Final Fantasy 15 is the long awaited next chapter in the Final Fantasy universe. This bad boy was in development for over 10 years in order to become an award-winning addition to the series. Originally known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, it has been molded and caressed into the product we see now, but one question remains. Is it any good?
The game starts off like most FF games, with a king, prince, friends, and a purpose; to marry a princess. What they did not make obvious, however, is the dark and twisted plot that goes with.
The young prince sets off on his journey with three friends to attend the wedding. They leave the Crystal City and find themselves where the majority of the game takes place. It is a simple world filled with monsters, a few roads and outposts, the occasional town, and a lovely young girl named Cindy. The main story of the game can be completed without doing any side missions at all, which is nice, although what would FF be without side quests.
The side quests are the usual of monster killing, bring an object to someone, or go and retrieve something. They rewards are either EXP, Gil, or a handy item. Some of the items received can even upgrade your car, the Regalia. The Regalia is used to move around the countryside. It is also the only method of fast travel in the game. One of the upgrades for the vehicle is a set of headlights that will prevent monsters from spawning in front of you when driving at night, allowing you to drive around to your heart’s content without distraction. After completing the main story, you can upgrade the vehicle to the Regalia-F, which gives the car the ability to fly. This can be used to access an end game dungeon, which gives an item for Noctis allowing him to auto-dodge and to just bypass roads for fun filled flying adventures.
What sets this game apart, is the combat style. Prior to this entry and the MMOs, the combat has been a turn based system with either set turn order or an ATB. In Final Fantasy 15 it is a hack and slash. I found myself teleporting around and mashing the X button as fast as I could until about half way through the game. I then realized I was calculating the best location, timing, and weapon to execute the strike with. With the ability to set up to four weapons, one on each direction of the D-Pad, you can really set yourself up for some killer combos. The magic in the game, unlike others, has to be crafted. You can extract the elements from enemies, with certain weapons, or by finding crystals around camp sites to extract the element from.
The leveling system in the game is also different than others. Typically after a battle, the members would receive EXP based on the number of enemies killed and level up on the post battle screen. In Final Fantasy 15, the EXP earned means nothing until you sleep at either a hotel, RV, campsite, or the chapter ends. At this time the EXP will be applied to the character. The different locations for sleeping allow for different boosts. There are hotels that grant double and triple EXP, with no buffs from chow. Camping allows huge stat boosts from the food cooked by Ignis, but grants no boost to EXP. While you consider your next fight, target, or location will help you decide which method is right for you.
Now for what everyone wants to know about, summons. In this game, there are a total of 6 Astrals, the word used for the summons. Shiva, Leviathan, Ramuh, Titan, Bahamut, and Carbuncle. To unlock them, you must either defeat them in battle, have played the Platinum Demo, or be granted their ability out of faith through the story. Unlike other games, you cannot call upon the epic cut scenes and devastating damage they bring as you please. In Final Fantasy 15, certain conditions must be met. Your team must be in combat for a period of time, you have to be near water, you have to be outside of a dungeon, or you have to set some other condition that triggers each one specifically. I got through the entire game before I realized this and never called upon one of them, except for the mandatory summons in the story line. This was a huge downfall for me, as I love the incredible power and visuals they provide. To this day I still have not seen Carbuncle.
The controls for the game were pretty solid. I had gone through the settings menu and picked the version that worked best for me. As previously stated, each d-pad button can be assigned to activate a different weapon. I personally had magic on the bottom, a sword on top, daggers to the right, and the Sword of the Father to the left. The B button allowed to me warp around the combat area to regain mana at warp points or to strike an enemy from afar. I was jumping around with A and dodging with the Left Bumper. It all seemed natural to me, so I have no complaints about most of the controls. My two gripes are that most Final Fantasy games had you press Y to access the menu, here it is Start, and that there is no Auto Sort on items. I had to scramble through the items listing in combat to find what I wanted. I later learned I can manually move things around, but by then I was so used to where everything was I did not waste my time.
Visually, the game is fantastic. The colors are bright, the edges are smooth, and the frame rates never dropped. The cut scenes are gorgeous and I found myself taking screenshots to show my friends just how amazing a job the developers did creating them. The transition in and out of combat is fluid and the details while in combat are fantastic. Through the game, you will traverse seamlessly through forests, towns, dungeons, and beaches. Most look great, however, the dungeons can get a bit monotonous. The dungeons, where honestly little time is spent, are dark, gloomy, and kind of plain. That aside, the details are still phenomenal. This entry is without a doubt the best looking game in the series.
Overall, if you are a fan of the Final Fantasy series, pick it up. If you are new to the series and enjoy games like The Witcher, Shadows of Mordor, or even Devil May Cry, pick it up. If none of these are your thing, Final Fantasy 15 most likely will not be either. I personally enjoyed it and have started my New Game + to get as high in level as possible to prepare for the upcoming DLCs. It is a solid game with a few minor flaws. The car gets old, the group is pretty much a boy band, and the dungeons get boring, however, the main story is solid and makes up for all of the little annoyances listed. Without a doubt a must own on my list. Now if only we could get another Final Fantasy Tactics.
Final Verdict: 8.1/10