Soundtrack Central The best classic game music and more

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Amazingu Dec 18, 2016

I completed it the other day, and am doing the post-game content now.
It's fantastic. Best FF I've played in 15 years.

But yeah, the last two chapters or so are a bit of a slog.

Qui-Gon Joe Dec 28, 2016

I also "just" finished this (a couple weeks ago), so a few thoughts!

FFXV, for me, is the total definition of something being greater than the sum of its parts.  So many individual parts of it are a total mess.  Combat is either great or terrible depending on the type of encounter and the environment in which it takes place.  The open world + more linear style that each half of the game employs make it feel very disjointed and like you're playing two totally different games.  The tone is ALL over the place ("everyone's dead and SO SAD and we're running and SO SCARED but also at the very same time "WOOOO ROOOOOAD TRIIIIP" is very... odd).  Characters who aren't the main four seem like they should be interesting but are not developed well enough at all.  So many wasted opportunities with good characters and generally good plot but sooooo much happens off-screen and so much is just implied that it feels very rushed and incomplete regardless of how long a development cycle this thing had.  Also, the less said about Cidney the better.  Man am I glad no other human was over to see me playing when I made the mistake of filling up the car at Hammerhead.

The open world aspect of the game was an interesting experiment, but Square could stand to take a good, hard look at Monolithsoft as a Japanese developer who knows how to make an open world that is actually interesting.  Even in Xenoblade X, which was tremendously disappointing compared to the original Xenoblade, I could never wait to crest the next hill and see what amazing sights were awaiting.  Not so in FFXV.  Aside from a few cool areas, the world was very realistic and... kind of bland.  I never really wanted to explore all that much, and any time I DID venture off the beaten path I was stuck in oddly solid polygon models of bushes.

I know that all sounds tremendously negative, but I actually did end up actually quite enjoying my time with the game.  The four main characters were vastly more likable than I anticipated they would be.  After the awful character writing in XIII, this was pretty refreshing.  I also enjoyed that the game wasn't afraid to shy away from more... depressing(?) plot events?  It felt harsher and less sanitized than I'd expect from a big-budget mainstream affair.  Combat was much smoother and played a lot better than I thought it would after the demos.  I really enjoyed going through Prompto's pictures.  Somehow the whole game just had an odd sense of... charm to it that I wasn't expecting, and it made me like it far more than it probably deserves given all the problems it has.

I guess the last thing to address is the soundtrack.  Overall I do quite like it, but there are a lot of tracks that I really don't like at all (read: basically any town theme), and credits from the mp3 album seem to indicate Shimomura didn't have as much of a hand in a lot of music as Square wants us to believe.  If I were her, I think I'd WANT to distance myself from some of the stuff on it.  That said, there's a lot of really really good stuff there, and the battle themes are outstanding.  I also felt, oddly enough, that the moment the original vocal version of Somnus started playing was the most emotional moment of the game for me.  That had far more to do with the EIGHT YEARS between hearing it for the first time on drammatica and finally hearing it in game, though, I think.

I hope there is a FFXVI after this and that it is a more coherent vision than this game was.  I believe that now more than any time in the last decade, Square is on the upswing and capable of regaining much of what they've lost.  They're clawing at the door of greatness, but aren't *quite* there yet.

jb Dec 29, 2016 (edited Dec 29, 2016)

I have to agree with most of what Qui-Gon Joe said. My biggest problem with the game was pacing. It was really bad in every aspect of the game. In story, in combat, in progression, even in music.

The story is actually pretty great but I ended up doing so many side quests and non-main story objectives that I quickly lost the connection with the story. It's really easy to get side tracked doing a billion different random things that have no relevance to the main story at all, but are still enjoyable, fun, or otherwise rewarding. I ended up finally just blowing through the story in a day or two just to get it done and over with so I could go back to doing all the other stuff that was holding me back. The first half of the story is way too open and the last half of the story is way too linear. Not nearly as linear as FFXIII, which I know some people point to as a fault (I actually enjoyed both the game and the linearity of it), but only because you have the "option" to go back to the open world, as long as you're not locked into a specific story part that has to be moved forward.

Combat has really weird pacing issues, too. It's not quite as easy as a hack and slash game but it's not quite as technical as a Dark Souls or Devil May Cry game. It's somewhere in between. I *wanted* to be somewhat more technical, trying to land Blindsides and Link Strikes when I could, but sometimes it's just not possible, either due to mob AI, mob hitboxes, or just plain weird interactions with certain weapon types. So much so that I ended up just slashing my way through everything, for the most part. Which also leads me into the pacing issues with Character progression... which leads into the pacing issues with the open world...

