Review by Arugal
""Final Frustrations" is a more appropriate title."
Here we have Square-Enix's first MMORPG... One of the only MMORPGs to have players because of it's "Final Fantasy" name. This game has built hype just because it was made by Square and because it's a FF title. Not being a FF fan, I have only played this game because it was a MMORPG and it fails to deliver.
To play Final Fantasy 11, (I will refer to it as FF11 from here on end), you need to install a "PlayOnline viewer"(POL). This viewer is used as a means to update FF11, keep track of online friends, use e-mail, and to launch other POL games.(which Tetra-Master(card game) are the only "others.") You cannot "discard" POL and log directly into game, which makes it very annoying because POL is very slow in loading and you have to go past a few screens to actually log into any of the games. Compared to other games, the updates take a while to "Check", DL and Install. What is worse is that you cannot DL any of the updates from a website like FilePlanet. So getting updates can take a while even on a Broadband connection.
When you get into the actual game and go to create a character, you are greeted with very limited customization option. The options are really next-to-nil. There are only five races and two of them only have one type of gender each. Each race has 8 faces that all really look the same and each face can only have one type of hairstyle and two colours. You are going to pretty much look the same as everyone else playing to put it bluntly. You can only choose 6 classes when you create your character and have to unlock the rest thru questing that you cannot do until you are level 30, which is a pretty far away goal in this game. But I will get back to that later. You will also find that if you ever want to create another character you have to pay an extra $1 a month for each character. I find that ridiculous, it's just another way for Square-Enix to drain money from it's players. After you make your character and choose a class you can pick your starting city. This really has no impact except for it becomes your "Nation" and if you choose to start in a city that belongs to your race, you get a "special" ring. When loading into the game for the first time you are greeted with a long "cut-scene". This cut-scene is about 5 min. long, is unskippable and you cannot move during them. What is worse is that the game is filled with them. I mean, this is a role-playing game, is it not? It isn't supposed to be viewed in 3rd person. After that you are just plopped into the game world to fend for yourself.
Upon trying to control your character, you will find that it is very arduous. The controls and camera are very clunky and difficult to do anything with. Getting the camera in the right position is a quest within itself. Macros are another thing to get used to. It consists of pressing Ctrl/Alt + a number. Often times they do not respond and you have to press it yet again. What makes it worse is that you cannot customize your key-mapping. Like I said, the response time with the controls is very awkward and delayed or sometimes not even set off. I blame this mostly on FF11 being originally a PS2 game, but I have no idea what happened in the transition to PC. This just takes the cake for awful controls.
Getting past the controls you will find that "adventuring" in the world of Vana'diel isn't all what it's hyped up to be. Everything the vendors(NPCs) sell is outrageously over-priced, even for a level 1 weapon. To add to that, everything Players sell in Player-made auctions/vendors is even more over-priced. (5K Gil(game currency) for a level 5 weapon !!!???) And this is like on every server. The game has an inflated economy because Square-Enix doesn't really do anything about the Gil sellers/farmers. Making money legitly in game is way to difficult to the point it becomes pointless to try and do so. Only Beastmen drop coin(and very little at that), and the only decent items drop from NMs(Notorious Monsters, think "rare") which have re-spawn timers of hours and are always camped by 10 other people. To get to the point, the only way to actually get money to buy anything in this game is to have high-level friend(s) or to get it the "other" way, which I won't bring up, but it's pretty obvious. When you get your equipment you will find that you will be wearing it for a good many of levels. There is no "other" armour for your level, That's it. You will look like everyone else your level. Only thing that separates you from others is your name tag above your head. The armour and weapons are pretty dull and look pretty much the same as you level. They may have some different colours here or there, but that doesn't change much.
When you attempt to fight your first fight you will find that it is very slowly paced. You just stand there and attack pausing about 5 seconds between attacks while the monster your fighting hits you almost every second. If you also ever try to cast a spell you will find that you get "interrupted" for no reason at all. You are not getting hit, just standing there and out of the blue your spell gets interrupted and happens again for the next 3 casts. Why this happens I have no idea. It is very frustrating while trying to heal other party members and can cause deaths. Melee fighters will find it easy that when they reach a certain skill level they will automatically learn a new weapon skill. Casters will find it miserable when they need to buy a new spell. Every spell in this game has to be either found or bought, and you know what that means... Camping NMs or buying it from Players. You will realize by now that it takes forever to gain one level. You will also realize that you cannot solo past level 9 or so. Now it's time to do what you will be doing for most of your time in Vana'diel - Sitting for hours LFG, Grinding for hours upon hours with other people, in the same old areas, in a corner of a zone and dying plenty of time losing your experience points, all that hard work down the drain. FF11 is nothing more than a 2nd job. It takes way too many hours a day of commitment to actually accomplish anything. It will take you a year or more to get to level 75(max level). You also have to level not one - BUT- two jobs independently. You see you have this thing called a "Sub-Job" which is half the level of your "Main" job. I really hated this because it forces you to level two jobs, it takes double the amount of time of leveling one. Oh yeah, about getting those other jobs I mentioned - have fun... you have to get to level 30 THEN play your new job from level 1... Yep. You also need high-level help in getting those job-quests done, which will leave you begging in shout. Starting at level 50 you have to do a quest every 5 levels to raise the level cap till 75. Not being able to solo is what really ruins this game, plus the amount of experience you need to gain a level compared to the amount of experience that mobs give you. It is just atrocious. Grouping with others is something you wish you could avoid. Almost everyone in this game will criticize you for not wearing a certain piece of equipment or will tell you how they think you should play. That's right - other people telling YOU how YOU should play YOUR job. It gets too out of hand.
There is also hardly a community - no one hardly ever talks out of groups and you share a server with all the other players around the world. You will most likely cross-paths with someone who doesn't speak English most of the time. All the servers are in Japan also, soooo you will encounter high latency and lag quite often. Not to mention when there is any server maintenance that is at a very inconvenient time for non-Japanese and usually takes more than 5 hours. We are talking anywhere between 12-6pm EST time of maintenance... and it can even go on for even longer. On top of all this, you will find the music and sound effects in this game to add more nausea. It is just horrible and I had to play with the sound off. I mean, it cannot be tolerated at all.
Traveling around in this game is something that is despised. You cannot ride a mount until you do a quest at level 20, THEN you have to pay anywhere from 500-1K Gil for each ride that only lasts 20 minutes. Yep... you can only rent a mount... not have your own. There is Air-ships but you have to either gain "Ranks" which are quest-based missions - to Rank 5, which takes a while to get to - or pay 500K Gil to be able to ride them. Going from each zone is also annoying because the world is not seamless, each area needs to load up. So you are greeted with a "loading screen" each time you "zone". This is really just primitive in my eyes and takes away from the whole "world" thing. Despite of all this, the actual world of Vana'diel is quite lovely with nice scenery. There are wonderful snowy areas, rainforests, deserts, towers, fields, caves, I can go on. But, too bad you will probably never see most of it because you need to be pretty much max level to go everywhere. If you can take the time to level to 75 you will enjoy all the sites, but that's pretty much all you will enjoy in this game.
Final Fantasy 11 fails miserably. You really should not waste your time on this game. It is more like a job than a game that's supposed to be fun. If you want to play an enjoyable MMORPG, I would suggest finding something else.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 01/05/06, Updated 10/11/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy XI (US, 10/28/03)
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