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Square Enix Develops a Universe of Fun with “Final Fantasy XV”

Satisfying Gameplay & Charming Characters Are Not Without Flaws

By Mohammad Tabari

CORRECTION: The original version of this article misstated the name of the author. He is Mohammad Tabari, not Rami Tabari

After a tiresome journey of delays and setbacks, the long awaited “Final Fantasy XV” has blown us away with its incredibly immersive world, but is weighed down by its overly vague plot.

Ever since the game’s announcement in 2006, “FFXV” has been long awaited by many fans because of its innovative style and darker story. With a shift in direction, platform, and audience, the game had suffered 10 years of what’s known as development hell.

“FFXV” follows Prince Noctis and his best friends seeking to reclaim the throne after his father’s murder. Noctis, Gladiolus, Prompto, and Ignis must retrieve a ring from the princess, Lady Lunafreya, that will bestow an ultimate power which enables them to fight back.

Trailers and early previews seemed to promise a much deeper story, however, it turned out to be vague and lackluster. Most of the main missions command you to go to certain places and do certain things but it is never said why you’re doing them or why these things matter.

While the story fails to captivate you, the characters speak, breathe, and act as if they’re real, bantering like a group of best friends would.

Square Enix has given these characters life, humanizing them with their actions: showing them cook, fish, bet on card games, camp in the woods or stay at hotels, eat at fancy restaurants, go on roadtrips, crack lame jokes, and on the side, kill wildlife.

Although these characters are fun to hang out with, they’re not particularly well developed. Noctis and the gang talk and interact as if they know everything about each other, but unfortunately, the game reveals very little about them. It makes us feel like outsiders, and in reality, it’s awkward.

A strong feature of “FFXV” would be the ability to hop out of your car and go wherever you want. Heading into a restaurant, and asking the manager for a bounty to kill tough creatures, and then getting distracted by the fishing pond you see on the way there is one of the few examples of the silly things you can do while exploring.

From its ginormous wildlife to its vast landscapes, “FFXV” is absolutely breathtaking. When exploring the open world, the clever mix between sci-fi and fantasy makes it a visually unique experience. However, during missions or dungeons, low-resolution textures can destroy the immersion. Additionally, certain cutscenes seem sloppily animated and rough around the edges.

“FFXV” introduces an unfamiliar battle system that spurred a wide controversy among fans. The series’ most popular title, “FFVII,” used the Active Time Battle system, which is what fans are most accustomed to.

Simply put, the ATB takes turn based gameplay, and replaces the turns with time based actions. Instead of using ATB, “FFXV” focuses on fast paced combat, similar to a hack & slash like “Devil May Cry” or “God of War.”

This is a drastic change, and the idea might seem unwelcomed, but its execution is what makes it spectacular.  Zipping around like lightning while spellcasting and sword slamming leaves you giddy with satisfaction when Square Enix pits you against colossal titans, giant robots, and waves of imperial soldiers.

A recurring aspect of the Final Fantasy franchise would be their critically acclaimed soundtracks. “FFXV” is no exception, as the score greatly enhances each battle, car ride, and journey through the unknown with its melancholic tone.

It’s sad that the driving mechanic was never fully realized in the game, it’s so simple to drive, all you need to do is hold the accelerate button and the Regalia will turn for you.

Additionally, the initial loading screen is excruciatingly long. This would be okay if it didn’t occur with the fast travel loading time as well. At that point, it doesn’t even make it worth fast travelling, you might as well just drive to your next location.

Although it has suffered from various flaws, the incredible aspects of exploration, combat, and character interactions make “FFXV” more than worth the ten year wait.

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