PS4

Final Fantasy XV

Format Played: PS4
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Developer(s): Square Enix Business Division 2
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Platinum Trophy: Yes
Score: 8.1/10

I remember the day clearly when I watched the trailer for what would be Final Fantasy XIII Versus. It looked outstanding compared to 13 and I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. 10 years later a re branding and a few grey hairs I finally got my chance to play the very different Final Fantasy XV. The latest Final Fantasy game from the long running series completely differs from the very linier FFXIII, they clearly have been listening to fan feedback making FFXV completely open world……….well for the most part!

There is no getting away with how good the game looks, visually it’s pretty stunning and I can see why there has been so much praise around it. What I cannot get my head around is all the high scores this game has received. The story line is pretty much non-existent and in some areas pointless. The characters aren’t particularly loveable like previous titles as I never really felt myself connect with them or even care much about their story. Once let lose to your freedom in the open world most gamers leave the story and start exploring the open world and it’s side quests which is where this game shines.

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FFXV is huge and is packed with many sidequests to complete however you will find the typical fetch quests now and again which seem to be a typical thing to add in RPG. I understand they get you learning the layout of the map however they can become very boring especially when you find yourself doing them for a cat later on in the game.
There are various methods of transport; the car journeys are pretty boring and even having it set to manual feels like driving on a set track like a really slow roller-coaster. Leaving it on Auto is the way to go, at least you can listen to classic Final Fantasy music and watch as your passengers talk and animate with each other……………no wait that gets boring fast too.! Thank god for fast travel at a very minimal price! Still you are force to drive to new area’s you haven’t visited yet and even if you have already been to some area’s later the game decides which places you can and can’t fast travel too! I mean why! more often than not the one you want to go to is blocked and you are forced to sit through a tedious journey. To top off this annoyance the car has to be topped up with fuel quicker than a Bugatti Veyron.
You can however style your car if you wish, adding stickers or a new lick of paint but I found myself going back to its original colour after a few hours.
Apart from on foot the only other method of travel is by beloved chocobo which can come whenever called no matter where you are, you can even change its colour and it level itself up when ridden for long distances gaining new abilities like assisting and healing during fights.

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The combat in this game is very rewarding, not only is it easy to get to grips with it does not force you to have long winded training like FF13 did. My only problem with the combat system is you only command the main character so the healing system once knocked down is via other members of your party. You have the option to run over to them during combat to heal one of your team mates if needed however they can be difficult to find in the heat of battle. Should you need healing yourself however; more often than not you will be waiting ages for someone who is stood right next to you to come to your aid. While the combat is fun it can sometimes be difficult when the screen is packed with enemies and the camera can go haywire! This especially is a problem when fighting the extra boss Adamantoise. This fight in my opinion takes little skill and just seems to be a sponge for attacks! He’s slow but can take off a lot of damage if caught unguarded, you can quickly learn his moves but after 20 mins you find yourself bored! I would rather have had something that took a little bit of skill and had far less HP.

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There are a few challenges though but most of them come from hunting down the games high powered weapons (One of which you can access very early on). Apart from the battle system FFXV does have a lot of things I did enjoy like fishing (if a little frustrating at times) and lots of monster hunts.
Your team also have their own level up systems of fishing, cooking, exploration and photography which is just a way for Square-Enix to show off how good the game looks by fans like me posting on social media and on here.

Going back to the start where I said for most part you will have an open world to explore, well this changes later on in the chapters if you are following the storyline. At some point the open world map is taken away from you and is replaced by a very liner path like FF13 which will force you to carry on with the story however you are given ability to return should you wish. During said storyline you will be placed at some point in a city much like Venice where I feel the game really changes for the worse as the landscape is confusing to navigate and is filled with pointless side quests.
As much as I point out the negative bits of this game I really did love the open world, dungeons, battle mechanics and the hunts. I played the game to platinum for a reason however as a fan of the series I feel that it’s lost its way since FFXII trying to please both fans and newcomers but you just can’t keep everyone happy.

