Review by Source II

"Not your usual Final Fantasy.."

If you didn't know already, Final Fantasy XI is a MMORPG(Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) created by SquareEnix taking place in the fantasy world of Vana'diel. In that world you play an adventurer out for fame and fortune but there is millions of other adventurers out there so your gonna have to try really hard to make a name for yourself. There is much more to the story than just that though. You see, if you watch the opening FMV, it'll shed some light on the situation of Vana'diel. The three nations(Bastok, Windurst and Sand'oria) are at the brink of war against the Beastmen. In order to prevent this, they turn to the adventurers to eliminate the threat. This is just the base of the story, it gets much more in depth as you do more missions. It'll keep you entertained.

The graphics on the game is incredible. Of course, they should be incredible because a lot of people are going to buy a new graphics card for it. This game requires a high benchmark score to play(Go to the official FFXI site for info). If your computer doesn't reach the required score, you wont be able to play it thus you have to get a new card for as high as a hundred bucks. But let's speak about the actual graphics itself. It's awesome. When you leave your town and adventure in the fields, you'll see what I'm talking about. The environment is beautiful. The enemies look fierce, the rocky wasteland looks cold and lifeless, the other characters looks detailed and strong and the sky looks as if you went outside and looked up. No complaints on the graphics here. Nothing but praise.

The sounds and music is excellent. Final Fantasy does not disappoint with the sound track in this game. There's even the original theme right before you start the game! Ah, such sweet nostalgia.. The theme in town is catchy and lively, the music in the field is bold and encouraging and the battle theme is strong and fast! And when you fight enough and grow another level, you hear the familiar winning theme from previous Final Fantasies encouraging you to reach the next level! One thing though, none of these themes have stuck in my head. When I play other Final Fantasies, I always have one theme that sticks in my head. These new ones are great and all, but not legendary such as the infamous 'One Winged Angel' theme or Laguna's battle music. But all in all, good music.

So the game sounds good and has nice graphics. So it could be the next Sprits Within(xd). So? How's the gameplay you say? Well, first off.. I'm not gonna lie. This is my first MMORPG. I didn't go into this game expecting anything. So I wont compare it to Star Wars Galaxies or Everquest. This opinion comes from a gamer, not a MMORPG'r. And with that said..

I believe the gameplay is excellent. After you create your character you start off in a town of your choosing. You can choose between the Humes, Elvaan, Galka, Mithra or Taru Taru. The Humes are humans. The Elvaan are human sized elves. The Galka are massive humanoid beastlike creatures. The Mithra are.. catgirls(The anime fanboys will love that!). And last but not least, the Taru Taru are small chibi creatures. Chibi as in child like. After you choose your character you choose your town to start in. After that you are now a face in the crowd out to make a name for yourself. You can head out to fight beastmen, and the battle system is great. You engage the baddie and you draw your sword. You attack and now the enemy is yours. No one else can interfere. You fight it and you get the experience. But if it's too much for you, you can disengage but the monster will chase you down until your dead. If your lucky someone else will take it off your back. Be sure to check and see if the monster is strong! If you don't want to do experience runs, you can either go out and do missions. Go out and do quests. Go fish. Go socialize. Go.. you get the point. This isn't a game, this is a new way of life. This isn't your casual game. I've had this game for only a week, and I know that I haven't came close to experiencing even close to all this game has to offer. For starters..

..There's parties. You and a group of five(5) other people can join together to team up against enemies. And on top of that, if you see another party and you guys want to team up, you can form and alliance and team up. The other day me and a group of about twenty(20) other people ventured in the caves to fight a bunch of monsters much stronger than us. A finger can poke something annoyingly, but a group of fingers can form a strong fist. We fought hard, the beasts may of weakened us during the battles, but our trusty White Mage healed us before the damage grew too much. Oh, speaking of white mages..

..There's the job system. You choose your starting job and you go out to become stronger. Some are party oriented, some are good solo jobs. The jobs are:

The Warrior
With their mighty blade they step out on the frontlines attacking the opponent. An all out physical class. It's their job to dish out the punishment and protect their allies.

The Monk
Go back to the warrior class and take out, ''mighty blade'' and replace it with ''fists of steel'' and you have the monk. They also have other nifty abilities but I'm just giving you an idea of the class.

The Thief
Thieves can steal from the enemies and stuff. I don't know much about them. But from what I hear they're a decent class and work best in parties.

The White Mage
White Mages are like gold to a party. The specialize in healing, and basically supporting the group as a whole. If you become one parties will treat you like you’re a rock star!

The Black Mage
The opposite of a white mage. They specialize in extreme offense. Fire spells, status effects, these guts are made to kill.

The Red Mage
A mix between White and Black, just with a bit of warrior for spice. They've warrior style mages who can use a bit of both styles of magic. Just don't expect to a powerhouse, know your role.

And guess what, their is more class than that! There's the Paladin, Bard, Dark Knight, Beastmaster, Ranger, Summoner, Samarai, Ninja and Dragoon. But you can only get those classes when you reach level thirty(30). And leveling takes quite some time to do. Infact, that's one of the negative things about this game..

As I said before, this isn't your casual game. You can't just pick this game up and expect to play this game to the fullest. When you first play, you'll be amazed with the graphics and story. And some of you newcomers like me will deal with the shock that your playing your first MMORPG. But when that shock that.. thrill burns out, your left with nothing but the gameplay. And for weaklings, the gameplay is weak. It's basically hack and slash the safety(weak) monsters. You could party up with some people, but the already meager experience will go down to microscopic experience. So you'll have to struggle to level. And if your leveling up to reach the new classes, leveling will be a chore. Then there's the chocobos. You need to be level twenty(20.. I think) to ride them. To ride an airship? Ride the ferry? Higher levels bro. And when you die you lose experience you earned. Expect to spend a good portion of time with this game. If you don't have that kind of time or don't want to devote that much time to the game, go play Pac-Man or something. I have the time. I love the gameplay.

Then there's the fact that it's Final Fantasy XI(11). A lot of people will play this game because it's a MMORPG, but a lot more will play it because it's a Final Fantasy game. No.. not just a Final Fantasy game.. because it's a Final Fantasy game that continues the series. But that will give people expectations. We all see that there is Chocobos, Airships, Moogles and even a Cid. But there is no voice acting outside of the opening. It’s a game for millions of people across the world playing at the same time for Yevon’s sake! The story is good, but not as good as the previous Final Fantasies. But this is made for many many many people playing, not just one. So don’t hold that against the game. You shouldn’t expect it but no characters from previous Final Fantasies are here. They never are. But none the less, it still feels like a Final Fantasy game. Hard to explain it, but you’ll know it when you play. For me it was being told to leave the drawbridge and soon after the drawbridge opened and a airship flew into the dock.

All in all, I highly suggest buying this game. Even if you didn’t like previous Final Fantasies, give it a try. It completely changes the formula. SquareEnix took a big risk with this game, and it seems to be a success. If you want a good game to play and have a lot of time on your hands, pick this game up.

But don’t forget to run the benchmark. ;)

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/07/03

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