Final Fantasy 15 is the fifteenth main instalment in the Final Fantasy series, it is a heavy departure from previous games, providing a darker atmosphere that focuses on more realistic human characters than previous entries.
The game features an open-world environment and action-based battle system similar to the Kingdom Hearts series, incorporating the ability to switch weapons and take control of vehicles during battle.
The story is based on the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology, but has no direct relation to the other games in this series as it features a unique world, visual design and different characters. Its main protagonist Noctis Lucis Caelum is the prince of a mafia-like royal family which protects the last remaining crystal in the world and rules over a technologically advanced city-state.
The plot centers on the invasion of a warlike nation that seeks to capture the crystal. During the course of the game, Noctis meets the aristocratic and kind Stella Nox Fleuret who shares his ability of seeing a mysterious "light" connected to a goddess of the dead.
Final Fantasy XV is set in a world similar to modern-day Earth. The land is divided between various countries that had been locked in a cold war over the nations' crystals, objects of political power. The result of the war is that all but the nation of Lucis have regressed to a medieval state: Lucis has become isolated from the rest of the world and has become a technologically-advanced nation ruled by a family that operates similar to the mafia.
Due to the war, all but Lucis eventually lost their crystals: they have since focused their efforts on the development of weapons rather than on the progress of their culture, which left them in their regressive state. The nation of Niflheim is the main enemy of Lucis, and the only one not to have been entrusted with a crystal. Among the other nations of the world are Tenebrae, Solheim and Accordo.
In the world of XV, people who have suffered from a near-death experience are gifted with magical powers and the ability to predict the deaths of others from the realm of the dead, ruled over by the Goddess Etro. This power has both positive and negative effects on those who wield it.
The characters have the ability to traverse the environment in a free-running style, which also extends to battle with larger enemies. The world map is a wide, open field that the player can traverse on foot or by using a car, an airship or a chocobo.
The car can be driven by Noctis, or one of the other characters can take control, enabling an auto-drive option. The world also features a dynamic weather system, with transient effects such as rain effecting things such as the characters' clothing.
A day-and-night time system affects the appearance of monsters on the world map. One in-game day equates to thirty minutes real-time, and characters who do not sleep have decreased combat ability.
Final Fantasy 15 uses interactive cutscenes in the form of real-time events. The player keeps control during them as the gameplay is not interrupted, which will result in natural progressions and storytelling that is similar to that of first-person shooters. However, the game also features uncontrollable pre-rendered full motion videos for scenes in which player control would have little to no effect. The ratio of real-time events to pre-rendered FMVs is 7:3 (Nerd alert).
To my delights maybe not yours, the game's combat system, called the Active Cross Battle system, is a realistic version of the ones seen in the Kingdom Hearts series and Final Fantasy Type-0. Unlike the majority of titles in the series, the battle scenes are seamlessly integrated into the environments with no load screens or transitions. The player selects a command such as "Attack", "Magic", "Technique", "Item" and the character will then perform the desired move.
There are also other actions such as jumping. The main protagonist Noctis is the only controllable character in the party. Similar to the Gambit system of Final Fantasy XII, characters can move and act freely while assigned pre-determined action sets by the player. In mid-battle, the player can pull up a menu and change the character's actions and the commands assigned to Noctis. In addition to this, Noctis can partner with one character to perform combo moves once an enemy or part of an enemy is targeted. Parrying and blocking can be performed, but blocking uses MP (magic points) and Noctis is unable to auto-parry.
Weapons for Noctis are arranged in a deck set by the player between battles, changing and being assigned to him depending on the combat situation. The available weapons include swords, axes, lances and guns, offer various attacks and may be customized or used as shields. The selected weapon is displayed on-screen, and can be freely swapped during battle.
One weapon is set as Noctis' default weapon, and special techniques can be activated. Helpful actions by other members of the party are triggered depending on the situation. Noctis can also give specific commands to other party members. When performing a major magic spell such as a fire attack, it both effects the enemy targeted and the surrounding area, meaning it is possible to harm allies.
Environmental effects caused by the magic can also be used to scare enemy units. Noctis is able to perform a warp, with the distance he can travel depending on his current level. The areas he can warp to are limited, but change depending on the combat situation. In addition to the regular offensive and defensive tactics, mechas and tanks can be stolen from enemies and used against them.
Summoned monsters, a staple of the series, are also featured. They are arranged by class and subdivided into a ranking system, and each must be defeated in battle before they can be used by the protagonists, such as the high-ranking summon Leviathan. Enemies have specific jobs such as dragon knight or summoner assigned to them.
Final Fantasy is published by our good friends Square Enix for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and is slated for release in early 2015.
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