Review by Death SIayer
"Final Fantasy? More like Blue Crab Slaughter Fest...yawn..."
Ah, Final Fantasy XI... I've wasted an entire year of my life to this game and spent over 100$ for it. This very game brought me into the MMORPG world. FFXI is a game that I got because I thought it would be interesting to be in a world where I can be any class I want to be. And be in a war in one of three country's that would supposedly have an effect on the gameplay. Boy was I wrong...
Story isn't important in a MMORPG, but it must be in the review. This games story is pathetic. It puts the name Final Fantasy to shame. Without spoiling much, a dark Shadow Lord is being revived by the Beastmen and will destroy the world if not stopped. And ontop of the resurrection, three main nations still bicker at each other and care about nothing but gaining more territory. Blah blah blah blah... where have I seen a great evil who was going to be resurrected before...hmmm...
When you actually start the game, the story progresses in "missions" that are assigned to you by your country. The fact that the story sucks, isn't half the problem with it. The missions are spread so far apart from each other that you have to spend days, even weeks, and sometimes MONTHS to progress in it. The first few missions you can do easily as soon as you start the game. But once you are rank 2, you need to wait until you get to level 20 before you can attempt them again. And after you beat that chain of missions, you CAN get some friends to baby walk you to rank 5. But after that, you need to be level 50 to continue to the rank 5-1 mission. And then level 60, or mid 60's to continue the rank 5-2 mission. And let me tell you, that's almost end game right there. And until that point of the story, you don't know what the heck is going on.
I hardly think any of the music is memorable. Now, for a FF game that is sad. The main music of the game that you will be hearing A LOT are the city of Bastok, Sandoria, Windurst, Jeuno, and of course the Battle Music. Luckily I started off in Bastok my first time playing the game. It had a nice catchy tune that suited my entrance into a MMO world. But then, entering Sandoria my ears started to bleed to the sound of Bagpipes. It honestly got to the point where I had to turn my sound speakers off. And I never did that to a game, ever! Windurst's music is annoyingly upbeat and sounds something a child would hear on one of his/her saturday morning cartoons. Jeuno had nice soothing music, and I'm glad it did because you WILL be spending most of your time in Jeuno sitting waiting for a group.
Then we have the battle music, which is horrible. Thank god there is different kinds of battle music though. You have the normal music for outdoor-non-expansion pack zones. The music for the non-expansion pack caves. The music for the first-expansion pack zones, etc... The only ones that were any good were the Chains of Promithia battles. But that is probably because I have not heard them 1million times while grinding levels.
More importantly folks, most areas don't have music at ALL! I am dead serious. Unless you have 5 real life friends in your server with suitable jobs to stick around with you... you will be stuck leveling in the same areas as everyone else. Which for starters is Valkrum Dunes, the Icy area of Quifm Island, the jungles of Khazam, the ruins of Gariland, the caves of Crawlers Nest. Now those areas will be where you will level up from 10-60, which is basically all the levels short 15 (max level is 75). And, my friend, you will be in a musicless zone for hours grinding for level ups. And those hours add to weeks, which add to months. You should get the picture by now.
Overall, the music that this game actually has is bad. I was forced to hack the music files and put some suitable MP3's I have to replace them. And after that, the music was waaay better. But seeing how I had to actually hack the games sound files in order to enjoy in-game music... is very bad for the games music score.
The graphics make me yawn. When you first start the game, the graphics seem good. But when you meet the people and start seeing the mobs you will be fighting... you will notice how repetitive everything is. I lost count of how many clones of my character I saw. Hell, I was in a party with two other people that looked EXACTLY like me. Same armor, face, weapon, hair and whatnot. Now that is sad. The character models lack anything unique. So it will be hard to tell your friend apart from the 100 other clones that are standing right next to him/her.
Speaking of telling your friend apart from the 100 other clones that are standing in the area... This game loads character models very very slowly. So in order to see where your friend is, in a crowded area, you have to type /target Name, in order to see where they are. And even then, all you will be looking at is an arrow pointing on the ground until they load. Of course, the game doesn't take priority of what it loads first. So it's going to load everyone you DON'T care about before it loads up your party/friends. In crowded areas like Jeuno and leveling areas it can take a good two minutes or more to fully load everyone.