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3DS

TheatRhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

Format Played: 3DS
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Developer(s): Square Enix
Release Date: September 19, 2014
Score: 9.2/10

Theatrhythm_Final_Fantasy_Curtain_Call_US_coverCurtain Call is the TheatRhythm game that the first should have been!
This is the second version of TheatRhythm to hit our shelves and comes jam packed full of goodies. Not to say the first wasn’t good, on the contrary it’s great! I played it for 60+ hrs and every now and than I would still pick up and have a quick blast.

My gaming background covers 90% of the Final Fantasy games released.  I own at least 1 version of every numbered series and have completed nearly every one at least once.  One of the aspects I absolutely love about the series is the music within the games. I don’t just love the music I have bought some of the official and LE soundtracks and have watched Distant Worlds at the London Albert Hall.

Taking this in mind you can see why this would be an entertaining game for me.
The game is much like the first but with a hell of a lot more tracks, 221 to be exact!. The layout of the tracks have been improved and it’s now easier to navigate through tracks, you can also place a heart against your favorite tracks and than sort through that way.  A Co-Op mode has also been added however I’ll come back to that a little later. Airship sections have been added into the field music which are okay but not as good as the normal Field levels.

The game flows a lot better than the first however issues still remain.
On ultimate difficulty I found that sometimes the touch screen doesn’t pick up your taps or strokes, this maybe due to the speed and sensitivity, it’s an improvement on the first game but seems to sometimes still happen. The other issue is with the EMS, the sections you tap does not seem to be in sync with the music at all.

theatrhythmcurtailcallheaderThe game really is just a tap and swipe in time with the music game along to Final Fantasy music but boy is it addictive!

The Co-Op is a nice addition.  It does seem to take a while to load up and find an opponent but the battle offers a different style of play with the ability to dish out status effects on your opponent which disorientates them by speeding up the symbols or blanking them out completely but while you are dishing them out so is your opponent so watch out!

The three difficultly levels are open from the start, offering you a chance to chose between Basic, Expert or Ultimate. The step up in difficulty between them are quite big so you may want to watch yourself however I find the once you have played a few of the tracks on Ultimate it’s the only way to play!

Few other mentions
– The RM is no longer capped at 99999 as I currently stand at 171248rm
– if you don’t feel you have enough tracks there are 50 more for you to download through DLC and a few more characters too! This is more justified over the first game as you have over 200 tracks built into the game already.
– 65 Characters to unlock and play as.  Once you hit level 99 you can reset them and start again
– Tracks of the day! there will be 5 Tracks of the day to chose.  These give you small bonuses

The Quest medleys are separated into 4 sections including Short, Medium, Long and Inherited.  These are sections where you travel along a path playing random field or battle tracks to progress.  At the end you have a boss who will drop items or crystals to unlock new characters.  This is a good way to play new tracks but once completed and the next one is unlocked I found the difficulty spiked very quickly.  Not an issue for me but may be to difficult for some.

All in all over 80hrs of happy gaming and I still go back for more.  Personally this type of pick up and play game never gets boring.  You will find yourself humming along to tracks, hording items you will never need and sometimes get frustrated but I promise you if you are a fan of Final Fantasy and you have a 3DS this is a must buy!

Enjoy

PS3

Lightning Returns

Format Played:  PS3
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Developer(s): Square Enix & tri-Ace
Release Date: February 14, 2014
Score: 6.5/10

Lightning_Returns_Final_Fantasy_XIII_Cover_ArtTick Tock Tick Tock it’s all against the clock!
While I feel the series has gone downhill and that they should concentrate on releasing a new number rather than push lightning onto us for a third time (Although technically she wasn’t really a big part of the second game) this game isn’t really at that bad.

