Review by PseudoSX
"Certainly playable, but, frankly, not great."
I'll keep this as short as possible.
I've read many of these reviews... those who are gleefully in support of the game tend to be big FF fans anyway, and those who denounce it vehemently seem to have some pent up hostilities for Square or see the game as the vile competitor that has dared to challenge whatever other MMORPG that that user seems to prefer. Transversely, I, as an FF fan, do not like the game as much as I wished that I would but have found that it's about par for MMO games.
The game is nice looking, something you'll hear endlessly about just about any game Square produces. But that is, after all, their trademark capability. As I wandered around awhile, which can really, really take a while, I found myself struck at one moment with the thought, "This is beautifully amazing." Honestly, there are some jaw-dropping settings in that world.
The music is pretty good. It's not on all the time, changes with the areas, and like most FFs, isn't distracting. Importantly though, with the amount of time the game takes to do ANYTHING, it isn't annoying, more, it just fits well within the background. The sound effects are much the same, usable without being annoying.
The auction system is one of the best features of the game. First time players can be overwhelmed by the sheer cost of items, coupled with the very minimal amount of "gil" that various quests or enemies will garner you. But the auction system not only levels the field, but with a bit of patience, it can even set you ahead of the game. Not only can you sell your own equipment back at the same prices you bought them for, or higher, but, with a bit of note taking, you can find easily acquired items that sell high, or buy stacks (12 item sets) of items that sell proportionately high individually (I.E., Pamtam Kelp stacks, when I played, sold for about 1000gil, but each Pamtam Kelp sold for between 200-400 gil each).
And there are big rewards for partying. You get better experience, your own chat group, gaming support, easier trade opportunities, and, with a good team, security.
Yet, this party incentive stuff is also a big pain. Any and all who, like me, are anti-social and playing this game because it's an FF, and not because you're a MMO fan, you will quickly tire of this game.
Partying is not simple. It can be difficult to get a party. If you do not pick a job/sub-job combination that the majority likes, your chances of getting invited into a party are slim to none, and only slightly higher if you are the one trying to invite yourself into someones party.
Each job has its own purposes to a party. If you choose to be a white mage, plan to never fight another monster again within a party, because no one will want you to. Your job will be to heal, forever. And generally, there will be two of you in a party, so you won't even have the satisfaction of feeling important. This isn't said because I was some sad scorned WHM, but because I've heard and seen it. It looks boring.
On jobs, the exp. system levels the job, not your character. So, if you want to switch jobs, you get to start all over again. Finding a party at lower levels, therefore, is much easier than at higher levels, but it is very annoying. Generally, you get about 100exp. per battle (good parties excluded) and at only level 16 it takes 3600 or so to gain a level. There are at least 15 different jobs so... you do the math. Beaucoup tempes.
Outside of auctioning, good luck getting any cash. Few creatures drop it, few missions give any worth having, and EVERYTHING costs two arms and three legs. But, that's ok, without really high levels, you can't even equip that expensive equipment anyway.
Dying sucks. Yes, we know this, but in FFXI, it sucks real, real bad. Every time you die, you lose 10% of the total amount of experience required for you to gain a level. So when it takes 5600 for you to gain a level, if you die you lose 560 exp, far more than you'd gain for fighting that baddie you just gambled on. And it does turn out to be a gamble. Unless you're partying in a good party, fighting anything that will give good experience (Decent Challenge with high defense, or Even Match) can easily be death. Despite being labeled "Even Match" they are often quite stronger and, if you don't have a pet or some white magic, your chances of winning are slim to none. And don't even try to take on something that "Seems Tough" because you won't win. I've seen Red Mages barely scrape through, with no MP and only a little HP, and obviously those with pets can make it, but otherwise, you will die.
So why does the game get a 6/10? Well, because despite all of that, I still play, I'm still willing to go in, battle for hours on end for one measly level up, and get excited about new equipment or spells that I qualify for. And if you can deal with all of the flaws, the story line is actually pretty good.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 07/06/05
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