It Came From Netflix: Final Fantasy XIV – Dad of Light

Welcome to the very first “It Came From Netflix…” post! If you’re not sure what this is all about, you can read my announcement here: “It Came From Netflix…” – In my first review for this new feature, I will be discussing an interesting Japanese drama; “Final Fantasy XIV – Dad of Light”.  Since Final Fantasy games are a big part of this site, I thought this show would make a perfect segue into this new series of articles.

Netflix has recently introduced a number of foreign films and television shows. “Dad of Light” is one of them. Now, let me state of up front that this show does not chronicle the events of a particular Final Fantasy game, nor does it feature characters from the series. Instead, it’s a show about the game. More specifically, it’s a story about a father and son who bond through the online world of Final Fantasy XIV.

The plot is simple, it revolves around a young adult named Akio and his father. Akio works a full time job but still lives at home with his family. When he was a little boy, Akio and his father used to spend time together playing old Final Fantasy games. These days, they have drifted apart. One day, Akio’s father suddenly announces his retirement with no explanation. In an effort to rekindle the relationship with his dad, Akio purchases a Playstation 4 and a copy of the online game Final Fantasy XIV and presents them as a gift to his father. His plan is to secretly meet up with his father in the game and befriend him. Then, eventually reveal his identity in hopes of forging a stronger bond through the experience.

The series takes place largely in the real world. But occasionally, certain scenes are shown from an in-game perspective. A large part of the comic relief comes from the interactions between the father’s character and Akio’s in-game persona. The show itself is presented in Japanese with English subtitles. As is the case with most Japanese dramas, it can be oddly quirky at times. But is overall, very charming. There are a few adult situations but for the most part, the show is largely family friendly.

When the series was originally announced in Japan, it went by the rather unflattering name “Daddy of Light”. Yuck… I’m glad to see that Netflix took some artistic privilege when bringing the title to US viewers. I first heard about the series online, shortly after it’s Japanese release. It was no secret that the production company was shopping the series around to American distributors. I was nearly certain that it would be snapped up by Crunchyroll, a company that specializes in Asian media. But, much to my surprise, Netflix got the exclusive rights to the show.

The good thing about this series is  that even viewers who have no interest or knowledge of Final Fantasy XIV will be able to watch and enjoy this show. Of course, players of the game will certainly recognize certain elements and may get a bit more out of the experience. I watched this series with my entire family, and it was enjoyed by all.

All in all, Dad of Light is a heartwarming series. The storyline is very self-contained and there’s pretty much no chance of a second season. Many Japanese television dramas typically only last for one run. In a way, they could be compared to what US viewers know as a “mini-series”. So there’s very little time investment if you simply want to try something new.

If you’re new to foreign media, this series is a pretty good starting point. It’s familiar enough to comfortable, but it still has just a touch of foreign “strangeness” to stand out on its own.

Target Audience: This show is aimed towards a general audience, but fans of Japanese culture, anime, and Final Fantasy are likely to be more drawn to it than others.  It’s a good launching point for Western audiences who are not familiar with the Asian Drama genre.

Number of Episodes: 8

Netflix Exclusive?:  YES

Score (1 out of 4): 3

 

Review: Mobius Final Fantasy

Last but not least in my Final Fantasy mobile game backlog, I have a real oddball; Mobius Final Fantasy. This game is unlike any other mobile RPG I have ever played. It was designed to provide a full-sized RPG experience, but on a device that can fit in your pocket. As a result, it’s a weird hybrid of mobile gaming, but with a console look and feel.

The main character of the game is simply known as “Warrior of Light” or Wol. The game begins when he wakes up and finds himself in a strange land called Palamecia. He soon learns that an evil force has conquered this world. Many nameless heroes just like himself, have awakened to find themselves brought here. These heroes are known as “blanks”.  An ancient prophecy foretells that that one of these blanks will defeat the darkness and free the world of Palamecia from it’s grip forever.  Naturally, the goal of the game is to prove yourself as the real Warrior of Light.

When I started playing Mobius Final Fantasy, I initially played on my mobile phone. Since that time, the game has also been released for PC via Steam. I now prefer the PC port of the game simply due to the expanded screen real estate. (The game is gorgeous!) Regardless of the device you choose, the game experience is largely the same. That being said, I would offer a word of warning to anyone getting started with this title. Mobius Final Fantasy is a HUGE game. It is much more complex than any other mobile game I’ve encountered. It features a very in-depth combat system integrated with the Job System that is found in other Final Fantasy games. These two concepts work in tandem. Together, the end result is a rich, but admittedly complicated gameplay experience. Therefore, I highly suggest taking the time to participate in the in-game tutorials before diving right in. Understanding these systems fully is crucial to being able to master the game itself.

Aside from these elements, the rest of the game is fairly standard when it comes to mobile titles. Your character earns experience through battle and unlocks new points of interest on the map as he progresses. The game frequently receives content updates that include new areas, special events and time-limited challenges. Jobs, abilities and power-ups are either won by progression or obtained through a “gacha” style draw system. The game also features an interesting “subscription” option. If enabled, you will be granted with daily bonuses for as long as your subscription is active. This option is purchased using an in-game currency that is earned automatically over time. Once you’re earned a certain amount, you can either spend it, or bank it to save up.

For me, this game exceeds any expectations I had when it comes to mobile gaming. The amount of content is mind-boggling and both the graphics and sound are breathtaking. It’s really no surprise to me that this game was ported over to the regular PC. Fans of the Final Fantasy series will feel right at home. The game features cameos from throughout the franchise, but still manages to be unique in it’s own way.

Of all the mobile Final Fantasy titles out there, Mobius manages to feel the most like a real RPG game. But make no mistake, it still follows the infamous cash-grabbing mobile model. That being said, Square Enix has always managed to avoid making cash transactions feel like a requirement. This game is no exception.

Difficulty: Medium –  The sheer complexity of this game makes it a bit more challenging to master than other mobile titles. The main scenario of the game is easy enough to complete, but as is the usual case with games of this type, optional content and special events do tend to ramp up the challenge.

Story: For a mobile title, Mobius Final Fantasy really delivers. The storyline is not as rich and detailed as a full fledged RPG, but it outshines nearly any other mobile title.

Originality: When compared to other mobile phone games, the developers were not afraid to take some risks. Even though this title follows a familiar profit-model, the overall gameplay is bold and unique. Much more than one would expect from this type of game.

Soundtrack: This is an area that I cannot praise enough. This game features a score that will knock your socks off. The music is fully orchestrated and is nothing short of spectacular. I personally own the two-disc soundtrack – it’s that good.

Fun: Mobile games are usually best enjoyed in short spurts. This game is really no exception to that rule. It’s very possible to blow through the content relatively quickly – but I’ve found the most enjoyment from this game will be had if played casually. Some parts of the game can be repetitive, and some battles seem longer than they need to be. But as far as mobile games go, this is one of the more enjoyable.

Graphics: The graphics on this title are also top-tier. In fact, older phones are likely to suffer from performance issues as a result. The PC version looks just as pretty, if not more so.

Playcontrol: No real issues here. This is a simple tap-based interface. Purchases require confirmation, everything is clear and concise.

Downloadable Content: YES– In-game currency can be purchased with real money. The game receives regular free updates and features special limited time events.

Mature Content: None

Value:  The game itself is available for free. Optional purchases can vary in price.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – Mobius Final Fantasy is an odd bird. It rides the line between a mobile phone game and a more serious RPG. As a result, if you go in expecting either you’re likely to be in for a surprise. This is a prime example of “it is what it is” – with that in mind, it’s actually quite an exceptional little title. But, be warned; this is certainly not a game for everyone. However, considering you can try it out for free, there’s really nothing to lose.

Available on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Steam

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

Review: Final Fantasy Record Keeper

Recently, I posted a review for the Final Fantasy Dissidia mobile game. When doing so, I realized that there are still a handful of mobile Final Fantasy titles that I’ve not posted reviews for. I’ve had several of these sitting in my drafts folder for a while now, so it’s high time that I do a little housecleaning! Next up is a review for the very first mobile-style Final Fantasy game: Record Keeper.

