Final Fantasy XV

Normally I do book reviews, but since I’ve been playing it and I have a good amount to say I think I’ll do a video game review here. I will be mentioning massive spoilers throughout.

First, my history with the series: As a kid I remember having FF4 as a kid. Played 5 and 6, and eventually 7 with a friend. After that I played 11 for about 7 years, and played 14. Of course, people who started playing 14 know it didn’t do very well at first. I gave it another try when they re-launched it, but it never clicked for me. The visuals were beautiful, and the gameplay might even be different now, but I never got into it like I wanted to.

I haven’t played most of the 3D Final Fantasies, though I’ve recently gotten 9.

So Final Fantasy 15 is the first single player FF I’ve tried in a while. For a brief overview before I get into details, I liked it. I recognize that it has many problems, but I enjoyed my experience.

And, I’ll state that I purposely went into the game without watching side material. I want the game to be able to stand on its own, and it should stand on its own. Especially if you have to pay to even see some of that side material. I’ve since watched Brotherhood but haven’t watched Kingsglaive.

When I started it took me a bit to get into it but I was open-minded. Of course, I didn’t know the characters yet. I’ve heard some people were annoyed by Prompto and such, but I wasn’t. I was giving them all a chance.

Perhaps an hour or so into it I was getting pretty attached to the characters and, for me, that’s really important. I forgive a lot more flaws if I enjoy the characters I’m hanging out with. It’s much harder the other way around – if you have a good story but characters I hate, I end up hating the story.

There’s a lot to say so I think I’ll divide it up by character.

Noctis: I think I liked him more than I expected. From previous trailers and based on his design, I thought he would be a lot more ’emo’. I didn’t actually find him emo at all. I felt he reacted pretty reasonably to a lot of things. When his father dies, for example, he gets angry and confused. I think that’s normal. However, I was worried he’d be a bitter character for the rest of the time after that and he really wasn’t. The dialogue of the characters is a mixture of good and bad. Sometimes they comment how nice a place is, sometimes they complain it’s dreary. Sometimes they ask if you’re attempting to kill them, sometimes they compliment you on a good job. It all feels pretty natural and Noct fits right in with it.
When he complains, it tends to be stuff I would probably also complain about. I can’t think of anything that was over the top or annoying that would make me dislike him. I was happy with him as the main character.

Prompto: Prompto is the peppy one, which is what annoyed some people. He does say one liners and panic more than the others, but considering he’s basically Noct’s schoolmate I think that makes sense for him.
I’ll get into it more later, but I think his body language is what really helped me with him at first. He joke around and such more, but when the characters were standing around his demeanor screamed that he was kind of shy. So I was fine with him.
Then Ignis went blind, and Prompto was doing everything to try and take care of him. In the next dungeon he’s helping Ignis up when he trips and it’s adorable. I really fell for his character there, and he just got better as it went on.

Ignis: Ignis was my favorite. I liked that he was pretty much the mom of the group. He has a certain refined ‘air’ about him, but he didn’t have a problem making jokes like the others, either. He could cook, he drove for me, he healed. He was the best. I loved him.
When he went blind he just shot up even more for me. He kept going anyway, and I liked him so much that I was willing to go slow in the next dungeon for him. He probably complained about his injury less than anyone else and kept pressing forward. When he tried to attack enemies and fell over I just wanted to tell him, “You keep trying buddy, you’re doing good.”
I at first wondered if they really would cure him because he said his vision would “come back in a matter of time”. But, that was just a lie – probably to make Noct feel better, but possibly because he was in denial. I’m glad he wasn’t just insta-cured. He stays blind.
I was worried that the characters would leave him behind somewhere because of it, but thankfully they didn’t. Injured or not, I still wanted him with me, and I didn’t want any ‘replacement’ characters taking his spot.
I was happy when he learned how to cook again and kept fighting in the future.

Gladio: Of the four, Gladio came off the weakest to me. People who have played probably already know exactly why. I’ve heard the explanations behind it, but it just didn’t work for me.
For people who haven’t played, there are a few points in the story where he flips out on Noctis. They seem like they’re out of nowhere. I’ve heard rumors that originally he was meant to have tension build up between Noctis and himself until it led to a duel to the death. I can kind of see that being the case, where they changed their minds but some of the old material is still there.
It’s not just that he yells at Noctis. He could have yelled at Noctis at the exact same times and it could have been done well. It just felt abrupt and disjointed to me. I was running from Titan doing my thing, and suddenly Gladio was yelling at me to get it together, and I wanted to yell back that he was the one who needed to calm down. Noctis wasn’t even complaining in a way that I thought was unusual or particularly whiny. He just didn’t like being in a pit of fire with a giant attempting to crush him, and he expressed some irritation. What he said wasn’t out of place with how the characters talked throughout the entire game.
The second time was also bizarre for me. His fiance has been murdered in front of him, Ignis has been injured, and they’re all on a train going to the next place. Noctis is quietly sitting on the train, and Gladio starts getting on him. For some reason he blames Noctis for Ignis getting injured – which I hope gets an explanation because it doesn’t make sense right now. At the time Ignis got injured, Noctis was busy fighting a god by himself. He didn’t have any interaction with them at that moment where he was the source of the injury. They were all in a crummy situation.
He also is upset that Noctis doesn’t care that Ignis got injured. However, upon waking up and seeing Ignis, Noctis had immediately asked him about it, concerned. Ignis had told him it would get better, but he was still obviously concerned about his friend. Nothing about Noctis’ reaction to me made it seem like he didn’t care. He could be upset that Lunafreya died and care about Ignis at the same time.
The biggest problem for me was that there wasn’t a counterweight. Gladio had these times where he freaked out, but there wasn’t anything on the opposite end that made me feel okay with him again and smoothed it over. I believe these needed some re-writing and some more development that felt rushed and jagged.
I don’t hate Gladio, but I definitely felt the least attached to him of the four.

