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Many great franchises have come and gone down the years, but none possess the raw staying power of Final Fantasy. With its devoted, worldwide fanbase and rocksteady reputation for producing poignant narratives, but also reliable RPG mechanics, no wonder the FF IP is one of the most successful in its field.

Besides, any series that makes it to XV while retaining mass popularity must be doing something right. One major caveat of success, though, is pressure. And the ability to produce a polished masterpiece every time is asking a great deal from the developer.

That said, Square Enix's reputation is consistently impressive. So much so, you would not bet against them pulling it out the bag one last time. But that is wholly unrealistic. And so, inevitably, there are going to be some slip-ups along the way.

It is the nature of our industry. After all.

Having played the game through to the end, we would like to share our impressions on Final Fantasy XV. So, join us as we recount our time with no—15 in the final fantasy franchise.

Before we get into the meat and bones of the game, let us start things off with the story. Set in the fictional world of Eos, most known territories are lorded over by the Empire Niflheim. Whose iron-fisted reign seeks possession of a crystal stepped in magical power. And one protected by the royal family of Lucian descent.

On the night of peaceful negotiations between the pair, the game sets a decent pace early on. Whereby, Niflheim sneakily attack the capitol, making a quick getaway with the Crystal. It is here that we encounter Noctis Lucis Caelum. The rightful heir to the throne.

At this stage, it is worth pointing out that thematically, Final Fantasy XV shares similarities with the sub-series of games entitled Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, which vaguely links some of the lore from Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0. Now, some of these similarities lay hidden in plain sight. But much of the game pertains to that familiar feel and aesthetic.

In a bid to prevent Eos from eternal darkness, Noctis goes in search of the Crystal. His ambitions, to halt Niflheim's reign of terror. From minute one, I found myself invested in the central plot. Better still, the stakes were stacked high enough for me to attach myself to the premise. At least on a personal level.

Next up, we examine some of the core aspects of gameplay. Being a Final Fantasy game, the subject of combat never strays too far from the heart. For many, this element acts as an essential part of the Final Fantasy experience. So how does it rate? Well, battle time is a whole different ballgame compared with previous entries.

Inevitably, that change will come as welcome news to some. But it could just as easily symbolize a disappointing detour for others. Either way, I found the combat to be engaging for the most part.

Here is why. Firstly, combat is significantly slicker than turn-based. As much as I liked teleporting to a unique battle-arena or scrolling through a steep menu interface while selecting player commands during the heat of battle, using a real-time combat system has its plus points.

Do not get me wrong; I cherished the traditional turn-based format of old. However, being able to roam and use the environment to my benefit freely allows for far more strategic flexibility. It is, therefore, also a much more seamless affair. Meanwhile, lessening the need to load out or transition away. Combat then is very much a free-flowing ballet of sword thrusts and signature moves and is set at a frantic pace throughout.

I also cherish the involvement of companions in this game. Although, each member of your party, aside from Noctis, is governed by the game's AI. Despite that restraint, the Link Strikes look insanely cool in full swing. Once the tech-bar meter is full, Noctis can use contextual commands to assign special moves called Techniques to party members.

For instance, Gladiolus rains down the pain with a momentous slash of his sword, while Ignis marks enemies with daggers. Thus, enabling Noctis to land a devasting warp strike attack. Lastly, Prompto fires off armor-piercing rounds, breaking the defenses of more robust opponents.

Watching a brutal barrage of attacks interlink in such a satisfying way was one of the highlights during my time with Final Fantasy XV.

It never once got old.

Of course, aside from the primary campaign, there are plenty of extracurricular activities to enjoy. Each of these helps players assign ability points on the ascension grid, which diverges into varying skill trees. Hence, allowing you to plot points into passive, magic, and combat abilities. Other skills scale through the player's usage of them.

Some examples would be Noctis's fishing ability or Ignis's culinary skills. All in all, there is just so much to see and do in Final Fantasy XV that you will be hard-pressed to complete the game in one sitting. Thus, a second playthrough is encouraged. That is if you want to extract the most from Final Fantasy XV.

Of course, I must mention the OST. And it is excellent news on that front. The soundtrack composed by Yoko Shimomura is a moody, atmospheric number that encapsulates the themes of love and friendship so entrenched in the Final Fantasy franchise.

So, in short, I had a great time with the game. In truth, it is hard to come up with a single gripe at all. But if I were to select one, it would be this. Sadly, I did not gravitate towards the lead characters as much as I would have hoped. And considering it is a final fantasy game, that struck me as sad. The elements that are relatable within a Final Fantasy game, are the ones that hit me the hardest. And for me, that is one of the series' most redeeming features.

Nonetheless, the bond between its central cast is evident from the beginning. While their deep-rooted connections help drive the plot forward.

Excellent stuff, indeed. Mostly for fans of the franchise.

Gameplay 3.5 / 5
Soundtrack 4.5 / 5
Replay Value 4.5 / 5
Storyline 4 / 5
4 / 5 Great!