It’s been just over a week since Final Fantasy XV, after 10 long years, finally launched worldwide. The reviews from critics are generally positive, and though there is a consistence with the negative comments on the game, I myself, am in love with it.
Sure, it’s not perfect, but there are so many things about the game that are excellent. I know it’s hard to please everyone though. Not only is Square Enix battling expectations of gamers who have been following the development of Final Fantasy XV, or Versus XIII, for the past ten years, but also every Final Fantasy fan on the planet with the hope it won’t turn into another Final Fantasy XIII situation (a game in which I actually didn’t think was that terrible, either).
The point I want to make is that Final Fantasy XV is a great game for a lot of reasons, and it’s actually another game that made me realise this: Metal Gear Solid V. MGSV was my game of the year in 2015 and yet I knew it wasn’t perfect. There was one flaw that held it back from reaching the usual heady heights of Metal Gear: the story was a little weak. It wasn’t bad as much as it felt unessential at times, like parts of it had been cut out. Still, I loved what was there, and it left me craving more. The same goes for Final Fantasy XV.
If I had to critique one major thing about FFXV, it’d be the narrative, but just like Metal Gear Solid V it still isn’t bad, per se. The story that is there is good, but there’s just not a lot of it. There aren’t many cutscenes, which is surprising as Square Enix is known for long-winded cinematics, which can be enjoyable, but they do get in the way sometimes when one just wants to experience the gameplay. Thankfully, for the first time in what seems like decades, a Final Fantasy game has been released with a clear cut plot that is easy to follow. The overall story isn’t important in the game; it’s the relationship between the four protagonists that matters, and their journey together as they overcome new obstacles and learn and grow from one another.
On top of this friendship train, Final Fantasy XV is gorgeous and fully immersive from the get-go. I’ve seen other critics argue that, as an open world game, there’s nothing to do – and perhaps that’s true, to some degree. Not every nook and cranny is filled with secrets, and the side objectives generally boil down to killing monsters, or retrieving items, but at the same time it feels like a living, breathing world full of adventure. If it was crippled by an abundant source of tasks like typical open world games Assassin’s Creed or Grand Theft Auto, I think the point of this being a Final Fantasy game would veer too off track. Just being able to run and drive around in this sprawling environment is reward enough for me as a player.
Actually playing Final Fantasy XV, in terms of combat, is equally as exciting, although the action-based mechanics can be a bit hard to master at first. Like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, you’ll want to look awesome in fights given the choices at hand, but will clumsily make your way out of a fight just barely. Eventually, I got the hang of it, and started looking like the badass I know Noctis and his friends are. Seeing their situations play out on screen is fantastic, and they’re accompanied by one of the best soundtracks the series has seen in years. Final Fantasy XV is an amalgamation of many different visions and mechanics that don’t exactly flow well together at points, but the overall product is astounding to say the least.
Final Fantasy XV may not be a genre-defining masterpiece that everyone will love on the scale of Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty, and it’s not going to please all of the Final Fantasy fans either, but if you look past this crazy development cycle and just play the game for what it is, I think it’s worth the effort. As of now, it’s on track to being, like Metal Gear Solid V, my game of the year for 2016. I’m currently 25 hours in and loving every minute of it.