CNET First Look
Why Final Fantasy XV wasn't a letdownFinal Fantasy fans had plenty of reason to worry about XV, but the game's decade-long development period has a happy ending.
Final Fantasy games take a long time to be made, but even by Square Enix standards, ten years is a ridiculous development cycle. Not only that, but Final Fantasy XIII was a bit of a let down and since 2006, we've seen a bunch of artistic projects take too long to be made and suffer because of it. Think Duke Nukem Forever, Detox, Chinese Democracy. The last ten years have been a scary time for Final Fantasy fans. So when I first booted up Final Fantasy XV, I was a little bit concerned. The first few hours were like a tutorial but not a tutorial. I mean there was a explicit tutorial at the beginning but then the first few hours pretended to not to be a tutorial but it was pretty slow. Thankfully at the end of it, the story begins to pick up, then around chapter three, the world opens up, you get access to side quests, Fueled like a Final Fantasy game and I was hooked. You play as Prince Noctis, he is trying to take down an empire that betrayed his father and kingdom. This gets very complicated from there, which is pretty standard for the franchise. Square even made a prequel film called Kingsglaive, which I highly recommend. Sets up much of the back story of the game and is itself quite fun. Your party in XV is composed of your three friends: Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus. In between slaying monsters with these dudes, you'll stay at camp sites, hang out at diners, and go on road trips. I didn't like any of the four as much as franchise standouts like Ibulkia Oren, but the relationship feels authentic and it works as the game's emotional core. Fans of the franchise won't be let down by XV's story. But even with the prequel film it's not on the same level as Final Fantasy VII or X. Thankfully though, it's a big improvement over the very forgettable XIII. I don't even remember anyone in that game other than Lightning and the dude with chickens in his hair. I beat the game at around the 30-hour mark and about ten hours of that was side quests. I saw a lot in that 30 hours and while it technically is short for a Final Fantasy game, it didn't feel short in a good way. Final Fantasy does turn based combat better than anyone but a fully real time system is a fresh take for the franchise. The game's combat isn't as deep as previous entries but I found it satisfying. It's actually more similar to Kingdom Heart than other Final Fantasy games. [UNKNOWN] has been FInal Fantasy's director for about 16 years and he also directed Kingdom Hearts. [INAUDIBLE], you don't get to control Ignis, Prompto, or Gladiolus, but it feels like a team, with everyone doing their part, often joining Noctis for powerful team attacks. That's not all that's new though, there are no mages, so you'll do most of your healing with items, and spells aren't cast, instead you lob balls of magic at enemies. It's hard to call the new system a step forward, but it's certainly different, and it works. Summon them back, although they work completely differently. You can't call them up strategically anymore, you'll get a prompt every now and then on your screen to call them up. There are no real cringy moments, even in the emotional scene, which is more than I can say about previous Final Fantasy games. Looking at you Titus and Yuna. You probably shouldn't laugh anymore. [LAUGH] One real downside to the game though, travelling around Eos can be a bit of a bummer. Walking's too slow to get anywhere, chocobos are alright for short journeys If you've got a long track to make you'll have to drive. Bellick\g in game ad break. Whenever I couldn't fast shovel, I found myself checking Twitter, making food or watching something on YouTube. I was 14 when this game was announced. So how does 14 year old Daniel feel about it? I've enjoyed it more than any Final Fantasy game since I was 14, so that's a good start. It's been a sketchy few years but Final Fantasy's back.