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boxartThe legendary Final Fantasy series makes its return with its biggest, most ambitious production in franchise history. Over 10 years in the making, Final Fantasy XV has an epic scale story, breathtaking graphics, a vast open-world to explore, and thrilling real-time combat to dive into.

Lets see why Final Fantasy XV has everything veteran players and new fans alike could ever want.

Game Details

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: November 29th, 2016
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action role-playing game
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

A Kingdom under siege

Before I dig into Final Fantasy XV’s story, we need to talk about Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV—a full featured computer animated film. Without giving too much away, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV focuses on events surrounding Final Fantasy XV’s main characters father, which take place in parallel to the events of Final Fantasy XV. While it’s not essential to watch Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV before playing Final Fantasy XV, it does give some background on the story and helps answer some story related questions that may arise during gameplay.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about Final Fantasy XV. The game takes place on the world of Eos, where all the world’s countries, except for Lucis, are under control of the Niflheim Empire. You play as the young Crown Prince Noctis, and your journey begins while travelling with your three friends to meet and wed your fiancée Lunafreya.

kingdom

While you are on your way, you learn that the capital of your home country Lucis is under attack by Niflheim forces, your fiancée has gone missing, your beloved father King Regis has been killed, and Eos’s last remaining Crystal has been captured. Together with your three loyal companions, as Noctis you must gather the strength to reclaim your homeland and uncover the truth behind Niflheim’s hostile actions. The base principals of Final Fantasy XV’s adventure are familiar to the Final Fantasy series, and it’s the way that the friends band together and come to terms with the realities of the world around them that makes the storyline so compelling.

An epic open-world with real-time combat

In Final Fantasy XV, you have complete freedom to cruise around a massive, stunningly realistic open-world in your Regalia convertible. While it is possible to travel the large world by foot and on the backs of Chocobos, I preferred traveling around in the Regalia convertible listening to classic Final Fantasy tunes. Unlike some open-world games that add endless amounts of forced side quests, Final Fantasy XV never forces you explore every inch of the world. The best part about the world of Eos is that at any time you can pull over to the side of the road and explore its diverse environments. Just wait until you see Final Fantasy XV’s lush forests, rolling plains, and scenic coastal routes.

One of the best parts of Final Fantasy games are the enemies that you encounter. I am always curious to see what enemies Square Enix has cooked up to battle. In true Final Fantasy fashion, Final Fantasy XV has a multitude of large unforgiving beasts and large-than-life summon creatures that never failed to impress me. Although you are on this adventure with your three friends—Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto—Noctis is only character that you will directly control. Battles take place in real-time, and use the Active Cross Battle system.

monster

Rather than using a menu interface, Final Fantasy XV allows you to select commands such as attack, magic, defend, and item to buttons on the controller. Battles focus on a variety of attacks, defense, jumps, and the ability to warp around the battlefield. Even though your three friends are controlled by the game’s artificial intelligence, you can issue commands to them such as Noctis’s warp strike attack and Gladiolus’s sweeping attack with his sword.

Lush visuals with an unbelievably good soundtrack

Visually, Final Fantasy XV is one of Square Enix’s most stunning games. Although the game takes place on the fictional planet of Eos, many places look similar to real world locations. For example, near the beginning of the game you visit a location that looks strikingly similar to the Arizona desert. The quality of the character designs and their animations is unequaled in any other of the Final Fantasy games and will blow your socks off. The way in which Square Enix brings the characters to life with extreme beauty and realism is outstanding.

If you have an Xbox One S, then you will be happy to know that Final Fantasy XV has HDR support and it looks fantastic. PlayStation 4 Pro owners with a 4K HDR TVs will see the biggest boost in visual performance, as the texture quality and long draw distances are impressive while running in High mode.

visuals

Final Fantasy XV’s soundtrack is composed by the iconic video game composer Yoko Shimomura, whose work ranges from Capcom’s Final Fight to Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts. Needless to say, Final Fantasy XV’s original sound track is unbelievably good and a treat to your ears. The soundtrack is much more traditional Final Fantasy than recent games, and each area has its own distinctive sound that is memorable.

Go deluxe

If you are looking to immerse yourself in the total Final Fantasy XV experience than you are going to want to pick up the Deluxe Edition available on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This limited collector’s package celebrates the 15th installment in the Final Fantasy series with an exclusive dual-disc SteelBook decorated with artwork from legendary artist Yoshitaka Amano.

Inside the SteelBook you will find a copy of Final Fantasy XV, and a Blu-ray copy of the groundbreaking movie Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. It also includes Bonus DLC content including the Royal Raiment outfit, a Platinum Leviathan design for the Regalia, and the legendary Masamune blade.

deluxe

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, Final Fantasy XV is one of the 2016 holiday season’s best games. Final Fantasy XV has everything that new fans and veteran players alike could want: a vast open-world to explore, an epic scale story, thrilling real-time combat, an unforgettable original soundtrack from iconic video game composer Yoko Shimomura, and breathtaking graphics.

I loved the fact that Square Enix chose to go with a more story-focused route near the end of the game as this only enhanced the character development. The relationship between Noctis and his three friends will draw you in and keep you hooked. Final Fantasy fans simply cannot go wrong with Final Fantasy XV, and those new to the series will be hooked.

+ Stunning visuals
+ Unforgettable original soundtrack
+ Captivating storyline
+ Huge world to explore

– Combat camera sometimes gets in the way
– Occasional frame rate issues

OVERALL

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 4.5/5
Sound: 5/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5

Overall Rating 4.5/5 (90%)

Get Final Fantasy XV: Day One Edition for PlayStation 4
Get Final Fantasy XV: Day One Edition for Xbox One
Get Final Fantasy XV: Deluxe Edition for PlayStation 4
Get Final Fantasy XV: Deluxe Edition for Xbox One

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Jon Scarr
Based in Toronto, Jon is a proud Canadian who has a serious passion for gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry with over 20 years experience. Jon loves to talk about gaming and tech, come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Twitter @4Scarrs_Gaming.

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