Lunafreya: She was barely in this game. Like Gladio, I don’t hate her, but she really felt bland. I feel like they wanted to make a strong female character and forgot to give her much personality. The game has a bunch of characters who act very human, and she acts like she belongs in a different Final Fantasy as the goddess or something. Some people complain that it’s because her backstory was removed, but from the clips I saw those didn’t add any personality and were completely unnecessary. If anything, it would have just been even more the same bland story we’ve seen a million times.
Her greatest problem is that she’s basically infallible. She doesn’t seem to have interests, hobbies, flaws, or much of anything else besides fulfilling a job role. I would have liked to have seen more to her character and had some development with the guys. The closest thing we got to her acting human was sending a shared notebook back and forth between her and Noctis. I liked that. It was cute. She needed more of that, and less scenes showing us how amazing she is because she heals everyone and is super patient and kind and never not wonderful. She needed human interactions like the guys had. I wanted to see her play video games with the guys and do anything outside of her role that she did just because she wanted to.
I don’t hate her, but I also think she barely existed as a character in this game, and that’s a big part of the problem. With Aeris, she was with you. She fought with you, you went to events with her, she was part of your team and you spent time with her. Lunafreya is always at a distance and, unfortunately, suffers for that. Maybe that will be fixed with the upcoming patches.

Cindy: I was fine with her as a character, but what was up with those clothes? I kept thinking how sunburned she would be in some places and gross and sweaty in others. They did not look comfortable at all, and I can’t really think of anyone else who looked so out of place clothing-wise in the game.
Everything else I was fine with.

Aranea: I liked her. I was kind of excited when she showed up and I instantly realized we found our dragoon. I like that the in the game you spend time with her and find out that she has dissenting opinions and is weirded out by stuff the Empire is doing, even though she’s working for them. I also liked that I was out fighting daemons once and she just randomly showed up, on her own, to help out. That was pretty neat.

Ardyn: I loved Ardyn. The first time he shows up it’s a bit disjointed and I wondered if I missed something. But he kept me on my toes throughout the game. A lot of people compare him to Kefka, and I can see why. I actually think he’s better than Kefka. Don’t get me wrong, Kefka was very memorable and I like him, but he wasn’t all that complex. I think Ardyn had multiple goals and some conflicted with each other. I can see him both wanting to die and wanting revenge.
I just wish he had let me ride with him in his car. “Too much for me to handle” my behind. Let me in!

Also, Ignis and Gladio are horrible liars. Those are not men in they’re early twenties. They’re both in their thirties. Liars.

I mentioned it earlier, but the body language in this game for the main characters is amazing. The way they grab each other, the way they’ll stand, hang out at camp, or even run is unique to each of them. I could tell Prompto was shy before he ever had his talk with Noctis just because of the way he would stand around. When I was traveling through the mines and I saw Ignis trip and fall, and Prompto help him, I actually stopped to watch. It was so adorable and perfect.

Now, when characters are just talking for quests, it isn’t as great. You’ll have NPCs looking into oblivion as they ask you to kill off the neighboring pests. But for the main guys riding around and doing their thing with each other, I think it’s some of the best body language I’ve seen in a game.

Fighting: I enjoyed the fighting. It has its issues, like the camera getting stuck in bushes or something. Overall, it usually felt pretty smooth to me. Just today I was fighting birds, and I enjoyed that I could warp my character around through the air going after them.
Storywise, you don’t have to get very high level to beat the game. Bosses like Leviathan actually aren’t that hard, either, but I really enjoyed the fight. I’m happy enough to keep the challenging sections and the story sections separate – anyone who wants to enjoy the story but isn’t necessarily great at combat could still get through the game.

Graphics: I loved the visuals. One thing I adore about the game is that big things feel big. Anytime I saw a monster that towered over me, I went, “Whooooa…” There have been lots of neat times where I’ve just randomly run into a giant monster and it’s awesome.

Chapter 13: This chapter is probably infamous in the game. I actually liked it. It was just too long. I’m glad they’re updating it.

Now, the game has it’s problems where you can see the story obviously got rushed. I suspect the issues I had with Gladio are because they didn’t have time to fix things up more. The second have of the story suddenly gets very linear and less big-open-world. Kind of like Lunafreya, you don’t really get to see Noctis’ dad much, either.

Some people I think have mentioned lag, but I didn’t experience many problems with that. Leviathan had some issues and that was about it for me. I’ve been playing it on a PS4 slim. It has crashed about 2 or 3 times in the 70+ hours I’ve been playing it. I think the most annoying one was the first time. The first big boss you fight is called Deadeye, and they have a lot of (great) build-up getting to him. I finally got to his fight and it crashed, so I had to do all of the build-up over again (because you can’t save during it). I wish they just let you save anywhere because of things like that.

It seems this was awarded “Game of the Year”. I did enjoy it, and I’ve still been playing it well after beating it, but I’m not sure if it deserves that quite yet. When it gets its updates and is polished up maybe. I look forward to re-playing the story when it has the patches. And I hope they stop the flying car from exploding and giving me game overs.

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