Review by SamboSimpson

"Better Than Everquest Online"

After beta testing and playing Everquest Online for PS2, I was under the impression that the slightly-above-mediocre game was the best Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs (or MMORPG for those in ''the know'') would get. I was wrong. Final Fantasy XI, the newest installment of Square Enix's mega franchise, surpasses Everquest Online in every conceivable way. But does it stand up to the Final Fantasy's of the past?

Starting with the most obvious aspect of the game, we have the graphics. Right away, you can tell this game blows away Everquest Online. But when compared to the last two Playstation 2 Final Fantasy's (X and X-2), it comes close, but falls short of hitting their extremely detailed visuals. Thats not saying Final Fantasy XI's graphics are bad. In fact, they're better than a lot of PS2 games out there. But compared to some of the visual masterpieces out there for the system, FFXI doesn't compare.

Audio, yet another thing FFXI surpasses Everquest in (considering Everquest doesn't really have much in that field), is something else that is greater than the majority of the games out there, but falls short when compared to the X-Fantasies (Final Fantasy X and X-2). In fact, many have said it and I agree, this is one of the worst Final Fantasy scores ever. Again, its not bad, it just doesn't compare.

Then there's gameplay. I could throw in the ''this blows Everquest away'' statement in this one, and seeing as how I just did, I guess it doesn't need to be mentioned. The gameplay makes for one of the best MMORPGs out there, even compared to the PC version of Everquest. While the actual monster killing makes up for a good portion of the game, the item creating guilds, exploring, and job questing make up a good portion too. Every guild has a unique set of items you can make, which makes every item monsters drop useful to someone (which ties in with the auction system, another cool feature of FFXI that lets you put items up for auction and allows players to buy them from you). And you aren't just leveling up your guy's class. You're leveling up his skills everytime you create items. And that makes for interesting possibilities, as you can have a level 72 warrior with terrible blacksmithing abilities, yet have a level 1 white mage with making the best items possible in boneworking.

The controls are good too, though they take a bit getting used to, and if you have a USB keyboard, you can play this like a PC game. Also, the servers themselves allow PS2 users to play with PC users, which helps the newer PS2 users out a bit. And Square's general attitude towards in-game behavior just works a lot better than that of Everquest Online, as GMs are almost always around and carry a strict-but-fair style of justice with them.

So after reading all of this, you're probably wondering why this game didn't get a 10, or at least a 9. That all comes down to the fact that, at the beginning of the game, the pace is really slow, as you are always walking between places and find yourself having to travel longer distances to get better Experience as the game progresses (eventually, though, you do get faster modes of transportation, including the two staples of the Final Fantasy series: airships and chocobos).

All in all, this is an enjoyable MMORPG for the PS2, and, well, much better than Everquest Online. If you got time to spare, regardless of whether its 1 hour or 14 hours, you should have an enjoyable time with this game. And as far as the hard drive goes, it may only have two or three games compatible with it now, but in the future, it'll be worth the investment.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/28/04

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