Final Fantasy XV is a fantastic story about four heroes, with its fate reminiscent of one notorious film. Its director Josh Trunk once tweeted that he was holding a gorgeous version of Fantastic Four that no one would ever see, alas. The studio took control of the film from Trunk - and the film, released in 2015, failed miserably. Whether Trunk's vision saved her or not, we will not know, but we can be sure that we received a completely different film. This also applies to Final Fantasy XV.
To understand how Final Fantasy XV came to be as we know it today, you need to go back to its very roots, in the mid-2000s. Then Friv5Online Games Studio, at the height of its delirium, announced thirteenth Final Fantasy games: one regular, one mobile (Agito) and one action (Versus). They were not extensions of each other, were not even connected by the setting - only by "mythology".
"Versus" was bound by the thirteenth part, not only in the matter of mythology. The number part was a priority for Friv5Online Games Studio, but the development did not go well. As a result, part of Tetsui Nomura's Versus XIII team went to help colleagues with the main release of the cycle. When it was finally completed four years later, it turned out that the engine used in the corridor and linear FF XIII did not really fit the Versus, where Nomura planned to deploy a huge open world. Problems rained down on Versus one after another.
This game will be more human than the sci-fi cartoon we often see. It will be dedicated to the events taking place in our world - and in this sense it will be darker.
An ambiguous story, a setting reminiscent of our world, quotes from Shakespeare - Final Fantasy Versus XIII remained for many fans the last hope, a ray of light in the dark kingdom of tastelessness, into which the Final Fantasy series plunged with the release of the thirteenth part. This game was not destined to see the light of day.
Realizing that the release of Versus XIII was delayed, and there was no one to make a new number part, Friv5Online Games Studio decided to adapt Nomura's beginnings in Final Fantasy XV. Alas, there were some casualties.
What is allowed for a spin-off is impermissible for a large numbered part. Final Fantasy Versus XIII was very dark, even bloody. Infantile Nomura slowed down development and clearly could not bring his overly ambitious undertakings to release - and he also dreamed of sequels! All this did not suit the bosses of Friv5Online Games Studio, and as a result, the plot of Versus was heavily rewritten (in particular, the main character, which Nomura liked very much, was deleted from the story completely), and Hajime Tabata, who was famous, was asked to take the director's chair, along with Nomura. their ability to release games within deadlines and budgets. Soon, Tabata pushed Nomuru off the throne and usurped his brainchild.
And Tabata brought in his people and threw out Nomura's most talented team. Thus, the incomparable Jun Akiyama, stage director in Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy 12 , lost his post and was sent to direct the passing comedy World of Final Fantasy . Takeshi Endo, who created the world maps in Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy 8, also retired . Kazushige Nojima, a screenwriter famed for his work on Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X, X-2, Advent Children and Crisis Core, has been replaced by the obscure Saori Itamuro, who previously wrote an enchantingly squalid script for Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy.... As a result, from the Nomurov era, the game has only characters, the most superficial plot basis and a soundtrack.
At the same time, Tabata, pushing Nomura out of the project, immediately announced that he would continue to implement his vision. And that, without any doubt, was a lie. Tabata took the ideas of the idealistic visionary, and released the half-finished, tortured and superficial Fantastic Four.
Especially the hand of Tabata is noticeable in the plot of the game. Six months ago, a certain anonymous author leaked a ton of spoilers to the Internet , which seemed almost unbelievable (due to the wretchedness of these plot decisions, of course), but turned out to be 100% correct. This source then reported that while Nomura was setting up his trailer, Tabata was rewriting the history of the game. The trailer promised us "A world of Versus epic", but the epic did not come out: Tabata loudly announced that there would be no sequels, and the ending would put an end to it - and in the end threw out almost everything from the plot.
But even what is, we, as a rule, are not shown. The empire captured the hero's hometown, but behind the scenes (Nomura planned to make the battle in the palace and escape from the capital gameplay segments, but who cares about him?). Fortunately, we can learn about this event from the movie Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, but about other equally important plot points that we will not be shown, no. Oftentimes, the text on the loading screens is more informative than the sketches.
