DLC Review: Final Fantasy XV – Episode Gladiolus

Final Fantasy XV fans, the first proper DLC release has arrived! It’s time to dust off your copy of XV and dive into Episode Gladiolus! That’s just what I did, and I’m here to provide you with all the details.

For those that may not know, Episode Gladiolus is the first chapter of Paid DLC content for Final Fantasy XV. It is included with the Season Pass for the game, or is available for about $5.00 on it’s own. The chapter focuses on the character of Gladiolus and takes place about half-way through the main XV storyline. (There’s a part of the main game where Gladiolus departs the company of the other heroes to attend to some “personal business”  – This DLC is that business.)

The story here focuses on Gladio as he undertakes a special set of trials with his mentor, Cor. The actual content itself is rather short, providing players with maybe an hour’s worth of busy work. Essentially, you control Gladio as he ventures into a secret Kingsglaive Proving Ground to do battle with the mysterious “Blade Master”.  Is he is able to defeat the Blade Master in combat, he will have proved himself worthy to hold the title “Shield of the King”.

Despite being rather short, and as some have criticized, “pointless”, I found the DLC to be overall entertaining. The backstory was interesting enough and being able to experience combat from Gladio’s point of view was an interesting change of pace. For the most part, this chapter controls just like the main game, with the exception the combat mechanics. Gladio’s combat is very “hack and slash” based. When controlling Gladiolus, you have three main moves; Strike, Block or Dodge. Each of these will, over time, fill a “rage meter”. Once full, Gladio can execute special attacks, dealing massive damage. The trick to the whole thing is learning how to effectively parry attacks and strike your opponent while they are vulnerable – then getting out of the way before they can counter attack.

As you progress through the story, there a number of unique boss battles. Each boss has their own strength and weaknesses. But the real challenge here is survival. Gladiolus has a limited number of health restoratives at his disposal. New ones can be found by exploring every nook and cranny of the dungeon, but even then – the number of potions are finite. So, you will have to learn to use them sparingly or you risk facing the final boss with very little to help you .

Upon defeating the Blade Master, Gladio will receive a special weapon and skill that carry over to the main game. Also, two additional features of the DLC will also become accessible. The first, is something called Score Attack. This is essentially a timed version of Episode Gladiolus. The point here is play through the scenario again and see how many points you can rack up before either the timer runs out or you complete the scenario…  rather pointless,  but maybe that’s your sort of thing. Whatever.  If you can manage to rack up a score of 500,000 points, you will unlock a special costume for Gladio in the main game.

Next up, is something called the Final Trial. This is an optional sparring battle between Gladiolus and Cor and certainly the most challenging battle in this DLC package. I pride myself on being able to defeat nearly every optional boss or challenge in the Final Fantasy series,  but so far I have not managed to best Cor in battle.  But… this content is still fresh – and I haven’t given up!

Finally, one other thing worthy of note is that this DLC was released alongside the FFXV patch 1.07. This patch also includes the long awaited “Final Fantasy XV – Chapter 12 verse 2”.  A short optional addition to the game that provides more information behind the infamous 13th chapter of the main title. This add-on ties in nicely with Episode Gladiolus as it also allows players to control him, and see the events of the game’s 13th chapter from his perspective. Not to mention, it fills in a number of plot points that have left players confused since the game’s original release.

Overall Impression:  A short but sweet add-on to Final Fantasy XV. This DLC provides exactly what was advertised, a story focusing on the character of Gladiolus. It integrates well with the main game, and provides a few optional challenges of it’s own.  Casual fans may not get much out of it, but those who are dedicated to XV should find enough here to hold them over.

Value: Yes. This DLC is very short. But for a price of $5.00, I find it hard to complain. For that amount you get about an hour of single player content, as well as some optional challenges to keep you occupied.

DLC Review: Final Fantasy XV – Holiday Pack

With the release of the Moogle Chocobo Carnival, the full contents of the Holiday DLC pack are now available to owners of Final Fantasy XV. So here, is the first of what will be many DLC reviews for FFXV.

This chunk of downloadable content is a bit odd and not really what I expected to see from XV’s first optional update.  First, let’s talk about the two different versions of this add-on, then we can dive into the contents. To start, there’s both a free version and a paid version (available to season pass owners). Both versions come with a handful of useful/game enhancing items, a vanity costume and a pass to a new special gameplay mode: The Moogle Chocobo Carnival.

The paid version includes several more DLC items, a second vanity costume, and some exclusive photo frames for Prompto’s pictures.

