As some of you are probably already know (if you’ve read my biography or we’ve shared a pint before) I’m a major fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, it’s even got to a scary point where I can’t genuinely distinguish between real life and Final Fantasy and I’m not ashamed to admit that I may at one time or another have tried to activate my own Limit Break. Just for the record, my limit break appears to be turning myself red and becoming overly angry for no reason, which even I found pretty pathetic, and that’s saying something.
Fortunately though, my addiction to Final Fantasy has been fuelled by the new release of World of Final Fantasy, or as I like to call it, baby’s first Final Fantasy game. The game was released for PlayStation 4 and for the PlayStation Vita on October 28th. It was published and developed by, yep you guessed it, good ol’e Square Enix, although Tose had a part to play in the development as well.
The more avid Final Fantasy fans will probably already know that the Final Fantasy franchise is turning 30 next year, so this game marks the start of Final Fantasy’s 30th Birthday, even though it’s currently only 29 years old, this game is expected to mark the start of the celebrations. Others will probably also know that Square Enix have a load of plans for this year and next, including the long anticipated Final Fantasy XV, An even longer Final Fantasy VII remake and of course for you MMORPG fans, Final Fantasy XIV expansion by the name of Stormblood, so finally my cute little monk can go kick some more ass in another world.
If you’ve kept up with Square Enix’s news then you’ll probably know what I mean when I call this baby’s first Final Fantasy. Many of the fans who fell in love with the earlier games have now grown up, and although they still follow the franchise (religiously in some cases) there becomes a time when games need to start appealing to a younger generation and this is Square Enix’s way of getting a new generation to fall in love with the Final Fantasy universe whilst still interesting the generation it already has hooked.
For this reason, you can expect World of Final Fantasy to pull out some really cheesy one liners, a bit of slapstick humor and of course the use of miss-interpretation. Frankly the game is filled with silliness, and I don’t say that in a bad way, some of the jokes can be, well down right cringe worthy, but some actually had me in stitches. The game has to appeal to two different generations, and frankly the silly jokes and the cartoonish style graphics is the way to pull the younger generation into Final Fantasy.
So what can the older generation expect to get out of this game? Well the best bit! This game is absolutely rammed to the brim with Final Fantasy lore, cameos and knowledge, so much so that everywhere you go, every monster you see, every story line that takes place will have you seeing some of Final Fantasy’s most nostalgic memories. All your favorite Final Fantasy characters will be in the game in some way of form, from Lightning, The Warrior of Light, even Chocobalina makes a surprise appearance (which I really wasn’t expecting). It doesn’t just stop there though. Locations that you go to, Mirages (monsters) that you fight, even random NPC’s that you see, will be in some shape or form, nostalgic.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on for too long, so let’s get down to the story. I won’t say too much because the story is what really makes Final Fantasy so special for us all, it’s the reason everyone loved Final Fantasy VII so much, and it’s the reason I still cry like a little girl at that game. Anyway, you play as two characters by the name of Lann and Reynn who are twin brother and sister. Reynn is your typical female character, smart, mature and calm, where as Lann is your typical male character, quick to jump into action and hot headed (no offense intended!).
One day, after a strange dream involving some gauntlets and a woman pretending to be a clock, they wake up and nobody is in there town anymore, after an encounter with a young woman by the name of Enna Kros, they learn that they are in fact Mirage Keepers, and they used to have a completely different life in a different world where they commanded an army of Mirages. One thing leads to another and obviously you return to the World of Final Fantasy! (See how that worked out…).
After a couple of tutorials and some game information you’ll quickly pick up how to fight, run, walk, stack like a Jenga champion and some stuff about steaks… You’ll also get to meet your new foxy friend Tama, the cutest and most adorable little fox who for some reason has a speech impediment and puts the word ‘the’ into random places within his, her, whatever gender Tama is, into their sentences. It’s a little annoying at first, but soon becomes second nature. Tama will be your main guide on your quest to remember who you were, with of course some great story lines in between.
A little while into the story, you’ll slowly learn that the world is in danger because of the Bahamutian (sound familiar!?) army is commanding an army of Mirages to do their bidding and to keep the people safe. Why is this such a bad thing? Because there is a price to pay! And what’s the price?! Well tough, you’ll have to buy the game and find out for yourself you freeloaders.
Naturally, I’m not too far into the story line, and frankly even if I was I wouldn’t want to write a review on it and spoil all of it for you, but all I can really say is that whilst the story is a little slow to pick up, it eventually becomes quite interesting. There’s lots of little hints and name drops that will keep you on your toes, and I have yet to see if my theories are correct, but if they are, then wow!
Obviously Final Fantasy is an RPG game, but those of you who have played the Franchise will know it’s also got a pretty hefty amount of side quests and puzzles within it. World of Final Fantasy is no exception to this rule. You have a tonne of sidequests to perform which earn you some lovely goodies and when in dungeons and wandering around you’ll come across puzzles where you will need to think on your toes. There not especially hard, but you may have to search for different Mirages, find different items, or even come back to them at another point in time to solve them.
One of the many things that can make or break a Final Fantasy game is the battle system, and you’ll be glad to know that World of Final Fantasy brings back the old turn based fighting system. The downside is that the default fighting system they stick you with is all based around using buttons to select skills, kind of like button “shortcuts”, you can change these at any time you want too, but it doesn’t really allow for the best of combat. The upside is that you can change everything you want too about the fighting system in the settings. You can change it so it’s active mode (time won’t stop when you are picking what skill to use), wait mode (time will stop), you can ramp up the speed of fights so that your super fast and you can even put it onto the classic battle menu, so you have one hell of a list of actions to choose from just like the old games, so if you’re a Final Fantasy veteran then I’d recommend changing it, and fast.