In terms of mobile games, this is an oldie. Final Fantasy Record Keeper was originally released back in 2015. I’ve been playing it off and on since its debut, so I feel pretty bad about neglecting to mention it sooner. Record Keeper is a strange little game. It features a new character by the name of Tyro. Tyro an assistant in a cosmic art gallery that archives all of the events from across the Final Fantasy series. Recently, several records have become tainted and Tyro is tasked with entering the paintings and restoring them to their former glory. In doing so, he relives various events and battles throughout the Final Fantasy universe.

The actual gameplay is similar to other mobile style RPGs. Players can spend stamina to undertake expeditions into various dungeons and events. Once your stamina is expended, you must wait for it to recharge or you can pay real money to replenish it. The main point of the game is to collect and upgrade characters to use in your party. You can then continue to explore new and more challenging areas. The game receives regular content updates that add new scenarios and characters often. There are also special limited-time events that offer rare and exotic prizes.

The main character is Tyro. He is unique in that he can equip all items and abilities. While other characters do come with restrictions on gear. Items are rewarded as you clear stages and also via a “gacha” draw system. Again, players have the option to pay real money for draws. Some characters are more suited than other for particular levels, so it’s always important to keep a variety of secondary characters equipped and leveled up.

Record Keeper was SE’s first foray in the whole micro-transaction based mobile game environment. As a result, the game does show it’s age when compared with SE’s more modern mobile offerings. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a look. As far as mobile games go, Record Keeper is pretty standard. It follows a tried-and-true profit model without being overly predatory like some mobile titles.

The main focus of the game is turn-based combat. It is very reminiscent of early Final Fantasy titles. So, the game will most likely appeal to fans of the Final Fantasy series, but even someone who has no experience with the franchise can enjoy this title. More than anything, this game is one big nostalgia trip. It’s a fun way to revisit classic Final Fantasy games on the go.

Finally, mobile phone users who play games like these often run into the situation of data loss. This can happen is you have to perform a factory reset on your device, or if you upgrade your phone, etc. Record Keeper offers a few solutions for data backup. First, if you’re an Android user – have no fear! Your game data is automatically linked to your Google Play Games account. iPhone users can link the game to a social media account for backup if they choose. There’s also a data transfer option for the fearless, if you want to jump between devices.

Difficulty: Easy –  As is true for most mobile RPGs, the base game and storyline quests do not provide much of a challenge. Special events and hard mode areas, however, are pretty tough. For me, the overall difficulty feels balance and appropriate.

Story: The main focus of this game is nostalgia, not lore. The game features a very bare-bones storyline that sets up an excuse for our new hero to visit classic Final Fantasy locales and characters. But other than serving as a vehicle for that, there’s not much in terms of actually story.

Originality: Being the first real mobile title in the Final Fantasy series, Record Keeper took the framework that has been applied to previous successful mobile games and brought it home for fans to enjoy. In that regard, Record Keeper was welcome and fresh upon it’s release. These days, it’s easy to lose it among a sea of other similar titles.

Soundtrack: The game scores high marks here. It features an original soundtrack as well as music ripped straight out of the main series. There’s plenty of variety and it’s all very well done.

Fun: Of all the mobile Final Fantasy titles, this one is probably my least favorite. But, it’s still very entertaining and I wouldn’t think of removing it from my device. It’s very easy to lose yourself in the game for long stretches. But the game also does just as well when played in short spurts.

Graphics: This game mixes cartoon-style art with retro-sprite graphics and it does it well. The art direction of the game is one of my favorite aspects. The game looks sharp and colorful on any mobile device regardless of screen size.

Playcontrol: No real issues here. This is a simple tap-based interface. Purchases require confirmation, everything is clear and concise.

Downloadable Content: YES– In-game currency can be purchased with real money. The game receives regular free updates and features special limited time events.

Mature Content: None

Value:  The game itself is available for free. Optional purchases can vary in price.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 2 – Record Keeper is an original and interesting mobile title, but one that relies almost exclusively on nostalgia to stay afloat. Still, fans of the series can find a lot to love about this little game. That being said, it’s unlikely to appeal to anyone who is not already emotionally invested in the series.

Available on: Apple App Store and Google Play

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

Review: Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

Fresh on the heels of my Dissidia NT review, I’m going to take a moment to discuss the mobile spin-off; Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia.  Wow! What a mouthful! This is a free-to-play mobile game that is available on iPhone and Android devices. It features more traditional RPG combat, but also incorporates certain elements found in Dissidia. The end result is a unique mobile gaming experience.

This mobile game was released to coincide with the Dissidia NT launch. In fact, players who purchase a copy of NT at release, will receive a special code that unlocks a starter pack in Opera Omnia. (Normally available for purchase with real money). These two games very much compliment each other. Dissdia NT is action and battle focused, while Opera Omnia helps to round out the storyline and features a much more laid-back battle system.

The basic premise of this game is to participate in a number of battles using a roster of characters from across the Final Fantasy franchise. Characters can earn experience and level up. You can equip various arms and armor on your characters. This equipment is earned through a “gacha” style draw system. The game also features special events, daily quests, and rewards. In-game currency can be earned by playing through the contents of the game or can also be purchased for real money. Pretty standard fare.

The main plot of the game is simple. Heroes from different Final Fantasy games are brought together to help defeat monsters. The roster of playable characters is pretty impressive. All of the usual elements for mobile RPGs will be found in this title.  To be completely honest, there’s little aside from the Final Fantasy theme to set this game apart from a multitude of others out there. But, fans of the series are not likely to care. The gameplay is well done and the script is entertaining. When looking at the big picture, there’s little to complain about.

The basic version of the game is pretty accessible regardless of the player’s skill level. In fact, the game even offers an automatic battle option. So it can literally play itself. However, if you want to max out the rewards that you receive at the end of each battle, you will need to play manually. Once you’ve cleared a chapter, you also unlock a “hard mode” of that area. Hard mode is no cake walk. This is where the game’s real challenge comes into fruition.

These days, the mobile gaming market is pretty stable. Free to Play titles that are supported by microtransactions are fairly commonplace. In this regard, Opera Omnia is a pretty standard operation. The game itself is free and receives frequent content updates that are also free of charge. The option also exists for players to spend real money on virtual currency that can enhance their characters and expand storage. The trick to enjoying games like this without breaking the bank is patience. Games of this type always offers freebies and bonuses from time to time. Opera Omnia actually feels to be very unoffensive in this regard. Many mobile games are designed to be exploitative. Very often, games like these eventually reach a point where the player feels compelled to spend real money in order to progress. So far, I’ve not encountered this type of issue with Opera Ominia.

My biggest complaint is that in order to back up your game data, you are required to link a Facebook account. Other mobile Final Fantasy games also have this requirement. As someone who no longer keeps a personal Facebook profile, I find this to be annoying. Other games have successfully used alternate methods of backup that work just fine. King’s Knight is a prime example of data backup done right.

All in all, Dissidia Opera Omnia is a welcome addition to the lineup of mobile Final Fantasy titles. It’s simple to grasp and offers a fun way to kill some time. It’s not as engrossing and does not require as much commitment as some mobile titles. But, that’s ok. Sometimes you just need a little something to kill a few minutes of downtime. Opera Omnia provides just that.

Difficulty: Easy –  The base game and storyline quests do not provide much of a challenge. Special events and hard mode areas, however, are pretty tough. Overall, this makes the game feel appropriately balanced.

Story: Opera Omnia provides the story that Dissidia NT neglected. We get to see how our heroes initially came together and there’s lots of fun dialog to boot.

Originality: This game follows a fairly standard mobile model. In large part, it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before. But, the incorporation of the Dissidia battle model does give this game a bit a of a unique feel.

Soundtrack: The music in this title is phenomenal. It features a number of classic Final Fantasy scores, including music from the Dissidia sub-series. Well done and enjoyable.

Fun: I enjoy this game for what it is; a simple, entertaining way to kill time. In my opinion, this is what mobile games should aim for. There’s plenty of content without a huge time investment.

Graphics: This game takes a cartoonish approach to it’s graphical rendering. But, it’s well done and beautiful.  It’s looks good on both smaller smartphones and “phablets”.

Playcontrol: No real issues here. This is a simple tap-based interface. Purchases require confirmation, so there’s no concern about accidentally spending real money due to fat fingers.

Downloadable Content: YES– In-game currency can be purchased with real money. The game receives regular free updates and features special limited time events.

