It’s finally time for the latest release in the long standing Final Fantasy series, and it promises to be kind to both fans and first-timers alike. Does the legendary role-playing series live up to its guarantee, and is it worthy of the attention that it has drawn in the weeks leading up to its release?
Once again, the player is flung into a different universe with a new cast of heroes, forced to make sense of the political intrigue and typical plot twists that you'd expect from the premiere Japanese role-playing series.
You take control of the young Prince Noctis, who begins his journey towards arranged marriage with a trio of personal guards. A royal union is the aim of the early game, but those plans are soon cast aside after a typical plot twist descends into a tale of revenge and general world saving.
Each of the four protagonists are distinctive enough, being proficient with different weaponry and skills that come in useful during combat. You only control Noctis himself, but you can team-up in real-time to deliver devastating combination attacks and special moves.
The combat is active, disregarding the turn-based roots in favour of flashy sword swinging.
That being said, it’s still a Final Fantasy game at heart. You can summon gods to your aid, and there are Chocobo’s and mini-games if you’re aiming to get your money's worth. You still level up and there's a very basic version of the sphere grid from for further enhancements along the way.
The game uses the premise of a road trip to introduce the much-hyped drivable car, and you spend a ridiculous amount of time on the road itself during the early chapters. Vehicles have generally been a massive part of the lore, but boring four-minute drives were filled with nothing but uncomfortable silence as I spent time on Twitter instead. After all, there’s no real reason to look at the screen.
Another negative were the tacked on stealth sections, which were pointless and served to break up the rhythm of the game. Checkpoints can often be spaced a little strangely, and it can be exasperating if you’re caught because the game isn’t really meant to have stealth in the first place.
The soundtrack and character design are typical of the series, with suggestive costumes and magical fireballs in equal measure. Fans will appreciate a truly 3D experience, and it probably won’t be too overwhelming once you get to know the controls properly. You can even listen to soundtracks from previous titles while cruising in the car, with additional tracks scattered in shops throughout the world.
It’s a beautiful looking title for the most part. Square Enix has developed a potential Game of the Year contender, and when it’s presented together it makes for a great package, and a true return to form.
Above all, it's a game that stays true to its roots, and it’s more than fan-service. It could be harder for a new player to get used to the stylised content, but the bones of a decent game lurk underneath the endless cut scenes and tiresome driving sections. It’s a step in the right direction compared to the disappointing Final Fantasy XIII, and it deserves all of the praise it has received so far.
Verdict: 4/5 Final Fantastic
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