Review by Zaridus

"MMORPG & Final Fantasy, You can have your cake and eat it too."

A Final Fantasy that is an MMORPG. This is what a lot of people would consider ''the best of both worlds''. I have been a fan of the Final Fantasy series since the birth of my gaming life many years ago. Although, I never expected to go from witnessing a demented Kefka lay waste to a city to partying with a stranger 6 states away to whoop a baddie that I'd never be able to take on by myself. I was familiar with the MMORPG setting from my past 3 years of Ultima Online and sporadic Everquest days. But when I caught wind of a Final Fantasy taking an online format, I was drooling in anticipation waiting for its release. Is it possible to take a game of such a positive history and successfully throw it on the online-bandwagon? Let's see.....

Controls - 8/10
Lets face it, a game is only a good as the ease to control your character. When I started the game, I just stood there for 10 minutes poking blindly at my keyboard trying to figure out how to walk. I figured the arrow-buttons, but I was wrong (those are for camera angles). The controls are very tedious to learn, but not impossible. I have since then learned the keyboard controls and even set up my own macros. The game allows the use of a gamepad. I have tried it with a gamepad, but since I have gotten use to the keyboard, I quickly rejected it. The controls is like learning to ride a bike: Takes a while to learn, but once you've mastered it, you're just able to use them without thinking about it.

Gameplay - 8/10
We've all sat down in front of a game glanced up to look at a clock and WHAM, it suddenly went from 8pm to 3am. This game definitely has that effect. When you first start out, you'll be spending a lot of time ''getting on your feet''. You'll be leveling up pretty much alone trying to make yourself an asset to others, scrounging around for gil (the game's monetary unit), and getting pointers from fellow players. Just like other games, this one will have you screaming obscenities at it too. When you die, you lose experience points. And too many deaths in a row will actually drop your character's level to a previous one. All gamers know that with any video game, there is a love/hate relationship and you will definitely feel it with this game. Also, this is an Online game, which means that you should expect to interact with someone eventually. You will find yourself at some point where you will need assistance with something so be courteous and respectful to others even if you want to try something alone first.

Story - 8/10
I never really put as much attention into the story of an MMORPG that I have an RPG. In my past experiences, the players make the story of an online game. Square knew this and they obviously kept that in mind while developing the story. I am not sure what some people would consider a ''spoiler'' so I'll tread lightly. There are three kingdoms, and when you start your character, you choose which kingdom you are associated with. As part of your kingdom, you assist it in gaining territories. Although, you have to keep in mind that there are other players assisting their kingdom in gaining territories. You are not at war with each other and can still help each other out, you are simply building your defenses against the beastmen (the bad guys)

Graphics - 10/10
The graphics in this game are simply stunning. Everything seems to compliment each other forming an amazing world. Ever since Final Fantasy VII, I was appalled by the capabilities of square. I knew how much they like to out do themselves with each release of Final Fantasy they put out, so I was expecting a beautiful world to immerse myself in. But when I started the game, I was in shock. I was not expecting such fine details and stability that I witnessed. From the terrain to spell effects, the graphics surpass all of my expectations.

Sound & Music - 9/10
Those of us that have played nearly every title of the Final Fantasy series have raised our standards of audio in video games. Square knows how to match the perfect songs with the emotional setting being experienced at a certain point, from that sad scene in Final Fantasy VII with the perfect score being played in the background to the heart-racing orchestra at the end of Final Fantasy VIII. The music and sound effects in this title are the quality we expect. Alas, it is a bit repetitive and that is what keeps it from a perfect 10.

Replayability - 10/10
Since this is an online game, you never actually complete it. You have many options to keep yourself interested though. If you get tired of fighting, you can take up crafting. Think you've accomplished all you can as a warrior? Switch to a White Mage or some other class. Extremely aggravated at getting whooped consistently? Relax and chat with some fellow players (who knows, you might just make a new friend). You have tons of options to keep yourself interested in this game, just don't let it become obsessive.

Final Verdict
If you are a fan of the series and you are already familiar with online gaming, you will definitely enjoy this game. If you are a fan of the game but never played an online game, it will take some adjusting. I love the series and am no stranger to the online gaming world. This game has taking over as my main MMORPG and I would recommend it to anyone that loves the Final Fantasy series.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/12/03

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