The add-on items are nice, but include nothing that really change the way the game is played. The real meat of this update is the Moogle Chocobo Carnival.

The Carnival is actually a new mode of gameplay that is accessible from the “Special” option on the main menu. It is essentially a solo mini-chapter. During this mode, you play as Noctis as he explores the fun filled streets of Altissia during the festival. Basically, the goal here is to collect “mog-medallions” that can be exchanged for prizes. These prizes range from exclusive vanity items (car decals, etc) to useful consumables. Medallions are earned by participating the carnival activities and doing various festival-related quests. Anything earned here will carry over to the main game.

This makes the carnival into a useful tool for players who have not yet completed the game, but it seems rather pointless for players that have already finished the main scenario. Perhaps, my opinion on this will change once we see how other DLC plans pan out. One big question remaining, is the inclusion of a special key item called the “Dream Egg”. This item is obtainable if you manage to collect enough Mog Medallions and attend a special fireworks session at the end of the carnival. Popular opinion with fans is that this egg may play a larger role in future DLC.

Finally, it is important to note that the Moogle Chocobo Carnival content is only available for a limited time. After 2/20/2017, this playable content will be removed from the game. It is unclear if there are plans to bring this back in the future, so players may wish to jump on this content before its  gone and earn that egg!

The Holiday Pack does not include any new trophies or achievements.

All in all, this DLC seems to add little to the overall game at large, but it can be a fun distraction and does feature some welcome items and enhancements. SE’s decision to make the majority of this content available for free is a big plus as well.

Overall Impression:  A curious choice for a first DLC release. The vanity and practical items are welcome. The carnival is quirky, but fun. Unclear how this will fit into the game at large. It’s unclear why SE decided to make a large portion of this DLC into a time-sensitive feature. It seems counter-productive to spend the time developing something like this carnival only to remove it from the game 30-days later.

Value: This DLC comes with both a paid a free option. Having it included with the season pass makes this a no-brainer. Non season pass holders can also enjoy the free version of the holiday pack.

Review: Final Fantasy XV – A King’s Tale

For those of you that pre-ordered your copy of Final Fantasy XV from Gamestop, you may have noticed a download code on your receipt for a bonus game. (If you didn’t notice this code, go fish your receipt out of the trash, quick! The code is for something called A King’s Tale. A King’s Tail is a mini, 16-bit style beat-em-up based on characters and monsters from Final Fantasy XV.  It’s a simple little game, and one that’s nothing at all like the actual Final Fantasy XV. But, for a price tag of $0.00,  you can’t beat it.

The premise of the title is simple, in A King’s Tale, Prince Noctis is still a child. One night his father, King Regis, tells him a fantastic bedtime story about an epic battle against legions of monsters. The “bedtime story” makes up the actual gameplay. Once you have completed the main story, Prince Noctis finally goes to sleep. This unlocks a slew of optional Dream Battles.

The gameplay is best described as an old arcade-style brawler. IE: Double Dragon. But much more fast paced. To start, King Regis only has limited abilities but as you continue to play and progress through the stages, more and more attack options become unlocked. As you play, you’ll find that certain monsters are weak to certain types of attacks. So you learn to tailor your strategy to match whatever you’re fighting. The tricky part is that you’re often attacked by multiple enemies at once, so you have to learn to switch up your assault on the fly.

Once you completed the main scenario, you unlock what are known as Dream Battles. These are short rounds of combat that also include an optional goal. To complete the battle properly (and earn a gold star), you need to achieve whatever the objective is – for example, complete the battle without using magic.

On the surface, A King’s Tale seems like a very simple little freebie. But, there’s actually a surprising amount of thought that’s gone into the game. The game comes complete with it’s own chiptune style soundtrack and even has achievements/trophies.

The worst thing about the game is that it is not available to the general public. Currently, only players that pre-ordered the game from specific retailers have access. I hope that after some time goes by, this decision is reversed.  Until that day arrives, if you’re one of the lucky bunch of players who can get your hands on A King’s Tale, it’s certainly worth a look. My only complaint about the title is a lack of multiplayer. This would be the perfect game for some co-op, even it was only local with a second controller.

 

Difficulty: Hard –  Looking like a retro title isn’t the only thing “old school” about A King’s Tale. The game also has a “Nintendo-Hard” level of difficulty.  This is especially true for the final battle and several of the Dream Battles. Progress is saved from stage to stage, but occasionally, the battles themselves can get very frantic. Those who are easily frustrated or not familiar with this type of game may not find this to their liking.

