Review by terragen
Speaking from a FF-addict perspective, this game is completely astounding. Speaking from an unbiased perspective, this game is completely astounding. This nearly-flawless execution of the MMORPG-genre game in the world of Vana'diel is refreshing and magnificent; it truly accomplishes what its long-time MMO predecessor Everquest could never hope to reach.
Now, I admit, this is the first MMORPG that I have truly sat down and played for large amounts of time. At the same time, that particular statement shows that this is no ordinary game. Square-Enix propels its first online installment of Final Fantasy beyond a simple clone, and the results are great.
You cannot have an expansive world without something worth seeing. You need some sightseeing, or the game won't be complete. FFXI delivers in every aspect. From the character models to the various equipment they can don to the hundreds of animations they can execute, every player's alter-ego is bound to have an increased level of depth normally unheard of in RPGs. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of monsters, each with their own visual attributes, all with their own method of movement and attacks. Every spell and ability is choreographed to match its use. Simply put, this game looks good.
The gameplay is designed almost perfectly. There is no question about it. The only problem is the inherent repetition that seems to be built into the experience. Much of the game is spent in experience parties, in which you set up a party of two to six people and kill monsters to gain levels and become stronger. Each person's role, however, is defined by their job, and at times it seems like you will be doing the same thing for hours. Rest easy. This minor problem is corrected with the multitude of spells and abilities for each job to keep things fresh, and, best of all, the ability to change to any job you have unlocked while in town. There are a total of 15 different jobs you can switch to, and since each of them must be leveled separately, that gives you, essentially, 15 different characters to play. That's a lot of value in one game. You'll be sure to be keeping this game for a while. The battle system is quite unlike any seen before in Final Fantasy; in engaging an enemy, you actually enter an auto-attack mode where your character attacks the enemy (if in range) without needing any extra button pressing. Each weapon has its own delay, meaning the time between attacks is already precalculated. In this auto-attack state, you can cast spells or use abilities. This reduces the need for extra button pressing to attack every once in a while, and strays away from the turn-based, methodical style from previous Final Fantasies, like it should. The combat engine is innovative, indeed.
I was quite disappointed to hear that Nobuo Uematsu would not be lending his talents to the musical production in Final Fantasy XI. However, this is made up for. The music streams beautifully throughout the game, and each area has its own distinctive theme. The battle music is vaguely reminiscent of the Final Fantasy battle themes over the years, each monster makes its own sound effects when attacking or being attacked. A strong effort on the audio for this game.
Simply put: if you can afford this game, buy it. It is a worthy investment that will essentially save you money if you allow yourself to be hooked in (and it is quite easy to get hooked). As long as you remember it's just a game, you'll have plenty of fun with it without getting too far too quickly.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 05/24/05
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