Well this is it. The last video game post of 2016. This year I suprisingly had a higher number of video game reviews then I had last year. So this should definitely be a more well rounded list. As always, the Best and worst of 2016 will come near the beginning of January after one last hurrah at the movie theater to pick up a few stragglers at the end. The video game best and worst list will be recorded and both lists will be published to Tanner Reviews as well as Project Derailed. So look forward to that coming up soon. But for now, let’s talk about one of my favorite games of 2016, Final Fantasy XV. After the abysmal showing of Final Fantasy XIII I had little faith in the franchises ability to keep modernizing as time goes on. The irritating main cast combined with the never ending corridor displayed a crisis, in my eyes, with the Final Fantasy franchise. After Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was a success, I thought they would just take the Ultima route and just focus 100% of their energy on the MMORPG scene. But boy was I wrong! Final Fantasy XV came back with a bang with a combination of classic RPG feels, modern setting, as well as a 1950’s/modern day motif, this has proven to truly be the sleeper hit of 2016 just as the year is coming to a close.
The game takes place in the fictional land of Eos. Eos is separated between three major factions, Accordo, Lucis, and Nifleim lead by the Imperial nation of Tenebrae. You take on the role of Noctis, the Prince of Lucis and the man who is to be married to a being known as the Oracle or Princess Lunafreya, the leader of Tenebrae. Noctis along with his royal guards/friends Prompto, Gladiolus, and Ignis are traveling to Tenebrae to marry Lunafreya when shit goes wrong and Noctis’ homeland is attacked by an Imperial barrage, killing his father and subjegating his homeland. Noctis, now thought dead, along with Prompto, Ignis, and Gladiolus now have to fend for themselves in the middle of, what can be called, the American southwest while trying to figure out who attacked and why.
A Refreshing Change of Pace
I know that people don’t want to fuck with tradition. I, for one, grew angry beyond comprehension when I saw the bullshit of Resident Evil 6 move away from survival horror and move right into FPS territory. But I do admit that Resident Evil did need a reboot in order to keep it fresh. Final Fantasy, like other long lasting gaming franchises, was in need of some revamp in order to keep it fresh. Sure FFXIV: A Realm Reborn is out there for the traditionalists, but for the main game itself, a needed switch to something a little different had helped the franchise maintain its longevity and not turn into vinegar while sitting in the bottle.
The new style of modern culture blended with the 1950’s and with that right amount of old school Final Fantasy charm makes more a fantastic and refreshing Final Fantasy game.
The Corridor is No More and Characters Aren’t Twats
Square Enix has listened! Thank all that is good and holy, this game is not 2/3 the world’s longest and most painful corridor. Square listened and realized that people who enjoy RPGs and especially JRPGs are not a fan of walking straight and continuing to be forced to walk straight. Instead, the game is one of the largest and most immersive open worlds I have seen in some time. There are characters to interact with, quests all over the map, you can do everything you want to at your own pace and enjoy the game you want to play them.
Also, and more importantly, the characters are characters that are interesting, compelling, and not horrific twat canoes. Sure, Noctis is a little on the edge lord side and he has more in common with FFVIII’s Squall than I would enjoy but he is still a three dimensional character. He does show happiness, he does show joy. He might be “too cool to emote” from time to time but he still shows a great deal of joy at the concept of things like fishing. Ignis is a bit foppish, Gladiolus lacks a little personality, and Prompto can be a little forced goofball, but all of them feel like characters and do not come off as overly annoying. Luckily there isn’t some shit bag like Snow is was nothing but trash in XIII, as bland as Lightning, or as annoying as Hope. This is a complete 180 from what XIII brought to the table. If this were a bomb, like XIII, then Final Fantasy might have become a strictly MMORPG market. But, as it stands, they were able to save the franchise and bring it into the next era of gaming.
Still Some of Those Painful Cliches
Nothing is perfect in this world and tragically, even with the redesign, there are still some lingering and painful cliches that have persisted. First off, while the game did manage to add a little bit of diversity to the mix with people of different body sizes as well as women who did not habitually dress in a thong with tassels, there are still some nasty culprits in there. First and foremost, your friend Cindy is an auto-mechanic who wears a pair of booty shorts, visible thong, and a crop top mechanics jacket with busting cleavage. It is pure unadulterated spank material and nothing more with an outfit that will protect you as much from boiling hot oil and engine parts as a single sheet of notebook paper will protect you from bullets.
Second, and this one is more for RPGs in general, while I do love that games that add a lot of missions and side quests to eat up hours of your time… They all begin to feel samey after a while. It is the classic, go to X, get X, bring X back, and then rinse and repeat. While it is an easy way to get characters involved in the world and to give a lot of missions… A little diversity would help. But the most diversity that a lot of them get is instead of going and getting X, you have to go to a field and search in an area to find X. It can get a little troublesome after a while.
Third, the game does not do a tremendous job at diversifying. Say what you will about Final Fantasy XIII, oh and I have and will continue to do so, at least one of the main characters, Sazh, was a black man. A somewhat stereotyped black man, but a black man none the less. Final Fantasy XV, on the other hand, is a mish-mash of what can best be described as white-asians. It is that strange blend of white and asian characteristics that make up almost everyone in this world. While you can give the bullshit excuse: “that is just the way their world works” it still doesn’t fly for the people who are purchasing and buying your game.
Fourth, this is a minor nitpick… But this game is one hell of a sausage party. The four main characters are four dudes on a dude adventure in their dude car. It does work in a The Hangover meets Final Fantasy but I certainly would have liked to have seen more diversity in gender as well.
These are certainly minor nitpicks, but they do build up to be significant enough to dock it some points.
This game is stellar and is easily one of my favorites of 2016. It is a beautiful game that immerses you into its world in a way that I have not seen from the Final Fantasy franchise since Final Fantasy X. The new setting and new style makes for a refreshed game that does not stray away from the source material. Yeah, there are some flaws, but ultimately it is a fantastic gaming experience and will be in the running for the best video game of 2016.
Final Score: 4.5/5
Thank you for reading and please come back soon for the start of the 2017 year as well as the best and worst of 2016.