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Final Fantasy XV

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Ok, I know what you’re thinking, Final Fantasy XV (FFXV) has been out for a while now so surely you must have finished it before getting stuck into the review right? Sorry to disappoint but I am not, in fact the very opposite. I have played 30-35 hours of story only, only to throw it all away and go back to the beginning and play the game how I would normally play a game of this type. That is by exploring the countryside, taking in the vastness of the world of Eos, something I implore all to do.

Final Fantasy XV is a bit of a curious beast. A JRPG that has some heavy western influences, but with a depth I was really not expecting. The world is a living, breathtaking environment for you to explore, with three of the best friends / companions you could ask for in a game. Your teamwork and companionship are what will get you through each of your encounters.

You play as Noctis, crown prince of Insomnia. Leaving the city behind, you head for the distant capital of Altissia where you are to marry Lunafreya. In tow are your three friends/protectors/confidants in Ignis, Gladiolus and Prompto. Each brings with them their own set of skills and quirks to your travels. Ignis is the level headed strategist who also happens to be a chef. Gladiolus is your survival expert and helps with training. Prompto is there to document the journey.

Queue devastating moment!
This is where I say to watch the movie Kingsglaive. While not compulsory as you do get filled in, to a point, it is worth while watching just so you can see another part of the story being told to you.
Of course your original plans change and you must now fight for your own survival and for everything that is important to you.
Getting into a fight is where you start to realise just how reliant you are on your fellow party members. FFXV drops the series usual turn and time based combat for completely real time action. At first it will feel like it is fighting you but when you get it working for you it is a sight to behold. The combat mechanics can be a little tricky to master, not only do you have to strategise how you attack and what weapons to use, but you have to be aware of the battlefield as a three dimensional arena. You must stay mobile at all times in order to maintain an effective fighting position. Noctis is the only member of the team with access to the “Warp Strike”, a powerful ability that allows you to warp around the battlefield and even get up high for an overview of the fight. Using your pals in the fight is a must. You command them using L1 (PS4) and pick who you want to use for their ability. There is a lot to get used too, luckily a pretty hefty tutorial is available and will give you a good overview of what to do. Even the Ascension Grid, which is FFXV’s skill tree constantly reminds you that it is not always about you, but your team is just as important on your quest.
Now I don’t want to delve too much into the story as FFXV is heavily story driven and I really enjoyed each part as it unfolded. Final Fantasy XV infuses an incredible amount of humanity into even the most mundane of activities. This is where Prompto really comes into his own. Driving through the countryside past a landmark and he pipes up, wanting everyone to take a break so he can get a picture. I laughed out loud the first time we drove past a sign advertising a Chocobo ranch, Prompto lost it, was like a kid and pleaded with you to detour to go and have a look so he could ride one.
It is these moments that make you realise you’re not only playing a game, but forging life long memories with your virtual pals. FFXV revels in its smaller moments and it is in these moments that the majority of your memories in the world of Final Fantasy will come from.

There are some little quirks to speak of, lack of auto save points in a dungeon can get frustrating so save often. I found some small issues with graphics going very grainy at times and the magic system could do with a little tweak, but these are miniscule when compared to everything FFXV does right.

The Verdict
While Final Fantasy XV may have its flaws, it lives up to its promise in the second screen you see when starting:
The world is open, inviting and alive, characters are remembered well after you leave them. The story is jammed full of humanity, emotion and a sense of brotherhood that keeps you smiling.

The last thing I want to leave you with is "balance." When playing through, find a balance that works for you. Too much time on side quest can dilute the main story. Main story only and you miss so much of what Eos has to offer. Find that balance and you won't be able to put it down.

Final Fantasy XV is out now on Playstation 4 and Xbox One
Developed by Square Enix
Published in Australia by Bandai Namco

Pat (Snoogan512/Snoogs)

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