Mature Content: None

Value:  The game itself is available for free. Optional purchases can vary in price.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – A story-heavy gacha game for mobile devices. This title doesn’t seem to rely on cash-transactions as heavily as others. Fans of the old PSP Dissidia titles who are turned off by the fast-paced combat in Dissidia NT, may find what they are looking for in this little game. That aside, there’s very little that sets this apart from other similar titles.

Available on: Apple App Store and Google Play

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

Review: Dissidia Final Fantasy NT

The trilogy is now complete! The third and latest game in the Final Fantasy Dissidia series is here! After months of hype from Square Enix and Team Ninja, let’s see how this home version of the arcade sensation measures up.

As I mentioned above, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is actually a port of the Japanese arcade title “Dissidia Final Fantasy”. The arcade version drew inspiration from the previous Dissidia games for PSP, but was completely redesigned from the ground up to be a six-player competitive title. The PS4 release is essentially an enhanced port of the arcade version. It is Square Enix’s first foray into the the world of professional competitive gaming.

Like the previous Dissidia titles, NT is a fighting game. But this time, the focus is on team battles instead of one-on-one combat. For Dissidia NT, teams are made up of three players each. There are currently two modes of play available: Regular and Core Battles (which is essentially Capture the Flag). The combat itself is similar to previous Dissidia titles. Characters can execute both Bravery and Hit Point attacks against their opponents. They have special abilities at their disposal and can also collect energy that enables them to execute special summons – these summons can really turn the tide of battle in an instant. This time, characters are assigned specific roles. The options are: Vanguard (This is essentially a tank/melee fighter), Assassin (Speedy, with weak individual attacks that can combo-chain and result in significant damage), Marksman (ranged attacker), and Specialists (This is a catch all-role. Each Specialist character offers something unique to the arena – usually buff and de-buff focused.) As you continue to play and level up individual characters, new abilities are unlocked.

The roster of characters for Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is as follows:

Warrior of Light (Vanguard)  *  Garland (Vanguard)  *  Firion (Vanguard)  *  Emperor (Marksman)  *  Onion Knight (Specialist)  *  Cloud of Darkness (Vanguard)  *  Cecil (Vanguard)  *  Kain (Assassin)  *  Golbez (Marksman)  *  Bartz (Specialist)  *  Exdeath (Specialist)  *  Terra (Marksman)  *  Kefka (Marksman)  *  Cloud (Vanguard)  *  Sephiroth (Vanguard)  *  Squall (Assassin)  *  Ultimecia (Marksman)  *  Zidane (Assassin)  *  Kuja (Assassin)  *  Tidus (Assassin)  *  Jecht (Assassin)  *  Shantotto (Marksman)  *  Vaan (Specialist)  *  Lightning (Assassin)  *  Y’shtola (Marksman)  *  Noctis (Assassin)  *  Ramza (Specialist)  *  Ace (Marksman)

The main focus of this game is online multiplayer. The game does feature a single-player story mode, but this consists of nothing but a series of cutscenes that must be unlocked by spending tokens called “Memoria”. Memoria is earned whenever you level up a character. So unlocking all of the cutscenes will require quite a bit of grind. Again, in this title, the storyline really takes a backseat. The main point of the game is to participate in ranked online matches. So, if you’re the type of person that really gets into ladder rankings and eSports statistics, you’re likely to find this game much more interesting than someone who isn’t. Lore enthusiasts are still able to find an enjoyable storyline that fits in nicely with the other Dissidia titles. However, understand that this is delivered almost exclusively through cutscenes – not through gameplay.

Compared to other fighting games, and even other Dissidia titles, NT has quite a huge learning curve. The game does offer various tutorials. However, these leave a lot to be desired. The tutorials are poorly written and the screenshots included are not particularly helpful. To be honest, the only way you’re really going to understand the gist of the game is if you play. The downside is, the game will likely feel overly-chaotic and confusing to the point of frustration, especially for a new player.

The biggest issue for me was understanding the targeting system. The tutorial does a decent job of explaining how to switch between various targets. But, in practice it is not quite that simple. Often times I would find myself locked on to a particular target and I would start advancing towards them, only to have them suddenly dart across the screen. My character would continue to follow them of course, but the camera would no longer be focused on my character. On more than one occasion, I would find myself staring at the screen, clueless, trying to find myself amidst all the chaos.

Movement is also a bit of an issue. The game’s movement and camera controls are simple enough. But, due to the fast-paced nature of the combat, you’ll spend most of your time moving around at high-speed. Being a 4D battlefield, you’ll often end up chasing down a target only to find yourself suspended in mid-air unable to land a blow.  Now, obviously a lot of this is simply an issue of experience. The more I played the game, the more I was able to understand the basic concepts of battle and movement. However, the in-game tutorials do a terrible job of getting a new player ready for their first encounter. Which brings me to the next big issue….

Both the single player AI and the online matchmaking are terribly out of balance. Considering that Dissidia NT is a team-based game, skill-balance should really be a major focus. When playing single player mode, the AI versions of your teammates are nearly useless. In most cases, I felt like I was actually playing a 1-on-3 match. On the other side of the coin, the opponent AI seems slightly overpowered. This is worsened as you continue to play and the difficulty level increases. After winning a few single player matches, the difficulty spikes in a way that seems very disproportionate.

When being grouped with other players online, the game is supposed to try to match you with players of an equal skill. However, I’ve found this not to be the case. To make matters worse, the online game is currently suffering from both matchmaking errors and lag issues. These are items that simply must be corrected in short order if the game is to have any chance of success.

As far as eSports titles go, Dissidia NT does have a lot of potential. Gamers that enjoy ranked competition and who want to try their hand at a different type of fighting game may find just what they’re looking for here. Casual players are likely to be turned off by this title.

Finally, let’s look at a few other aspects of the game itself. Like many arena style games, players can earn and unlock various outfits, color schemes, and emotes to equip on their characters. These are earned via a gacha-style draw system. Thankfully, instead of being available in real-money loot boxes, treasure is earned by spending in-game points. A handful of outfits and weapons are also available in the form of DLC (currently as pre-order perks and promotional redemptions). I expect to see these available for individual purchase on PSN eventually. SE has also promised that six new playable characters will be available in the future as part of a Season Pass.

In summary, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is a game that’s designed for a very specific niche of gamers. You’re either going to love it or hate it. Personally, it’s not the type of game that I enjoy in the long term. Typically, I tend to play a game to completion before I post a review. However, due to the nature of this title I decided to share my thoughts after spending a few solid days with it. I’m not a competitive gamer. I prefer to play games to unwind. While I don’t mind the occasional grind, the reward has to be worth the time I’m putting in. In this case, I found very little in Dissidia NT to keep my interest. Grinding battle after battle for trophies is not my cup of tea and considering I have no interest in ladder rankings – there’s just not a lot that’s going to keep me playing once I’ve cleared the story mode. I’m curious to see if the eSports crowd adopts this title or if it is ultimately going to be forgotten. Regardless, it is a noble attempt from Square Enix and a pretty impressive debut into the evolving genre of professional online gaming.

Difficulty: Variable –  Being primarily an online title, you are competing against other players. Therefore, the difficulty of the battles you will encounter will vary greatly. Generally speaking, this type of game attracts players of a very competitive nature. So, if you’re a casual player, expect to find yourself pitted against those of a much greater skill level – this is true even though the game claims to match you players of an equal skill. For single player challenges, the game may feel overly difficult at first. The unusual nature of the game will provide quite a learning curve, even for players used to brawlers. However, it should generally become a bit easier as you’re able to grasp the concepts of the game and get a little more experience under your belt.

Story: This is the game’s weakest link. Dissidia NT is technically a sequel to other games in the Dissidia series. However, once again, the storyline provided is barebones at best. The game’s overall plot unfolds through a series of cutscenes that players can unlock as they grind through battles. It serves as nothing more than a loose excuse to throw a bunch of characters from various Final Fantasy games together in one title. But, considering the nature of the game itself, this is forgivable.

Originality: Fighting games are nothing new. Dissidia NT manages to stay unique by providing a 3-on-3 experience and an original battle concept. It borrows heavily from the previous Dissidia titles, but also isn’t shy about venturing off into a new direction.

Soundtrack: This game features a variety of background tracks hailing from the entire line of previous Final Fantasy games. These classic tracks have been rearranged fairly well and are fitting for the style of gameplay. The voice acting is a mixed bag. It’s great to hear Noctis and Lightning again, but some of the characters are downright annoying.

