Review by Velcro
"Get ready to lose yourself in an alternate reality"
Final Fantasy XI is a Massively Multi-player On-line Role-Playing Game for the PC and Playstation 2. It is brought to us by the gurus of games: Square/Enix. This is one of the first MMORPG’s I’ve ever played and I’m having a thoroughly good time playing it. But, let’s get down to the real essentials that make up any review.
The story in this game is merely a backdrop to allow you and your character a reason to explore the lands of Vana’Diel. Long ago there was a terrible war between good and evil, the world was nearly destroyed but then some Crystal Warriors came to the rescue and the world was saved…at least for a little while. If you want an engaging, original story you’re not going to find it here. But, that’s where you (the player) come in. You make your own story and it’s as good (or poor) as you want it to be. The missions/quests are fun to complete and add to the overall story but, if you’re like me, you’ll have more fun just joining various parties and going out on adventures of your own device.
This game is pure eye candy. The landscapes and vegetation and water effects are simply breath-taking (at times). The weather effects are nice but you’ll find yourself wondering why it’s raining in La Theine and not in West Ronafaure. The monsters are fairly well designed (except for the Hares but I just think they’re supposed to be that ugly). The player characters and non-player characters are also fairly well designed but I do have one complaint. At times, you will find that your character has quite a few “twins” running around. You can offset this faux pas by equipping different armor and weapons but you’ll quickly find there are not that many costume choices for your character. I hope Square/Enix will provide us with a few more customization choices as time goes on.
If you are a fan of the battle system in the previous Final Fantasies (and if you’ve never played a MMORPG before), you may be a little disappointed in the battle system for FFXI. Instead of being magically whisked away to an alternate reality where you have a menu at the bottom of the screen and your party lined up on one side with the monsters on the other, now you fight monsters in real time. Of course, to say that you actually do the fighting is a bit misleading. You watch your character do the fighting while you use various Job Abilities and Weapon Skills whilst vigilantly waiting for your TP meter to rise. But, and this is the kicker, the fun part of the real-time battles is the fact that you can strategically place party members in the battles. One of the best (and most fun) strategies is to have a party member lure a powerful beast to your party and then slaughter the thing while its cronies stand off on the other side unaware that their friend is getting spanked. Another fun thing is when you see PC’s running from monsters and screaming for help, you can feel like a real hero when you intercept the fiend and turn it into a pile of goo. And, as in the other Final Fantasies, there is more to do than just fight…much more. You can join guilds and become a craftsman, you can make money by selling and buying items at the Auction Houses, you can undertake various missions and quests to earn fame and gil, you can decorate your Moogle House, you can explore to your heart’s content, you can meet hundreds of different real life players and so much more. This game will keep you busy…and you’ll start wondering which reality is real and which is not.
The background music, to me, is sheer perfection. I have yet to explore a region (or fight in a battle) where I thought the music just didn’t suit the environment. The monster noises are nice (especially their grunts and death cries). When you are being followed by other PC’s, you can hear their footsteps and the sound changes depending on what type of ground you are running on. My only gripe is the sound that your characters make in battle. Especially the Humes and Elvaan. I was fighting alongside a Hume Warrior, a big guy wearing heavy armor and wielding a massive sword, and when he struck something he made a noise that reminded me of a squirrel…getting kicked across a room. However, the Galka, Mithra and Tarutaru seem to make the appropriate noises. Still, it’s only a minor complaint so don’t let this be the reason you don’t buy or play this game.
The replay value of this game is infinite if you look at it from the standpoint of creating new characters and playing with different parties; however, it will take you so long just to complete all the quests and missions with your first character that I highly doubt you’ll have the time (or the desire) to start all over again. Still, the replay value is there, you just have to want it bad enough (and have a lot of time to spare).
I’ve listed what I think are the pros and cons for this game, but if someone asked me “Should I play this?” I would say, “Yes”. It is an experience like no other. But, you have to consider the requirements for playing this game on the Playstation 2. You must buy the HDD and the game ($99), a Network Adaptor ($39), a subscription to PlayOnline ($12.95/month) and have an ISP (anywhere from $10 to $40/ month). It’s a pricey endeavor and the time commitment is also big. It will take you, at least, two to three hours to level up when you’re in the lower teens (and I can only imagine how long it will take to level up at higher numbers). So, realize that playing this game is like being married: it takes work, lots of love and infinite amounts of patience. With that said, buy it and if you ever run into an Elvaan Monk named Raife don’t hesitate to say “Hello”.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/31/04, Updated 04/12/04
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