Review by KayvenXI

"Five years, and still the best Adventuring ever."

Now that FFXI is getting some more light shed on it with it's XBox 360 release, I was impulsed almost suddenly to write something on it that may bring more gamers. It's an older game, but the players base is still there with new players constantly. And MMORPGs only get better with time. Take it from me.

Back in December of last year was a frantic present fest where I asked my mother for a few things, and Final Fantasy XI (I threw a silent fit when I didn't get it at first but she has a tendency to hide the best gifts and save them for last). To make a long story short, I opened the cupboard to see the white box staring back at me. Great day.

After that, me and my dad went on a scavenger hunt for the Wirless Networking parts, and it was good. This game works fine on Wireless for those of you who are curious, in fact it works fine on Dial Up too, but Wired DSL is optimal and you can't go wrong. Look into different brands for the best one, I'd go for reliability over speed.

After hooking up and working out all the kinks, I signed on for the first time as Kayven, WAR level 1, of San d'Oria, on the Remora Server. When you first sign in, you'll be overwhelmed. Which is why I think so many professional reviews are not in the nines or higher. This game takes TIME to appreciate, and only with it, and lots of it, will you love it. When I first began, I played for about an hour and a half and signed out with a slightly sickened feeling. It was a little dry, I had no clue what to due, and no friends to help. That was all about to change.

Soon I met my first friend, who is still my best one (although she left for Lakshmi server long ago), and I had my first LS, (never forgot it, PlagueofPain I believe, it was red). At this point it will all sink in.

Here's the break down: From 1-10 you're gonna be a newbie and will hangout around your home Nation where you'll go outside to one of the "zones" and level your character. You'll be soloing at first, a party wouldn't be beneficial at this level. Finally, at 10 you can head to the infamous Valkurm Dunes and begin searching. Your average party consists of a Tank, someone to hold the monsters attacks on them, a Healer to keep everyone alive, and everyone else who can range from a DD (Damage Dealers), Nuker (Heave Magic User), or Support (Status Enhancement). Once you get to 18 you'll get your subjob. Your subjob will be half the level of your main job. If Timmy has WHM40 and wants to sub BLM50, he'll be WHM40/BLM20.

You'll have 15 jobs to pick (A new one is on the way, Blue Mage). But battling is just only a small part of the fun. You'll have the option of just socializing with friends, crafting new items in one of the eight (there are some more) crafts of leathercraft, blacksmithing, woodworking, alchemy, and a few others. You'll have Quests to do, like all Final Fantasy's. They'll give you rewards, fame (which will affect if certain NPCs give you a quest or item), or a title (every character will have a Title when you check them. My current is Spelunker). You'll have Missions for your nation. Every nation has a maximum of Rank 10 and you'll need to complete missions for the game to level in Rank. You can farm for items to sell at the Auction House, which is one big system where players buy and sell, you can level your NPC buddy, help out a friend, explore, acquire, or just stand around and watch what other people do (believe me, it's entertaining).

Just battling alone is a huge experience. There are many tracks to take. You can at any time change your job with your moogle. That means you can level ALL jobs to 75 (the maximum). Have many people done it? One as of July. There are of course your Nation Missions, but you also have Missions from the Zilart expansion and the Promathia Expansion. You have Garrison, which is a "protect" the fort type battle experience, expeditionary forces which raise the control of your nation in that particular area, and the Player vs. Player game of Ballista, a very fun paced game where you must take the rock Petra and bring it to the Rook. But the Rook won't open until you've taken down an enemy player. Ballista alone is a seperate part to FFXI that makes it so dynamic.

Graphically, the game has aged very well. It isn't wowing at this point in time but it's very satisfying and suffices it's purpose as the graphics engine for an MMORPG. Spells are sparkly, weapons are shiny, and like any FF, the attacks are overly, yet well, done. The PC will run this game much better, and the 360 will surpass most PCs. Don't complain about the graphics, believe me, it's the experience that you have to write home about.

The score was composed by several composers but our good friend Mr. Nobou Uematsu worked on the scored for the original areas so you can be very pleased. The flutes and the bass drum of Ronfaure will never leave you, the pipe organ of Jeuno is a tune that is always present, you'll love the harsh beat of the Promathia theme, and everyone will eventually make fun of San d'Oria's use of bagpipes. The sound effects are also just as good. As I just said today, the sound of Utsusemi: Ichi being cast will never leave me.

There are no voice overs but a game of this size couldn't even try, i'd imagine it'd be too much. Everything is in dialogue, which you won't mind after awhile. Characters do have little sound blips like for swinging, getting hit, and dying. Monsters too have little grunts.

My idea of the gameplay can be seen above, as you know, i'm fond of it. I encourage all of you though to make friends. That's what makes this game great: PEOPLE. This isn't less about the game and more about a community of people all working together at once point or another. It doesn't matter if the battles are the best in the world, or as dry as could be, the people you play with will paint the experience and I encourage you to look deep for them if you can't find them at first.

Other then that the gameplay is great. You have many options to take on what to do throughout the game, and they are all worth a one-try. The controls for the game are alright. At first you'll be overwhelmed with the amount of controls you'll have to memorize, and the option you can take to customize them, but after a month, you'll be hitting the appropriate buttons and shortcuts like you've done it all the days of your life.

The Story so far is alright. I've yet to begin to scratch the surface of this games massive plot but it's looking promising. People who've completed Promathia are very satisfied, almost to the point where nothing better is on the horizon. There are six central story plots, Bastok's, Windurst's, San d'Oria's, the Dynamis plot, the Zilart plot, and the Promathia plot. Ahrt Urghan, the new expansion, may hold one of its own! There are many sub-plots as well told in quests. And of course: you yourself is a story.

The Online experience is good. A monthy fee is needed to play: $12.95 a month charged to a credit card. That'll cover fees for the developers (new content bi-monthy), servers funding and maintenance, tech support, and finally your permission to play the game. Square Enix has gotten some frowns in their conducting of FFXI, but that's all opinionated. Tech Support, however, and the GM s( who would be in charge of all in-game issues, like gilselling) have been known to been a grab-bag of good and bad.

RMT, or Real Money Trade is another problem you'll eventually notice, the gilsellers exploit in-game ways to make money, make an explicit amount, and sell it for real money. This causes inflation when large amount of money are suddenly being put in and out of the economy. The economy of FFXI has taken some hits but many people keep on playing. It is a reality you will have to face.

So to close out: that's it. I can't say I've found that many flaws, the flaws are the people and that''s very hard to control. Dragoon's are looked down upon, Red Mages are favored, and Black Mages are overpowered. These are factors to the game that cannot be changed because people are what decide them. Overall, just sit down with the game and enjoy it. Get the PC version if you can, and a keyboard with the PS2 (you will need it).

The FFXI experience will never leave me. I've met people from all over the world and i'm better for it. It's an amazing game and I encourage everyone to play it, Final Fantasy is truly many things, and community to the 11th power is one of them.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 12/21/05

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