So finally, after many weeks of waiting, I started in on Final Fantasy 15 over the past weekend and, let me tell you. It. Is. Amazing.
Last week I saw an article titled Will there ever be a good video game movie and, I have to say, if we were using FF15 as a litmus test of what might translate into a good movie I would say WHO CARES! With production like this, who needs the movies!
Now, I know the game has been out for some time already, so for those of you already playing it, keep having fun! For those of you who haven’t played it, are thinking about playing it or wondering why your reading an article about a game, please allow me to tell you a little about my experience and why, to me, Final Fantasy 15 may be the game that overtakes 6 as my favorite.
I will avoid spoilers, naturally, but be aware that I will be speaking about the first two minutes in some detail (but not enough to spoil anything, I promise).
Back months and months ago I had heard it being said that the story in Final Fantasy 15 was a story of brotherhood, manhood and of father and son.
I can safely say that this point is brought home as soon as you start the game.
The short opening movie says so much in such a short span of time. Anyone with a teenage son will instantly understand the emotion felt between King Regis and his son, Noctus. The stern but caring father. The distant and frustrated young man who just wants to be free of the ‘oppression’ of his fathers house. The young man who is sure he is ready to deal with the real world and the father who knows he is anything but, but realizes he is of the age that he will need to find out for himself how unprepared he is, while at the same time coming to terms with the fact, then learning, adapting and growing into a man.
Leaving his fathers home, Noct sets out on a task with his three friends, Gladio, Prompto and Ignus.
After the intro movie you are met with, to me, one awesome opening. The team finds themselves stranded, car out of gas, along the side of the road. All you can do is push and, as you and the others try to get the car to the nearest station, the four young men do exactly what you would expect them to do: talk smack to each other, all while Florence + The Machine’s rendition of Stand by Me plays in the background. Though short and somewhat pointless to gameplay, it completely sets up the tone of the game and tells you right away that this small group of guys is a brotherhood. Not just friends, but the best of friends, and this continues to play out through the rest of the game, in every aspect. From combat to driving to simply walking around, the four will interact on a level I have never seen in any other game. They fist-bump each other after delivering devastating team attacks during a fight, they yell at each other when you stand too close while swinging a weapon, they talk to each other the way guys do when running across the huge world maps! It’s insane how much detail went into making their friendship seem real and fluid! It is, in fact, the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of FF13, in which everyone seemed like they hated each other, but is so much more than any other FF game because the interaction happens all the time, not just during scripted events.
Take a look at this clip I saved. Along with staying at various hotels, inns and campers strewn about the world you can also opt to just camp at a camp site (which are protected from monsters). Staying in any of these locations to wrap up your day tally’s up your experience and skill points while offering a brief glimpse into what the guys are up to:
This, ladies and gentleman, is me and my friends, in high school, camping down by the local river. Okay, so we didn’t have REAL guns, but we did this kind of stupid guy stuff with the swinging around of swords, sniping water bottles from the prone position and, yes, probably posing and jumping around like morons – and I would never change that. Those memories of hanging out with my friends are awesome, and FF15 draws upon those like no other game ever has.
Graphically the game is beautiful, though some of the draw in of shadows and stuff is kind of odd for a 4th generation console, but with the draw distance being so far, who cares! You can literally stand across a wide valley and see people, objects and enemies on the horizon. The characters themselves are extremely well detailed down to the freckles on their faces. From this day forward I will probably never be able to look at a leather made product again and not think “This leather looks nothing like the stuff in game”. The game has a fantastic ‘game’ look to it. I mean, it looks incredible, but there would be no mistaking it for reality.
However, graphics don’t fully make the game. The story so far has been good, though I have barely scratched the actual storyline quests, having spent tons of time on side quests, but these are incredible in their own right!
And while we are on the subject let me just get this out of the way: Cindy.
Oh. My. God.
Someone at SE must have come into the office one day and said, “Hey, for Final Fantasy 15, lets see if we can’t make a sexpot female who envelops the dreams of every horny 16 year old boy since the beginning of time”, because that’s exactly what they did. From the short shorts, the slightly revealing top, the cute and not too short hair, right down to the just-girly-enough attitude and the melt-my-heart accent, they hit their goal on so many levels. Some might find her annoying, but to me she follows the line of intentionally sexed up characters that SE has been using since FF7 (Tifa) and through every game till now, though not every one of them could be as well detailed as Cindy.
Combat is fast and well done, but can sometimes get annoying. It’s very fast paced, but you will find yourself on your back quite often, as enemies sometimes have very easy to spot attack telegraphs, but most of the time there is just so much going on you wont have time to hit the dodge button. The interaction of the four guys during combat is cool and fun to watch, and it’s very satisfying to see them work together to smash a foe.
Magick is incredible, though it feels much more limited than any other game in the series. You have to create spells by using elemental energy gained from fighting or drawn out from points on the map (typically near camping spots). You can create more potent spells by expending more magickal energy, or by combining energies you get more potent spells with elemental effects (fire+ice, ice+lightning). You can then combine items from your inventory to add even more effects! Add a potion of any strength and you get a spell that heals you at the same time, or add an antidote for a spell that also adds poison. There are a lot of possibilities!
This post isn’t intended to be a full review of the game, but is more of a blurb on how I feel about it, having started it with some reservations. FF15 is a true “big-budget” game, and probably the most hyped FF game in the series history. From what I understand, a lot was riding on it’s success, but the excessive hype and some of the rumors floating around had me really worried about what the end product might look like. So far, I’m not only impressed, but elated with it! Though it different formats, it carries on the same traditions Final Fantasy is known for without going so far into left field that you don’t recognize anything. I’m looking forward to finishing this game, and will have to boot the wife and kids out of the living room daily so I can play for a while and get it done (yes, we have only one TV in our house, and that is more than enough).
In the meantime, enjoy another video clip (side quest, no real spoilers) and some screen shots I snapped.
Images captured via PS4 capture. During the game the character, Prompto, will randomly snap…um…interesting pictures, as his skill is Photography. Ill post some of those later. Some of them are awesome action shots during combat, while others will make you scratch your head: