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Final Fantasy XV Review (contains spoilers in the plot section) with Laxan
Posted: Posted December 15th, 2016 by Trever Leingod

Laxan and I have waited the full 10 years for this game, so here is my part of the review. I had this in one of the threads below but felt an official review thread was more convenient, and I have also edited the review a bit since first posting it.

My review:

There are 17 Replies

Laxan will be posting his review soonish.

Posted December 15th, 2016 by Trever Leingod
Trever Leingod

I will after I finish these final optional dungeons, yes. A lot of reviewers claim the meat of the game comes after the main story and I want to weigh in on that fairly. I will not be finishing all the hunts or the catching every fish before writing my review. I will do that on my own time.

Posted December 16th, 2016 by Laxan

I rather doing those extra dungeons will change my opinion of the game, but if they do, I will make additions/changes to my review.

Posted December 16th, 2016 by Trever Leingod
Trever Leingod

You should update your game, too. First free update releases December 22nd, I believe.

Posted December 17th, 2016 by Laxan

I'm about ready to write my review. Might get it done tomorrow.

Posted December 23rd, 2016 by Laxan

Waiting on Laxan's review like:

Posted December 31st, 2016 by Trever Leingod
Trever Leingod

Sorry, sorry. I had my wisdom teeth cut out on the 19th and that had me feeling worse than expected. Plus, holidays. And to top it all off, I've been sick the past few days. I will get in my review, promise.

Posted January 2nd, 2017 by Laxan

Sorry to hear you had a rough patch, chap. Hope you feel better soon.

Posted January 3rd, 2017 by Trever Leingod
Trever Leingod

just posting to say that I look forward to reading these, but I'm not touching it/them until I finish the main quest

point of reference:
  • currently in Chapter 8 (I'll board that ship when I'm good and ready tyvm)
  • got the "complete 80 sidequests" trophy during my last play session
  • not touching any other console game until I'm done with this (unless someone says they're looking to smash bros)

  • Posted January 4th, 2017 by Pirate_Ninja

    Thanks, Trever. My partner (girlfriend to most folks) has ceased visiting over the weekends for the holidays and has gone back to only visiting on my off days, so I SHOULD be able to finally sit down and write this damn thing!

    Unfortunately...tonight is no good since I work at 11 AM today after getting off at 10 PM last night. I shall sit down and get to writing tomorrow after work! Peace!

    Edited January 6th, 2017 by Laxan

    Started writing. Got done with my intro and began with story. I will try to finish it tomorrow. Sorry about the delay, Trever!

    Posted January 7th, 2017 by Laxan

    It's okay. Feels like just me and Pirate_Ninja are gonna be the only ones reading it at this rate anyhow!

    Posted January 9th, 2017 by Trever Leingod
    Trever Leingod

    Almost done! I just have to write my final thoughts on the development and the game as a whole!

    Posted January 16th, 2017 by Laxan

    nice, looking forward to it. I read Trever's review and have some opinions of my own, but I'm withholding comment until you post your thoughts (mainly because it should make for more cohesive discussion). I've finished the story and am doing some postgame content, though I definitely don't plan on doing everything (too many other games to play, and stuff like running all over for more bounty hunts really doesn't seem worth it).

    Posted January 16th, 2017 by Pirate_Ninja

    Okay! I have finally found the time to s it down and write this review. After much thought and deliberate stewing on the game as a whole, I am ready to spew forth my opinions on the endless void that is the internet. Ten years of waiting, eh? How bad could it be?

    As a preface, my portion of this parallel review will NOT contain spoilers for the main story. I think the game's story is best experienced without any prior knowledge so as to be as unbiased going in. That said, ten years of expectations can do things to a person....

    Begin review.

    Man, oh, man. Where do I start? Should I start with that awesome-looking trailer for Final Fantasy Versus XIII that was unveiled back in 2006? Or perhaps I should elaborate on the concept of the game? An open world Final Fantasy with chocobos to ride, airships to fly, and a Kingdom Hearts-esque combat system? A darker storyline than anything we've seen from the series thus far? What? It's being directed by the same team behind Kingdom Hearts as well?!??!? Oh, hell, yeah! I'm sold!

    Well, the Kingdom Hearts team being behind it was more exciting in my teenage years. Nowadays I have gripes with Tetsuya Nomura-san as a director and serious problems with his ability to be a competent leader on projects. From a mature, adult perspective with very critical and analytical eyes, I feel Nomura as a director relies on fever dream ideas that "sound" cool in his wormy little brain, but in the process creates chaos over the course of projects that clearly need more focus. His scatter-brained ideas are that of a child with ADHD, and it has become more evident with each succeeding shit installment of the Kingdom Hearts franchise.


