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Final Fantasy XI Review

Final Fantasy heads online in this MMORPG offering from Square Enix.


Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 15th November 2004

Final Fantasy XI

  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Release Date: 19th September 2004

When Square Enix announced Final Fantasy XI would be a MMORPG it seemed like the inevitable had finally happened. The result is a game that manages to add a number of unique elements while not deferring from what has now become the expected EverQuest styling.

Just like in every other MMORPG the first thing you have to do when you start playing Final Fantasy XI is create your character, unfortunately though you aren’t presented with as many options as you’d expect as you are only able to choose your characters race, size, face, hair colour and class. While this limited amount of options serves its purpose it can result in you creating less individual character then you would be able to create in other MMORPGs.

Final Fantasy XI lets you play as five different races, Humes, elvaan, tarutaru, mithra, and galka. Humes and elvaan are basically Humans and Elf’s respectively and can be played as either male or females. Tarutaru are munchkins and can also be played as male and female. Mithra are cat-like girls and Galka are huge hairy beast like men. While the races in the game look vastly different from one another there aren’t really any huge differences between them in terms of gameplay apart from some races are better at other jobs then others.

Final Fantasy XI is set in the world of Vana'diel which is made up of three kingdoms with each competing for control of Vana’diel. Players can choose which kingdom to affiliate themselves with during the character creation process and whilst playing you will be able to choose to undertake missions in the name of the Kingdom which directly contribute to your nations conquest of Vana’diel or much simpler missions and tasks such as delivering items to NPCs. While these missions don’t contribute to your nation they can be rewarding to your character in terms of experience points and wealth.

MMORPGs aren’t the most accessible games around and Final Fantasy XI is no different it’s also probably fair to say it’s a little more difficult to get to grips with than most. The game uses a series of command line style controls such as “/map” which obviously opens the games map. Becoming familiar with theses commands is vital and can consume a lot of time you’d probably rather spend playing the game. Movement in Final Fantasy XI is controlled by the mouse, players must hold down the left mouse button and move the mouse forward to move, it’s a strange system which takes some getting use to and at times can cause some considerable confusion when you first start playing.

Final Fantasy XI lets you play as one of five character classes. When creating your character you choose from monk, thief, black mage, white mage, red mage and warrior. However, these aren’t all Final Fantasy XI has to offer as you can choose to learn a crafting skill once you start playing. One of Final Fantasy XI’s strong points is that the game allows you to change jobs at anytime. For instance if you suddenly become bored playing as a thief and fancy a change you can choose to play as any of the other classes although you will have to start again at level 1.

Final Fantasy XI’s attack mode is one of the easiest aspects of gameplay to pick up. It’s pretty much what you would expect to find in any other MMORPG, you simply target an enemy and activate the attack mode and the game takes care of the rest. Unlike many other games instead of earning experience in fighting players gain experience for the specific weapon they are using, for example battling enemies with a sword will increase your characters sword experience and once you earn enough experience you will unlock moves exclusive to that weapon.

Fighting low level monsters can be pretty simple and new players shouldn’t have too much trouble taking on most monsters they encounter, however as you progress through the game you and come up against the higher level monsters you will find defeating them more difficult and will often require the assistance of a party of friends in order to complete the task without being killed, which would earn you character an experience penalty.

Speaking of friends Square Enix have made it difficult for players from the real world to play together as you’re not able to choose which server you play on unlike in many other online RPG’s. While this is only a minor issue which can be resolved by purchasing an in game item known as a “World Pass” it can be a major annoyance for casual players looking to simply play together.

As you would expect from a MMORPG Final Fantasy XI features a lot of content, there’s a huge amount for players to do such as fishing and auctioning items to other players. Players are also able to travel the world of Vana’diel in airships and on the backs of chocobos. Also as a bonus as soon as you start playing the game you are given your own room which you are able to decorate with items you purchase.

On the whole Final Fantasy XI looks great, character models in the game aren’t the best ever but feature a good level of detail, especially in their faces. The world of Vana’diel looks great also with many different environments for players to explore. The three kingdoms are also well varied.

The game also runs exceptionally well with no lag or slow down no matter how many players are currently in one area. Final Fantasy XI also isn’t very demanding in terms of system requirements and it’s possible for the game to run well on fairly low end machines. Sound in the game is pretty minimal however what sound there is has been done well although the musical score can become a little repetitive after prolonged play.

In general MMORPG’s require a big time commitment from players and it’s fair to say Final Fantasy XI probably requires more then usual due to the amount of time players will have to spend learning how to play the game. While the fans of the Final Fantasy games will be pulled towards the game they should be prepared to invest a lot of time in the game before plunging straight in. In all fairness it’s a title that is probably geared towards the more experienced MMORPG gamer who should get a lot of enjoyment from the title, while more casual gamers or those new to the genre may find the experience a little daunting.

Review Score: 7.2/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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