Fun: If fast-paced competitive gaming is your thing, you’ll find to find a lot of like about Dissidia NT. If you’re expecting a battle game with RPG elements like the previous Dissidia titles, prepare to be disappointed. It’s as simple as that.

Graphics: High marks here. This is a simply beautiful game. Everything from the characters to the environments are breathtakingly rendered. The battle effects are colorful and well done. This game is filled with eye candy.

Playcontrol:  This will be an issue for many players. While the controls are responsive and well thought out, they are unusual. Mastering the controls will take practice. Thankfully, they are customizable. The chase camera needs some work. But there’s always manual camera controls if needed.

Downloadable Content: YES – At the time of this writing, DLC is restricted to pre-order, and promotional codes for vanity items. A season pass will also be available and currently promises six additional playable characters. Price to be announced.

Mature Content: Skimpy outfits on some characters. Online interactions.

Value:  The game currently retails for the premier price of $60.00. This is likely to decrease in the months to come. If you’re the type of player that enjoys these style of games, the full price might very well be worth it. However, if you’re on the fence it might be best to wait a while.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 2 – I wanted to like this game. But, in the end I decided that it’s just not for me. That alone doesn’t sink the title. But when combined with a poor tutorial, connection issues, and the current unbalanced play. I have to call a spade a spade. Dissidia NT has a lot of potential. Thankfully, in the world we live in now, games can be patched and refined. I hope to see many of my concerns addressed in the months to come. If you’re a Final Fantasy RPG fan who wants a little fighting action, perhaps Dissidia 012 on the PSP will be more your speed. However, if you’re a hardcore MOBA gamer who’s in the mood for something unique, Dissdia NT might be exactly what you’re looking for

Available on: PS4

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

Review: Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy

The release date for Final Fantasy Dissidia NT is just around the corner. So today, I present my look back at the biggest Dissidia title thus far; Dissidia 012.

This game is very similar to its predecessor.  In fact, it’s actually somewhat of a retelling and expansion of the first game. In the first title, the story revolves around an epic final battle between the gods Cosmos and Chaos. That decisive conflict is actually the thirteenth cycle of what has been an ongoing war between the two deities. Dissidia 012 actually starts during the twelfth cycle – so it serves as prequel. But then the game continues and actually retells the events of the original Dissidia. In this way, it can be argued that Dissidia 012 acts as a retcon to the original game.

Personally, that’s sort of the way I see it. The game itself is largely identical to the original, but with improvements, added characters, and newer features. Having played both, I feel that Dissidia 012 essentially makes the original title irrelevant.

 

With that in mind, I’m going to focus this review on what is new and different. I’d rather do this than rehash nearly identical elements between the two games. So if you have not already done so, you may wish to check out my review on the original game here: Dissidia Final Fantasy.

As I mentioned, this title is largely a refinement. All of the features from the original Dissidia are present here; Mognet, Play Plans, Friend Cards, etc. All of the characters from the original game are also still present and playable. However, we do now have some additional characters to enjoy:

Kain (FF4)   *  Gilgamesh (FF5)  *  Tifa (FF7)  *  Laguna (FF8)  *  Yuna (FF10)  *  Prishe (FF11)  *  Vaan (FF12)  *  Lightning (FF13)  *  Feral Chaos (Unlockable New Character)

Combat works in Dissidia 012 just like it did in the original title. However, some characters now have new special moves in their arsenal. Also, Dissdia 012 also offers a new “assist” option. This allows you to occasionally summon a second character to the battlefield to aid you in combat. I should stop here and mention that there’s also a special demo version of the game available for free on PSN (Dissidia 012 Prologus) . This demo is actually a prequel chapter to the main game. Completing the demo unlocks an additional Assist-Only character, Aerith from Final Fantasy VII and allows her to be imported to the retail game itself. Playing the demo can also unlock various items that can be imported to the main game. With this in mind, I consider playing the demo to crucial to the Dissdia 012 experience.

Despite cloning most elements from it’s predecessor. Dissdia 012 also introduces two big changes. The first being the addition of a World Map to the single player campaign. During the story mode, you can move around on an open world and interact with NPCs, hunt down random encounters or move to different battlefields. For me, this is a welcome change. It is reminiscent of older games in the Final Fantasy series, which is something that is near and dear to my heart. Second, this game also introduces an alternate mode of combat. Instead of controlling every move your character makes during battle, you can instead opt to play in “RPG mode”. With this mode enabled, your character acts on their own. However, you control what type of actions they will be performing using a menu. For example, you can choose to have them “Fight” which is equal to a Bravery Attack. You switch your heroes’ mode of attack at will. So you can move from Bravery Attacks to Finishers, or from Flee to Defend, etc. Special moves, summons and assists must still be manually executed. This mode of play is designed for players who do not have much experience with action based fighting games.

The other major change is the renaming of the Duel Colosseum that was present in the original Dissidia. In this game, this mode of play is called Labyrinth. It’s essentially a refined version of the Colosseum with a more RPG-based focus. Again, this mode of play is only available after completing the main storyline.

All in all, this game is basically Dissidia Final Fantasy version 2.0. If you’re curious about these titles but you have to choose one of the two, Dissidia 012 is a no brainer. The biggest issue you will face is that this is a very multiplayer focused title and it’s age means it will difficult to find others still interested in playing. This is a problem that is only going to compound with the release of Dissidia NT. Thankfully, the single player mode will always be there for those who want to experience the actual story itself.

Difficulty: Variable –  Just like with Dissidia Final Fantasy, the story mode difficulty will vary depending on your actions. As you play through the story you can make choices that render your journey either easier or harder. Enemies do get more difficult as the game progresses, but you can always grind and level up to make things a bit easier. Optional battles are more difficult, but can be avoided. Of course, when playing multiplayer against other gamers, the difficultly is will vary.

Story: The storyline here is a retelling and expansion of the original Dissidia. The cutscenes and script are compelling, but when compared with other Final Fantasy titles, it does come off as very shallow. On the other side of the coin, when compared with other fighting games, the storyline is superb. So, there’s that.

Originality: A large portion of what is found in this game is an exact clone of the previous Dissidia. However, new features and refinements make this game an acceptable revamp.

Soundtrack: Again, one of the high points of the game. Dissidia 012 brings back a number of classic Final Fantasy scores and renders them in new and fresh arrangements. The voice acting is spot-on and very well done.

Fun: Fans of brawlers will find a lot to enjoy here. This time, even RPG fans have something to look forward too. The best time will be had by those with friends who can engage in the multiplayer aspects of the game.

Graphics: Dissidia 012 is an amazingly rendered game. Perhaps one of the best titles graphically on the PSP.

Playcontrol:  I’m happy to announce that some headway was made between this and the first Dissidia game. The camera is not nearly as annoying and the controls offer more customization.

Downloadable Content: YES – This title offers vanity costumes for playable characters and add-on soundtrack packs for sale via PSN.  There’s also a free “Demo” that actually serves as a prequel to the events in the game.

Mature Content:  No Concerns – Minor language. 

Value:  Finding a physical copy of this game may be difficult and pricing on physical copies can vary. The game is available for purchase digitally on PSN for $10. For the amount of content in the title, this price is worth it.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 4 – This is the game that the first Dissidia title should have been. It’s the perfect mix between a fighting game and an RPG. The storyline is improved, the visuals and soundtrack are superb. The nagging play control issues that plagued the first game are nearly non-existent. If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy and you also enjoy brawler style games, this one is worth is a look.

Available on: PSN, PSP,

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

Review: Dissidia Final Fantasy

As the upcoming release for Dissidia Final Fantasy NT approaches, I’m taking a moment to veer off of my regular playthrough schedule to take a look back at the original Dissidia titles.  Naturally, I’m starting with “Dissidia Final Fantasy” which was released for the Playstation Portable in 2009. In case you’re not familiar with the title, I’ll take a second to explain. Dissidia is, at its heart, a fighting/brawler game. It fills its roster using various characters from the Final Fantasy series.  On the surface, it seems like a cheap attempt by Square Enix to cash in on the brawler game craze by simply slapping a Final Fantasy label on a fighting game. But in truth, there’s actually quite a bit of depth to the game itself.