    Final Fantasy Versus XIII was Nomura-san's idea, and a damn great idea it was. What better way to bring Final Fantasy back to form than said open world with everything we fans love about Final Fantasy? So, I'm giving credit here where credit is due. I am also more interested in discussing the game as it is, so let's jump forward a few years from 2006 to 2013...

    Rumors of Versus XIII's cancellation were abound for years. Well, in a way, that was true. See, Final Fantasy Versus XIII wasn't going to exist anymore (stupid title, anyway) but instead be re-branded into a mainline Final Fantasy. I had been proclaiming to close friends that it would be a much better marketing decision (and a better title) to rename Versus to Final Fantasy XV. E3 2013 pops up and....holy cow! Square Enix does the unthinkable and makes the brilliant move to rename Versus to the game we now know as Final Fantasy XV. Good choice, Square!

    Oh, but somewhere along the line Tetsuya Nomura is booted off the project and is replaced by the enigma Hajima Tabata. Hrmm....

    Much excellent marketing over three years later and we finally get the game in our hands. My thoughts are well stewed on Square's latest installment of my personal favorite franchise and I shall cover the traditional categories, spoiler-free. I will try to be brief and to the point, but I have some afterthoughts that summarize my feelings on the ten-year development cycle.

    I am going to address the most criticized section of the game first: Story. The game has a promising start that immediately gets you invested in the four main characters and the journey itself. That strong stride is held throughout the entirety of the game...for the four heroes. See, Noctis (the prince of Insomnia and protagonist), Prompto (goofy best friend whose puns never cease), Gladiolus (bodyguard and mentor to Noctis), and Ignis (cook and butler who maintains a level head for the gang) have a friendship you will come to love and find VERY believable. How relatable these four are as people is crazy. It honestly reminds me of my own circle of friends in several ways.

    Then there are the side characters. It's sad that so much focus and effort went into the four main guys while strong side characters are lacking. There were plenty who had potential, but none were fleshed out as fully as the core player group. There is, however, one exception: Our main antagonist. Final Fantasy XV's villain is pretty enjoyable. I wouldn't rank him among the greats like Sephiroth, Kefka, or Kuja. Even still, this is the best villain we've had since FFX, and that's a good sign after the lackluster Vayne Solidor and Barthand...los? That pope guy in FFFXIII! (Barthandelus.)

    Posted February 6th, 2017 by Laxan

    So the core characters are strong but side characters are underwhelming. Is the plot just as so? I will say I enjoyed the story overall. It could and SHOULD have been stronger in many respects, particularly towards the end where things start to feel rushed. But there are a good number of strong moments and I would venture to say this story holds up more than recent entries in the series. Is it perfect? Of course not, but I also see a lot of people overreacting to their expectations being let down by high hopes for the strong presentation seen in trailers. I understand their plight. I really do…as I was there myself to witness the unveiling of such trailers. But as the story is, it is a good one. Not amazing, no. But it IS good and better than what we've seen in years. Story is one of the strongest aspects of any Final Fantasy and I am happy to declare that the series is back on track to telling great stories again. It didn't quite hit the mark of greatness this time, but I can tell Square is really trying. And I'm glad. Oh, and the English voice work is great (not to mention the exchange of dialogue between the main guys is some of the most realistic in the series to date). Don’t be afraid of the English dub. In some ways it is possibly on par or better than the Japanes voice work.

    For gameplay I was enjoying myself pretty much the whole way through. Most every mechanic is solid and very fun! The combat has a lot going for it with some minor gripes against the camera (which can’t seem to handle tight spaces or foliage). There are also the complaints I have with items being too easy to use and magic being something I avoided most of the time. It was still a blast overall. If you enjoy action RPG battle systems, you should have a good time with taking down classic Final Fantasy creature monsters. Summons, a staple in the franchise, return as godlike beings known as astrals, albeit you cannot call them to your side at your whim. This is disappointing, but you will most likely enjoy the sheer spectacle of watching an astral demolish the battlefield. What makes combat stand out most compared to other action RPG games (aside from summoning) is the warping and phasing mechanic. Noctis’ ability to warp adds a layer of depth to the combat that I hadn’t experienced before in any other game. I loved it. However, it could have been more useful outside of combat I felt. Especially when you’re talking about exploration, which brings me to…

