Try saying that headline three times without screwing it up. I have played every Final Fantasy available to the American markets and a few Japanese imports that only I and a few lucky others were able to get. Sure it was in Japanese but it was surprisingly easy to figure out what was going on in those early text driven games. Now comes a new Final Fantasy, a epic sprawling Role Player that looks more movie than video game and in there lies the only real flaw.
For those not familiar with the series, this is the most popular RPG series ever. The graphics are as always jaw dropping. It sucks I don't have HD because the game is HD ready and in that format you might weep at the beauty unfolds in front of you. The story is somewhat confusing, as all of these Final Fantasy's usually are. You and a ragtag group try to protect their planet from some sort civil war going on between the citizens of Cocoon and the denizens of Pulse. Early on, your team becomes infected and are treated as pariahs, outcasts to Pulse. You team up to fight both Cocoon shock troops who want you dead for more nefarious reasons than your infection and the creatures of Pulse who are sometimes gigantic and unkillable. One such creature which resembles a cross between a turtle and an elephant towers over your team like a skyscraper. One stomp and your whole team dies. Luckily they slowly wonder around the landscape and are easily avoidable. While you do have to fight a couple of these later, they are much easier than their freeroaming counterparts.
The story presents an engaging back story on each of our heroes (six in all) slowly and in Lost style, which explains why each is fighting for what. The graphics here are movie quality and even on non HD awe inspiring. One scene involving fireworks was really something. But these cut scenes were also what some people HATED about this game. At times they ran a little long, were very romantic (pre-teen boys would be like yucky) in parts, and showed some action scenes that would have been much more to play than watch. A video game is different from TV in that it is an interactive sport not passive, so when you watching a cut scene of something actiony and cool you want to be doing the action not staring at it wondering why all the cool stuff your character never gets to do. Also missing is an sort of exploration. The story is very linear which also doesn't exactly demand replayability. Once your see the story that's it. You could go back and try with a different team of characters but other than that, that's it. There are no new shops, and side quests are limited to a large new expanse you reach after hour 25. Worse, most of these you won't be able to do until after the game is finished because some of the monsters will kill you in one shot, elephant turtle style. But there are lots of cool items to find and upgrade and the control you have of your characters experience levels is a lot of fun and easy to use. The best part of this game is the game play. The AI in this game is the best I've ever seen, I usually hate team games because the AI usually has your NPC's act like drunken retards. I've actually killed NPC's in some games just for pissing me off like waking in front of me when I'm shooting or just running off for no apparent reason other than to make me want to throw my controller at the wall. That is not the case here. Your battle system requires you to class each character with one of three slots such as fighter, mage, cleric, etc. Once chosen, each character, yours included, will do a specific set of orders every time you attack. If you're hurt, the cleric heals you, fighters and mages attack, synegrists cast protect spells and so on. And as your experience with each monster grows, so do your attacks, using whatever the monster is weakest at. All this is done by the computer so no wasting lots of time honing each attack as the AI does it for you. It's quite a time saver. Overall this is a great game. It's receiving hatred from a younger generation not brought up on FF who don't like the streamlined feel of it. I loved it and would recommend it highly to any RPG fans.
4 and 1/2 stars out of 5