Fighting games are a genre that I’ve never really covered on this site before. So it may seem a bit backwards to start with something like Dissidia, which is a modern 3D brawler. Essentially this means that characters do battle in full three-dimensional areas. They can move north, south, east, west, and up and down. Characters can do battle with their feet on the ground or while soaring though the air. The main goal is to reduce your opponent’s hit points to zero and thus, win the battle. Dissidia is certainly not the first 3D fighting game, but a number of things help it stand apart from other similar titles.  First, being a Final Fantasy game, there are RPG elements. Characters can level up, equip various weapons and armor, and even learn new skills. Second, there’s actually somewhat of a storyline that attempts to bring all of these characters together in a sensible way.

Unlike other fighting games I’ve played over the years, battles in Dissidia are not as simple as just hitting your opponent until they’re dead. There are two main types of attacks in Dissidia: Bravery attacks and Health Attacks. And each character has two gauges: Bravery Points and Hit Points. Bravery points are basically “armor points”. In order to deal damage to your enemy, you must first execute a number of Bravery Attacks. Doing so successfully will leech Bravery Points from your opponent and add them your Bravery gauge. When full, you execute a special attack that does massive damage to your enemy’s hit point, but leaves you in an extremely vulnerable state. As a result, the game is just as much about stat management as it is about combat technique. Once you’ve depleted your opponent’s HP gauge, you can execute a Final Blow that finishes them off.

Naturally, this type of fighting action makes Dissidia a great multiplayer game. You can do battle with other players in a number of ways. There are lobby servers that allow for battle matching via the PSP’s wireless connection using a Friend Code system. Players are able to create custom matches and even exchange “Friend Cards” – which allow you to collect special items.  However, if you’re looking for something a little simpler, there’s even a special “Arcade Mode” that strips out all of the RPG elements (armor and weapons) and simply allows two players to do battle on equal ground wirelessly. This is perfect for quick matches. But it is advised that you first complete the game’s single player “Story Mode”. This way you can earn enough points to unlock all of the characters in the game. (Completing the Story Mode also unlocks the ability to participate in something called the Duel Colosseum – a mode of play that rewards participants with trade materials.)

That’s right, when first starting Dissidia, there’s a limited number of playable characters. To unlock the rest, players will need to progress through the game’s Story Mode. This allows you to earn points that can then be spent on purchasing new characters, costumes, and perks. There’s also a few hidden characters that are only available after meeting certain special requirements.

The complete character roster is as follows:

Warrior of Light (FF1)  *  Garland (FF1)  *  Firion (FF2)  *  The Emperor (FF2)  *  Onion Knight (FF3)  *  Cloud of Darkness (FF3)  *  Cecil (FF4)  *  Golbez (FF4)  *  Bartz (FF5)
Exdeath (FF5)  *  Terra (FF6)  *  Kefka (FF6)  *  Cloud (FF7)  *  Sephiroth (FF7)  *  Squall (FF8)  *  Ultimecia (FF8)  *  Zidane (FF9)  *  Kuja (FF9)  *  Tidus (FF10)  *  Jecht (FF10)
Shantotto (FF11)  *  Gabranth (FF12)

 

On its surface, Dissidia may seem like a simple fighting game. But when you consider all of the RPG elements, unlockables, and social trading, it’s easy to see that there’s actually quite a bit more than meets the eye. For example, the game also features a fun calendar system. When starting the game for the first time, you will be asked to select a day of the week in which you would most likely play. This day becomes your Bonus Day. Playing the game on your Bonus Day grants you a special point reward. Also, the game features something called the “Play Plan”. Players will be asked to select if they are Casual, Average or Hardcore players. This selection will determine the frequency in which players are rewarded with special bonuses.

The story mode included in the game is extensive and time consuming. There’s a scenario for nearly every starting character. This is a good thing too, because these days most players would be hard pressed to find random people to play with. At the time of this writing, the game is about nine years old. It’s very unlikely that you will encounter other players on the street to exchange Friend Cards with. Unless you have a friend or family member that shares your interest, Dissidia Final Fantasy is likely to be more of a single player experience these days.

I went into this game not expecting much more than a simple arcade style brawler. What I found was a very well put together title, with loads of potential. The graphics and sound are simply top tier for a handheld title, and even the skeleton of the storyline is decent enough to remain interesting until the end of the game. My biggest gripe with this title is the playcontrol. Most of the action is played with the thumb pad, which on a PSP is not a control of particularly good design. I found myself suffering from hand cramps after longer play sessions just due to the overall shape of the PSP and the position I had to place my hands. I do not own a Playstation Vita – so I couldn’t test this for myself, but I’d be willing to bet that these these issues would not carry over to that hardware as it seems to be much more ergonomic. The game also suffers from some annoying camera issues. I would often find myself engaged in a battle and unable to see my opponent. I’d have to break off my attack to adjust the camera angle, thus losing my attack chain or opening myself up to danger.

In summary, I found Dissidia to be a very innovative but somewhat imperfect game. Some of these imperfections are not the fault of the game itself, but rather repercussions of age and the platform in which is was designed for. I’m curious to see how things differ in it’s sequel.

Difficulty: Variable –  On its surface, the Story Mode of Dissidia can be as easy or as challenging as you want it to be. As you play through the story map you can make choices to make your journey either easier or harder. Enemies do get more difficult as the game progresses, but you can always grind and level up to make things a bit easier. Many of the optional challenges can be downright brutal. And as expected, when playing multiplayer against others, you never know what to expect.

Story: The storyline is admittedly weak. It serves only as a barebones excuse for bringing heroes and villains from different Final Fantasy titles together. In truth, people don’t play these kinds of games for storyline. So, it’s forgivable.

Originality: Fighting games are usually very unoriginal things. Dissidia manages to break that stigma by introducing characters with separate storylines and goals and providing a unique leveling system and social interactions. These functions are very well done in their design.

Soundtrack: One of the high points of the game. Dissidia brings back a number of classic Final Fantasy scores and renders them in new and fresh arrangements. The game also features fairly decent voice acting. Well done.

Fun: Fans of brawlers will find a lot to enjoy here. Annoying camera issues and iffy playcontrol can be a damper. The best time will be had by those with friends who can engage in the multiplayer aspects of the game.

Graphics: Dissidia is a beautiful game. The PSP really shines on this title. The characters, environments and even the special effects in battle are all breathtaking. 

Playcontrol:  This is where the game really suffers. The camera issues I mentioned are a fairly big problem. Also, some of the controls are just not very intuitive. The layout of the original PSP exacerbate the issue.  Play this on a Vita if you can.

Downloadable Content: N/A

Mature Content:  No Concerns – Minor language. 

Value:  Finding a physical copy of this game may be difficult and pricing on physical copies can vary. The game is available for purchase digitally on PSN for $10. For the amount of content in the title, this price is worth it for fans.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – For me, Dissidia is an interesting game and one certainly worth the time I invested in it. However, it is far from perfect. The sheer amount of content is its saving grace. Most players would likely be better served by skipping over this debut entry and checking out one of the sequels. But fans of the series can still find a lot to enjoy in this release.

Available on: PSN, PSP,

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

Review: Final Fantasy Tactics – The War of the Lions

This is a review that has been a long time coming. Occasionally, I get emails or twitter messages asking me to review or discuss a particular game. Of all the messages I get, by far the most requested retro review is for Final Fantasy Tactics. As a lifelong fan of the Final Fantasy series, I’m ashamed to admit that Tactics is a game that I’ve actually never set aside the time to play. First of all, it came out during a time in my life when my mind was on things other than gaming. Also, it’s a not a traditional RPG like most other Final Fantasy titles. Instead, it is a more of a tactical/strategy game with lots of RPG influence. In case you’re not aware – I generally do not enjoy tactical style games. In my opinion, most games of this type tend to progress just a little too slowly for my tastes. With this in mind, I think I’ve always been hesitant to dive into Final Fantasy Tactics. But, that time is over.

Before we get into the details, I want to start by mentioning that there are two versions of the game. The original release is simply known as “Final Fantasy Tactics“. It was released on the Sony Playstation in 1998 and is also currently available for purchase on the Playstation Network for PS3 and PSP users. The game was later re-released in 2007 for the Playstation Portable under the name “Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions“. This is considered to be the definitive version of the game. It includes graphical enhancements, new cutscenes, an improved translation, a more balanced difficulty, as well as the inclusion of two new playable jobs (more on that later). This remake is also available on both iOS and Android devices. For the sake of this review, I played the PSP version of War of the Lions.

