By: Dionne Smith, Free Press staff

Final Fantasy XV is another installment in Square Enix’s Final Fantasy franchise. It holds up to the norm of monsters, magic and interesting plot lines. But is the game worth  $60?

Story: Final Fantasy XV takes place in Lucis, which is ruled by King Regis Lucis Caelum. The story starts with King Regis sending off his son, Noctis, accompanied by three of his friends, Gladiolus (Gladio), Ignis and Prompto, to travel to the city Altissia to marry a woman named Lunafreya, who is an Oracle and can talk to gods. Their marriage is not only for the sake of love, but for the sake of a treaty between Lucis and the empire of Niflheim, an opposing force that has been battling Lucis, and which has the Oracle under its control. So with three friends, one beautiful car named the Regalia, some new leather outfits and no money, the three set out on their quest. The first half of the game deals with story-building and focuses on walking around and exploring while the second half is more straightforward and action packed, focused around the plot’s climax.

Gameplay: This is an open-world game, which means you can travel anywhere. The player has full control over Noctis, who can teleport due to his ability to throw his sword and teleport to it. As a big part of the open world, traveling can be done in one of three ways. Ignis can drive the team around, Noctis can take the wheel after a certain point in the game, or fast travel can be used. While the team travels together, Prompto will be taking pictures of the daily adventures and will ask to take photos in specific spots. When everyone decides to rest for the day, the game will show all of the photos taken throughout the day. The combat took a very big turn from the turn-based battling that the Final Fantasy franchise is known for. You’ll be able to slash and use magic as you please, to team up with your friends to make cool combos and to use each character’s special abilities. Noctis has the ability to switch between four weapons that are set before battle. Weapons such as a sword, a gun, a shield, or a magic spell give the player a variety of styles to utilize. The enemies are usually in packs and can sometimes serve as a challenge, as you’ll find yourself fighting enemies that are higher levels than the team.

Graphics: The game is stunning. There are vibrant colors and detailed cities. There is a lot of beautiful landscapes that you’ll see while driving around. It is definitely up to par with the capabilities of the Xbox One and Playstation 4. Even the clothes you wear have small and noticeable details, like engravings on the back on sleeves and like realistic shirt patterns. This game also has the best rendered food. Fire toasted bread never looked so good. Nor did Cup Noodles with eggs.

What I like: I appreciate the game’s implementation of a complete open world instead of multiple open areas.  I also enjoyed the new battle system, which is unlike previous Final Fantasy games. You can jump in and out of battles as you please and you can actually get away from enemies that are a higher level than you. The best part of this game for me has to be the visuals and the car rides. Not only do you get to see all the beautiful scenery, but while you’re driving you can play select songs from the past Final Fantasy soundtracks, as well as from Final Fantasy XV soundtracks which can be purchased in the game and are pretty cheap. It’s a nice touch for long time Final Fantasy fans and can make one feel nostalgic and the car rides can slow the game down and allow you to take in the world. Another notable part I loved were  the pictures. Every time I looked, Prompto always took some weird picture of something, or a funny picture of someone posing would come up. It made for some good laughs.

What I didn’t like: Yeah, this game is great, but no game is truly perfect. This game had some bugs at the launch involving the water turning different colors, and when you started up the game it would stutter, respond slowly and have little to no frames for a while. The game also sometimes drops a lot of frames in more graphically intensive areas, like big cities. (At this point all console games should have a smooth frame rate of at least 30 fps.) Also, side quests get repetitive. The game is replete with fetch quests, and sometimes they can be interesting, like feeding a cat you find at the beach or sneaking past a giant bird monster, but other times they’re too standard for their inclusion to be justified. Also, this game is a part of a sub-franchise. In order to fully understand everything in the game, you have to watch the anime and a movie, which seems excessive. A good game should be able to provide context for events.

But nothing compares to the agony that is Chapter 13. In Chapter 13, you will play the same little segment over and over and do little puzzles for about an hour and a half. This whole chapter could have been summed up in about 30 minutes. It drags on and I found myself playing to beat the chapter and go to bed rather than to enjoy the story. Currently Square Enix is working on a patch for the chapter to shorten it, and give a character more character development.

Aside from Chapter 13, the game is really fun. Running around and seeing weird pictures and having weird adventures makes for an enjoyable experience. The story is captivating and entertaining. The characters have some life and the world feels open and ready for adventure. I would rate the game a solid 8/10. If Chapter 13 didn’t drag so much, maybe 8.5. But if you’re new to Final Fantasy or are a long time player, it’s worth your time and money.


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