mode would come into play? I tried playing Wait mode, but it wasn't for me.
Worse, you have to keep the R1 button down to keep your target. AND EVEN THEN, if you land a link strike, sometimes, you lose the target!
Not to mention, half the time I feel like I'm fighting monsters AND the Camera. A lot of the times, I have to readjust the camera because Noctis is flying all over and sometimes, a fucking bush gets in my way and I can't see him or what direction he is facing or if I'm hitting anything, period! This was a big issue I had in Kingdom Hearts series, it seems it has yet to be fixed.
Speaking of that, this game feels like in the same vein of Kingdom Hearts, only a little bit more complex, since Noctis can change weapons on the fly, but even then, it has it's limits and it gets frustrating when there's 8 mobs on the screen and they all come after you while your 3 buddies look on and just stand around or better, run right into a fucking AoE attack, getting themselves blown to bits.
The characters have different 'pass times' they like to do. Ignis does the cooking, but cooking actually has a point, as in you get some useful buffs. But you can only do it when you camp outside. But you kind of want to use a motel/hotel because experience boast and you can only do experience at rest points (Yeah, basically experience piles up from doing quests or fighting and the only way to distribute the points is via camping. Or finishing a chapter, so don't rush the main story!). Prompto likes taking pictures. That's about it for him, yay? If you're a Screenshot fan, you'll like this feature. Gladio picks up random items from the ground after a fight, which can save money. Noctis likes to fish? I hate the fishing mini game, but you need some of the fish for cooking, so meh. It's there to use and kill time when you're waiting for daylight to break.
Speaking of that, there's day to night in the game. And it's really frustrating, more so near the beginning when freaking bombs and Iron Giants come out and you see that they're level 30. Later on, it's just annoying, more so when you're trying to drive to your destination and they appear on the road. And then Magitek armor guys pop down after. And then the monsters decide they want to respawn... Like holy shit, I just want to get to the fucking gas station that's like only 1000 feet away from me, go fuck yourself monsters!
Again, a good idea, but executed poorly. Cut the freaking respawn rate. Or at least make it so the magitek can't see you at night because, well, it's fucking dark, you don't know if that's Noctis and his gang down there, what if it's just a random passerby?
Oh, let's not forget the car! Yeah, you can choose to drive or have Ignis drive. And lord all mightly, unless you're looking for pitstops, have Ignis drive. Driving is very limited, meaning, you can't go off the main and side roads to explore. I guess if you could, there would be no reason to have Chocobos, so they had to limit the car. You can drive to your destination or teleport there for 10 gil. It reminded me of traveling in FF14, which was a pain in itself. And near the beginning of the game, you can't teleport at night, because Ignis is a wuss. Later on, he'll drive at night, and you can teleport. Also, do we REALLY need to see them getting out of the car EVERY SINGLE time. Also, put some seatbelts in that damn car, and Noct, stop climbing to sit on the back part of the car while Ignis is driving! I actually did brake once, hoping to see Noctis fly like 30 feet in front of the Car, but alas!
I'll be honest, most of the time, I let Ignis drive, turned on the FF6 tracklist and went to go make a snack, use the bathroom, play on my phone (Irony was playing FF Record Keeper), or go browse the net until I got to my destination. That's not a good thing for a game to do, but I get free AP and exp for doing nothing. And you're going to need the AP to boast your shit.
Speaking of AP, the game has something called 'Ascension' in it. Basically, for using your points, you get different stuff. Like maybe you like driving the car a lot like me, so you pick the get AP and Exp skill while driving. Or maybe you want to improve stats? Go for the every level stat tree. Or you want to unlock your chain combos with the other guys? Or unlock more stuff for Noctis? This is a good idea, and it allows for really good customization. The bad thing? Getting AP is a grindfeast, some AP shit costing 333 AP or even 999 AP. ~_~;;;
Oh and magic and summoning? Magic is friendly fire. Yeah, that means, you use a spell and your bros are near the monster? They're more than likely gonna get hit with it. And take damage. So unless you cannot find a weapon weakness off a monster, you're gonna want to lay off using magic. And summons? I barely used them, because they basically come out when they want to, mostly when you're in danger of dying. The only time I remember using it was when I went to a underground sewer level and got ambushed by Yojimbo and got stabbed a bit. Then Ramuh decided he HAD to come out. It's pretty epic to see at first, and summons are basically instant KO for your enemies. But it's so random, and honestly? If I wasn't being stupid, I didn't even need to summon him to begin with! Yeah, worst summoning system ever.
Load times. I cannot believe how bad the load times in this game are. There's a load time for everything, it's really bad when you start your game up from your saved data or going back to the open world. Like holy hell, they make some of the PSX load times seem fast!
Also, I'm not going to spoiler this cut, because everyone should be warned about Chapter 13. Part of chapter 13 is basically Noctis with only one weapon walking down a bunch of narrow hallways. You have two choices, fight it out or stealth your way through. And trust me, it's faster to brute force your way through instead of stealth. This is, beyond a doubt, the worse gameplay I've seen in ANY FF game, it tries to be a survival horror game, which FF is not that.
And didn't SquareEnix want to avoid this type of play, walking down a very linear path to your destination??? Wasn't this a problem with FFXIII that a lot of people complained about??? WHY the FUCK would you put something that people clearly hated INTO a future installment!? And... this is the longest chapter of the game, because of this shitty gameplay mechanic. No joke.
Ignoring the cesspool that is Chapter 13, overall, the combat is a bit more polished than it's KH sister counterpart, but there's still a lot of room for improvement.
All in all, like the combat, the gameplay isn't really bad, but there's a lot of room for improvement. Overall
5.75/10 - Eyecandy cannot save a horribly presented story, forgetable music, and below average gameplay. FF15 has the potential to be something really good, but falls flat, mostly due to it's piss poor story presentation. This game was in development hell for 10 years and it honestly shows, because it seems like a game that doesn't really know what it wants to show or how to present itself.
This doesn't even feel like a JRPG, it feels like a WRPG with a Final Fantasy twist. I can see why this game did so poorly in Japan, because it doesn't have the 'spark' of what makes it a JRPG. And sadly, WRPGs aren't to my liking.
Honestly, pass on this game or wait till the price drops. It's worth it for maybe the eyecandy and some of the pictures that Prompto takes are fantastic. But as a JRPG to a once popular and well known series? Yeah, I don't think I'm going to be really following the Final Fantasy series anymore, moreso if they want to go the WRPG route.
If you want a game that is sort of like a WRPG that was made in Japan? Check out Xenoblade Chronicles instead.