MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
This is not a review. There are enough of those to go around on this game. This is a post script of a game that no longer has a home on my PS4 Hard Drive.
Final Fantasy XV. Where even to start?
My fears were both wiped away – then brought to full bare as I concluded Chapter 11. Bankruptcy. It left me wondering whether the game should have just been terrible from the start to keep me from getting my hopes up. I became quite familiar with the world (explorable) of Final Fantasy XV. With the exception of 1 dungeon, I beat them all. I was a Level 4 Hunter. An expert fisherman. A grade-A cook. Survival expert. Master photographer…you get the picture. At some point it was time to actually progress through the main story with my Ultima Weapon (pathetic) and arsenal of high level weapons garnered from picking carrots and hunting for knick knacks. I still regret that decision. It was like biting into a cake with excellent frosting, but the center was concocted of purposefully spoiled human waste…but with Saigon cinnamon to attempt to hide the smell and inevitably bad flavor.
Metaphors don’t always work. The meaning for my expertly crafted soliloquy above is simple. Final Fantasy XV could have been an excellent game. Unfortunately it was forced out of the door and developers tried to tie up loose ends in the most palatable manner they could. It was painfully obvious. Some loose ends were left a tad too open in an overly ridiculous way. I was waiting for the game to stop and instantly show a trailer for the next DLC. “Want to know what happens when Gladio disappears for no reason and returns with a scar??? Hmmmmm??? Does that get your gears turning??? Buy our DLC!” I have no tolerance for that. The tie-ins to Kingsglaive and Prompto’s anime story are obvious as well. By the way…my extra content for use of Carbuncle for playing the demo??? Yeah, no sign of him – at all – ever. The game reeked of incomplete greatness. An awesome looking…house salad. A tease. The London Symphony orchestra’s best works…played live for a YMCA basketball game…for the senior players…and one of them is trying to pull off a tank top. Full disclosure, the soundtrack was amazing. Yoko Shinomura never disappoints.
The sad thing about FF XV is that its hard not to recommend it. I spent two thirds of my nearly 65 hours enjoying a very well put together open world, fun side quests, and fishing games. You can fish in the middle of two dungeons. Remarkable. Seriously though, the world was what I expected to see in Final Fantasy XIII. Alive with the sound of creatures of the dark who need slaying in the most epic of fashions! The nighttime change is not new for RPGs, but well executed. Travel was something you had to think about. Later in the story you get even less sunlight. This phenomenon was not explored until the end chapters. Unfortunately, we were treated to only one explorable “city.” Things unravel in a torrent of hyper-mediocrity and incomparable malaise. The final acts move so fast Scottie couldn’t hold it any longer (Star Trek reference). Characters came fumbling out of the aether as quickly and secretly as they entered. The Empire fell while the team was executing level 30 hunts; via transistor radio no less. Go figure. Apparently gravity didn’t just bounce Cindy, but the Empire too. Come on – someone had to say it. Well, at least she had a warm jacket.
I’m trying to keep things light. In reality I was fiercely disappointed by this game. The rumor mill on YouTube and gaming media sites seem to confirm that developers simply ran out of time and had to reel in the intended epic-ness. The story was misshapen so badly, not even DLC will fix it. There is no need to go into details here, but lets just say we would have had a truly superior game in terms of storytelling and exploration. And now my contextual rant:
Final Fantasy is now a victim of the impossible game development system. A true loss. The video game industry has to figure out how to rid itself of this cycle where incomplete or purposefully spliced games are allowed to release! Please! I beg you! Charge more if you have to. We’re already paying more right now. This game required another year, at least, to satisfy the original intent. Alas, it sold well. Surprisingly, it was well reviewed. Video game media is failing us. A game like this should start at an 7 out of 10 point scale and go down from there. Just like a garbage movie with great visuals and mediocre action, video games are spectacles unbounded by their original artful expression. The RPG crown jewel is relegated to being paraded around as a prized pig; but with lipstick. I cannot tell you how many reviews nailed fundamental problems with this game, but ended with – “Its My Favorite!”, “I Loved It!”, “A Masterpiece!”, “Spectacular!” Boy, those SquareEnix freewares must be really valuable these days. How infinitely lazy. You simply cannot apply soaring superficiality to a game wrought with plot holes, a mediocre battle system, camera straight from hell, and a warp 9.4 She’s-Flying-Apart-Captain ending. This will ruin games. A numbered Final Fantasy that can be beaten soundly in less than 20 hours. I thought I’d never see the day.
PS. Kudos to Japanese gamers for their discontent on Amazon. Keep your pride intact. Don’t settle like Western audiences.