Character models are not the only problem with graphics. The mobs that you will fight look exactly the same. Square didn't even bother to just simply change the color of the mobs. Yes my friend, you will be fighting the same blue crabs from levels 10 to 55. I hope you are excited about that! Even the diehard FFXI addicts on the message boards will agree with me on this aspect. Go ahead and ask them yourself if you don't believe me. I haven't played this game in a while, and I still remember exactly how the crab model looks like. I've seen it so many times it has been branded into my brain.
Now for a very important graphical nitpick. Your armor, looks the same no matter what level you are. You will be seeing a level 28 person wearing armor that looks exactly like the armor a level 10 person would wear. What shocked me, was some level 50 armor that looked like bone/beetle armor (levels 16-22). Just like the mobs, Square was too lazy to change the color of armor if it's graphic would be used again. Simple color changes are as simple as sliding some RGB bars, and Square was just too lazy to do that.
You start off creating a character, first by picking the race/gender. Human and Elvaan (Elves), which you shouldn't need a description about. Tarutaru, short midget like cute looking things with orange skin. Mithra, your basic every day cat woman that most FFXI players drool over for some reason(no male version of them). And last but not least, the Galka's, who are gigantic bear looking people(no female version of them). After picking the race/gender, you pick the faces. There are around 8-11 faces for each race/gender. After you pick a face, you pick the hair color A or B. Then you pick a size, Short, Medium, or Tall. Then you name them. That's it. No matter what combination you pick, there will be 1000 other clones of you. So pick what looks cool to you, and not what looks unique. You then get to pick a country, Sandoria, Bastok, or Windurst. I played every country, but I started out with Bastok. After that, you view a little boring introduction of your country and your character. Then you get to walk around yay!
Battles are very boring, and you will not enjoy them one bit. They are more like work/school. Honestly, I would rather go to work than play this game again! At least I get money for going to work. Well anyway, you start off by selecting the monster (called mob by almost every MMO player) and initiating auto attack on it. Auto attack has you face the mob and attack it depending on your weapons attack speed. And your attack speed will be slow unless you have the 30mil gil kraken club (fat chance) equipped. For you guys that like big weapons like two handed swords or scythes get ready to wait a good 4-5 seconds before you can swing again. Battles are so slow and boring, that I found myself starting auto attack and walking out the room. Got myself a nice heated snack, drink, and all that good stuff... sat down and saw that we were still fighting. Started a skillchain, and started to eat/drink while the fight finishes. *Yawn*
Now, what makes battles slightly more interesting is the team you will be in. Which will have to consist of a Tank (someone who takes damage from the mob), a Healer (generally a white mage, but in the higher levels it can be a Redmage as well) and different Damage Dealers or an Assisting class such as the Bard. If your the Tank, you have to make sure the mob faces and hits only you. You can do that by healing, doing damage, evading its attacks, and most of all... by using the skill called "Provoke". If you are the Healer you heal the Tank and buff the Party. If you are a Damage Dealer you deal damage to kill the mob. Damage Dealers use an ability called "Skillchains" to deal even more damage. DD's use Skillchains by using certain "Weapon Skills" timed correctly and in a certain order with the other DD's in your party. To know what a Weapon Skill is, think Limit Break from FF7. It is a very interesting idea, and I liked it. But...
What you will mostly be doing BEFORE you can grind levels by battling is sitting waiting to be in a group or form one yourself. I probably wasted a week, if not more, if I put the total hours together of me looking for a group in my entire FFXI playtime. God I wonder why I put up with it. Anyway, FFXI addicts will say, if you don't like waiting for a group then make one yourself. Well guess what, easier said then done! It would be easy to do that, but the only people that are available can not be put together to make a decent group. Unless you are very very lucky and happen to have a Tank, Healer, and some DD's that are within your level range. And times like that hardly happen compared to the times you just sit hopeing for an already made group to lose a member and invite you in as a replacement. On one of my worse days, I left the game on and went to the movies and never recived an invite.
On top of the repetitive grinding and waiting, you have to also "Farm" money (gil) to buy equipment. Only beastmen mobs drop gil, and the most they ever drop is 170gil (double that if you are a thief). So grinding beastmen is out of the question for getting gil. Grind the items that they drop? Sure thing, they sell for a good amount of money. So you go out and attract a train of mobs to slaughter and hope they drop some goods that you can sell. It will take hours before you can even make 10,000gil this way. And that is IF someone even manages to buy your items off the Auction House.
