Hola, Champs! I am back with my mini-review of Final Fantasy XV. Our story this time around is super deep, brooding, and fairly more realistic than the rest of the series. After getting a feel for the controls through the Platinum Demo, I can tell you the gameplay won’t be disappointing in the least bit. Of course, it looks stunning as usual, and I’ll totally embed the trailer for you to check out.
The reason I say “more Crystals” here is a mini-universe within the series that is specifically centered around power gained from Crystals. In previous games, you may use a Crystal to save or it’s a big part of your characters ability to level up. In even more of those games, the Crystal(s) are part of some power struggled between warring lands or summoners, etc. In this release, it is the former. The kingdom Lucis is where our hero, Noctis, is heir to, and it is under attack by an empire that wishes to force it into submission. Of course, they take this Crystal and the primary goal is for Noctis to defeat them and retrieve it.
Our boy is not alone, either. Noctis is a prince, after all, even though he is the only playable character. Noctis Lucis Caelum was blessed/cursed with awesome magical powers from an incident as a child and is joined by his brotherly friend and bodyguard, Gladiolus Amicitia; Ignis Scientia, a “prodigy military tactician” and childhood friend; Prompto Argentum, a friend from a lower class (not nobility); and Cor Leonis, a close friend of Noctis’ father and one of the greatest warriors in the kingdom. Oh, and don’t forget the car! The “Regalia” is not a character per say but trust me when you see it, it is worthy of notice. It is said to be modeled after the concept of the Cadillac Ciel and Maybach Exelero. Plus it turns into a friggin’ plane!
A bit more on the story: Noctis’ father Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII (113th people, the force is strong with this family line) is the guardian of the last Crystal on the planet (Eos, not Earth). When the Niflheim empire invades for it, during peace talks, Noctis ends up on the run and must defeat a series of bosses a la normal Final Fantasy storyline after that, retrieve the Crystal and save his home.
The Platinum Demo was only a TINY taste of what to expect but it was delicious…I mean like, SAVORY. You play as little Noctis in a dream-state with Carbuncle by your side to protect you and lead you out…so basically a coma lol. At the end of it, he has to fight an “Iron Giant” which is an enemy that is fully armored, takes very little damage, and has a giant broadsword to destroy your very soul… Anywho, Noctis confronts the beast, stating he is unafraid, and you get big Noctis with sword in hand ready to open up a can o’ whoopass. Nah, the fight is still difficult, but you get the picture! Once it’s done, so is the demo and you can see the pieces of my heart on the ground needing more…
The fighting style is very open, like Kingdom Hearts. The coolest part is the weapon switch, You can use the D-Pad to map out different swords, bombs, or magic attacks. Since you get the fast paced active battle system, this is super helpful. The environments are pretty large and not too linear. Of course the demo was, but the world map is large and explorable on foot, by Regalia, or by Chocobo (because, duh, Final Fantasy). Of course, there are plenty of sidequests and miniature methods of entertainment. For instance, when the car breaks down and you have to collect parts for your mechanic, Cindy, to fix it (and of course upgrade it). Of course you get to rest at camps, cities, towns etc. and they are your markers to return to as you traverse the environment. You even get a nice cooking feature that can give the team buffs with ingredients you hunt or buy. Also, you can take bulletin board quests for gil and experience points. Levelling up will be sooooo much fun.
The graphics are INSANE, here. I live and breathe 3DS Max and they put their foot in these environments! One enlarged area (Noctis is Thumbelina-sized) has the very floor tile designed to a T! The lighting is juuuuuuust right. You collect little yellow Crystals (I assumed currency?) throughout and they let off a tiny yellow glow, not too much but enough to see from a distance. Since, the weather changes affect the environment, you can see how that makes a huge difference. Noctis himself is very fluid, his hair moves just enough for playability sake, not individual strands flowing every which way but just enough to be realistic and functional. His clothing flows nicely and everything is affected if it’s windy or raining.
Even though our beloved Uematsu is not the main composer this time, Yoko Shimomura has a certified track record with video game soundtracks. She originally worked with Capcom and even made almost the entire album for Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. She joined Square in 1993 because she wanted to make more classical music for the RPG genre. If you remember the Legend of Mana game (and I definitely do), it was her personal favorite. She also worked on Parasite Eve and – prepare yourself – Kingdom Hearts! She considers that the most special as it was a turning point in her career. I hope that gives you some insight into our lovely composer. Also, the feature song on the trailer is an absolutely breath-taking rendition of “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King performed by Florence + The Machine. I cannot stress the importance of watching this trailer!
When I tell you I cannot wait…I am in silent awe of this game. I usually rage and jump around and show the world how excited I am but this time, I will wait silently. This entire series means the world to me. I’ve grown up with it. I am proud to say I still feel all of the emotions that come with playing Final Fantasy. Some people say they can only get this feeling with books. But getting lost in a video game? Where you have control over the events that happen in between the major chapters? That is a beautiful world to get lost in. Keep your eyes set on this one, Champs, releasing September 30, 2016.
Media obtained from FinalFantasyXV.Com.
Can't get much more satisfying than this.10
Gameplay score 10
Graphics score 10
Music & SFX score 10