It’s also worth mentioning that Final Fantasy Tactics is the first FF game to be set in the world of Ivalice. When Final Fantasy XII was released, that game brought the world of Ivalice into the main series – it has since become the favorite setting for many fans.

The story of the game is absolutely magical. It’s even been compared to the works Shakespeare by some. Yes. It’s that good. The game takes place during an age when the world is recovering from the aftermath of a 50-year war. The story focuses on a young knight-errant named Ramza, an unsung hero of history. Despite being a sellsword, Ramza is from a noble bloodline. Ivalice is a world where heritage and caste is held in the highest regard.  As the game progresses, Ramza comes to learn of a nefarious plot by the Church in which his family serves. As a result, he must choose between honoring his family or placing his trust in an old friend. Of course, the actual plot is much more intricate than can be summarized into a simple paragraph. In fact, I daresay it might be the most well written storyline in the entire Final Fantasy series.

Despite having similar themes and a rich story, Final Fantasy Tactics is very different from other games in the main series. Instead of being an open-world game with short turn-based combat, the game is essentially a series of RTS overhead battles. During combat, the player controls a team of various units (characters) on a grid-like battlefield. You move your units into position, then execute attacks or abilities. Once you’ve defeated all of the enemies on the grid, the battle is over. Generally speaking, the story scenes take place between battles and advance the plot.

Units earns experience and job points during battle. As you might expect, experience points level your units up. Job points are used to unlock new job-specific skills for your units. Each unit can be equipped with weapons and equipment and even abilities, many of which are earned by leveling various jobs. At the beginning of the game, only a handful of jobs are available. However, new and more advanced jobs will soon become obtainable as your characters continue to level and grow.

The job system found in Final Fantasy Tactics is similar to what was seen in Final Fantasy III and V. However, the representation in Tactics is widely considered to be the best implementation of the system thus far. Many of the jobs introduced in this game have since been seen in other titles in the series, namely Final Fantasy XI and XIV. Mastery of the Job System is really the key to success in the game. On it’s surface, Final Fantasy Tactics appears to be brutally difficult. In fact, the first few battles players will encounter can often be some of the hardest and most punishing. But, if you’re willing to spend the time to understand the game’s mechanics, it’s quite possible to exploit the job system to your advantage. In this way, the game can actually become ridiculously unbalanced and easy. Certain job and equipment combinations can essentially render your party nearly invulnerable.

Even though the game suffers from balance issues, it’s hard to claim that FFT is anything short of an absolute masterpiece. That being said, I  have to admit that it is not a game that I could really get into. It’s not that it’s a bad game, it’s just not the type of game that I personally find enjoyable. I am just not a strategy/tactical game fan. While I loved the story and the mechanics of the game, the combat was just too slow-paced and lengthy for me. In most Final Fantasy titles, combat is resolved relatively quickly – with the exception of boss battles. But in FFT, most battles take anywhere from 10-15 minutes on average. You can to watch each unit move into place in real time. Then you face them a certain direction, then execute an action, etc. Then, if you mess up and lose a character you will likely want to reload your save and try again. And there are A LOT of battles in the game, even more so if you intend to grind out levels and job points. My other complaint has to do with the grid-based battle system. I found having to rotate the 3D grid just to get a good vantage point to be overly cumbersome. But that’s a flaw that’s easy enough to ignore on it’s own. I just don’t care for this type of game.  It’s not the game…. it’s me. I can admit that. For those that love tactical games like this, FFT is by far the crown jewel.

Even with my dislike for this type of game, the storyline was addictive. I felt compelled to play the game to completion and I’m glad I did.  It’s truly a memorable experience. For me, small quality of life changes such as having an option to speed through some battle animations, and slight playcontrol enhancements would likely change my mind.

Difficulty: Mixed –  On the surface, FFT is a brutally difficult game. However, as I mentioned in the main review above, players willing to really dive into the deep mechanics of the job system, and do a little grinding will be able to make the game a complete piece of cake. It just takes a little dedication. Players who intend to play the game “normally”, will find quite a challenge ahead of them.

Story: The storyline is the main selling point of the game for me. It’s truly a work of art. If you’re playing for the storyline, I do recommend the War of the Lions version of the game. The new translation is exceptional, whereas the original localization does leave a lot to be desired. Plus, the cutscenes are extremely well done.

Originality: In terms of other games in the Final Fantasy series at the time of it’s release, FFT was very original. However, it was certainly not the first tactical role playing game. But, by combing a rich story, a unique job system, and other Final Fantasy elements, we are left we a completely original title that is unlike any other.

Soundtrack: The score for the game is also exceptional. It’s fully orchestrated and absolutely stunning. Since experiencing this game, I’ve also purchased an official copy of the soundtrack and added it to my collection.

Fun: If real time strategy or tactical combat games are your cup of tea, this game will undoubtedly be a favorite of yours. Fans who are more RPG oriented, like me, may find this game a little sluggish and a bit of an ill fit. That being said, the game can still be very enjoyable. It’s just not a one-size-fits-all experience.

Graphics: Regardless of which version you play, Final Fantasy Tactics shows it’s age. I do recommend the updated version for the best graphical experience. The cutscenes are hand-drawn animation and absolutely stunning.

Playcontrol:  This is my biggest area of complaint. While the functional controls for the game are of no issue, the camera controls and battlefield screen rotation are annoying. Also, since many of the sprites look alike, it’s easy in the beginning of the title to tell the difference between friends and enemies without actually hovering over individual units. Ironically, the best play control experience comes not on PS1 or PSP, but rather the mobile port of the game. The mobile version actually seems to alleviate many of these playcontrol headaches.

Downloadable Content: N/A

Mature Content:  No Concerns- Minor language. 

Value:  Both the original and remake are available on the Playstation Network for $9.99. So if you have a PSP or a Vita, the War of the Lions version is a no brainer. The price is more than fair for the amount of gameplay in the title. Prices vary for mobile users, but I’ve seen the game as low as $4.99 on the Google Play store.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – I know that many gamers would crucify me for giving this game anything less than a perfect score. But to me, I had just enough complaints to knock this down from four to three stars. The storyline and soundtrack are second to none. But some of the gameplay elements and camera issues just really bothered me. I will say that Final Fantasy Tactics, in any form, is a stellar game. But it’s not a game that I can recommend to all players. If RTS or tactical RPGs are your thing, this will certainly be one of the best titles you might ever play. If you’re like me, you may not find this to be as enjoyable.

Available on: PSN, PSP, iOS, Android

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

My Experiences as an “MMO Girl” (Part 2)

My nearly six-month experiment came to a close earlier this month when I officially retired “Chichi” and restored Kijimuna to his former glory.  For those of you that may have missed the original article; back in January I wrote a piece about my attempt to see what gaming is like through the eyes of a female. Having spoken with several girls I know in Final Fantasy XIV, I decided to quietly moonlight as a female character for six months to see just how different, if at all, I would be treated.

If you read my original article, you’ll learn that aside from people being just generally nicer, my initial experience was not all that different. Back in January, I wrote that I had not encountered any harassment or sexisim, etc. So, now, six months later has that changed? Well, the answer is both yes and no.

In the months since my original article, I finally consented to joining a free company (guild). I decided to pick one of the largest on the server. From my personal experiences, larger MMO guilds tend to be busy and impersonal. People come and go all the time. I didn’t want to become close to anyone or have to lie about my identity, so a large guild would allow me to simply be another face in the crowd. This worked well for quite some time. Then, one day I volunteered to join some members on a trial (big monster battle). This event marked the first time since I started playing a female character that I was “hit on”…

As I stood there, healing my companions, a member of our party made a semi off-color comment about how well Chichi was able to “handle her staff” and would I like to see if I could “handle his”. This was quickly dealt with as Chichi informed him that if he presented his staff to her, she would snap it in half and sheathe the two pieces in a very uncomfortable place. This person later apologized to me in private for his behavior.

A few weeks later, another person seemed to become infatuated with Chichi. He followed me around and volunteered to help me with whatever I was doing. At one point, he even offered to pay for a private house so Chichi could have her own dwelling. For those who do not played FFXIV, let me tell you this is a VERY generous offer. Housing is scant and expensive on nearly every server in the game. I politely declined the offer.

