Final Fantasy XV

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I just finished playing Final Fantasy XV.  By finished, I mean that I’m done.  I completed the main story a little while back and have been exploring the post game quests and dungeons.  I finished the legendary weapons quest line, but I only made it through three of the bonus ‘menace’ dungeons.  I’ll get into that later.

I don’t need to relate the story of the game’s long and somewhat troubled development.  At times it feels a bit disjointed in gameplay and storytelling.  You also have a story that’s broken up over a movie (Kingsglaive), a YouTube series (Brotherhood) and the game itself.  I have yet to see Kingsglaive, but I can see where it would help fill in the gaps.  The political situation and area names seem a bit murky at first, but by the end, the themes and motivations are about as clear as they ever are in a Final Fantasy game.

The gameplay is interesting since it changes based on where you are in the story.  Most of the time, it’s an open world party based RPG with occasional branching dungeons sprinkled in.  You’ve got story missions, side quests and hunts along with navigating the local wildlife.

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Later on, it starts to feel like the successor to the Final Fantasy XIII series for better and for worse.  There are long slogs in the dark, in tunnels or abandoned buildings.  There’s even a wonderful section where you’re separated from your friends.  Thematically, I can see the need, but it still doesn’t make it any more fun to play.  Still, the story picks up its pace and gets quite a bit more interesting.

Content depth is a good thing but unfortunately the main characters run out of fresh banter and dialogue far too early.  That’s too bad since most of it is interesting and character or world revealing.  I’d imagine if you just raced through the story, it would be a very tough game, the story would hang together more, and you’d have a pretty good feel for the team.  You also would have missed most of the content the game has to offer.

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I think Final Fantasy XII had my favorite combat system (and I am looking forward to the remaster).  This one comes in just behind it after you get over the initial learning curve.  Battles feel dynamic.  A well balanced fight is a sight to behold.  It’s a blend of teleporting attacks, special abilities, magic and the occasional summon.  The fact that you have limited control over some of these things makes the whole thing feel a little wild.  Of course, when it doesn’t work out that can be quite frustrating.

In fact, the beginning of the game feels a bit like managing frustrations. You literally start by pushing your car to the repair shop.  You have limited combat ability, resources and equipment.   Your car is also surprisingly slow.  Through the game you overcome all of these.  Along the way that feels either brilliant or stupid. Still, I never wanted to stop playing until the end. Highly Recommended.

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