    Exploring! What a blast! I enjoyed exploring the world of Eos and discovering all sorts of secrets in every nook and cranny. One problem with many open world games is how empty the world can feel. This really isn’t a problem with Final Fantasy XV due to excellent structure and layout and the content doesn’t feel overly cheap. Well, most of the time. There are a tad too many hunts (sidequests where you hunt down monsters to gain rankings in hunter status and other rewards) and it makes for some unneeded padding. There are still a lot of fun things to do, such as discovering extra locations, fishing, riding chocobos (which I’d like to add is the best form of riding a chocobo to date in any Final Fantasy), playing…a pinball RPG… Yeah. The towns and NPCs are fun to interact with and let me not forget how Noctis and gang REACT to the environment around them (which goes back to how I described how believable they are as a group of friends)! Basically, the gameplay is great and you will have plenty to do with it for well over a hundred hours without feeling bored. Well, some of the later dungeons can test your patience And, admittedly, a good chunk of the sidequests are dissatisfying. But it’s generally going to give you plenty to want to keep experiencing all of what Eos has to offer.

    Speaking of Eos, this game is beautiful. The graphics are spectacular for a console game and the art design is riveting. I played on the regular PS4 and while I am sure the game looks better on a PS4 Pro, I cannot deny the amount of detail and animation work that has gone into Final Fantasy XV. It’s gorgeous and at times a simple marvel to behold, such as when summons arrive to your aid (again, I wish they weren’t so restricted). The pop ins and bad textures can be noticeable during a certain segment involving flight, but it’s not a very prominent part of the gameplay experience so it’s not a big deal. I think the animations in this game are what impressed me most of all as far as graphics are concern. Framerate dips are practically nonexistent so from a technical side, no worries there.

    But what would a beautiful game be without its music? Yoko Shimomura, a well-known composer who has crafted many legendary soundtracks (such as Super Street Fighter II, Super Mario RPG, and Kingdom Hearts), has done a splendid job living up to my own personal expectations from music in a FF game. As Nobuo Uematsu—who composed for every mainline Final Fantasy up to FFX—was not working on this project, I daresay Shimomura-san is the perfect replacement for his masterful work on creating some of the most beautiful, captivating music for any game series. Though I would argue this isn’t quite her best work to date, I am convinced that she should be the go-to composer for most future main Final Fantasy installments. Her music is just that damn good and this is the best Final Fantasy soundtrack since FFX. I am also aware other composers contributed to the soundtrack. Ah, I thought that excellent “Wonderlust” piece was not quite Shimomura-san’s style, haha!

    I think I’ve covered most everything about the game’s core experience. It’s excellent; go out and buy it if you are a fan of Final Fantasy or action RPGs. But I have some parting words on the development hell FFXV went through…

    Posted February 6th, 2017 by Laxan

    The thing I most disagree with on Trever’s side of the review is Hajime Tabata-san not being allowed to direct games anymore for Square Enix. You can tell much of the endgame content was rushed and a lot of the story is unfinished. I do admit this. However, if you read the rogue employees’ leaks about what working on the game was like, the incomplete state that the game is in is not Tabata’s fault largely. Tabata jumped onboard this project to try and pull it together as best he could. Aside from crappy business decisions from the previous president of Sqaure Enix, it is safe to pin much of the game’s incomplete form on the master of incompetence: Tetsuya Nomura.

    Looking at the history of Final Fantasy XV’s development, it’s a wonder the game ever made it into the hands of gamers. For seven wasted years, the incredible anticipation and concept for Versus XIII was floating around on the internet, filled to the brim with scattered trailers and screenshots. An explanation on the concept of the game was a big draw for a lot of fans, perhaps even more so than the Final Fantasy XIII as the games were announced simultaneously. I know it was for me. Seemingly, the game had become vaporware as FFXIII was released as well as two—TWO—sequels with no evidence of Versus being developed in sight.

    But most of us know this story. Thankfully, Versus XIII was rebranded to a main title—a VERY smart business decision on Sqaure’s part so as to avoid association with the FFXIII games (which a lot of people despise) and to better suit the ambition of the project. At the time of the rebranding, director Tetsuya Nomura was still in charge. About a year later it was confirmed he was off the project and Hajime Tabata was now at the reigns, given a timeframe to release the game by 2016 as contracted by executives. (This is according to rogue employees whose contracts expired before the game released.) Under the time contstraints, Tabata did an excellent job pulling this mess together.

