Sep 17, 2013

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Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Review

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Review

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I would like to start this what will be a very long review with how much respect as a future developer I have for director Naoki Yoshida. The amount of effort, time and patience the guy has put into this, even after launch, is just amazing. As well as the type of game he has pulled off due to this and thinking of how bad the original game was, which we will get into later on.

With the pat on the back over, it time to get into the business of the day. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn isn’t just a version 2.0 but happens to be a complete remake or reboot of the (let’s leave it as sub-par) 2010 MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV from Square Enix. Bringing over many of the features the original game tried to get right but wound up failing with, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn placed them in the glorious new engine, overhauled the battle system, and even given the world of Eorzea a complete makeover. The result of this complete overhaul is personally, one of the best Final Fantasy experiences I had in quite a year as well as one of the best turn around we have ever seen in the industry to date.

A good first point that should be noted that not everything has had a complete makeover. One example would be the story. The game takes place 5 years after the original Final Fantasy XIV. Near the end of the original game, Nal van Darnus, one of the Garlean Empire leaders, summons Hydaelyn’s second moon, Dalamud. This was done to cleanse the world of its ‘evils,’ the Empire and the Eorzean Alliance finally clash in the Carteneau Flats located in Mor Dhona. During this war, the moon breaks up to reveal the true secret of this, the Primal Bahamut (people should recognize this name as a regular reoccurring summon in the series). After an attempt to seal the dragon back into the moon fails, the great Archon Louisoix sends the Alliance as well as the player’s character 5 years into the future. A rebuilt Eorzea and the starting of the 7th Umbral Era is waiting for them the other side, and that is where the adventures of the player’s character begins.

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The story is a great way to begin this review as Final Fantasy has always been known for crafting some storylines that are considered some of the best in gaming. The first question fans of the series will have when asking about picking up the game will be if the story lives up to the masterpieces the single player entries provides. The answer to this is gladly to say: Yes, the story can sit next to the single player numbered titles and be proud, very proud. While not spoiling the story too much for players, you begin your journey in one of 3 starting cities where you start doing deeds for the local area, helping the state out in their problems and endeavors, and having a good time. After you hit around level 15, you are able to travel to the other 2 city states to help them in a few troubles they are having. After some events, you meet the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, a group that assists the land in stopping the reawakening of Primals, and stopping the invasion of the Garlean Empire.

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The story keeps you hooked, you never have a moment where you wish that you could be doing something else, and it makes you get that next dungeon done so you can find out the next major development in the story. Every mission within the main questline has it own little story behind it. Characters develop very well, which I would say, is something that is not seen that often in the MMORPG genre. Even for gamers that just want to play the game for the story, the small asking price of $40 or £17.99, which also bags you a month of play for free, is well worth the price for the amount of content you get in the story. To be quite honest, it is a rare bargain considering the modern triple A gaming bubble developers are in now days.

For classic Final Fantasy fans, you might some classic vibes from Final Fantasy VI, and you are perfectly find to get that, as the main plot of the story brings back quite a few plot points that were also in that entry, with the main one being the good old Technology vs Magic debate that game had. There are others, but I don’t want to spoil the plot for everybody. Final Fantasy XII vibes can be felt from the main antagonists in the game, the Garlean Empire, and it not just the clothes they wear.

Another good thing to hear is that even some of the side quests can keep you very entertained and have some nice touches of their own. Each of the classes within the game have their own side story. Which in the case of the 2 I done have told the story of a character that have, or wanted to take up that class and join the guild, or are part of said guild. I adored the storyline of the guild quests for the class I started as, and the story so far in the side class storyline has been a good one to watch unfold as well. While not quite up to the standard of the main story, their still something that you will want to follow all the way through.

There is one area where the story does fall a little short and that’s in the voice acting used for the main questline. Let’s just say that the voice acting for the English dub is subpar at best, with most of the cast lacking emotion, or being plain annoying, or not really fitting that kind of character that owns the voice. Good news is that you can switch to the Japanese voice track if you don’t mind reading the text, because the Japanese voice track/actors did a slightly better job than the English cast did. That small point aside, the other worry is if newcomers to the game could understand the story without playing 1.0. I am please to say that every character, old or new, is introduced as a new character. But fear not legacy players from 1.0. Characters transferred from 1.0 gets a different storyline compared to new players.