Final Fantasy XI review
Final Fantasy XI *Hands On* Review


Well, on my recent trip to Japan I had the honor of playing this game. So here we go...

Registering and such is not much of a pain. Pretty much the same as the Beta. It takes time to install and update (yes there was an update already) but after that it is pretty easy. The major difference between the startup procedure for the final version and for the Beta is that before creating a character for use with the game you now need a so-called 'Contents-ID' recorded to your PS2 hard disk. You obtain this ID by selecting an option in the Final Fantasy section of the Play Online browser. It costs 1280 yen per month with an additional 100 yen per month for each additional character.

The Story takes place in a world called, Vana'Diel. The world that you live in, in the past was purified and beautiful in every aspect with the power of the Crystal. The people who believed in the light fought against the people and monster who believed in the darkness. The monster destroyed the towns and polluted the world. Now it's 20 years later, and the darkness returns quietly, will you be able to stop it? In Final Fantasy XI, you will be able to choose your character of choice. The characters includes Hume, Tarutaru, Elvaan, Mithra, and the Galka.

After picking your character a brief introductory sequence showing off some areas from your kingdom and a tiny story sequence in which your character is welcomed follows. The world is actually larger then I expected. The outside world has a lot of detail with rest areas, watchtowers, rivers and forests. Really the best I have seen from Square.

The music and sounds used throughout the game are pretty good (well anything from Nobuo Uematsu is good lol). The aural side of the game manages to keep the mood for adventuring, and there's now added incentive for fighting as a party, thanks to an all new battle score.

Battles are fought on a free turn based action similar to Phantasy Star Online. Each character has his or her own abilities to use and master in this game. Who gets what magic is most likely depends on what character you choose.

Magic has an element of time associated with it. When you select the option to cast magic, your character pauses briefly, then begins to cast. A meter in your status window gradually fills to 100% at which point your character unleashes the spell. If you're struck by an enemy before that time, you run the chance of the spell being canceled and your having to repeat the call. Through my limited play time, I was unable to obtain any new magic spells aside from the default Stone spells that accompanies a Black Sorcerer from... well, probably from birth. However, I did see a variety of spells being cast by players including healing, defense and powerful attack spells. One player cast an explosion of some form that dealt a death blow to one of the enemies.

The big party experience has proven to be the most enjoyable point of the game thus far. I tried to get people to join me but was rejected a lot lol. Finally I got to join a team. Playing the game as a party can be an exhilarating experience. Battles are much more frantic, with players casting spells from all sides of the enemy, some close and some far. Perhaps the most memorable point in the game was when our party was fighting a monster in the vicinity of another party's battle. Spells filled the screen practically nonstop, all backed by some very typical Final Fantasy-esque battle music. If you're into RPGs in any form, you'll love what you see here.

Quests can be quite easy and difficult. Completing quests opens up others. Money is obtained only through auctions and through rewards for completing quests.

If there's one thing I can say about Final Fantasy XI, in addition to it being a fine game, is that it requires a huge investment of time. Whereas previous games in the series were story driven, such is not the case here and the only elements of story occur in the background, with occasional in-game event scenes involving non-player controlled characters. You may find yourself amazed to see that you just spend a couple of hours doing nothing more than walking around the castle surroundings and gaining maybe a single level. Adventuring in a group is likely a requirement for actually building up your character at a reasonable level in a reasonable amount of time.

From my limited time playing I like what I see. Just getting into MMORPGs myself I really like this. Though it will take a lot of time to play so expect to clear your schedule for this game. Still I miss the lack of a good story but solid fun gameplay rank this game high.

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