To be perfectly honest, I bought a new PC with the prospect of Final Fantasy XIV being on the horizon, the other PC games I've picked up until now have just been bonus. But to get to the main point, if I had known that Final Fantasy XIV was going to be this terrible at launch, I would have abstained from buying a PC in the first place, though I suppose that means I would have missed out on some great PC titles released recently like Starcraft 2. Now you might be thinking that I could have just waited for the PS3 version, but after seeing how Final Fantasy XI went down for PS2 users I figured I would rather play day one. Though that seems like a huge mistake, considering that state that Final Fantasy XIV has entered the market. There is plenty here not to like, and you've got to wonder what Square Enix was thinking in putting this title out there especially when you have a fan-base that is as dedicated and rabid as Final Fantasy. After a good month with the game, it'll be hard for Square Enix to undo the damage this shoddy launch has caused.
To get the good stuff out of the way, which is not how I want to discuss this review, we'll start with the visuals. This game has a lot of beautiful vistas, and the world of Eorzea is a fascinating place. The only problem is that it has a lot of areas that are recycled, and it's terribly obvious while running through the Black Shroud forests. There are many other areas where this is almost blatant, but lets just say that a lot of caves look the same. Perhaps for the starting areas this is the case while the higher level zones contain a greater variety on landscape. It seems like a little thing to pick on but when you're running from Gridania (the city of the forest) to either Limsa Lominsa or Ul'dah and you see the same cave/ramp structure at least 3 times it's hard not to notice.What is also surprising is how poorly this game can run at times. I'm able to get 30+ fps on a GTX 260, but that's with effects turned off. Granted this is a card that is slightly below recommended specs but on a quad core with plenty of RAM? While we're on the subject of hardware, why can I not play this game in full screen when I have two monitors? I have to either set this game to 1920 x 1080 to fill the screen within a window, or I play 1280 x 720 in windowed mode. Attempting to run the game in full screen at 1280 x 720 full screen doesn't even give me an error, it just fails to work, so I have to turn off my second monitor to get proper full screen. The audio works quite well, with some good voice acting and music that is sufficient. Though the soundtrack is kind of minimalistic with only a handful of tracks being used for a variety of events.
The story starts out as an interesting hook that will keep you wanting to slog through levels in order to unravel more of the game's tale. Starting in each town gives a different story where your character is in the midst of some strange happenings. I chose Gridania, where my presence has angered the spirits of the woods, and I must do my part, along with some curious visitors, to cleanse myself to prevent entities of the woods from attacking me again. I'm currently between story segments which currently unfold every five levels, and this latest grind to get me to level fifteen has been nothing short of agonizing. Even with a linkshell the leveling system makes it much more difficult to advance than Final Fantasy XI. The most common way to level up is through a series of jobs picked up at a guild, where these jobs are referred to as leves, why? I have no idea, why not just call them, missions, or jobs? Anyway to get back on point, you travel from camp to camp out in the wild and you sync up at the camp to perform the job, then you've got thirty minutes to finish the task. Sometimes you're hunting specific enemies, other times you are mining or fishing, or chopping at trees to gain materials. At the very least it is much easier to change jobs this time around, just put a piece of equipment in to your hand and the job switches. If you're an archer like me, then hitting enemies will level your character, or if you're a weaver or carpenter creating items will level you up. There is basic experience to determine your stats and job specific experience will determine the skills available to you. The flaw here is that you will not always get skill points when performing actions, unlike crafting classes which always provide experience. The other problem is that if you're in a party you only gain experience when your actions are successful. So if you're not doing much damage, or are missing you will not level up more frequently. This problem is only compounded by the uncanny abilities of mobs to avoid shots more than 50% of the time. While I will admit this number is unfounded, it certainly feels like that is the percentage, even with gear intended to increase my accuracy I still saw that enemies evaded or I missed more often than not. To really add insult to injury there is currently a bug that causes enemies to properly tag to your character, which will allow enemies to regenerate HP as if they were not fighting you. The game has been online for over a month and this issue has existed since beta, and it remains unfixed as of this writing.
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