My biggest issue is the change from previous Final Fantasy games and how you level up. Now change is good if done correctly but I dislike the way that you have to do boring fetch side quests and awful side stories in order to gain EXP instead of killing stuff! I’d probably done the side quests anyway but I’ve always liked fighting to gain experience, it’s true to life that the more you do something the better you should be at it.
My other gripe comes in the form of a clock! I dislike timed based games; I don’t want to feel pressured into rushing through places especially in an RPG where you really want to explore. The timer can be stopped for brief periods of time so long as you have beaten enough monsters (which can be an issue later on for reasons I won’t mention here). Turns out that near the end of the game I had loads of time spare so unlike myself if you are reading this before playing just know that you have a lot more time than you expect especially if you do the side quests and save souls.

The game itself looks worse than the previous two. I don’t know if this is just going back to a PS3 game after playing the PS4 but I did put in the second game and that did look a lot more polished. I am not sure how they have made it look worse using the same engine, my only thought is that the game may have been rushed. There are also lots of glitches, within the first hour of playing I came across a chap trying to walk through a wall! Everywhere around the town are people bumping into each other, I also witnessed a kid falling down, getting back up and falling down constantly! One more on the subject and that’s the cut scenes, now it is nice to have a scene shown to you with in game graphics but when your character can be barged out of the way and sometimes out of camera shot by an AI is really bad game mechanics! One time my chocobo’s feathers was all I could see during one whole scene and the characters chatting were behind him!

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Having said all this it’s nice having big places to explore worlds back in Final Fantasy games. The battle system is excellent and I love having the ability to change what you are wearing during battle it brings back memories of the underrated Final Fantasy X-2 (which is now out on HD remastered). I do miss having other characters in my party but I can accept this in this game!

The game is designed for more than one play through but I managed to do nearly everything in one 65hour session. The only thing that annoyed me at this is an ability you only get during a new game + stopping anyone getting 100% of trophies on a single run through. Those last remaining 3 trophies for synthesize is what has stopped me get a platinum and that has annoyed me a little.

The soundtrack takes some memorable tunes from the previous two games which is no bad thing unless you are purchasing the soundtrack. The story isn’t very good at all. The start is very religion heavy which can be a turn off straight away and you just don’t get gripped about what is going on at all.

Reading through my own review makes it sound like I thought the game was rubbish but it really wasn’t I just feel that it was worse than the previous two of the series and maybe should have never really been made.

Take what you will from my review, I did play it to near on 100% so it can’t have been that bad right?
the battle system really is what kept me at this game and my love for Final Fantasy, I just hoped that the next game lives up to the hype!

3DS

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy

Format Played: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Developer(s): Indies zero
Release Date: July 6, 2012
Rating: PEGI 12
Score: 8.8/10

If I was to sum up Theatrhythm in one work it would be Addictive!  Mainly aimed at Final Fantasy fans Indies Zero have taken the Elite Beat Agents idea and put a Final Fantasy spin on it.  In a nut shell Theatrhythm plays music from Final Fantasy 1-13 across three types of levels designs against three difficulty settings, throughout the whole game which you will be tapping and swiping the screen in time with the music.

What keeps you and everyone else interested apart from the music is how much there is to unlock.  You start the game with a handful of characters, music and equipment but as you play you will unlock and unlock new items, characters, extra’s and levels all the time which is what grabbed my attention.  Aside from loving the music from Final Fantasy I wanted to unlock every character, beat every level with a perfect or near enough score and level up each character to the maximum 99.

Theatrhythm is split between three levels, they are as follows:

Field Music: By far the easiest of the three your chosen character will walk/run along a field, the distance he travels depends who his level/equipment and how well you preform.

Battle: In the style of the original Final Fantasy battle systems the music will come at you in 4 lines for each of your 4 chosen characters.  During this time you will be fighting enemies and a boss for each song.  How much damage you do again depends on level/equipment and how well you preform.

Event:  the lines will come at you in more of a spiral motion while a FMV cut scene plays in the background.

