Reviews - Updated on April 15, 2022

Final Fantasy XV is special. Because initially it was not the main part of the series, but just an offshoot of the thirteenth. Because it was developed for ten years and in the process they changed the director – instead of Tetsuya Nomura, they became Hajime Tabata. Because Square Enix made a giant bet on it and created a whole universe even before launch – with a movie, an anime and a mobile game based on it. Let’s understand how the “feature” has affected the main JRPG of the current generation.

Combined right: Gladiolus, Noctis, Prompt and Ignis.

The king is dead, long live the boy band

The change of director is the most important thing that happened to the project. Nomura left behind the concept of “fantasy that is based on reality”, a large open world, and a foundation for characters. The plot, its presentation and the disclosure of the characters were already completed by Tabata. So Final Fantasy XV became a story about four friends and the ascension to the throne. Rising will be Prince Noctis, heir to the state of Lucis, the only one controlled by the player. His comrades – Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto – are peculiar bodyguards, their first goal is to help the prince get to the island city of Altissia, where he is to marry his childhood friend, Lunafreya.

On the way, the comrades learn that the Niflheim empire attacked the capital of Lucis – Insomnia, the father seems to have been killed. The story quickly turns dark. And gradually it gets darker and darker. The plot is tragic, but the tragedy is not conveyed on this side of the screen. The scenario of Final Fantasy XV was created as if not for outsiders. You will find yourself in the center of events almost immediately – and no one will tell you in detail what’s what.

On the one hand, this is plausible – it would be strange if the prince, the main character, were led by the hand. On the other hand, the plot does not create a complete picture. The videos from the Kingsglaive movie inserted by the patch of the first day do not help, even a little confusing, as they are not quite similar in style to those videos made on the engine. Added to this is the illogicality of some of the actions of the heroes and the submission of tasks in the “bring-give” style. Our four carry out such quests for everyone in a row – auto mechanics and journalists, jewelers and children.

Moreover, in the second half, a slight confusion is replaced by unexpected plot twists in literally every chapter. And these turns are sometimes insane and are not justified in any way. Without going into spoilers, Mr. Tabata’s favorite move is to kill someone, preferably behind the scenes. And when the comrades get to Altissia, you will simply be “cut off” from the open world, allowing you to return there only in Noctis’s memories. It turns out stupid: the plot is separate, the open world is separate.

Our “boy band” saves the situation a little. The characters of the guys worked out, they look like real old friends and develop over the course of the script. You understand why there is not a single girl in the company. I don’t want to reveal what will happen to each of the four, but not only will Noctis be in a difficult situation – everyone will go through certain tests.

Girls on the screen also appear …

“What can kings do?”

The game-journey is simply obliged to attract with a beautiful world. And here Square Enix faced a difficult task: Japanese RPGs have always been conventional – so much so that they have become part of the genre. And three-meter swords are being waved here, and flying ships are standing a couple of kilometers from primitive villages, and monsters around every turn do not interfere with the development of technology. This is normally perceived when the characters consist of multi-colored squares, lack noses and are dressed in funny overalls. But when you have a “fantasy based on reality” in front of you, you need to explain and bring everything closer to the real world. Here Tabata and his team tried, but did not cope with everything.

What is connected with global things is thoughtful and logical. Wild animals live far from people, and it is not easy to find them during the day. Outside the walls of Insomnia, townships are small and rare. Day fades into night, huge demons take to the roads, Ignis refuses to drive. There are no sharp transitions from deserts to jungles on the continent, although there are a lot of impassable mountains. The dungeons are very well integrated into the terrain. It is especially nice to go deep into some forest and find ruins with strong opponents and an artifact in the depths.

In the open world of Eos, you can hang for ten hours before running further in the story. Racing on chocobo ostriches, searching for royal weapons in tombs, hunting for wild animals and photographing impressive landscapes. You can go slowly, listening to songs from the old “finals” on the radio, or quickly move to the desired point for a nominal fee.

But in the details and fullness there are already problems. There are very few people who give side quests. The assignments themselves are monotonous and are limited mainly to hunting and searching for things. There are a lot of places around where some kind of content just suggests itself, but there is none. For example, next to the lighthouse in the south, where ships leave for Altissia, there is a descent to the water. I really want to go there, but the path ends with a cliff, and the monsters do not live nearby. The void is filled only by imperial transports with robotic infantrymen, sources of magical energy and valuable plants with mushrooms.

