Joystick: Online Final Fantasy reborn as great game

Published 10:04 am Thursday, August 29, 2013

“Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn”


Rated: T for Teen; Playstation 3, PC


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–Final Fantasy returns as a solid multiplayer online game

–Epic moments, interesting class list, myriad missions contribute to a fun online experience

–“FFXIV” suffers from long log-ins, tight restrictions as people buy it.

I know I’m not the most reliable source to talk about “Final Fantasy” games — I am a diehard fan, after all — but I was pleasantly surprised to find how much fun “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn” has become.

The massively multiplayer online role playing game first came out in 2010, to a chorus of boos from critics and fans alike. The game felt unfinished and slightly sloppy, and participation quickly died out after publisher Square Enix took too long in patching the game.

That’s not the case in “FF XIV: ARR.” This game is a polished role-playing experience with plenty of content for people to enjoy.

You find yourself in Eorzea, a land torn by strife due to the machinations of an evil empire and a bevy of brutal primordial demi-gods.

It’s your job to defeat a lot of monsters, solve a lot of mysteries and make a lot of friends in order to take on the realm’s baddest enemies.

One of the game’s most interesting features is the ability to transform your character at will. Each character can be whatever class they desire, from a lancer to a black mage to a monk, by simply equipping the proper weapon. That level of customization is a draw to MMO fans who may have had to stick with one class on their characters in other, similar games.

In addition, the game has a multitude of side quests and activities for players. For example, you can become a miner and collect a bunch of random material, which you would then use to create armor, clothing or weapons.

Yet there are plenty of other tasks. You can join several groups, each with their own missions to undertake in defending Eorzea. You can also go around helping others with their problems, hunt for monsters or items, crawl through many dungeons and go to an arena to battle other characters.

“FFXIV: ARR” does the basics in MMOs very well. There’s always plenty of help for your character, whether it’s extra missions to level up or a little recommendation from the game as your travel through a new area. The game will even pair you with other players to go through a dungeon, in case you don’t have as many people. It’s a solid experience that works.

Yet the game does have its faults. The basic MMO structure leaves a lot to be desired, and “FF XIV: ARR” doesn’t stretch too much past battling and exploring.

In addition, there is no voice chat option, which means players on Playstation 3 will become frustrated with the chat box quickly, especially during dungeon encounters.

Last, and perhaps the most important, the game is far too popular at the moment. By that, I mean at times it’s simply impossible to log in. Square’s early access weekend was tough for everyone who bought a collector’s edition — myself included — because many of us couldn’t log into the game for much of the time. I spent half a day trying to log in with no luck, which was frustrating. Square officials are adding more servers and loosening log-in restrictions even as you read this, so expect this issue to go away soon.

Yet a little wait is worth the effort to pick up this game. If you’ve ever wanted to feel a “Final Fantasy” world that exudes personality and practically breathes wonder, this is the game for you.