Character progression in this game is almost as open as the world and I think that's not a great thing. You basically start out getting dumped into a massively open world and the feeling is kind of overwhelming although it's somewhat mediated only by the fact that travel times, both on foot and by car, are pretty long. It keeps you localized to most of Leide for the beginning but once you move past Leide to Duscae, that's when I started having pacing issues. I ended up spending so much time doing side quests and random fun stuff in Leide that I was significantly overleveled for the story quests (which, btw, is actually how i enjoy playing most stuff) and that was great, so when I finally got around to moving to Duscae, even though I was *still* overleveled for the story quest and the beginning part of the zone, I was getting my ass handed to me left and right. So much so that I actually thought I was not particularly good at combat, which later turned out to be false. Turns out, you should actually go to Lestallum and follow the story quest there because there's a vendor there that sells gear there that is a significant upgrade from what you have/find in the beginning of the game. That's standard RPG progression, but it's really awkward to be dumped into a huge, expansive, open world area of the game (all of Duscae, and then later Cleigne), with at least like 2 "current" level outposts and stuff to do there, and then get absolutely destroyed by simple mob types like the fat cow things and getting destroyed by constant Magitek air drops every 3 minutes.  I actually spent a significant number of hours practicing combat, grinding out mobs in those areas, only to later find out that I should have just gone to Lestallum and bought new weapons. The whole time it legitimately felt like I was underleveled, or that I was missing the "next area" equipment you get in a standard RPG (i.e., cross a bridge and things get harder but so does the usual wares at a town!). It's just way too easy to fall off the story rail, especially early on. All that content is great but they should have really metered it somehow, by either minimizing some of the stuff early game, making it gated behind certain levels or story completion, or by pushing some of it to end-game.

Even the music suffers, although not really a "pacing" issue but it's really, really clear which tracks are Shimomura and which are not. Basically every hokey town/field theme is not a Shimomura track, and as good as they are and as thematically appropriate as they are to the whole theme of the game (brotherhood, bonding, trip, ordinary lives, etc.), it's weird to transition from the hokey music of a random town to the Shimomura battle music or epic, dark orchestra stuff. I'm not sure that really can be solved, or really needed to be, but it's not an uncommon complaint. Also, for what it's worth, I found out today when playing the Bluray LE that the mp3s contained therein have at least a semblance of individual track credits and it basically confirms what everyone else has already said -- Shimomura did all the stuff we like and all these other guys did the hokey town and field themes that everyone has grown to dislike.

One of the things that strikes me as most interesting is that I read on NeoGAF ( [Note: read on the internet, so not sure I really believe it], but some SQEX contractor had an AMA about FFXV and basically said a bunch of things that sound pretty accurate. tldr: of it seems to be that they just ran out of time, which is absolutely how this game felt when playing it. You had this massively expansive open world and then halfway through you're funneled into a tunneled story line straight through to the end of the game. There were pretty massive plot gaps all over the place, too, which they appear to be at least solving with future DLC and while I don't really have a problem with that, it's not really a tactic that most people will be okay with.

Honestly, the scope and vision for this project must have been incredibly large and I'm happy to at least seen part of that vision come to life. It was very big, very broad, and I think they just plain ran out of time. I'm okay with it and despite what might sound like complaints above, I really, really, really enjoyed just about every aspect of the game.

vert1 Feb 18, 2017

Awesome reviews in this thread. I now plan to play this game without using potions to keep the excitement of playing high.

student41269 Mar 3, 2017

Recently finished the game and have been digesting the experience. Unfortunately I have to say it's the first mainline FF I have actually disliked - I found it a complete and total mess. It's a prime example of Open World Syndrome: so much effort spent on realising a huge virtual environment (and it is very nice indeed) but not enough spared for the story, pacing, creative direction, and actual Stuff To Do. Although I can see all the seeds of what they were trying to do, the makings of something good, the game that takes place within the world they created just barely hangs together. It's certainly not the product of ten years' development, and more like the latest (2/3 years old) iteration of a project with no clear vision, and released unfinished.

With only a few exceptions, details about unfolding events are delivered by infodump, either on a radio or by the characters bantering to one another, while they are just hanging around still in player control. I find this a dreadful way of moving the story forward and it just always seems like the important things happen off-screen. Every character felt underdeveloped, and even the camaraderie of the main four playable characters struck me as forced and poorly written. It didn't help that their quips were repeated ad nauseum throughout the adventure. Characters, lore, enemies, locations... nothing was given proper foreshadowing or introduction, making it very difficult for me to get immersed in what was happening or what I was fighting for.

Battles were frantic, incomprehensible and frustrating - most of the time is spent combating the controls, the camera and the poor lighting than actual monsters. This becomes a real problem when fighting is really all there is to do (besides a spot of fishing). Once again, we have endless 'hunts' on a list - go somewhere, kill beast, rinse and repeat. You just killed this tough boss at the bottom of a dungeon? Great! Here's the same enemy again on a hunt list, so you can go all the way back down there AGAIN and fight it AGAIN. Of course this kind of thing is for the completists, but didn't Final Fantasy used to reward such players rather than punish them?

Perhaps worst of all, the music was 99% generic, unmemorable, and so badly implemented that even the nicer parts were either barely audible or constantly interrupted.

I could go on and on, but I'd just be drowning in negativity... So very disappointed at how the game turned out, as there's just so little of what I associate with the great FF games. For me, the much maligned FFXIII was many times better than this in every way.

Idolores Mar 3, 2017

Qui-Gon Joe wrote:

gaining much of what they've lost.  They're clawing at the door of greatness, but aren't *quite* there yet.

This grabbed me more than anything. I've heard really good things about it, but its become so commonplace to project disappointment in Square Enix, partially because their past output was SO good.

Can't help but feel complacent. Forgot how great they used to be, and how much I wanted them to recapture that spirit.

Perhaps I will give FFXV a whirl.

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