Let me start by stating: putting a demo for a game as an exclusive for a preordered game is dumb. The purpose of a demo is to give to as many people as possible a taste of your upcoming product. Give them a free appetizer to keep them in the restaurant for the 70 quid dish.
But considering how my playthrough of it went through? I think they may have done that on purpose. If after everything Square has done someone is still dumb enough to preorder anything from them, they’ll be dumb enough to still buy FFXV after playing this demo.
Let’s start with the good. The good is, surprisingly, what I expected to hate: the environments. The ‘fantasy based in reality’ thing made me really scrunch my nose… But, surprisingly? I like the result. The small area the demo takes place in is a jewel.
It’s not as colorful as, say, the forest from XIII or any other final fantasy game, but it’s still… Attractive. It gives a sense of peace and beauty, and I found myself staring at the distance. Wondering what that giant crystal mountain may be…
There were some rough edges here and there. Like a dancing tree and not particularly realistic smashed wood. The collisions aren’t perfect and sometimes Noctis would brush AIR out of the way. But they’re things that can be fixed before launch.
Also, this monster deserves a thumbs up, being the smaller version of a Final Fantasy V boss. As an old-time Final Fantasy fan, it was a nice easter egg… And that ends the good things I have to say about this demo. … Oh, fine. The graphics are great. Moving on!
The more realistic aesthetics may be great, but the more realistic ambientation? Yeaaaah no. I mean, it’s not that it could never work… It’s just that… A freeway. A gas station. A chocobo sanctuary… And the hundreds of monsters including a BEHEMOTH living in the forest haven’t attacked them and made a meal out of everyone BECAUSE?!
We’re four magic weapon summoning guys and we got our posteriors kicked a lot. Why is everyone else acting like they’re in fucking disneyland? There’s cyborg soldiers of an invading army dropping from the sky at a regular basis, for fuck’s sake!
I mean, most of the time? I kept my suspension of disbelief. But then I saw the color swapped female NPCs and a guy who looks like Hironobu Sakaguchi and for the love of god, A BEHEMOTH! IS ON! THE PROWL! WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE STILL DOING HERE?!
And speaking of people, let’s get right to Noctie Hood and his band of merry fags-Okay, that’s not fair. Gladiolus is not effeminate. And they don’t look the same. Their designs are different enough from each other for me to tell them apart.
But… They’re still bland. Nomura, you went full monochrome. Four times. You never go full monochrome. You did. And they’re not bland just in looks, but also in personality. I’ve heard people refer to these guys as a boy band? But they would be the WORST boy band ever.
There’s no chemistry. No brohood. And nothing particularly endearing or funny about any of them. Now, that may be because this takes place mid-game and I’m missing the beginning… But their interactions feel kind of forced.
Also Ignis, Gladiolus and Prompto have the most annoying slash supportive AI ever. They’ll gush over Noctis for finding mushrooms and bits of rusted metal. But then they’ll go ‘hey, look over here!’.
So I’ll turn around and see them pointing to nothing and then RUSH ahead of me to the marker I set on the map I was heading to before they called for my attention. They said ‘hey, over here’ while actually BEING ‘over here’ only ONCE. IN THREE HOURS.
But hey, at least they’re protective of Noctis. I like how he starts with many levels behind the others. The prince didn’t do a lot of fighting in his life and it reflects on his stats. Cool. These guys are his friends and protectors, people he trusts…
Except that while going after a ridiculously powerful monster with a not so ridiculous plan they give Noctis the task of A: being BAIT and B: delivering the final blow. Noctis. The guy with LESS fighting experience. Who knows fucking nothing about a Behemoth’s anatomy. *groan* Suffice to say, it gets up again.
The worst thing about the encounter though is thatI had to go through that scene FOUR times because whoever designed the fighting system is. A. Fraud. Most of the time? It’s pathetically easy but at the same time infuriatingly broken.
There’s a targeting system that just doesn’t work. Because even if it keeps track of the enemy, it doesn’t lock the camera on it. And since 90% of the enemies I fought ran around like Sonic the Hedgehog on cocaine… Don’t lock.