What can we say about the structure of the game! As you know, the main feature of Final Fantasy XV is the open world. So, while this open world is available to the heroes, they are engaged in such bullshit, which in normal games would be part of side missions, and all this time the plot simply does not move. And in the second half of FF XV loses its key feature and transplants onto literal rails along which it rolls in the spirit of Final Fantasy XIII to the denouement, losing everything along the way: characters (behind the scenes), storylines (ibid.) And, obviously, conscience...
Final Fantasy XV doesn't even have any central idea, it doesn't make sense. The main slogan of the game - "reclaim your throne" - is so blunt and straightforward (and sounds absolutely like "go kill the main villain") that it cannot be taken seriously. What is this game? In fact - yes, just about how Prince Noctis is pumping to kill the main villain. There is nothing else in it.
Here, of course, one can argue that this is a game about the journey of Noctis and his friends. Undoubtedly, we spend the best part of the game in a car with a "fantastic four" characters, but there is little use from it: all the heroes have known each other for a long time, there is no dynamics in their relationship, they practically do not open up and do not develop during the game, remaining in the ending is actually the same as the beginning.
And yet, as with every Tabata game, Final Fantasy XV is full of strained, far-fetched drama. Characters who have spent almost all the time before that are tragically dying - and we should probably empathize with them. The heroes start yelling at each other for no apparent reason. Unpleasant situations happen to them (mostly when we do not see it). And all this without any consequences for their relationship or for the plot as a whole.
And even if we take it for granted that the main storyline in FF XV is completely merged (and this is, without a doubt, so) and seek salvation in side dialogues and the open world, then it will not be found there either. The four heroes constantly exchange lines, but this is all small talk - comments about the weather or the fact that insects are bothering, are unlikely to be a balm for the soul. As I already mentioned, the heroes do not develop and do not really reveal themselves - whether in the plot or in side effects. Noctis is grumpy, the bullish Gladiolus is all serious alpha macho, the bespectacled Ignis is a smart guy and strategist, the blond Prompto is a dolt and comical nonentity. Heroes almost never come out of these types. For example, I was very sympathetic to Ignis, but after spending five dozen hours for FF XV and watching the accompanying prequel anime, I never learned anything about him. What was his childhood like? What are his hobbies besides cooking? Tastes? Views? Despite the fact that the game contains entire hours of his lines, Ignis turns out to be nothing more than an appendage of Noctis, playing the role of a cold-blooded and judicious member of the team - and nothing more.
NPCs don't help either. After all, RPGs with an open world and a weak main storyline are not uncommon, and they draw on the variety of side quests and dialogue with minor characters. In FF XV, all pollock is empty and trivial (“kill the monsters”, “find a tiny coin on the ground within a radius of 30 meters and bring it”, “find triggers at the points indicated on the map”), do not imply alternative outcomes and are written very boringly. After the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and even Xenoblade Chronicles, it’s simply a shame to do this.
And there are few NPCs. Criminally small. And I do not mean extras who create the appearance of a living world, but normal characters with a name and at least somehow distinguished appearance. As the side-quest for the murder of a huge turtle shows, which collects all the important NPCs in the game, their number is ... 14. There are 14 quest-giving characters who are not completely faceless dummies. Of course, none of them can be called interesting.
It may sound incredible, but yes - Lestallum, which has featured in all the recent trailers, is the only full-fledged city in the game (and it's small, although it looks great). Altissia, similar to Venice, turns out to be just a decoration for a rapidly deteriorating plot, and there is nothing to do in it as a whole - there are practically no side effects.
In addition to Lestallum, there are many small points on the map like motels and gas stations - that's where the rest of the quests are distributed. But there is no one to talk to, almost all NPCs, except for the aforementioned 14 pieces, are either extras, or service personnel who are ready to invite you for a cup of coffee or sell you items. Sometimes the extras talk about something among themselves, but the further, the less this is.
In the second half, FF XV is a linear nightmare, which should be ashamed of everyone who had a hand in it, and in the first and best - a typical "Yubisoft" open-world game, but nothing more.
