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Thought id post some impressions from my first time with the game, after being lucky enough to get into OB. First off id like to point out that although i know a lot of folks have had trouble getting this game to run even on good computers, in my experiance at least, you don't need a super computer to play it. i have an intel core 2 duo E4500 running at 2.2oGHz, with 4Gb of Ram (effectivley 3 because of Vista 32bit,) so i havent got a great computer, but after replacing my 7600gt with a BFG 8800 GTS 512, i can run the game with max texture settings, standard shadows, and just turn off ambient occlusion and have only 2xAA. There's only a bit of slow down when in crowded areas in big city, but thats to be expected.
Secondly, this game is definatley made for a controller. i attempted with mouse nd keyboard and even ignoring the current mouse issues, the menus are not designed for use with that setup. Things like entering active mode, targeting then selection of skills feels clumsy on mouse and keyboard, but are just quick button presses on the gamepad. I would like a feature to cycle through nearest mobs, and also the ability to cycle targets whilst i have the skill bar up instead of deselecting target first etc, but other than that its a smooth ride with the controller set up. Plus there is something nice about playing an mmo whilst slouched on the chair instead of leant over the computer!!
On to the game, and what a beautiful game it is! everything from the cutscenes, to the cities, the player models etc are just amazing to look at. Details like swerving to turn, clothes and hair rustling and looking up at taller npcs than you are nice too. i cant wait to find more open vistas to gawp at. This is easily the best looking mmo including current releases and known future releases. On a downside, i would like to see more character creation choices, like more hair styles that sort of thing, but its not a game breaker for me.
I've only spent a few hours running around, and so have done mostly a lot of nothing in my time with the game so far lol, so please correct me if im wrong on anything about the quest system, but so far the only quests ive gotten are those from the leve system and the main quest that you start with. The guildleve system is nice in the sense that its good to be able to go to a specified npc, or crystal and pick up quests, in which you can tailor to yourself wheter your doing it solo, or with a small group to a larger group. This is a nice system for groups to pick up and play and go do some quests. I didnt like the time limit on some of them as competing for mobs was difficult, but im sure that will iron itself out over time. However i would like to find quest from other sources, like speaking to a random npc, and they give me a quest thats specific to that npc, like other mmos. i'm not asking for floating "!"'s, just more ways to interact with the worlds npcs.
Combat itself is confusing at first, though fun onceyou get the hang of it. firstly you have to enter active mode, which is basically unsheathing your weapon, then you need to target a mob, then use a skill. skills use stamina which you have to wait for the bar to fill up, a bit like the active time battle systems from other FF games. Theres also a button which appears to store attacks, and maybe is used more when you have more skills to chain up, but not sure on that yet. One problem i did find was that alot of mobs it kept telling me was not a proper target, and i could perform that action and i couldnt figure out why. If someone knows this then please let me know! Also i may be wrong but i dont think you can be jogging along, spot someone in some bother and attack there mob with them as only the person whom engaged it first can a attack a mob? again i might be wrong. Complaints id have with the combat is the target, hopefully cycling through mobs, and changing target mid fight will be made a little more intuitive. I haven't delved into changing classes or anything like that yet so not sure how that works.
Overall im impressed with the game, there is going to be a real sense of story, at least with the main quest line, and playing with the controller feels deifferent and comfortable. Everything that doesnt feel right doing with the mouse and keyboard, like menu's etc, feels good with the controller. Community is nice so far though this often changes from beta to retail, but so far so good. It feels like your going to have to work to get anywhere in this game too, which might deter players who like it simple like and on a plate like wow, (not a dig at wow, thats a successful model and one which i enjoyed my time with.) Hopefully il see some of you in game!