On trips, I turned on tracks from my favorite FFVII – and tears came to my eyes.

king and soup

Flora and fauna play an important role here. Noctis and his friends do not become stronger immediately after gaining experience points, but only after they discuss the results of the day and go to bed. Before going to bed, Ignis prepares a dinner from the collected and purchased ingredients, which will affect the characteristics of the four for the next day. A good barbecue or soup will make attacks more powerful, and the supply of vital energy can be doubled.

Prompto shows everyone the photos in the evening and you can choose which ones to keep. Gladio offers to conduct a training battle, for which they will give points for developing skills. Well, Noctis not only uses the skills of friends, but also an experienced fisherman. Fishing here draws on an independent game – there are a lot of places for fishing, types of baits and the fish itself. At the same time, the local pinball, Justice Monsters Five, was released separately for mobile devices. It is also not difficult to spend a couple of hours in a row in it, especially since items such as potions are given for passing. However, they are easy to buy anyway: money is quickly collected from the “loot” left by monsters, and equipment and consumable items are quite inexpensive.

Royal reception with magic and sword

These things are needed primarily in battles. The battles turned out to be exactly the same as I already described them in two previews – simple and furious. We hold one button to attack, the other to defend – it’s done. Sometimes it’s worth using a special move from a friend’s arsenal. Sometimes it is a healing or strengthening agent. Because the companions themselves don’t fight very well. And when the magic points responsible for evading attacks run out, it’s better to teleport to some pillar – there Noctis will quickly restore his strength.

Magic works like a weapon. First you need to make a spell from the found magical energy and, if you want, add a status effect to it. Then we send the spell to the weapon slot. You will only have three shots, but they are so powerful that they decide the outcome of most ordinary fights. The trouble is that uncontrollable comrades strive to substitute themselves for Fire-2. Summon “god” spells, known in the series as Summon, can only be performed when the battle has dragged on, and usually one such attack kills all enemies at once.

The map is not too big, as is the duration of the campaign as a whole: you can finish the story in twenty-five to thirty hours.

Square Enix did not invent anything special. Therefore, fans of the matter system from Final Fantasy VII or the gambits from the twelfth part will be disappointed. But FFXV doesn’t feel like a one-button slasher. Most likely, because the fights are fast-paced and the simplicity of the combat system goes very well with high dynamics.

beauty king

The fights also do the job of creating a “wow” effect, dropping your jaw to the floor. Excellent screensavers, giant animals, stunning landscapes, and tracks from the classic parts of the series work for the same. The method is very simple, but it will work with fans of the genre. Any of the big “Fantasy”, except, perhaps, the thirteenth, first of all captured the volume and advanced technical performance. It was as if you were entering a beautiful, unknown, incomprehensible world – and the goal was to recognize it, admire its beauties.

In this sense, Tabata and his team did everything right. In some places, the quality of the graphics suffers from unfinished lighting – it is clear that the project comes from the PlayStation 3. But in most cases, the play of light and shadow is flawless – the beauty is indescribable. I even want to thank the authors for making the screenshots for us. Of the other problems, I noticed only rare subsidence of the frame rate and low shadow rendering distance while driving, but these are trifles.

In battles, the camera interferes on a par with enemies.

***

Final Fantasy XV was both lucky and unlucky with the change in leadership. Lucky because she came out and turned out worthy of her predecessors. It was unlucky because it came out as a patchwork quilt, and not a solid work. Somewhere the patches are perfectly combined with each other, somewhere they do not fit at all.

The opening screen says that the game was made for newbies and longtime fans. Those who are not too familiar with the genre and the series should love the big world, vivid battles and four heroes. JRPG fans will have a harder time: they are used to better stories, more sophisticated mechanics and do not easily tolerate linear narrative segments. But one thing is true for everyone: this is one of the main releases of the year, which captivates more often than it disappoints.

Pros: memorable four heroes; high-quality graphics; a large, impressive open world with plenty to do; exciting battles; the game magically creates a “wow” effect.
Cons: strange presentation and illogical plot; side quests and content of the world could be more diverse; The first and second halves were very different.

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