The role of towers is played by eateries, where important places on the map are revealed to you and tasks for killing certain monsters are given (you can take only one "hunt" at a time; when you try to accept another such task, the previous one will simply be "forgotten" - and this is in 2016!) ... There are useful little things on the ground that you can pick up. In certain places, you can collect herbs and minerals, the icons of which are dotted throughout the map. You can teleport to the visited checkpoints. Sometimes.
The world is not as big as one might think from the Episode Duscae demo, where the players were presented with a huge "clearing". The fact is that the continent is covered with mountains, and the heroes are unable to master even a small hillock. And it turns out that in addition to the desert at the very beginning of the game and the following swamps and forests from Episode Duscae, the game no longer has large enough open spaces that the world consists of impregnable mountains and a series of roads laid between them.
However, it is pleasant to drive on these roads (if you forget that the car should actually be able to turn off them - because it cannot). Riding to my favorite music from previous Final Fantasy games and exploring the beautiful local scenery, I spent my favorite hours in FF XV. To these melodies I wanted to imagine: what would have happened if the worlds of Final Fantasy VIII or IX had appeared before us with the same thoroughness, with the same abundance of details?
Alas, in FF XV, the gameplay in this open and beautiful world boils down mostly to ticking boxes with the names of "hunts" and side quests. This is not so bad in itself and may well carry away for tens of hours, but there is no need to wait for any depth or revelations here.
You can only control Noctis (Nomura wanted to make each party member playable, as is customary in the "finals", Tabata does not care about that), and in almost all battles you only need to attack (keep the "circle", timing is not important) and defend (keep " square ”, timing is not important). If the enemy hits you while you hold the defense button, you can press the attack button for a spectacular parry. Defense is almost impenetrable: Noctis will move away from everything that flies at him from all directions, due to the MP line, which is restored if you teleport to a secluded place. And you can also move directly into the enemy. This is about all the wisdom; new skills will not open here and pumping, dedicated mainly to receiving passive bonuses.
Magic in Final Fantasy XV is very limited: it must be sucked from special sources (like FF VIII) and combined with catalysts to compose spells, of which there are essentially only three: fire, ice and lightning. They are powerful enough, but piecemeal, and when used, your partners invariantly fall under attack, who cannot be ordered to move away from your target.
Yes, your partners are beyond your control here. The only thing that can be ordered to them is to do one super move chosen in advance (and then with a sufficiently filled corresponding scale). Otherwise, these three are on their own and, as a rule, are engaged in substituting themselves for enemy attacks and die. There is nothing even remotely reminiscent of Final Fantasy XII's excellent gambit system, nor even the ability to repurpose them for a more appropriate role, as in Final Fantasy XIII.
At the same time, Noctis himself cannot die at all while you have healing items in your bins. The menu of their choice pauses the game, and, even after receiving a fatal blow, you can always swallow another potion and rush into battle again. I haven't seen the Game Over screen throughout the entire walkthrough - and that's not bragging. The battles with some bosses boiled down to the fact that my whole party was constantly dying, I ate the "healer", struck several blows, again received a fatal blow, healed - and so it was repeated over and over again.
This is the whole Final Fantasy XV - superficial, mediocre. Neither the combat system, nor the open world, nor the characters, nor the more the plot here can be called truly good, deserving of praise. At its best, it is just a normal action RPG with tons of optional content, a good time killer. " I don’t want to remember the worst.
The number of unique animations is incalculable, an absolutely indecent number of polygons was spent on the heroes, and in the photographs that the merry fellow Prompto captures in arbitrary moments - even in battle - everything, as a rule, looks good (and in some places - touching). This feature, which seemed to me at first stupid ("how is it - screenshots will be taken for me?"), In fact turned out to be the brightest, best find of the game.
And it's a pity, it's a pity the work of talented artists, designers, animators, who have been working on the game for ten years, which simply did not use most of their developments, and placed the rest in the framework of a hacky script and mediocre game design. No less a pity and the soundtrack, left from those ancient times, when this game in the hands of Tetsuya Nomura showed so much hope.
Perhaps it would not have become a masterpiece in the hands of its original creator; maybe it would not have come out very well. We will never know. Only one thing is obvious: after ten years of waiting, we got this mediocrity, another dummy from Hajime Tabata, the completion of the story campaign of which leaves behind only bitterness and disappointment.
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