Once you have played for a while you will also unlock a Chaos mode which will feature the Field Music and Battle stage.  Here you will have to do your best in the field to get as far as you can to unlock bosses 2 or 3, if you fail to reach the marker you will face boss #1.  Then you will play the battle mode, reaching and beating the boss will unlock better items used to unlock new characters.

You are scored on everything, getting a better score is more a personal achievement and won’t really unlock anything more than completing the level will get you.  Scores range all the way up to SSS rank which involves hitting everything perfectly with no items equipped.

That game itself isn’t without its issues.  I found that if you missed a tap on a quicker harder mode sometimes the game will not register some of your next few taps as the game momentarily freezes and that seriously affects your score and health bar and it’s quite frustrating.

Theatrhythm is repetitive but in a very good way.  Fans of the music and games will welcome this title with open arms, the RPG element separates it from games like “Elite Beat Agents” or “Guitar Hero” and the unlockable extras like cards and FMV’s are an added bonus.

If you are a fan of the music from Final Fantasy and you have a 3DS this game is a must.  I have been playing for hours and have finally unlocked everything there is to do and I still want to play it.

One last thing there are some DLC which can be purchased at the Nintendo shop the first for a game on the 3DS.  The DLC for this game are extra songs come at a price which I felt is too step for what it is.

PS3

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Format Played: PS3
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Square Enix
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Score: 7.5/10

 

So 72 Hrs later I manage to completely finish the direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII-2 and I have to say it is a huge improvement over XIII.

Graphically you should expect pretty much the same as the previous game however I did feel that the first one looked more polished.
You play as Sarah who is joined by Noel and you can swap between the two at any time.  Your 3rd party member is a monster which is different to what we are used to.  Monsters are collected during battles like Pokemon and can also be levelled up and even fed to other monsters to pass on abilities, this I found was a nice touch however I still miss having 3 character party members.  You can add up to three monsters in your paradigms, each one will have their own role.   The battle system used remains relatively the same as 13’s

Before the Game was released I heard all sorts of rumours which all turned out to be true, the first being random enemy encounters.  When you hear this you automatically think that Square-Enix have turned back the hands of time and released a classic game where you get stopped every few seconds by invisible enemies.  While it’s basically that you do have the ability to see your foe for a few seconds, some will come at you while others will linger around waiting for you to either attack or run away.   Something called mog clock is introduced and basically it’s a timer you have until the fight becomes inevitable, once the timer starts you can get the drop on an enemy and attack them before the clock turns amber, this allows you to get a pre-emptive strike and the ability to retry the battle if you wish.
The other rumour I heard was that there would be quick time events! I really did hate this idea but luckily it’s a very small part of the game and only used against certain boss battles! Phew!

The story is much better than 13’s adding the laws of time travel and the ability to create and solve paradoxes really does add something new to RPG gaming and allows the game to step away from being too linear like the previous game.  Because of the time paradox you can revisit time lines and even restart each story and change the way it’s resolved.

The story in FFXIII-2 can be finished in a relatively short time and I found myself flying through the chapters until I stopped and got distracted by side stories and mini games.   There is a time-line that opens up a place called Serendipity which is like The Golden Saucer from FFVII, you can bet and race Chocobos which can get relatively easy as you progress through the game and also play on slot machines.  The Slot Machines are my biggest issue with the game

**SMALL SPOILER** To get 100% in the game you have to earn a total of 7,777 Casino Coins from the slot machine to earn a fragment but this is done completely by luck! I know some people who have gotten this after 2 hrs, it took me 8hrs of just playing a slot machine to get the required amount.  In the end I had to use a book to put pressure on the L1 button so it would do it itself until I gained enough.  This should have been handled better and not left to chance **SPOILER END**

Even though my game time seems like a lot the game feels quite short for a JRPG and there are not any major boss battles (maybe 1-2 you will have some issues with) you can level up to maximum quicker than any previous FF game I have played which stops you becoming over powerful for any of the big boss fights.

While I still miss town’s with shops you can purchase items and weapons from a travelling vendor but I found myself using her less and less as I went through the game.  FF13-2 see’s the end of save points allowing you to save wherever you wish, which is probably the best as the areas are quite short.

