After a decade or so of waiting, fans can finally hop into the Regalia and embark on an epic road trip with Noctis and his merry band of brothers. Seriously, quit pinching yourself – Final Fantasy XV is real, and it’s out today!
Does Square Enix’s latest JRPG live up to its ridiculously high expectations though? Let’s see what the critics think:
I don’t know how Final Fantasy XV will be remembered when held up to the rest of the Final Fantasy pantheon. But I do know that it’s got everything I want from a Final Fantasy game. I know that it’ll be yet another snapshot in a life filled with Final Fantasy. Another grand adventure, another gang of worthy heroes; another tale of crystals and magic and betrayal and love, all beautiful melodies and lush scenery and the finely honed complexity of carefully choreographed combat. Onward to secrets beyond the horizon, and don’t forget the Phoenix Down. If that’s not Final Fantasy, I don’t know what is.
When I’m riding chocobos across the beach at dusk with my three friends and hunting iconic Final Fantasy monsters in a huge, picturesque open world, Final Fantasy XV feels like nearly everything I could want from a modern Final Fantasy. But when it funnels me into linear scenarios and drab, constricted spaces that plunge the simplistic combat into chaos, my blood boils a bit. There is so much good here, so much heart – especially in the relationships between Noctis and his sworn brothers. It just comes with some changes and compromises that were, at times, difficult for this long-time Final Fantasy fan to come to grips with.
As I’m typing this up now, I’m seeing a future where people buy Final Fantasy XV due to some of the more positive assessments (like this one), and walk away disappointed. Because if you loathe JRPGs, XV is not going to make you a believer. In a way it’s silly that Square spent 10 years making this, and it feels like a really shiny version of something it would have actually made 10 years ago. While a complete overhaul of the genre would certainly suit someone’s needs, XV suits mine just fine.
Final Fantasy 15‘s own opening text describes it as “a Final Fantasy for fans and newcomers alike.” The game contains pieces sure to disappoint players in both camps, but it also provides a refreshingly human take on the classic RPG journey that I hope will inspire future games in the franchise. Final Fantasy 15 can be baffling in some of its questionable choices, but across the board, it hits more than it misses. It hums with an energy and compassion that I loved, a sense of camaraderie, friendship and adventure that fills an old and struggling formula with new relevance.
Final Fantasy XV is unlike any RPG or open-world experience I’ve played before. It succeeds and struggles in finding its unique stance, but a few problematic designs don’t hold it back from being a hell of a journey. Just days after playing it, I find myself reflecting on it fondly. The thoughts of that damn car are recessed and blanketed by Noctis’ journey and some of the stunning moments that unfolded within it. I wasn’t a fan of Final Fantasy XIII’s sequels, but I hope Square returns with another XV or a similarly designed sequel to iron out the rough spots. There’s a solid foundation here that begs to be explored further.
One of the first things you see when you boot up the game is this claim “A Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers.” It’s a strange statement; fans can’t agree on what makes a good Final Fantasy game, and who knows why newcomers shied away from the series in the past. It’s been a long ten years since Final Fantasy XV was first revealed, and tastes have changed in the meantime. While it’s safe to assume fans and outsiders will find some aspect of Final Fantasy XV disappointing–be it the shallow story or finnicky Astrals–it would be hard for anyone to deny that Final Fantasy XV is a fascinating game after giving it a chance. Where its characters fail to impress, Final Fantasy XV’s beautiful world and exciting challenges save the day.
I was really skeptical that Final Fantasy XV could ever be successful; but despite some real flaws, it ultimately won me over. I warmed to the characters over the course of many camping trips, found more than I was expecting in the open world, and even enjoyed the bombastic setpieces. I have no doubt that it will be harshly criticized in some circles, but it also has some real merit. Stick with it even if you find yourself rolling your eyes at the opening hours: You may be surprised by how much you end up enjoying yourself.
Final Fantasy XV overcomes its narrative lows with gameplay highs that consume the player’s time with engrossing optional quests and frenetic battles. As a whole, it does not represent the best in the series, but it delivers just enough to deserve a place in the mainline series, which is an achievement for a game that originated as a Final Fantasy XIII spin-off.
As I moved ever closer to the end, it all started to come together. I was reminded of every struggle, every hardship that had befallen myself and my friends. That seemingly silly road trip came full circle and I was left appreciating every mile I traveled without the parlor trick of a cheaply sentimental epilogue. I took that journey, drove that boat of a car, traversed mountains, and journeyed deep into dungeons, and I had the scars and memories to prove it. There, at the end, I found the classic heart of Final Fantasy waiting for me. Noctis’ journey, and that of the developers, brought me the essence fans have worried would be lost at either’s hand. Final Fantasy XV was quite different from everything I had ever expected an entry to be, but it turned out to be exactly what I had been looking for.
Praise Hajime Tabata, because as it turns out, Final Fantasy XV is actually rather good. The critics love it!
Though, there seems to be mixed feelings regarding different aspects of the game. Some critics for example, are fond of the journey they had with Noctis and co. Others meanwhile, found that characters were weak in general, leaving the combat and world to really steal the limelight.
Overall at least, it really looks like Final Fantasy XV is a solid game. This makes me ALL of the happy. I’m a huge fan of the franchise, and I simply cannot wait to get lost in the world of Eos!
Expect our own review of the game soon. We’ve sent Zoe off on a Chocobo, and she’s not coming back until she’s finished it, kupo!
Last Updated: November 29, 2016