Rage Mage Reviews!
Rather than getting a true Final Fantasy, drunken has-been Square Enix offers this hyper-realistic fantasy of a smart-phone addicted pre-teen who just wants to look cool. Hopefully it will be the final fantasy of this kind. I didn’t want to relive middle school, thank you very much.
I make no bones about being against the direction this series has recently taken a belly-flop into. One of the most beloved of all RPG franchises and the latest Final Fantasy’s seem to have gone out of their way to distance themselves from nearly everything that has come before (like a husband who suddenly finds out he unwittingly married his cousin), even going so far as converting the cute Carbuncle into something with a painful-looking stoma coming out of its frickin’ head. Yuck.
With my aorta clogged with heaviness and a minuscule dose of optimism, I downloaded the Platinum Demo for Final Fantasy XV to see for myself what the big deal is. Final Fantasy has always been known for gameplay, graphics and audio, the trifecta of Square’s pet franchise. But in this case, none of those stood out. I was not blown away, not by a single one of those elements. Sure but throw that all away for realism. It’s okay. Yeah and if I wanted realism, I’d settle down on a bed of nails and watch a playthrough of Desert Bus with commentary by Martin Shkreli for 48 hours straight. Smell that? It’s despair.
The “platinum” demo (shoulda been “bronze”) follows the dreamscape adventure of Noctis, a dark-haired protagonist with pretty much nothing of interest about him. Y’know, in the same vein as the latest Final Fantasy games. The dream sequence forms the entirety of the demo, so we can’t be sure how much of it represents real in-game areas in the finished product to come and how much of it represents what will make it into that final game after the inevitable internet backlash. The dream includes four areas: a forested wilderness, an interior dining room, a exterior city, and a city square where the final boss of the demo is encountered.
Noctis’ guide through his unconsciousness is a furry, white, fox-like creature which longtime fans will not recognize as Carbuncle, the summon/eidolon entity of games past. Noctis can communicate to the creature with the use of a smartphone, because… pandering. Hearing Carbuncle yap every single time it says something to you via text message made me not want to own a Chihuahua even more than I already did. Here’s hoping that’s at least one feature the soon-to-be-hobos at Square Enix nix from the finished product.
Following Carbuncle through the different areas, platforms can be triggered by stepping on them like giant buttons. These’re excuses to “show off” some of the FFXV’s creatures, and time and weather effects. Some of them change you into a creature that you can muck about with.
There are enemies to be battled but you might suddenly think you got lost in a Kingdom Hearts game. Seriously. When did Final Fantasy just become an action-RPG with gameplay so generically repetitive that you’ve sworn you’ve seen it before on a bathroom wall? Not even Noctis’ dream-weapon, the squeaky hammer, can redeem this boring battle system. And why call it a squeaky hammer? When you use it, it squeaks like a cat would squeak if you tried to stand on its stomach.
Why can’t I use advanced combos with these weapons? Why can’t I do something cool? Why can’t I run and toss magic, instead of standing still? Because everyone at Square who made Final Fantasy great is dead and they’ve been replaced with corporate robots in their late fifties who think they’re rock stars.
I kinda wished it was over sooner, and I rushed through the last few areas. I didn’t even pause to pick up all those floating “coins”. Figured I did that on Super Mario 64. Why do I suddenly have to collect these weird, weightless, orange rocks?
The end came mercifully quick. Fighting the Iron Giant had less nostalgia than the animated movie, Iron Giant. That boss battle in the city square had moments of transcendent beauty, until I realized that beefing up Noctis into his older ego and beefing up his sword into a giant sword while retaining lame battle mechanics is exactly what this series has come to represent: loud, bombastic, noisy, explosive, screaming stuff attempting to look mature and cool (like anime attempts to look “cool”) without anything to hold it up. It’s like defecating in a brown paper bag and then embellishing that bag with gold foil and glitter and sequins. It is pretty to look at but it’s still just a bag of crap.
The 8-Bit Review
This should be the most gorgeous game I’ve ever seen. Instead, it was hauntingly lack-luster. Are these the finished graphics? This is a PlayStation 4 Final Fantasy that hasn’t been released yet. Why is it so unimpressive?
I can’t recall a single melody, not a solitary ditty, from the whole thing. Even FFXIII was good enough to give me a moment’s pause at the title screen to take in that sexy piano. Mm! But there was nothing on this Platinum Demo. Oh, you know what I do remember? I remember “Stand by me” playing during the Final Fantasy XV trailer and completely leeching my last bit of excitement for the game. Cheeseball.
The battle system was not only boring, but it was also repetitive, unoriginal, and unexciting. You’ve seen it before. Further, giving Noctis the ability to jump throws up just one more “why” flag. And collecting the stones made no sense.
Not sure if this game would even qualify as a teaser trailer if FFXV was a movie. There are a few scenes where we get glimpses of what’s happening while Noctis snores away, but they’re never elaborated on enough to care. Something is happening in the world of FFXV but there’s no reason to find it at all interesting. Noctis himself is so bland, I wonder if he’s Lightning’s son?
Gone is the technical nature of the old role-playing strategem, replaced by a button mashing, over tutorial’d cakewalk. Oh, I apologize. There is no button mashing. Now you can just hold down the attack button for continuous hammer squeaking. It’s fun being patronized!
Forget replay value. I’m not sure this Platinum Demo makes me want to play the final game! They prompt you upon completing the demo by asking if you want to pre-order the full game. I think the options you could select were “No thanks” and “I’ll pray about it”.
It might be just fine if this wasn’t a Final Fantasy, but it is, and we’ve come to expect more from Square. Haven’t we? Well, maybe not. Maybe this is what we’ve come to expect from them: a smorgasbord of recycled imagery and creatures and battle mechanics completely devoid of actual innovation and substance.
My Personal Grade: 4/10
Meh. Do not want. Final Fantasy XV was, was, one of the games I was excited for. Maybe this could impress someone the same age as Noctis? I guess there’s nothing left but to listen to that hollow rendition of “Stand by me” and cry myself to sleep. FFXV tried too hard to hurt my feelings.
Aggregated Score: 5.0