All in all the game is a huge improvement with enough to keep you entertained for hours.  Finding things you need to 100% the game can sometimes be a chore along with answering random questions to gain needed items and the slot machine being two of the games low points.  I would recommend it to JRPG lovers, and haters of XIII should pick this up and give it a chance.

PS3

Final Fantasy XIII

Formats: PS3 [Played] Xbox360
Published by: Square-Enix
Developed by: Square-Enix
Released: March 09, 2010
Score: 89%

A lot of chat has been doing the rounds about how linear the next gen Final Fantasy is but this seems to be where most of the focus is set. I am not going to lie to you, they are right! The game is very linear. If you want me to sum up most of the game I would say run forward in a straight line from A to B and fight some enemies then cut scene then from B to C, fight some more then boss and cut scene etc etc because that is what it is!
Pushing all that talk aside Final Fantasy is known for its stunning graphics, detailed story line, playable battle system and outstanding music and this is what makes this game.
The first thing that jumps out at you, is how pretty this game looks in high def, you can tell Square-Enix have really gone to town on this game making everything look as detailed as possible which is why we have been waiting so long. The controls at first are a little annoying, unlike the static camera when you move around, FFXIII puts you in control of camera yourself. At first you will find it annoying the camera isn’t the best and half the time you will have it pointing in the wrong direction but like anything this is soon forgotten about as you progress through the game and get a hang of things.
The battle system is introduced throughout chapter 1-4 and in a way this is a good thing because it’s so complex at first, just handing it to you with all the options will be too confusing, so I actually agree with Square-Enix on the way its set out, letting you adjust in slowly. You will only ever really have control of the lead character which from the start all the way to chapter 9 (I think) you will not be able to choose your lead character or change around your team, forcing you to play as every character at least once.
As you only control the lead characters the decisions in battles you would think battles could be a little slow, as with older FF games where you control the whole party (even 12 to some extent) well, you would be wrong! Even taking control of just the one character can be demanding at times especially as you can change the jobs around of the whole party mid battle and later on more than once or twice.
The battle system works wonders and every enemy can be different forcing you to change tactics throughout the game. Losing a battle badly one time can be easily won the second having changed the way you approach them, this makes you think about your tactics in battle and how you approach them. The EXP system has gone being left with a crystal grid much like Final Fantasy 10. Easy to pick up and it’s here where you will gain new abilities, magic, strength and HP.
The weapons are limited but you can upgrade them to be more powerful and even add more defenses. There is however lots of accessories you can equip and also upgrade.

As to be expected from a Final Fantasy game the story line is solid from start to end, the voice acting is better than most previous in the series and it also has a wonderful soundtrack.

The main story can be completed in under 40 hours with a couple of boss fights which will cause you problems if you have not leveled up enough or tackled wrongly. Those who may find this game a little too liner at the start may want to resist putting the game down until they reach chapter 11. It is here that the game really opens out, allowing you side quests and a free roam of Gran Pulse which is huge. Clearly the most beautiful chapter of the whole game it’s Gran Pulse that will hold all the Hunts you will attempt once the game has come to an end as when you first set foot into this massive area the first thing you will want to do is take on some enemies which can kill you with one swipe.
I do like Gran Pulse; I have gone back to it after finishing and while most of the Hunts from class D-B have been no problem when you start “A” class hunts they step up the challenge. Also around Gran Pulse there are some extra cut scenes and some much loved characters make a welcome return. There is nothing like walking back into the main area of Gran Pulse after finishing the game to see Titan walking around in the background.
Finishing everything will take you longer than 70 hours so there is quite some game play to be had after the final fight.

