Review by Lord of Hate

"For the first try at an MMORPG, this is damn nice"

Introduction
Alright, as with all my reviews, I am very harsh on them. I feel the more detailed I am, the better I can help out the people reading this game decide whether this is for them. I've been playing Final Fantasy 11 for 2 months, and my verdict is in. This is a pretty damn good game, and here's how I rated it.

Graphics
The graphics in this game are pretty good. The character models look smooth on all resolutions, and there's a great amount of detail put into their bodies and facial designs. The weather effects are awesome, and really contribute to the settings in the game. I love the wind blowing on the highlands, and the rain falling in the jungles. However, there are some problems with the graphics in this game. As this is formatted for the PS2 as well as the PC, the graphics seem to be reduced in sharpness. For example, looking at the water is disheartening. Also, in very populated areas, PC's and NPC's do not appear without remaining still for a brief amount of time. This can be dangerous, especially in combat, as you may attract an enemy and be unable to find your party to seek help. Overall though, Final Fantasy is one of the prettiest MMO's you'll ever see, and presents some real eye candy with minor flaws.
My score for this section: 8

Sound effects/Music
Well, as with most MMO's, the music in this game starts off enjoyable, and ends up being tedious. This can only be expected from the genre, after all, playing a game where you may be in one area listening to the same tune for 4+ hours, it's only natural that people will grow weary of it. A particularly annoying issue with the music is the fact that it DOES NOT LOOP, and therefore, you will be running in silence when travelling. Several musical tunes also sound very similar, and seem to lack creativity. Also, several areas do not even have music included, providing a dreary silence

The sound effects also present nothing special, and provide very generic sound effects. Hitting a plant should not sound the same way as hitting a crab. The combat noises also sound too similar and lacking of detail to care for, and it seems there are maybe a dozen or so combat sounds. I deemed this as a bit lacking compared to other MMO's.
My score for this section: 4

Gameplay
As with most of my reviews, I always break this section down into several other sections.

***Character Customization
At the beginning of the game, players must create their avatar before they begin on their adventure. The lack of customization was a large disappointment to me, as I had heard much hype about ''never seeing a double of myself in the game''. That is simply not true. There are a mere 8 faces to choose from with 2 hair colors for each face. No facial hair may be given, no muscle customization, and a lack of depth in overall customization is a disappointment.

***Crafting
Final Fantasy 11 is one of the few games that gets crafting done the right way. It is a completely optional trade a player may pick up in order to create items which they will use on themselves, trade with others, or help them aid with quests. Some examples of the crafting guild include Alchemy, Woodworking, and Blacksmithing. Also, unlike other games where crafting is a tedious, and extremely difficult to master (such as Asheron's Call 2 and Star wars Galaxies), Final Fantasy makes it so that even a casual player could pick up on the crafting. HOWEVER, crafting can be EXTREMELY costly, and this can make it very difficult to take up at lower levels. Also, crafting items are used constantly, and unlike other games (notably SWG, crafting 1 item 10000x that no one needed just to raise skills) the items are required for advanced crafts. For example, I make an Animal Glue block as a lvl 1 Alchemist, I will need to use those blocks in order to make an item that requires 30 levels of Alchemy. The other healthy solution to crafting is that players may harvest there own resources, and while more time consuming, it is much cheaper.

***Bugs/Glitches
To this day, in the 2 months I have played, I have not encountered 1 problem with this game. This may be contributed to the fact that Final Fantasy 11 has been out for over 2 years in Japan.

***Player Community
Final Fantasy 11 is unique in the sense that the most experienced players of this game are from the opposite side of the world. I wasn't sure how this would affect the game initially, but I was always prepared for the worst. However, put all your fears aside, there's nothing to be afraid of here. The Japanese have been very helpful and hospitable to American players since release. They have been willing to help with missions and quests that could not possibly be done without their help, they have treated Americans with respect, and they have really enhanced the atmosphere for this game. I feel the biggest problem with the gaming community is the poor translator feature, which can leave a large language barrier between the 2 cultures. Many changes have been implemented to help improve the situation, but there is still much work to be done.
However.....there is a large problem presented by a minority of the American players. I have seen and experienced many racial slurs and insults directed at the Japanese, as well as noticed a resentment by a select few of the players. This is disgraceful, as I believe these select few create a bad image for the American gaming community. However, all and all, people are very helpful, very well-mannered, and very fun to play with.

***Combat
Combat in this game is very active and interesting to me. While dreary and repetitive at lower levels, the higher level fights are extremely entertaining. The TP system adds a new sense of involvement in combat, and allows players to perform special weapon skills after giving and receiving a set amount of damage. To improve upon this effect even more, Square Enix implements the ''renkei'' system, which allows players to chain TP combo's and provide even more additional damage unto enemies. And to add EVEN MORE interaction in combat, upon pulling off renkei combo's, mages may shoot magic bursts at enemies, which do thunderous damage to enemies. At higher levels, combat becomes so intense that if a player makes a mistake, it could cost an entire party their lives. Magic and melee play a key role in combat, and both are essential for fighting the beastman hordes. There are several enemies that cannot be defeated merely by might, and require magic to defeat. I applaud Square Enix for a combat system well done.

***Quests/Missions/Storyline
This game really has a storyline, and it develops through the advancement of missions. Quests also aid in the storyline, but are more often used for personal gains There's even a fame system built into the game, which increases based on the number of quests that you complete. The more famous a person becomes determines the amount of quests that are available, the more respect you'll receive from the town's NPC's, and the more ''special'' quests and missions you can receive. However, some problems lie within both missions and quests.
1) Quests are most often costly, and very minimal on the rewards most of the game.
2) Quests are often difficult to complete alone.
3) Missions and Quests both become VERY time consuming, especially later in the game (there's a mission that takes an alliance of 18 people and 6+ hours of non-stop playing to complete)
4) Missions and quests are very repetitive, and may wear thin on players.
The formats for questing and missions involve the following: Search-and-Recover, Kill an Enemy x amount of times, Delivery, and Exploration.
While I consider these moderate problems they are not terribly severe, they may discourage the average gamer.

***Replay Value
As the races each have their specific strengths and weaknesses, so do the job classes. Their are several combinations that may be tried, and it will give each player a new experience each time. I think that if you pick this game up and give it time, and I mean REALLY give it time, that you'll be playing this game at least a year.
My Score for this Section: 8

Buy?
Yeah, I honestly think this is a great buy for for it's price. If you think I'm off, check the other reviews. This is a great game, however, I would not recommend this for everyone. If your a patient player who can giver 16+ hours a week, I would say buy this game, now. However, if your busy all the time and find yourself with minimal time for this game, I would say turn your head the other direction.

Summary of this game in 1 sentence
An innovative and action packed quality title with minor flaws and excellent overall gameplay, and especially rewarding and satisfying for the hardcore players.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 12/26/03


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