by Andrew Reiner
Final Fantasy XV is a road trip that comes dangerously close to running out of gas, coasting on fumes long enough to deliver a rich and rewarding open-world experience that embraces the bond of friendship just as much as the thrill of hunting for rare treasure and beasts. The concept of hitting the open road in a convertible with three friends is largely successful, consisting of pit stops at roadside dinners, detours to lakes for a quiet evening of fishing, campfires under the stars, and expeditions through the wilderness to find a landmark for a group photo. Final Fantasy XV captures the atmosphere of cruising down an American interstate, but also the boredom that comes from staring down hundreds of miles of open road, or not having anything more to say to the people in the car. If you can tolerate a baffling amount of time where nothing but travel happens, Final Fantasy XV is a good game that upends series traditions and stands as a uniquely satisfying adventure.
A wildly different take on the series that embraces free-form combat, open-world exploration, and vast amounts of time on the open road
Camera tracking is sometimes faulty, but the action is a sight to behold, offering nicely animated characters, huge enemies, and stunning weapon effects
Some location-specific melodies (especially at truck stops) are shockingly bad, and fail to capture the essence of the world. The new orchestrated combat pieces fair better, and the long car rides are improved by the collection of old Final Fantasy tracks. Voice work is top notch
Combat is a showpiece of twitch gameplay and RPG conventions. Each battle can be a blast and a true test of skill. Driving is abysmal to the point of being nearly unplayable
Final Fantasy XV struggles mightily with open-world navigation, but succeeds in storytelling, combat, and in empowering the player. Even fishing is good fun
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