As my time playing as Chichi drew to a close, I found myself realizing that I was going to miss her. Chichi had come to grow on me. The character was simply adorable. I entertained the thought of just continuing to play her, but I also missed playing as Kijimuna, a character I created almost 7 yeas ago. So that I wouldn’t have to completely say goodbye, I came to a compromise. I hired a new in-game “retainer” or virtual companion and named/modeled it after Chichi. So now, even though Chichi is no more – a part of her still exists in the world of Eorzea.

So, after six months of playing a female character incognito, what are my thoughts?

Well, overall – even though I never actually presented myself as a female, acted flirty or feminine, the majority of players did seem to treat me nicer that they did when I would play a male. As I originally observed, many players were more patient and helpful. Aside from one sexual remark by a single individual, I was never objectified or harassed.  Perhaps this was because I never did come out and claim to be a woman. I really can’t say. But based on this experiment, albeit unscientific as it was, I was relieved to see that players perceived to be female are not the subject of sexual harassment day in and day out.  I’m not claiming that women gamers tend to to cry wolf about such topics, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be quite as bad as one might think by simply hanging out on twitter for five minutes.

When dealing with other players in any multiplayer environment, it’s always wise to remember the wisdom of Rufus from Bill and Ted’s Excellent adventure… regardless of who you are or who you are dealing with, “Be excellent to each other”.

Review: Final Fantasy XV

It is finally here! My full review of the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV! And in record time, might I add.  This review took me less than a month, but unlike those other day-one reviews you’ll find on the web, all of my playthrough reviews are only written after I’ve completed a game from start to finish and poked through every nook and cranny. (Don’t believe me – check my PSN trophies).

As you most likely know, the hype train behind this game was running at a fever pitch. So, let’s start off by talking about about what made this game one of the most anticipated titles in years. Final Fantasy XV began development almost a decade ago. That’s a long time for a single game. Originally announced under the title “Final Fantasy Versus XIII” – it was initially intended to be part of the Final Fantasy: Nova Fabula Crystallis sub-series. (A spin-off of FFXIII) But after several years and management changes, it was re-announced as the next major entry into the main series. Since that time, teasers, leaked footage and interviews caused the game to develop a huge following. Now it is finally here.

So, before we dive into the game itself, let’s do something I dread and take a moment to discuss the various editions and incentives.  For FFXV you basically have three (realistically two) choices; The Standard Version, The Deluxe Edition, and the Ultimate Collectors Edition.  The latter was available directly through Square Enix only and is no longer available for purchase.

  • The standard “day one” edition comes with the game only and a DLC sword.
  • Both the Deluxe and the Collectors editions come with the following DLC perks: A stat boosting costume, the sword from the standard edition and a vanity skin for the in-game vehicle. Both the deluxe and collectors editions also come with a Blu-Ray copy of the FFXV: Kingsglaive motion picture.  – I purchased the Deluxe Edition.
  • The Ultimate Collectors edition also comes with a few exclusive DLC perks that includes in-game discounts, uncommon and exclusive items, etc. But in all honesty, these do not prove to be very valuable. This edition also comes with a playart statue, art book, Blu-Ray copies of FFXV: Brotherhood / Kingsglaive and a special soundtrack.

So now, *Sigh* – let’s talk about the pre-order perks.  Basically, there’s really only three that you need to know about.

  • If you preordered the game from PSN or Xbox Live, you get the Angler set (some fishing-based items from the Collectors Edition), and an exclusive vanity skin for the car… Meh.
  • If you preordered the game from Amazon, you get three exclusive mid-level weapons and three of the four DLC item sets from the Collectors edition. Nice!
  • Finally, if you preordered the game from Gamestop, you get a second Final Fantasy XV mini-game called “A King’s Tale” for free!! … WOW!!!  – I preordered my copy from Gamestop, but I managed to snag an extra copy of the Amazon DLC codes from a friend who received two in error.   

There’s a few other random skins and other worthless freebies given out through contests and promos, but nothing really worth mentioning.

I’ve included a handy-chart below that provides details for every single possible purchase option for the game. (Because this is way more confusing than it needs to be).

*Click to enlarge*

*In a nutshell: If you have the Deluxe Edition and preordered from Amazon to have 99% of the digital perks from the Collectors Edition – If you missed out on any of this, please don’t worry. None of these perks are particularly game-breaking or game-boosting in the overall scope of things, and knowing SE – it wouldn’t surprise me if these don’t appear for sale in the future as individual DLC.

Speaking of downloadable content, the game has a handful of DLC planned in the coming months. These will be available individually for purchase or you can pay the reasonable price of $25.00 for a season pass. At the time of this writing, only the Holiday Pack is available for download. (More on this later).

So. Now that you’ve figured out which version of the game is right for you, I would like to make suggestion. Before playing the actual game itself, I highly recommend installing and completing the free Final Fantasy XV Platinum Demo. The demo is a unique scenario that does not exist in the game itself. Not only does it do a great job of teaching you the combat mechanics of the real game, but upon completion it unlocks a special perk within the retail copy of the game. (A special summon).

FFXV Platinum Demo

So… you’ve watched the Brotherhood anime and the Kingsglaive Motion Picture, you’ve played the demo… you’re finally ready to play Final Fantasy XV. Here’s what to expect from the storyline.

The story of Final Fantasy XV takes place in a world called Eos. The majority of this world is ruled by the militaristic Empire of Niflheim. However, to the north, the small Kingdom of Lucis remains free from Imperial rule. Lucis, protected by a magical barrier, has been able to ward off the Empire for generations. Recently, peacetalks between the Empire and Lucis have manifested. One of the conditions in the peace treaty requires that Noctis, Prince of Lucis is to marry his childhood friend Lunafreya, the oracle of Tenebrae (an area under Imperial control). The game itself mainly focuses on the character of Prince Noctis and his three companions as they journey to the nearby nation on Tenebrae, for the Prince’s wedding. However, shortly after leaving the Crown City of Insomnia, their car breaks down – halting their journey temporarily. While awaiting repairs on their vehicle, the news reaches Noctis that the peacetalks were nothing more than an elaborate ruse. The Empire has occupied the kingdom. The King, Noctis’s father, is said to have been slain. Now, last of his line, Noctis undertakes a journey across Eos to claim the magic powers of his birthright and retake the kingdom from the Empire.

Despite having a backstory this epic, a large focus of Final Fantasy is actually on the relationship between Noctis and his three friends. The first half of the game can appropriately be described as the ultimate Bro Roadtrip. Three guys, hanging out.. being guys. The banter between Noctis and his companions really does a great job of making you care about all of the characters on a very personal level.  In the entourage we have; Noctis – the Prince. Gladiolus – Noctis’ bodyguard. Prompto – Noctis’ childhood friend. And finally, Ignis – Noctis’ personal adviser and attendant.  Each character has their own personality and quirks that you’ll grow very familiar with throughout the game. Gladio is a bit rough around the edges, Prompto is easily excitable and obsessed with photography, Ignis is the straight-man and an accomplished chef, often preparing meals for the party when they camp out in the field.

The game is split into 15 chapters. To be quite honest, the main scenario of the game can be completed in just over 20 hours by most players. This is actually a fairly short time for these types of games nowadays. However, there’s way more content in Final Fantasy XV than just what is found in the main storyline. There’s tons of sidequests littered throughout the game. Most of these can be discovered pretty easily by playing the game normally. But there are a handful that can only be uncovered by venturing a bit off the beaten path. With a few exceptions, you have free reign to explore the entire world at your leisure. You can do so on foot, via car, and after a certain point in the game by Chocobo. Most the time, the car will be your main mode for transportation.

When cruising the roads in the Regalia (the model name for the car), you can instruct Ignis to drive to various destinations on the map. After a certain point in the game you will also unlock the ability to drive manually. Driving the Regalia is fun at first, but it does get tiresome after a while. During your time on the road you will treated to banter between the guys and occasionally some important exposition. One neat little feature during these roadtrips is the car stereo. Just like in games such as Grand Theft Auto and Sleeping Dogs, you can scroll through the channels and listen to cool music. Expect in FFXV the track selection can include soundtracks from other games in the series! Tracks can be purchased throughout the game when visiting gas stations and rest areas. I thought this was a nice touch.

