Square Enix has released a third demo for their long awaited game, Final Fantasy XV. Before we get into my thoughts about the time I played with it I’d like to say that I am not playing this on the original PlayStation 4, nor the slim model but I am using it on a PlayStation 4 Pro. This demo includes support of the PlayStation 4 Pro’s higher resolution as well as it’s HDR compatibility which can be used on any PlayStation 4 as long as you own a TV that has HDR support. I will not get into any of the story since the demo is in Japanese and I cannot understand any words.
For me, I cannot usually get into JRPGs with the exception of the little that I’ve played of Kingdom Hearts games. Final Fantasy XV sort of reminds me of the combat from the Kingdom Hearts series, meaning it is more like an action type style rather than turn based. And for this I would imagine it can make or break life long fans of the series that do not like change. Although I can’t see fans being so surprised after the wide spread hate of Final Fantasy XIII. With all of that being said, the game has been in development for the better part of ten years so the fact that the combat is quite different from it’s predecessors will not be a surprise. Ten years is a long time, when the game was announced when I was ten years old, I am now twenty one. Also we have gotten four mainline Gears of War games and Naughty Dog has made four Uncharted games and The Last of Us which are all stellar in my opinion. The main question on everyone’s mind is that can it live up to all of the hype? And my answer would be no way, I can’t think of any sort of media or video game that has been in development for that long to live up to everyone’s expectations. For me, I have not been excited for the game at all up until I played this new demo in which takes place during the first hour of the game.
The first thing I noticed while playing it is that the game looks great, as most Final Fantasy games do at the time of their release. Also another staple of the series that is also top notch is it’s music. Also included to it’s beautiful original soundtrack are music from Afrojack and Florence and The Machine. The demo starts you off in a little tutorial area where you learn a few combat moves and defensive abilities, if you’ve played the first two demos you will probably know how the combat works. For square, it puts you in a defensive stance and you can roll or use MP to have their attacks phase through you. For triangle is what you use for Warp Strikes, this causes your character to throw his weapon towards an are then you are able to teleport to it when it hits your target. You can use this to navigate through your battle area or you can use it to strike enemies. For circle you can use your main attack which is just slashing. And lastly, X makes your character jump. These are the basics of what you can do in combat for the beginning of the game. After you leave this area you are put into a stunning looking cinematic cut scene that looks similar to their cinematic movie Kingsglaive. Like I said before, the demo is in Japanese so I couldn’t make out what they were saying. Initially going through it I was going to skip the cut scenes because of the language barrier but they were simply too damn good looking to pass up.
Unlike Final Fantasy XIII where it is more linear in the first plethora of hours, Final Fantasy opens up pretty much right away and you can go anywhere you want. This alone will probably please the big Final Fantasy fans greatly. Also comparably to the previous demos, the frame rate seemed much more consistent. I am unsure if this is because I am playing on the PlayStation 4 Pro or if they have optimized the game a lot better. I hope the performance is great on both consoles but just keep that in mind. When the world opens up you need to repair your car by doing some quests to get the parts to get back on the road with your bros! I have not followed much of the game for the past ten years so I do not have any knowledge on the characters or their names, but I do know you play as Noctis. Along the way to get these parts to repair your car you come across some enemies ranging from small to big. The combat feels great, I remember not enjoying the first demo due to it feeling as if the controls and movement were clunky but in this build the combat feels just about right.
Navigating through this open world feels alive. There are shops around, restaurants and even cars around. Having cars in Final Fantasy sounds quite different and when you drive the car you have little control of the vehicle. Meaning that all you can do is hold down the trigger and your car will drive along the road and turn by itself when there are curves along your path. You can turn around by pressing square and turn onto new roads when you want to by moving the stick of your controller to move from left to right. This is quite disappointing to me considering the marketing of the game shows the car a bunch and it seems to be a major part of the game. I kind of wish they have let you have more total control over the wheel. Apparently you can fly in the car as well so I am interested to see how that controls too.
Overall I enjoyed my hour or so with the beginning of Final Fantasy XV and look forward to playing it at the end of the month. I think it’s quite awesome when a demo where there is a language barrier can still not stop you from being impressed. And with that alone, I think Final Fantasy XV will be no less than great. The smooth combat, beautiful looking visuals, and music all make for a good overall package. I really hope the story in the final game will be interesting, and if it does then this has the potential to be a special game.