After ten years in development, does Final Fantasy XV make the cut? Elis Doyle takes a look.
Aliens: Colonial Marines. Duke Nukem Forever. Daikatana. Prolonged development cycles can have hugely detrimental effects on highly anticipated titles, which comes as no surprise. You have to ask yourself, why have these games been passed around like a corporate game of hot potato?
For some back story, in 2006 I was a 10 year old kid eagerly anticipating Halo 3. I was completely oblivious of the 10 year long development hell that Final Fantasy XV was to endure. That was, until it’s release date at the end of last year. As such, I strapped into this experience with no prior expectations. Other than my brazen assumption the game would feature a special cameo from The Backstreet Boys. I was mistaken, to an extent.
Ten Years = Perfect Final Fantasy?
Final Fantasy XV is by no means a perfect game, it has glaring flaws that are unfortunately born out of its more successful features. For instance, the main cast are some of the most authentic characters I’ve seen in a game. You build a real connection with them during your journey and believe their camaraderie, despite their initially off-putting appearances. But the game does a sub-par job of world-building. The other characters are unfocused, and though the plot is simple, it feels like the third act to a bigger story. This essentially meant that towards the end of the story I was only bothered about what happened to the main troupe and not the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
Having not been accustomed to Final Fantasy’s traditional turn-based RPG combat style, I found the real-time combat variation incredibly enjoyable and solid. You only have two primary buttons for attacking, but even so, zipping around enemies keeps you on your toes and the weight of each of your attacks feels significant. However, unlike previous titles you can only control one member of your party directly, Noctis. This feature became a real annoyance when I found myself constantly wasting Elixirs on Prompto. Yes I get it, somebody just HAD to get a close-up snapshot of that Deathclaw!
The Open World Syndrome
This is also the first Final Fantasy of the main franchise to fall under the weather with ‘open-world’ fever. It’s handled like most JRPG’s, it’s a gorgeous world to drive through in your royal sports car, the Regalia. But come on, when are developers going to realise that just creating a huge world with nothing in it is just asking for trouble?! I concede that the world does have some activities spread out in it’s nooks and crannies, but they’re just too few and far between to insentivise any long-term exploration. Besides, with the advent of fast-travel, why bother walking for 10 minutes to a destination when you can pay a measly pittance of 10 gil to be there in a flash! (By that I mean 10 hours of load-screens, oy vey).
But I digress, was this game fantastic? Yes, it was. It delivered an enjoyable experience worth picking up, and strong footing for following titles to leap off of. Was it worth the 10 year development cycle? No, but it’s intrigued me more than any other game this year, even ones I would consider exceptionally more polished.
For this reason, Quench Gaming awards Final Fantasy XV, its Pick of 2016!
(Check out the Video Review here!)