The downside to these drives is the time it takes to get from place to place. Thankfully, once you’ve arrived at a particular area, you can fast warp there in the future for a small price. This certainly saves time, but to be honest – the loading times when warping from place to place, or even when loading new chapters and cutscenes in the game seem unusually long. Sometimes, I found myself sitting on a loading screen for well over a minute. (This was my experience playing on the original Playstation 4. Perhaps this is not an issue on the Xbox One or on the new PS4 models… I dunno). But, it’s long enough to be an issue.

Sadly, I was not as impressed with the soundtrack for this game as I usually am with Final Fantasy titles. There are a good number of great tracks in FFXV, don’t misunderstand. But overall, the background music just feels “off”. Even when the songs are catchy… to me they just seem a little out of place. But this could just be me being quirky. My 8-year old son absolutely loves the music. He likes it so much, I had to make a CD of game tunes at his request so he can listen to it when he goes to bed at night… So, take my opinion with a grain of salt here.

Graphically, the game is gorgeous. To date, it’s the best looking console game I’ve played. If you have one of the newer model PS4s, FFXV will take full advantage of the hardware as well. The game can also be tweaked even further for HDR televisions and home theater audio.

Progression in the game is tallied as you complete sidequests and battle monsters. Experience points earned by your characters are paid out whenever you rest in camp or at an inn-room. This serves to level your characters up. Your party also earns AP during their adventures. These points are spent unlocking new abilities.

Combat in the game is a bit of a mixed bag. Especially at first. Starting out, I had a hard time grasping it. The combat controls felt awkward and not very intuitive. But, as you continue to play and unlock more combat skills, it starts to come together. By the end of the game, it felt like second nature.  My biggest complaint has to be not with the control scheme, but with the in-game camera during combat. More often then not, battles take place in dense outdoor areas or in confined dungeon spaces. The camera tends to go haywire and it can be difficult to focus on what you need to see. A prime example of this can be found during the mega-boss fight against the Adamantoise. The boss is so massive that the camera doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself. This is very long fight, and my biggest problem with it was not the battle itself, but dealing with the darn camera angles. This seems like something that might be easily fixed with a patch. Time will tell.

All in all, Final Fantasy XV is a very different type of Final Fantasy game. Square Enix has declared that this entry is intended to appeal to both veterans of the series as well as new players. When I first settled in to play this game, it wasn’t at all what I expected. I think my JRPG-mindset may have kicked in too hard at first and I misplayed the game from the get-go. Out of the 80 hours I clocked in playing FFXV, I’d say the first 40 were spent in the first four chapters alone. I grinded sidequests and hunts like nobody’s business.I was hesitant to proceed with the main story until I completed absolutely every bit of optional content I came across. While this was great in terms of leveling up and getting ahead of the curve, it made for a very slow start.  Once I managed to put this aside and just enjoy the game for what it was, everything fell into place. By the end of the game, it ended up feeling very much like a Final Fantasy title.

Wrapping things up, I want to touch a bit on the game patches and DLC.  At the time of this writing, the game has received an important day-one update and a small bugfix/feature patch.  So I’m going to assume anyone playing is going to have installed these. The developers have expressed a desire to further patch the game – adding some additional cutscenes and possibly making major changes to the 13th chapter of the game itself. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Having already completed the game, I hate to think I might miss out on some crucial story elements. We’ll have to see how this manifests.

To date, only one piece of DLC has been released: The Holiday pack. This comes in both a free download and an special paid-for version. For the most part, there’s not much of value in this package currently. A few random in-game items, and a costume that will be unlocked at a later date. The real gem in this DLC is the upcoming limited-time carnival. Apparently, SE is waiting until after Christmas to open up this event. Details behind what this carnival will contain are still sketchy, and I’m not really sure how I feel about having a time-locked event as part of a DLC package… but we’ll see how it all plays out. As more downloadable content is released, I’ll review them separately on the site.   – But in regards to this carnival, don’t let this pending release stop you from playing the game to completion. Upon finishing the game, you have the ability to continue playing. So anything you may have missed and any new add-on content like this, should be available to experience.  In fact, there’s even a secret optional dungeon in Final Fantasy XV that’s only available once you have completed the game.

All in all, I found Final Fantasy XV to be a solid game and one worthy of the franchise. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly worth a look if you’re a fan of the series. Despite experiencing a slow start, I found my enjoyment of the game to grow the longer I played it. The storyline is second to none, certainly one of the more impactful in the series, in my opinion. I feel that longtime fans will be divided on what to think of the game. But, putting nostalgia for the previous games to the side, FFXV certainly stands on it’s own.  I look forward to seeing what’s to come in terms of the upcoming add-on scenarios.

Difficulty: Variable –  Final Fantasy XV has two difficulty options: Easy and Normal. Easy mode turns down the difficulty of battles considerably. Also, when Easy Mode is enabled, if you do die and you have the Carbuncle summon unlocked from the demo, you get an instant raise. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that Carbuncle, in fact, only appears when the game is on the easy setting – as I never saw him appear once when playing the game on Normal. I would recommend Easy Mode only for players that want to experience the game story with no challenge whatsoever. Normal mode is really not that difficult as long as you spend a little time grinding and preparing. Plus, you miss out on one of the coolest fights in the game if you play to the end using the easy setting. As usual, most the really difficult content comes in the form of optional bosses and dungeons. These are intended to played post-game.

Story: The storyline presented in FFXV is simply amazing. It stands just fine on it’s own, but backed up with Kingsglaive and Brotherhood, the lore behind game is just fantastic. In the later part of the game, a lot of concepts are introduced at a pretty fast pace, so if you’re not paying attention it will be easy to miss some key elements.

Originality: For a series with no less than fifteen installments, it can be difficult to keep things feeling fresh. But Square Enix always seems to manage to pull something new out their hat, while keeping the elements that make a Final Fantasy game a “Final Fantasy game”.  This is certainly true here for XV where we have a game that is both somewhat hub-based, yet also very open world. Many of the concepts in this game are indeed recycled from previous entries; Hunts are a prime example. Yet, the setting that encompasses the game manages to keep things feeling new. One shining feature here is the social media integration. SE has flirted with this before, but never got it right until now.  Throughout that game, Prompto will randomly take photographs. Every time you rest, you have are able to review the pictures he’s taken and share them on social media… pointless, yes. But fun.

Soundtrack: Don’t misunderstand what I said above. The music in this game is very good. It’s beautiful and well composed when it needs to be, and quirky and playful when appropriate. But, when compared to other games in the series, the bulk of it does not seem as memorable.  The exception to this gripe is the main theme “Somnus” – This is an absolutely lovely track. When it comes to voice acting, the game has it’s ups and downs. Noctis and his companions are overall, very well done, but their banter can become repetitive after a time. The side characters on the other hand… are cringe inducing. (I’m looking at you Cindy and Dino).

Fun: Final Fantasy XV, for me, was very enjoyable. RPG fans should have a field day. Heck, even my 8-year old is in love with the game. But, I feel like large portion of games just won’t “get it”. If you like RPGs that don’t hold your hand, there’s a lot to like about FFXV.

Graphics: Incredible. The scenery and most of the models in the game are absolutely excellent. There’s a few odd exceptions, but overall Final Fantasy XV is once of the prettiest games I’ve ever played.

Playcontrol: This is where the game suffers the most. But, in theory, this is something that could easily be fixed. Number one, as mentioned above, the camera during combat is big a issue. Second, the jump-button also serves as the button needed to initiate dialog or interact with objects. This often leads to you trying to select an NPC for conversation, only to end up jumping in their face for no reason. Annoying.

Downloadable Content:  Yes. Free and paid DLC.

Mature Content: Some language and scantily clad characters.

Value:  The base game retailed for $60.00 new. The Deluxe Edition sells for $80. As recent as a month after release, the standard game has been seen on sale for as low as $35. – To me, considering the amount of content the game offers, it’s well worth the $60. To be fair, considering the $80 version also comes with a Blu-Ray movie as well as additional in-game content, this amount is also justifiable.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – Final Fantasy XV is a great game. But, it has it’s share of flaws. Its not a perfect title by any stretch. Considering how long the game was in development, some of the issues are quite honestly, inexcusable. But, none of them are major enough to detract from the overall enjoyment of the title.  There’s plenty to enjoy in this game, and the story presented here is absolutely breathtaking.

Available on: PS4 and Xbox One

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia