Monday, February 20, 2017

Does anyone else miss X-2?

Three days into Final Fantasy XV and it is obvious that I will not be done with it before Nintendo zero day. The first half being open world-ish is the culprit as it is filled with exactly the kind of repetitive missions with small but tangible benefits that I am a sucker for. I say open world-ish because it does not play like a true Elder Scrolls of Fallout open world RPG. It has training wheels, big ones, that prevent the player from getting too lost or too in over their heads. The opening says that it is a Final Fantasy for fans and newcomers alike. Newcomers, absolutely, but fans?

First the good. Final Fantasy XV nails the fantasy but with modern technology better than any previous game. Somehow it is believable that the protagonists have a sweet ass car (that is no fun to drive, that goodness for fast travel) and three of the four still wield melee weapons. This is a world in which monsters are very, very real, as are the gods and powers that created them. Mundane structures like gas stations are flanked by chocobo ranches and giant formations created by cast off meteors. All the pieces fit together in a world that shouldn't make sense but does anyway.

And those monsters? Their scale and threat are portrayed better here than ever before. I made the mistake of taking on a night hunting mission and was rewarded by an iron giant stomping in out of the gloom. It was scarey - I ran the fuck away. I also just fought a behemoth, a mainstay of the franchise, and it was giant, intimidating, surprisingly mobile, and not even a true boss fight. Final Fantasy XV takes monster designs that have existed for years and makes them interesting again.

And the bad? Starting with the petty - I do not like that all four main characters are dressed all in black. I am old, god damnit, give me some color cues as to who is who that are visible during a fight.

Oh, and make the fighting good.

Combat is far, far too simple. Hold circle to attack, square to block or counter, maybe use magic but don't use magic because magic hurting your allies as well as enemies is stupid. Hope you enjoy your allies one special attack because they can only have one equipped at a time. If this is what SquareEnix thinks 'being friendly to new comers' means then new comers should be insulted. It moves too fast to be strategic but there are too few options to do any real planning and the players input on what is actually going on is stiflingly small.

It's just not good. Final Fantasy XV is not quite one step forwards, two steps back; more like two forward, two back. That makes it a wash, a very pretty wash (with a mediocre frame rate on the PS4 Pro) but a wash none the less.

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