Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Review - a wonderful cross-platform MMO worthy of monthly subscription
- Posted September 7th, 2013 at 21:59 EDT by Timothy Nunes
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There are so many addictive and enjoyable gameplay elements in Final Fantasy XIV that WoW-schooled veterans and MMO rookies alike will love. It's been a long time coming, but A Realm Reborn is finally here, and Square Enix makes the most compelling case for subscription-based gaming in almost a decade.
- Vivacious, unparalleled soundtrack
- PC-grade, WoW-competitive MMO on a console
- Jobs, Materia, narrative, gameplay... Incredible
- Visual and technical compromises
- Bland voice acting taints otherwise-stellar audio
MMOs and DualShock 3: a combination that I've been trying to emulate for years. I managed to make it work for World of Warcraft with an Xbox 360 controller and some haphazard software, but the experience only worked for early-game leveling, since the large amount of required commands and small amount of input buttons didn't mesh well, even with complicated button combinations and internal setting changes. My lack of patience didn't help either, considering how frustrating it can be to program that stuff. In prime showing, Square Enix has created an experience that almost favors the controller over a PC keyboard. Whenever a menu pops up, the cursor automatically moves to it, for instance, so navigating even complicated menu switches are easily done by merely pressing the X button. But the crème de la crème of this experience is how the action bars are used. Two sets of four buttons are bound and laid out according to the eight controller face buttons: the D-Pad directionals and the shape buttons. These sets are accessed by holding the L2 or R2 triggers, respectively, so you might cast Blizzard by holding R2 and pressing Circle, or cast a party buff with L2 and Down. You can also swap between eight such layouts on-the-fly, so every single command is always within reach. This becomes a learning experience, since many commands will take a bit more time and input to reach, so gameplay can initially feel cumbersome and unintuitive. After a very short time, however, these controls that not so long ago felt atrocious soon feel natural and fluid, and, as situations become more complicated and require more abilities, using the triggers feels almost second nature.
Of course, MMO aficionados may be disheartened to hear that attack animations in Final Fantasy XIV are based on stationary positions. Now, this doesn't mean that moving in combat is impossible (at least, not for melee attacks), but it's not quite as favored. Moving and attacking at the same time looks awkward, as a standing-still animation will play regardless. This isn't a major negative, but, when watching your character naturally gain momentum when running and rotating with exact footing, it's jarring to look at something like sliding across the ground in combat. Regardless, attacking in motion feels natural from a control standpoint, even if it doesn't look equally so.