Review by gamemaster_em

Reviewed: 01/31/05

Not for the one's who pass judgement easily.

This game isn't your average MMORPG. This game isn't your average Final Fnatsy either. Infact, this game isn't like any game you will ever play. It holds a different element and feeling then it's predecessors such as World of WarCraft and Elder Scrolls III. I think people have passed judgment on this game to quickly. There are lots of great qualities about this game, and there are some bad. More good than so.

When I heard FFXI was online, I groaned at the thought of having to pay to play the next Final Fantasy. Especially since I was really curious at what it was going to be like. I was even more upset when I found out it was on PC. My computer is good, but I doubt it's good enough to run this game. When I saw a display for the PS2 version I was in complete awe and my girlfriend said I looked so tranced that she had to get it for me for my birthday (and she did, bless her heart... the whole $110.00 for it). When I finally got it installed I was depressed because I needed a credit card to play. I was just turning 19, and had no credit card. I thought about this and wondered if I could open a bank account and use a debit card. Well, after 3 weeks of waiting I tried and sure enough it worked. I was online, paying to play, but still happy that I could. Be sure to have a debit/credit card if you decided to play this. I pay $12.95 a month but where I work, that's only one hours worth of work so I am not to upset about it. I do think it should be lowered down by atleast half.

You wanna see a game that pushes the limits as far as graphics on the PS2? Check out this game. Again, Square has showed who's the boss when it comes to rendering beautiful worlds, characters, animations and even the spells are eyecandy.

I was a bit disappointed in the music in this game. I have played all of the Final Fantasy games and I own 3 of the soundtracks. Nobuo Uematsu is a prodigy in todays world but I am a bit disappointed with his ST in this game. Sure you have the classical victory music (only 3 seconds worth when you level up... which is far and inbetween) and the chocobo music (which IMO, sounds like the chocobo went and got high with big bird), but really, some areas don't even have music. They have sounds of birds, wind, rain, flowing water, the ocean and monsters. The sounds give a more 3D feeling to the game. Especially in the Jungle or Dunes. One track I really like though is the Airship theme. At least he got that right in this game. The airship music is always good. In a nutshell, it's a good idea to mute your tv and put on FFVII, or FFVI's soundtrack.

STORY 7/10:
The story is no FFVII, but it's good. The names of all the NPCs you will cross though can get kind of hard to remember. It's a good idea to take notes on who each of the characters are. That way later on in the game you can refer back to them and understand what's going on. What will happen as you continue your quest will make you want to spend another 4 hours playing it before you decide to go grab a quick bite. Honostly, since this summer, playing this game I lost atleast 30 lbs. I was a big guy before (245 lbs) and I lost track of time playing it. It's now almost 9 months since I started and I weigh 190 lbs. Of course this was mixed with excersize and eating right when I did eat. We could start a "Final Fantasy XI Diet". Move over Dance Dance Recolution.

There is way to much to do in this game for what I call "the light gamer". People who pick up a game and decide to play for 30 minutes after work everday shouldn't play this. This is the kind of game where you are going to need LOTS of time. I won't play it unless I know I have at least an hour without someone bothering me. By the time you get logged in and started on whatever you decide to concentrate on, you have already passed a good 15 minutes. Figure about 15-20 getting to your location, and another 20-120 minutes doing it. That's a small quest too.

If you are the type of person who RPs on MUCS and Chat Forums, this game is what you could be looking for visually. Emoticons are actually visual actions you can get your character to perform (such as sit, clap, cheer, laugh and joy to name a few). The chat system is built right into the bottom of the screen and with 5 chat styles to communicate through:

Say - talk so anyone within "hearing" range can hear.
Tell - Like a persona message only the recipiant can read.
Shout - Anyone in surrounding map can see.
Party - Party members only.
Linkshell - Special members who hold a club or group jewel.

There is even a personal "Bazaar", or item shop your character can keep with a spot to put a message before viewers access it. This is useful for making a quick story of your character, or a quest parable you may be looking for.

The controls are smooth and with macros (quick 2 button commands that do lots) and button combinations, the limits are endless. There is even 3rd or 1st person views.

Random battles are finally gone!!! But aggrovated monsters who pop up (pop or spawn) behind you have replaced them. The battles in this game are much harder then any RPG. As you gain levels, monsters become "Doesn't seem worth while" and you will get no exp for fighting it. Easy prey (a difficulty-level up from the previous) is only easy for the first 18 levels. Even easy prey gets hard. So this makes leveling almost painful after level 35 (75 the cap as of 1/31/05).

Potions and Elixers are expensive and in this game, money is just as major of an issue as it is in real life. Hard to come by easily without lots of time and work. You can't just waltz into a store and order 10 potions for 2,000 gil anymore. One potion will cost you that, if your lucky. This depends on the economy. That's right... a live working economy run by the people of Van a'Diel. If there is a higher demand for something, people can sell their crafted items for more at the Auction House and easily sell the item.

You create a character from:
- 5 races (Elvaan, Galka, Hume, Mithra, and TaruTaru)
- Male/Female (except for Mithra which are female, and Galka, which are male only)
- 8 hair/face styles per gender (2 hair colors to choose from for each hair stlye)
- Job class (Warrior, Black/Red/White Mage, Theif, Monk)
- Extra Earned Job Classes Later On (Paladin, Dragoon, Dark Knight, Samurai, Ninja, Bard, Beastmaster, Summoner, and Ranger)
- Your actual personality and the way people on-line get to know you.

Even after starting the game, and leveling for 60 hours of your life, you're going to decide to sit back, relax and do some synthesizing or quests for local residents. There is more to this game then just leveling up, fighting the dragon, saving the kids, and learning more about the story. You have things like helping citizens, and waging a war for power of area's to help in. How can you gain assistance down the road from people if your fame isn't hgih enough after all.

Overall, the gameplay is endless... seriously. With two expansions out and rumor of a third, there is too much to do. Overall, I give this game a satisfying 9.5/10. Why the 9.5? Well because it has consumed my time and prevented me from playing other great Square games such as Star Ocean Till the Ends of Time. The -.5 is a time factor. This game is only for people who don't play a game to have it dwidled down to 0 replay value in a matter of weeks. This game will keep you satisfied for at least a year. Good luck.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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