Final Fantasy XV is really a game about four guys driving around in an automobile. Sometimes, they get out and kill monsters. Other times, they don’t really want to drive during the night and seek shelter around a near by campfire, where they go over photographs and recall their journey up to now. Lead character Noctis could be stubborn, moody, and lazy. Brains of the procedure Ignis can appear to be an overdone parody of an Englishman. Burly bodyguard Gladio could be frustratingly abrasive. And Prompto, the only party member not of high social standing, can seem to be just like a total wimp. Already, the game’s flawed cast is more relatable and endearing than any melodramatic character that the divisive Final Fantasy XIII introduced. Final Fantasy XV isn’t the go back to the series’ roots that so many have already been yearning for, but it’s still an event that resonates with among the property’s core elements: adventure.

For a long time now, Final Fantasy all together has been struggling to remain as highly relevant to the gaming sphere since it was previously. It still has its legions of fans – there is no doubt about this – however the brand has been damaged by numerous titles that lack the core that was once so vital that you the series’ identity. 30 years of history weighs on the shoulders of Final Fantasy XV, and that is no easy weight to transport – specially when this latest entry has been around and out of varied development cycles for ten years.

Sometimes, the wait has been only a detriment to the franchise’s already bruised reputation, however now that it is over, it feels as if the house can breathe a sigh of relief. Given that Square Enix’s massive marketing machine has stopped pumping out a fresh trailer every 10 minutes, and fans finally have the overall game within their hands, it’s almost just like the end of a time. We’re very fortunate, then, that ten-year saga is punctuated by your final Fantasy title that goes quite a distance in restoring our faith in the franchise.

Nearly all your journey will be spent exploring Lucis – a vast country comprising dusty deserts, rolling green hills, and picturesque mountain ridges. Lucis can be an open world that, generally, embraces realism, making its fantastical factors – just like the gigantic meteor that sits in the centre of the united states – even more impressive. In terms of providing a feeling of scale, we’d argue that the game’s unmatched on today’s market. Despite the fact that how big is the map isn’t the largest that the genre’s seen, it’s filled with awe-inspiring views that’ll perhaps you have scrambling for the share button. From truly colossal rocky structures to breathtaking, sprawling cities built on water, the environments make Noctis and the gang feel just like specks of dust in comparison.

Obviously, making the right path through Lucis – on foot or by car – is enjoyable. Periodically areas will appear just a little empty, and there aren’t quite as much secrets or details to find as there are in, say, a Bethesda title, however the concept of leading your very best buddies on a road trip across a nation provides game an undeniably unique flavour. Whether you’re trekking over the wilderness buying a nice spot to create camp or you’re carefully hunting a dangerous creature, Lucis offers a richness that’s not defined by the density of its map. It’s a global that doesn’t exist for you personally; it’s a global that Noctis and his friends simply exist within.

That’s not to state that Noctis is only a cog in the device, however. Our often grumpy protagonist is crossing the united states with an objective, and that forms the foundation of the story that Final Fantasy XV attempts to tell. We utilize the word ‘attempts’ because in most of your journey, the overall game almost appears to forget that it includes a plot. Instead, it has you travel from location to place together with your three companions as you follow a string of very loosely linked events so that you can progress further over the map.

To call the story disjointed in this substantial portion of the overall game will be an understatement. Dialogue feels as though it’s constantly cut short, with characters rarely questioning what they’re doing or why they’re even carrying it out. You’ll meet secondary members of the cast which come and go in what feels as though an instant, you’ll fight villains who receive no time to determine themselves as threats, and you will witness awkwardly put flashbacks that don’t add anything meaningful to current affairs. It’s chaos, but the disappointment reaches least dampened by the chemistry that Noctis, Ignis, Gladio, and Prompto share. Indeed, the four heroes will be able to carry the narrative – you’ll keep playing to see what becomes of these, instead of what becomes of the plot.

With that said, it gets increasingly difficult to disregard the story as you get further in to the game. Around three quarters of just how in, the release suddenly remembers that it includes a plot, and funnels you right into a more linear group of chapters that push Noctis and the gang towards a conclusion. It’s worth noting that you do have the choice of time for the open world when resting at camp, but by this aspect, you may actually end up too invested to take action. In the area of several chapters roughly, Final Fantasy XV decides to kick things into gear, and the story finally finds momentum – it almost becomes an totally different game.

However, a couple days before things summary with what can only just be referred to as an epic and fitting finale, Final Fantasy XV baffles and frustrates with just about the most poorly judged gameplay sections we’ve ever seen. Shunning established gameplay mechanics towards half-baked, tedious nonsense with regard to variety, this segment, for reasons uknown, decides to accomplish its best survival horror impression – and the effect is ghastly for all your wrong reasons. It isn’t quite enough to ruin the bombastic set pieces which come before and after, but it’s unforgivable design yet.

It’s an awful, terrible shame that Final Fantasy XV’s story doesn’t step of progress sooner, but at least the overall game can fall back on an engaging combat system. At its most elementary, you’re holding down one button to attack and one button to guard, however the system is nicely layered with contextual mechanics. For instance, hitting an enemy from behind does extra damage, and you have a potential for activating a web link strike, which sees Noctis partner up with one of is own allies to hand out a deadly blow.

Battles are stylish, too, because of a suite of crisp animations and flashy visual effects. Noctis may also warp around the battlefield at the expense of magic points, enabling you to either close the length on an enemy or quickly teleport out of danger. Once you have wrapped your mind around the overall flow of combat and the features of each weapon type, an extremely satisfying rhythm commences to emerge. It isn’t quite full-blown action, but it’s a great, fluid mixture of positioning, tactical make use of special moves, and knowing when to strike.

As is often the case with Final Fantasy, the soundtrack may be the icing on the cake here. It has been quite a long time since legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu done the series, but anyone who has followed in his footsteps did a great job up to now – and it doesn’t change with Final Fantasy XV. Heading the music these times is Yoko Shimomura, who’s crafted a complete stunner. The battle themes specifically are sublime.

The visuals are similarly accomplished. Main character models and animations have a tendency to look great, as the detailed enemy designs are truly first class, putting the comparatively generic foes within so a great many other titles to shame. As stated earlier, the world itself could be a joy to behold, but there are a few jaggy textures knocking about occasionally when running on a typical PlayStation 4 – in particular when it involves vegetation.

Fortunately, on the technical side, the finished game runs a whole lot smoother than its demos do. As the frame rate does sometimes dip slightly in busy areas, it never drops to a spot where it takes from the experience. And, apart from the long load screens that appear when loading your game or moving onto a fresh chapter, it’s nice realizing that you can travel in one side of Insomnia to the other without encountering an individual pause.

Final Fantasy XV is a strange, patchwork beast that’s made up of many different components. Having experienced development for such a long time, things could have gone far, far worse for Noctis and the gang, but since it stands, that is an engrossing journey that offers a distinctive experience – and that is a thing that can rarely be said about today’s open world games. If it is at its very worst, Final Fantasy XV is mind-bogglingly misguided, but thankfully, those occasions are extremely few in number, and so are soon forgotten if you are running off on adventures with this endearing band of brothers. All together, Final Fantasy will probably never recapture its former glory, but Final Fantasy XV fills us with hope that the series can still carve out its path, even in the end these years.