Final Fantasy, one of Square Enix's flagship series, has definitely had its ups and downs in the last few decades.
We've had classics like FFX really make their mark in the gaming world even though it didn't age all that well. And then we've had really big stinkers - coughcough FFXIII coughcough. So, with its latest installment, Square decided to change it up with the latest installment Final Fantasy XV. A slightly more western approach than the series has taken before, and it does work, just not all the time.
In Final Fantasy XV, you take control of Noctis Lucis Caelum - a prince who is getting ready to get married and take his place as the king of Lucis. However, before the nuptials can take place, his kingdom is ambushed by an evil empire. Noctis and his friends, a band of merry (and also very sad at times) men, must travel around a vast open world and save the kingdom at all costs.
The game has a lot going for it. Its graphics and character design have taken a much more contemporary approach that the series hasn't had since Final Fantasy VII. It has also taken a much darker visual tone than previous titles, which gives it a more realistic feel. It has its high fantasy elements, and while it doesn't always fit, it is integrated into unique world (well, unique for Final Fantasy). Its open world environment also serves the design elements well - it feels fluid and expansive and very similar to our world in some ways.
Then we have the battle system - a hack and slash, fluid system that ditches the turn-based system entirely. It's not perfect, but it keeps the game interesting. Instead of having a set kind of spell that each character can learn, you must craft them and you can even run out of them. I prefer this kind of system - because it keeps the game fast-paced and I feel like I'm doing something. A turn-based game is too slow for me, nowadays, unless they really change things up with the format. So, I'm glad FFXV took a step in the right direction.
Now, here's the thing. It has got the looks and there's something there, but there's also a lot of nothing. The story never really excited me as much as everything else about the game. It was weak - and while the characters were a high point, they were squandered on a story that needed much more development. A prime example of this is Lady Lunafreya. Supposedly, she is the other main protagonist of this game. Although, she's barely in the actual game.
In previous FF games, a character like Lunafreya would appear in the party and she'd fight with your team. In this game, she spends most of her time separated from Noctis and sending notes to him. And then, when we finally meet her, she is killed. And her death isn't even that sad, because I barely knew anything about her. Did I miss something? Maybe. But I played the whole game - and she definitely wasn't written to be a protagonist. And that sucks.
She is one of many examples of the weakness of this game's plot and its poor use of characters (don't even get me started on Cid and Cindy).
THE BOTTOM LINE
Final Fantasy XV isn't that great. It could have been, if they'd worked harder on it, but in the end it falls short. It's fun, but it's fun in the way that fireworks are fun. They're flashy in the beginning, but after a while, they're just loud and obnoxious.