You’ve probably noticed me use the term Mirages a couple of times during this review. Simply put, Mirages are monsters that you fight in battle. The twist being that you can use prisms to capture them. The only catch is that in order to catch them you’ll need to fulfil certain criteria. This could be simply a case of using your Hulk smash to whack it’s HP down, or it could be a case of that Mirage needs to be the last one standing. After you fulfil that criteria, you’ll have a chance to grab it by imprism’ing it. If you get hold of it then it will join your special team of wonder beasts, if not, you can always try again.
Now at this point, you’re probably wondering to yourself “Well gosh darn it Mr. Reviewer! We already had the ability to control monsters in Final Fantasy XIII-2?! What makes this game so special”, well grandpa, first of all I’m impressed that you called me Mr, and secondly they don’t really control the monster in the traditional way of throwing it out into the field and letting it run off and do a load of damage for you. Instead World of Final Fantasy introduces the ‘Stacking’ method.
Stacking is slightly ingenious and very frustrating at the same time. The general idea of is that you stack the Mirage on top of your head. Sounds weird? Well it gets weirder. Stacking the Mirage on top of your head means that you gain the stats and the abilities that the Mirage has, but at the same time it means you also gain the weaknesses that the Mirage has. It gets even weirder when you start to understand that other monsters can knock your stack off your head, but this means that the monsters separate and then they attack separately and that you have to stack monsters based on sizes and this could have an effect on your topple strength, it all gets very crazy.
Frankly the stacking method is actually a great addition to the game and the best way to understand it is by imagining the robot from Power Rangers. Separately the Power Rangers are okay, but combine their forces together and you get some badass Transformers like robot which can finally defeat that Ivan Ooze!
Of course, this wouldn’t really be a Final Fantasy game without a little bit of bump and grind (There’s nothing wrong, with a little bump and grind… I’ve had that song in my head for days now). Minus the bump of course. I can confirm the grind is definitely real. You have well over 100 different mirages and you will have to get them to a reasonable level before you can start being badass with them. What’s more World of Final Fantasy adds the Mirage Board to the mix, for those of you familiar with FFX then picture the sphere grid.
Each time one of your bestie beasties levels up, you’ll gain SP. The more SP that you gain, the more that you can spend on some badass abilities. Once you have enough you’ll be able to make your way through the Mirage Board and unlock some kickass abilities. There’s also some pretty fun features like giving your Mirages the ability to come out of their prisms and stroll alongside you, doing so will allow them to sniff out some goodies for you too, or fly you across gaps and ledges, or even provide you with some useful items just for unlocking that space.
As per the Mirage Board, as your Mirages level up, they’ll also learn new spells and abilities which will help you out in combat, but since you can only use a maximum of 2 Mirages, and you’ll have to take into consideration the size of them and that you inherit their weaknesses, it means you’ll have to plan your battles accordingly, which is a little bit difficult in Final Fantasy, still it’s not different from the other games.
Once you hit a certain point in your Mirage Board, you’ll also be able to transfigurate your beasties to become even more amazing. Think of it like Pokemon and evolving. Doing so will access new MIrage Boards so you can keep upgrading your Mirages. Neat, huh? What’s more is that your new Mirage will be able to do everything that it could on the other board, so keep levelling up and soon your pokem… Mirages will be awesome.
If you have two Mirages that kick ass but you are still missing a certain spell, you’ll be able to equip jewels on your character. These special jewels will allow your character to use that particular action, so you can do this whenever you want too. Yay!
If you’ve been keeping up to date with World of Final Fantasy then you’ll know that the graphics are completely different to your typical Final Fantasy game. Whereas your standard games try to adhere to looking as realistic to life as possible, World of Final Fantasy on the other hand, brings home the Cartoon Network style graphics by making everything as ‘cutesy wutesy’ as possible. Seriously, it’s hard to slaughter a behemoth when it looks so god damn adorable!
But in all fairness, even though it’s a complete overhaul on the usual graphics Final Fantasy delivers, they’re actually really good. Final Fantasy games as a whole have always raised the bar for other video games in terms of cutscene graphics, and World of Final Fantasy doesn’t quite push it to that limit, but it does stand up tall as a graphical game. There are a few minor instances where certain Mirages won’t stand on the characters heads properly and certain lip-syncing isn’t as great as it should be, but all in all the graphics are very welcome.
Now we get to talk about something that every Final Fantasy fan wants to know about. If you don’t agree with me on this, then that’s your opinion, but I’m hoping that all of you will. Final Fantasy will forever be known to me for bringing me the most amazing music I’ve ever heard in a video game. You’ll be pleased to know that World of Final Fantasy follows the same pattern. The music is great, and really captures the typical Final Fantasy melody that we all love and want.
Furthermore, sound effects, voice acting, battle music, everything sound wise about the game is pretty much spot on, so don’t go playing your heavy death metal over the top of it, switch that volume on high and experience everything that World of Final Fantasy has to offer sound wise.
Overall, World of Final Fantasy is a great game and a welcome addition to the franchise. The only downside to the whole experience is, and I’ve heard a few people saying the same thing, it doesn’t really feel like a Final Fantasy game. Maybe that’s because of the graphics, the silly jokes, the battle system, I’m not really 100% sure as to why if I’m honest, but something about it just doesn’t say to me that this is a Final Fantasy game.
Other than that, I’ve found absolutely no problems with it, and in all honesty if it was released as a general game then it would be incredible, and hell, it is incredible even as a Final Fantasy game. I’d strongly recommend anyone who loves the franchise to pick it up and go play away until your heart is content, but don’t go into it expecting another Final Fantasy 7, go into it just expecting a great game, and you’ll walk away with a smile on your face and your moneys worth!
Quote: Re-live the Final Fantasy experience in cute cartoony graphics with World of Final Fantasy