Just mash the square button. You’ll win the same. There was a fight in the demo I won by literally only mashing the square button with one finger while answering my phone with the other hand. You don’t need any of the skills… And frankly? Landing them is hard.
Because you can’t flow into them like a combo. They always require a pause before execution AND any other attack animation to be over. You can time them, of course, but as I said before? Sonic the Hedgehog on cocaine. The fights are stupidly easy but annoyingly, artificially long.
And just as artificially they can suddenly be made hard as fuck and EVEN LONGER. How? By throwing at you waves and waves and waves of the same enemy out of FUCKING nowhere. That’s the only two modes I met in this demo: pathetically easy and artificially hard.
Let it be clear. It’s not hard because these enemies suddenly need a strategy or a particular skill. It’s hard because the game keeps throwing waves at you, faster than your team can kill them. Which means healing is fucking difficult, since the animation gets interrupted by any attack.
Things would be different if the fighting system had the mobility of a real action RPG, or you could control your partners, but nope! Your ability to dodge and parry is tied to your MP and you can’t control the direction you dodge into. If you dodge to a cul-de-sac, they will keep on beating you until you’re dead.
This happened to me with the Behemoth encounter, which amounts to nothing more than a cutscene split into QTEs. Why did they do that? I don’t know! I guess Cinematic Experience? What I know is that I had to redo the fucking setup for the trap EVERY TIME I DIED.
You can’t actually win the fight. It’s just to showcase how strong the Behemoth is. Because, hey. The bounty and size and horns and fangs and OH MY FUCKING GOD, A STEALTH SECTION?! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!
Ehm, again, a simple cutscene would have sufficed. But nope! They decided they needed to setup an unwinnable encounter that you have to then escape. Which you can only do by bringing the fight near the exit!
Because if you’re far away from it, you have to run there. Even with max MP for teleports, Noctis is not fast enough. And since once the ‘run like little girls’ flag gets triggered it’s like my team-mates DISAPPEAR BOTH AS TARGETS AND AS FUCKING HELP? YOU DIE!
“B-B-But at least it looks cool, right?!” Huu, I guess. If you like BALLERINAS. The animations come down to taste. I personally prefer to feel like my characters put actual strength in their blows. Noctis is built like a 17 years old figure skater and hits like one.
The special effects are weak. They have a lot of pixels, but since they went for ‘realism’? They’re toned down, castrated even. They feel like they wanted to go full Dragon Ball Z but stopped because ‘realism’. In a world where Bayonetta and Kingdom Hearts exist? That’s… Pathetic. Mediocre.
That’s what Final Fantasy XV feels like, judging from this demo. It’s mediocre. It’s evident than more than one team worked on this because they tried to go in a lot of directions all at once. Action RPG, western RPG, JRPG. The result is a mediocre mess.
A mediocre mess that doesn’t feel like a Final Fantasy. Even XIII felt more like a main Final Fantasy than this. It’s not just a name you slap on things. I know some people don’t care and they’re fine with this being an action RPG… Except it’s not a good action RPG.
Since we heard Nomura was involved in this a lot of people were expecting another Kingdom Hearts. This thing doesn’t come even CLOSE to Kingdom Hearts. It has nothing of its spectacular fighting system, nothing of its colour, nothing of its spirit… Nothing.
It’s a messed up frankenstein monster of various mechanics. Most of them are badly implemented and none of them are original, not even the buff by cooking at savepoints! Legaia 2 Duel Saga did it in 2001 on the PS2!
So, bottom line. If I had to make a decision about wheter to buy this game or not depending this Demo? Which is, you know, the whole purpose of one? I wouldn’t buy Final Fantasy XV. Not at launch. Not at 70 fucking quid.
I would spend at most 50 for this, and that’s because I don’t know how the writing is or how long this thing is yet. Depending on the game’s writing and length I could go down to forty. That’s all I’d be willing to spend if it’s also short and badly written on top of… Everything above, IF I still felt like buying a copy. Which may not happen. That’s my final judgment on this mess of a demo.
Oh, and one last minor nitpick. I don’t mind Cindy being sexy, but no self-respecting mechanic would work dressed like that. Do you have any idea how many ways you can injure yourself just with the fluids contained in cars? If you want to go full realistic you can’t just hiccup on it because sexy time…