As I will be marking this down compared to previous Final Fantasy games I better tell you the points to why.
The linear maps can be to linear at times making exploration to find hidden items none existent, meaning every item you will pick up pretty much a slight walk left or right of the main route. Enemies in certain Chapters can feel a little repetitive and sometimes you just want to fight something else. The hunts from D-B class can be a little too easy and even though there are teleport sections and Chocobo’s this can seem like you are just going back and forth over large sections.
I do miss having towns and the side quests they offer including shops and the random chats you can have with the town folk, missing this out is a huge disappointment as your characters don’t really interact with everyone who not involved in the main story.
On a whole Final Fantasy XIII looks and plays how you would expect with an amazing soundtrack and stunning graphics I can’t help feel it’s let down with its linearity and lack of shops and site quests. The battle system is one of the best yet! It must be doing something right because I can’t stop playing it.

PSP

Dissidia – Final Fantasy

Formats: PSP [Played]
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Square Enix
Released: 11 September 2009
Score: 91%

As a huge Final Fantasy fan this is a dream come true, taking characters from the early games right to FFX good and evil. Dissidia is so much more than a fighting game, you start the game buy choosing which day you want to earn double EXP on and also the game will decided another day which you earn more PP which can be used to unlock a vast amount of items and characters and bonus stuff. This game is a must for anyone who loves Final Fantasy.

The fighting is in a world of its own and battles can last from 5 seconds to 10 minutes, everything really is different from anything you have played before. You start with a prologue where you will learn different moves and some extras you can use within the battles. Once you have completed your training a vast amount of good characters will open up, each has his own story but all have the same objective and that is to acquire a crystal which will be used to defeat Chaos which is the big bad. Each character has his or her own fighting technique but the main buttons will be used for Jump, Attack and super attack which would be used to take out an opponent once you have broken their attacks. Whoever wins does not have to reduce their opponents HP down to 0 you can easily win the battle once you have taken a percent of their bravery down. The more you attack the higher your bravery and the lower your opponent and then once you see theirs break its time to go in for the kill. You also have a bar which builds up with each attack you make spreading something like shiny dust around the level which you can collect when passing through, there will also be a shiny bell which you can lock onto and will raise this bar quickly. Once filled your character can unleash their ultimate move which can finish off most enemies off in one hit.
Like other Final Fantasy games you can equip items to improve your character as s/he levels up, weapons and armor will improve attack and defense while equipping rings will improve HP and other extras. You can also collect and equip summons which will pop up during fights to help out, each summon has their own way of helping and once you collect enough you can choose which character owns which summons.

There really is a lot more to this then I can possibly put in one review, the fighting is really fun and you will find yourself flying through area’s performing stunning moves, the most impressive fight I have seen is Cloud vs Sephiroth fighting in the North Cave. The graphics are stunning for a hand held machine and even past characters have come back to do the voice overs. Yes this does mean Tidus too.

When you have enough PP you can start to unlock all the evil character which will be the main characters opposite from the game, E.G. Tidus vs Jecht, Squall vs Ultimicia etc etc.
Each of the 5 levels are played on a board, each character has their own board and way of traveling through it. Every move will cost you points but can be gained if you complete certain fights; these will be displayed before you choose them and will be things like finish the battle without taking a hit! On your first play through I wouldn’t worry about gaining the extra points and just level up as much as possible and collect all the chest you can, you will be scored at the end of each level and the points will gain your characters story level once you have completed that characters story.
The only bad thing about this game is you can be sailing through quite easy then you meet a character that can take you down within 10 seconds, it’s all down to reading what the character is equipped with so you know just what to do with him.

There really is much more I can tell you but I will leave it there as I am confusing myself let alone anyone reading this. I will add that the music features music from every game of that character with some old remixed. Also you can unlock different looks for each character like Clouds uniform from Advent Children. This game can be played by anyone but a true Final Fantasy Fan will admire it so much more.

Just an extra bit about the collectors set, this is more for fans, the game comes in a very nice box filled with goodies for collectors rather than use. The CD is a nice touch but I wish it was the full album rather than a couple of songs. If you can get one I would advise it but chances are they have sold out and people will resell them for a higher price, which is a shame for any true fan who missed out.