    And yes, I call it a messy as hell development cycle and pin much of the blame on one person: Nomura-san. See, I’ve noticed a trend with projects directed by Nomura AFTER the original Kingdom Hearts. The projects that people want to see development on never seem to go anywhere for years with nary a detail in sight. Kingdom Hearts II took three years to complete, nearly twice as long as the original and superior game. The KH franchise has become a joke with its seemingly endless, pointless montage of spinoff games that no one ever asked for. It has been twelve years since the release of KHII and we still have no release date for the elusive Kingdom Hearts III in sight. What’s more, the series has become sloppier and sloppier with each installment with half-baked gameplay, worlds that feel fake and far more empty than the original game, combat that isn’t really appealing because the design is nowhere near the masterful execution we saw with the first title back in 2002, and convoluted, putrid story to top off the cherry on this shit cake that Tetsuya Nomura has been in charge of since the beginning.

    What I’m getting at is Nomura-san is the story developer for each Kingdom Hearts installment. He was also the story developer for FF Versus XIII and FFXV. When I look at the claims from a supposed employee working on the game (leaked months before the release of the game—links below), I see a disorganized mess under Nomura’s direction. He wanted to release FFXV in multiple parts. As in, episodically…kind of like the remake for Final Fantasy VII is going to have. And isn’t it well known that Nomura watched 2012’s Les Miserable and suddenly decided it would be a good idea to turn FFXV into a musical? Oh, boy. This is NOT how a major AAA game should be developed, let alone a main installment in my favorite franchise. This is simply insanity.

    From the sound of it, things didn’t start coming together in full form until Hajime Tabata took over as director. The game feeling like it lacks story components (which it does, I admit) is not wholly his fault. And yes, I do realize the suits at the top of Square Enix want to make money and they want to get the game out promptly. However, I still don’t blame the CEO or the corporate heads of the company more than I blame the incompetence of Tetsuya Nomura. Why, in fact, after the previous president of Square stepped down and a new CEO took over, I started to see a change for the better from the company. They were finally announcing games we had wanted for years. From Versus XIII being turned into FFXV to the long-awaited remake of Final Fantasy VII being announced, things were starting to look up.

    So, where are these games? Kingdom Hearts III? The Remake of FFVII? Where is any significant information on these games? Who is in charge of directing these projects? Who was in charge of Versus XIII and partly FFXV before the change in directors?

    The increasingly lackluster quality of the Kingdom Hearts franchise coupled with the development hell of FFXV BEFORE Tabata-san took over as director AND the lack of any real news or development on both Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII Remake points to the inept skill of a single man. Tetsuya Nomura is an excellent character designer. But that’s just it. He is only good at designing characters. He is a failure at directing and storytelling, both commercially and critically. It is time Square had him step down from the director’s chair and let the folks who are far more capable in that department take the lead. And before you cite Kingdom Hearts 1 as a great game he directed, I seriously have doubts he was in complete charge of that project at the time. One might even speculate the Father of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, had a greater influence on that game’s incredible direction than Nomura ever truly did. It’s kind of like how people credit the Wachowskis for directing V for Vendetta more than the actual guy who was credited as director. But I’m just guessing based on the trends of how Nomura’s games have turned out for over fifteen years. It could very well be that he is overloaded and overwhelmed by Square Enix and he just gets scatterbrained with being overworked. I don’t have the answer. Things need to change with the projects that man handles. That’s all I can state for certain.

    Bottom line, Final Fantasy XV is a great game. If you are a fan of Final Fantasy or action RPGs, you should enjoy it. I wanted so badly to open my review title as "The Greatest Game I Have Ever Played: Final Fantasy XV". But that isn't the case because it isn't the perfect masterpiece I had hoped for. Still great, just not perfect. Buy it at full retail price or wait for it to become cheaper. Either way, it is worth your time and money. I for one look forward to the future DLC and updates…even though I HATE DLC in my Final Fantasy games!

    Ending note: There was lost potential with that Moogle-Chocobo Carnival! Carbuncle is cute and all, but does anyone else feel they could have taken the time to let Luna accompany Noctis during the carnival as an homage to the dating scenes in Final Fantasy VII? It would have been the perfect opportunity to get players more attached to Luna as a character! I know it wouldn’t make sense, but the carnival event doesn’t make sense in the first place! It clearly doesn’t happen in the reality of the main story, so who cares? More Luna getting further character development is great in my book!

    Link to the leaks from the rogue Square employee:

    Edited February 6th, 2017 by Laxan
    Reply to: Final Fantasy XV Review (contains spoilers in the plot section) with Laxan

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