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So I took the plunge because I wanted to try a sub game alongside GW2, no harm in that right? Well.. we'll get to that in a minute. After all, I did spend 30 bucks on something I don't know if I'll be playing in a month.
I digress. I just thought since the game has been getting so much press lately and I've always enjoyed giving my opinions here, I'd give my first impressions of the game and how it measured up to my expectations and to other games in the genre.
Regarding expectations, they weren't very high to start with. Sure, Squaresoft was one of my favorite companies growing up, but along the way they started making games with characters I didn't care about, and stories that were pretty bland to me. I seem to be one of those people who think FFVII was fun, but way overrated. I thought FFVI was far superior in story and characters, but hey, opinions and all that.
So here goes:
Graphics: The graphics in FFXIV:ARR are good. I mean, that's about all I can muster to say about them but it's not a bad thing. Much like TERA and Aion, they are highly detailed, shiny and pleasing to the eye on first glance, but that's about it. Strictly speaking about character models, I like them but I don't love them. Mixed quality of animations between races, some being incredibly clunky or stiff, turned me off right away. I know the game was developed around the same time as TERA and it shows. In my personal view, no amount of polygons can make up for a game that has such a hard time making me feel the action. Detailed but rigid; not my favorite aspect of the game so far. Apart from that, the detail and majesty of the actual cities is breathtaking, but I don't play MMO's primarily to see pretty buildings.
Sound: This one is a mixed bag. The music is pretty awesome, but it seems that the Japanese have a problem with matching music to the events on screen when it comes to action. Much like the awful elevator music in Street Fighter: The Animated Movie (Japan version) when Bison battled Ken and Ryu in a fight to the death, my first FATE popped in FFXIV and I felt like I was at the circus. Is it area-dependent? Or is it just as silly sounding in every zone? It sounded more like a mini-game than a battle. Someone frustrating after all the years of excellent hardcore fight music in FF games.
Story: The story isn't that good. The dialogue is obnoxious with all the apostrophes and accents without the benefit of sound; it's like reading fan fiction. They should have gone for full voice, but then, the voice that's there is pretty terrible. It's almost as bad as TERA's voice work. I found myself skipping dialogue not even a minute into the game. It was lame and on top of that, I wanted to try out the combat. I can't see myself caring about what happens in the world; the crystal scene after the first instance I played was truly mind-numbing. That sounds harsh when I read it back, but hey if I don't get points for honesty, I don't know...
Oh, one of my biggest complaints about the entire game is this: THE NAMES ARE FREAKING STUPID. At first it was funny, seeing NPC names that looked liked someone bashed their head into the keyboard, but now it's just ridiculous. Dungeons have unmemorable, goofy names, towns have unmemorable goofy names, and half of the characters just sound like noises you'd type to answer the question "In text: What does a sneeze sound like to you?" What happened to simple names like Cloud Strife or Tifa Lockheart? Do they save the good names for the good characters or something? Ugh. No imagination put forth whatsoever. Maybe some people can overlook this one, but it's difficult for me.
Combat: I don't have much to comment on as far as combat goes. It seems pretty standard yet enjoyable, but with all the FedEX quests going on, I haven't had many opportunities to fight anything worth mentioning. I'm playing a Pugilist and I like the combo and stance ideas, it makes you pay attention. For the "traditional" MMO combat style, ARR seems to do it pretty well. Anyone tired of "action combat" or the pretentiousness that seems to follow the term around like a lost puppy, will feel at home here.
Some things I really like:
- The quick waypoint attunement system. Now, I didn't play FFXI, but a friend told me how frustrating it was having to run literally everywhere (he mentioned cities in particular). I don't like the sound of that, so these cool Aether crystals around the cities in ARR helped me get into the game more than if I'd had to hike back and forth everywhere.
- The hunting log. I like little things like this that give you the opportunity to grind if you want to, and even surprise yourself by completing them without knowing it.
- The inclusion of a Sprint skill right away at level 1. Again, I hate running around slow-as-balls, so this took the edge off of learning a new game.
- The lack of necessity to make a million alts. This is a no-brainer.
I hope to get into the game more in the coming weeks and see if it's worth a sub. From what I've seen, the game is not BAD by any means, and anyone who says it is might have simply expected too much. I'm a bit confused by the super high ratings myself, since it doesn't seem to offer much that other games haven't in the past, but I attribute that to a strong fanbase with a lot of nostalgia. This game is alright.