Final Fantasy XV has been a very divisive title to say the least. While some people are eagerly awaiting the next entry of their favorite franchise, others just can’t see it as a Final Fantasy game due to it looking and feeling very different from anything else we’ve seen. Add to that the already divisive opinions about Final Fantasy XIII and I think many of these fans were hoping for a return to form rather than what we’ve seen. Then you have people like me who really have no opinion about the game, because we really just don’t care. Either we’ve moved on from Final Fantasy or just don’t find this entry interesting. In my case it’s the former. I’ve gravitated towards more traditional RPGs such as the Tales franchise and of course Neptunia. Still though, I decided to give Final Fantasy XV a try in order to give my own thoughts about the game from a technical perspective. So what exactly are my conclusions and was it as difficult as the infamous demo during the Microsoft Press Conference showed? Let’s take a look.
The demo begins actually just slightly before the Titan battle in a corridor. After taking out a few enemy soldiers I started to get a hang for the controls and drew one comparison. This felt a lot like a much slower Kingdom Hearts. While that makes a bit of sense due to the more realistic style of the game, it also means everything feels heavier and unfortunately a little clunky. After dispatching my foes, I quickly made my way to the Titan fight and… proceeded to run away. Yeah, before you can fight the boss you need to flee for a bit and this is where things started to fall apart. While I made my escape with little problem, at the end I had to warp to a particular spot to finish my escape. I found myself having a bit of trouble zeroing in on the target in question. Eventually though, I proceeded to the next section which was finally the Titan fight.
The fight itself proceeded very much like the Microsoft demo. You had to repel the Titan’s hand and eventually strike it when it landed on the ground. This went well until the game wanted me to start warping to specific places in order to dodge the Titan’s arm sweeps. This was when I really started to get frustrated. The problem is that warping disorients you and trying to find your bearings after that takes a few moments. Part of this is because I did not realize I could lock back on again by pressing R3, but also due to the frantic pace of the fight I wasn’t exactly looking at the control layout and was just trying to survive. Eventually I somehow managed to proceed to the final portion of the battle, which consists of freezing the Titan’s arm and shattering it to win the fight. With that recap of the battle done, let me move onto some analysis.
First the good, yes the graphics are great and the music is very epic. Also, the fight does convey a sense of urgency. It felt extremely cinematic and played to the emotions it was supposed to very well. That also sadly is the biggest problem. Due to the slower speed of combat everything does feel more grandiose and you feel not only more vulnerable, but there is an underlying tone of frantic urgency there. This would be good except you sacrifice the gameplay in order to achieve this. The most critical comparison I can make is that Kingdom Hearts II.8 was literally just a few feet away from this game and I felt the combat in that was not only more fluid, but the gameplay overall better. That said, I’m not willing to throw the entire game under the bus for one reason. This was a bad demo in my opinion.
Constructing a demo is not easy, as you need to not only highlight the core aspects of the game, but make it accessible to everyone regardless of skill level. That’s where we run into a problem here, namely with the warp mechanic. Kingdom Hearts II.8 plays better because it’s a very simple combat system. One can argue maybe too simple, but its demo actually layered its mechanics over the course of the playthrough and none of them really had to be mastered in order to complete the demo. Final Fantasy XV’s combat was easy to get into, but the demo expected players to quickly master the warping mechanic. Sadly, the warping mechanic isn’t as intuitive as Square Enix thinks it is and the demo really could have benefited from a basic area where you could have practiced it for a few minutes before engaging in the boss fight. So in the end, I’m more apt to blame the demo rather than the game itself at this point. Still though, I think I’m going to pass on this one. If you’re excited for it though, more power to you and if not, no worries, there’s still plenty of awesome games headed our way this year.