Developed by: Square Enix Publisher: Square Enix Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 (also available on Xbox One)
Final Fantasy XV, the fifteenth mainline title in the long lasting series from Square Enix, has finally come out. It’s a game I personally have been waiting on for 10 years, holding my breath during every trade show and event, anticipating that eventual release date. Well, the wait is finally over, and the game is now available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Final Fantasy XV is the product of Square Enix’s attempt to branch away from the traditional battle system of yore, including gauges and micromanagement and static sprites, and the end product definitely delivers. Combat is hinged upon blocking and attacking in a 3D environment, and instead of sprites, features very articulate 3D models. Combat feels very well tuned and refined, even after many hours of play. As you explore the world of Eos, your repertoire expands and your mastery of the flow of combat changes; battles will become bigger, more ferocious, and more challenging, egging you on to better play.
Any good game of this generation prides itself on its looks as much as its gameplay, and Final Fantasy XV is no slouch when it comes to looks. In fact, it prides itself on its looks. Taking a short jog through a city full of life, exploring a dungeon, or just riding a giant bird across the plains of Duscae, every scene you traverse is bristling with effort from the engineers and artists behind Final Fantasy XV‘s exterior. To add to the enjoyment and preservation of the game’s looks, one of the main party members is an avid photographer, taking time outs in jogs, long car rides, and battles to snag a good picture. Friends and family alike have seen their fair share of these pictures uploaded to my own social media accounts, and I’ve even started using some of these candid pictures as backgrounds for my phone.
Ask any avid fan of Final Fantasy, regardless of how new or old they are to the series, what’s the most prominent aspect of the series is to them. The answer will almost always be the music. From humble beginnings as 8-bit loops to later titles’ grand orchestral pieces, Final Fantasy XV continues the legacy of music the series is known for. Even simple tones like selecting items in a menu, resting at a campsite, or splashing into a dank and dark dungeon, the mood is set with every key and note. Long time fans of the series will also find that the breadth of the catalog includes a bevy of songs from every mainline title in the series. The nostalgic tunes populate your car radio or your MP3 player with such hits as “Maybe I’m a Lion” or “Roses of May” from previous titles, as well as music specifically created for this game.
The story of Final Fantasy XV revolves around the Crown Prince Noctis Lucis Caelum, the heir to the throne of Lucis, and his band of friends and protectors on their way to meet the Oracle Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, his betrothed. On your journey, conflict arises between Noctis’ home country of Lucis and the mechanical Empire Nefilheim, making any set in stone plans go horribly awry. As the story continues, your party will encounter enemies and allies alike, with a clear antagonistic force to encourage you to scurry between regions and countries as you are unwillingly drawn into a full-scale conflict with a much more prepared force.
Final Fantasy XV will be a divisive entry for long time fans of the series because of its deviations from the series’ norms. My only real complaints are the “eastern style drama” approach to the writing and the finicky camera angles, but I found myself getting normalized to both. Regardless, I wholeheartedly recommend this to fans of JRPGs and Final Fantasy.