Let's try fishing, you cast a line and wait around 10 seconds for something to bite. If nothing bites, you have to wait 15 seconds till you can cast again (why... I have no fricking clue). And you repeat till you get a bite, only for your rod to break. And you lose your expensive lure as well. So forget fishing. FYI fishing skill takes hours to level up 0.2 of a level. You could try mining, to mine in this game you run around a zone pressing tab hoping to find a mining point (they are invisible, so you have to press Tab over and over to spot one). You mine it and all you get are broken pickaxes and pebbles. Yes my friend, in order to mine you have to bring STACKS of pickaxes since they break very easily. Unlike in other games and in real life, all you would normally need is just one. But FFXI is special, it has to make you waste more time. So you must slap down more money to buy alot of pixkaxes that will more often than not just break. And be a complete waste of your time and money.
We hate the low level mining areas, so we try the biggest mining area in the game. Even people at max level get owned by the mobs here. So you have to be stealthy, and hope that there isn't a mob spawned on top of a mining point. I did this for a good week, and was good at it. But my luck wasn't any good since I only got the best kind of ore only twice. Mining sucks, so lets try crafting. In order to craft, you need to buy overpriced crystals or farm them yourself. Crystals only drop from mobs your level, so farming is out of the question (since after you are level 20, it is practically impossible to solo a mob your level). So you spend lots of money to get crystals. Now you need the ingredients to craft something. But oh wait, the game doesn't keep track of what you can craft in a nice little list. You have to go online to find out what you can craft, since the NPC's only tell you like three things at a time.
You start to craft, and your crystal breaks losing all the materials you were using. That is a very common possibility when crafting. Oh yeah, and skilling up... you have to wait until a certain hour of the day for that. Wait until fireday if you plan on using any red crystals as an example. In-game days last an hour, and there are 7 in-game days. So if you are really unlucky, you might have to wait 6 hours before you can craft again with maximum skill gain. Oh joy... You also lose money when crafting until you max out it's level. And I did not have the patience to max out a crafting level, nor the money to dump into it. Since I'm trying to find a way to EARN money, not LOSE it.
Last, but not least, the only other way to earn gil is by hunting NM's. NM's are Notorious Monsters. They spawn in a certain area of a zone, the low level ones spawn once every 3 hours, while the higher level ones can take 32 hours to spawn. Now, if you so happen to claim a NM by the very chance of luck (there are plenty of people going after the same NM you are). You have to hope that it even DROPS the item you are looking for. And in most cases, it doesn't. Wasting 3+ hours of your life.
I won't even go on about gilsellers ruining the economy making things on the Auction House cost even more. Things that are required to get cost millions of gil thanks to them. And that was my last straw when I finally quit. Square should learn to put a max gil limit to stop this. 999,999,999gil is just too high.
Grinding and Farming aside, you have the three country war thing going on. Well, it's not really a war. Because, you can be a Bastokan and the Sandorians will even give you a Moghouse to stay in FOR FREE. That being an example of how pathetic the war system is. The only thing the "war" or "hostility" does, is taking over areas. The more mobs people from one country kill in an area, the more control a country gets. And after a real life week, the number of kills each country has is tallied up. And whoever has the most mob kills, takes control of the area. All taking control of areas does is give the people from that country a warp point there, and more items to spend "Conquest Points" on.
Most MMORPG's give you the pleasure of PVP. This game however does not. PVP in this game is called "Ballista". It's a game where you have to kill someone in order to get something to put in a rook. Something like that. People that played it told me it sucked, and I never got the chance to play it. Because it requires at least 3 people to be on each team. And nobody ever wants to play it since it sucks. Sorry I can't be more detailed on the crappy PVP this game has. Blame the scheduled system it runs over.
I can go on and on about why this gameplay sucks folks. But I think I hit the majority of it. Grindfests and sitting waiting for something to happen is horrible game design. And thus, the gameplay score is a 2.
Do you like starring at a spot on the ground waiting hour for a mob to spawn, only for it to be claimed before you even see it? Do you like sitting with a LFG (Looking for group) flag above your head for 4 hours in Jeuno so you can level up? Do you like being slaughtered by a mob that cons "This monster appears to be Easy Prey to you."? Do you like spending hours upon hours to farm money to buy overpriced required equipment on the Auction House? Do you like putting up with morons in forced team battle situations? If you answered yes to any of those, then this is the game for you. And I won't stop you from buying it and wasting your life away. If you answered NO to any of those, then get another game.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 07/06/05
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