Review by TerraRyzor

Reviewed: 11/12/03

A refreshing and engaging forray into MMORPG

This is a well thought out and very in depth game. As usual with MMORPG's you can expect a monthly fee, and occasional down time while the game is updated. Speaking of updates you will receive a nice sized one right off the bat. This was a game i was not wanting to like because I hated the idea of square taking my beloved game franchise and taking it online.
I could not resist buying it the very first time I saw it in a store and boy was I delighted. Now to the review.

GAMEPLAY- It took me a minute to get used to the controls, and they are not really set up for the greatest ease of use. I was surprised to find that after awhile I was able to play better without using the mouse and just using keyboard commands. After you learn the commands,(which are given to you in the game manual) the game becomes much easier to play.
I found that the game had a steady learning curve, and after the first few levels you can gain money and skills fairly easy. This is not to say that the game is a walk in the park.
The areas are set up like your normal online rpgs, where the area right outside of town are littered with easy to kill monsters, and you'll find the further away from towns the more interesting and dangerous the monsters become. I mentioned that the game was deep, and by that I mean that there are a billion things for you to be doing, which is something I have found lacking in other MMORPG's. If you get tired of killing every beast in sight and leveling up your character, or trying to build up a craft skill (i.e. smithing, jewelry craft, etc.) you can embark on thousands of minor quests given to you by NPC's. You may also join the conquest mode which allows you to earn points towards your nations control over the regions. There are many other things to get involved in than just killing critters and gaining experience points, but there are far too many for me to list, and I haven't even discovered them all yet.

STORY- Unlike many other online games there is a story to FFXI which you can take part in or not. Seems that the continent you inhabit is being invaded by beastmen. The major cities (starting points) are banded together to attempt to stop the invasion while also in a power struggle with each other. Quests you complete after you gain a high enough level, can actually have an impact on the story, complete with cut scenes and boss fights with giant monsters.

GRAPHICS/SOUND- Expect nothing but the best from Square Soft when it comes to graphics and sound. I have been running the game on a slightly above average PC and have been amazed at the visuals in the game. I felt the graphics most closely resembled those of FFX. The character models on the players, NPC's, and monsters are all outstanding. Even a city guard or a minor character look just as good as your character will. The backgrounds are breath taking and very atmospheric. You will be able to see far in the distance and observe things such as wild life, wind effects on trees, waterfalls, and even little puffs of dust when you or a monster are running through the landscape. The sound I have to split up into two categorys, music, and sound effects. The music is your standard final fantasy music, which is above Parr for and RPG of any nature. You will recognize many tunes from previous final fantasy games. The sound effects are fine and what you should expect from a FF game, but there is a subtle sound effect throughout the game that many may not notice. Wind, waves crashing, rivers running, water falls falling, and natures creatures are all given life through the background sound effects which even if you didn't notice them, helps pull you into the game.

RECOMMENDATION- I have to say that if you enjoy MMORPG's, or Final Fantasy, I am sure you will find great enjoyment in this purchase. You will see people bash it in reviews because it is not Everquest, or Asheron's call. I have played other games like this such as Everquest, Asheron's call, Starwars Galaxies, and Dark Age of Camelot, and I enjoyed them all to one extent or another. I feel that this is a more polished and enjoyable game than any of those others, and that it was a wise decision for Square to take the Final Fantasy franchise online, even if I at first hated the decision.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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