Story: This game could loosely be considered a prequel to Final Fantasy XV, as it takes place when Noctis is a young boy. But, the storyline here is not critical to the XV universe at large. Regardless, it’s cute and does provide a bit of nice window-dressing to the already large FFXV universe.

Originality: Years ago, games like this were a dime a dozen, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen a title like this so it was quite a refreshing experience. I’ve certainly never played a Final Fantasy title in this genre.

Soundtrack: Classic retro era chiptunes! The music here sounds like something right out of Double Dragon. It’s simply amazing!

Fun: I used to enjoy these games immensely when I was young.  So, I personally had a blast. But I can imagine that fans attracted to Final Fantasy titles as a whole may not appreciate this type of game. The difficulty level can also result in some frowns from younger players, I imagine.

Graphics: The graphics here are on par with a title you might find on the old SNES or in a retro arcade. Cartoonish, 16-bit sprites. But, the game is tweaked for modern consoles and looks great in HD.

Playcontrol: The controls are easy to grasp and very responsive. No real issues.

Downloadable Content:  N/A

Mature Content: Cartoon violence

Value:  This title is provided for free as a preorder perk for Final Fantasy XV. It doesn’t get any better than free!

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – For a free title, it’s difficult to be picky. I suppose my biggest complaint would be a lack of local multiplayer. The difficulty level may turn off some modern players, but just like any retro title; practice makes perfect.

Available on: PSN and Xbox Live (DLC code only)

 

Other Reviews In This Series:

IIIIIIIVVVI VIIVIIIIXXX2XIXII XIIIXIII 2XIII Lightning Returns XIV – XV 

IV: After YearsVII: Dirge of CerberusVII: Crisis CoreVII: Advent Children (Movie)XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s TaleXV: Brotherhood (Anime)XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia – Dissidia 012

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Dimensions – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight 

Review: Final Fantasy XV

It is finally here! My full review of the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV! And in record time, might I add.  This review took me less than a month, but unlike those other day-one reviews you’ll find on the web, all of my playthrough reviews are only written after I’ve completed a game from start to finish and poked through every nook and cranny. (Don’t believe me – check my PSN trophies).

As you most likely know, the hype train behind this game was running at a fever pitch. So, let’s start off by talking about about what made this game one of the most anticipated titles in years. Final Fantasy XV began development almost a decade ago. That’s a long time for a single game. Originally announced under the title “Final Fantasy Versus XIII” – it was initially intended to be part of the Final Fantasy: Nova Fabula Crystallis sub-series. (A spin-off of FFXIII) But after several years and management changes, it was re-announced as the next major entry into the main series. Since that time, teasers, leaked footage and interviews caused the game to develop a huge following. Now it is finally here.

So, before we dive into the game itself, let’s do something I dread and take a moment to discuss the various editions and incentives.  For FFXV you basically have three (realistically two) choices; The Standard Version, The Deluxe Edition, and the Ultimate Collectors Edition.  The latter was available directly through Square Enix only and is no longer available for purchase.

  • The standard “day one” edition comes with the game only and a DLC sword.
  • Both the Deluxe and the Collectors editions come with the following DLC perks: A stat boosting costume, the sword from the standard edition and a vanity skin for the in-game vehicle. Both the deluxe and collectors editions also come with a Blu-Ray copy of the FFXV: Kingsglaive motion picture.  – I purchased the Deluxe Edition.
  • The Ultimate Collectors edition also comes with a few exclusive DLC perks that includes in-game discounts, uncommon and exclusive items, etc. But in all honesty, these do not prove to be very valuable. This edition also comes with a playart statue, art book, Blu-Ray copies of FFXV: Brotherhood / Kingsglaive and a special soundtrack.

So now, *Sigh* – let’s talk about the pre-order perks.  Basically, there’s really only three that you need to know about.

  • If you preordered the game from PSN or Xbox Live, you get the Angler set (some fishing-based items from the Collectors Edition), and an exclusive vanity skin for the car… Meh.
  • If you preordered the game from Amazon, you get three exclusive mid-level weapons and three of the four DLC item sets from the Collectors edition. Nice!
  • Finally, if you preordered the game from Gamestop, you get a second Final Fantasy XV mini-game called “A King’s Tale” for free!! … WOW!!!  – I preordered my copy from Gamestop, but I managed to snag an extra copy of the Amazon DLC codes from a friend who received two in error.   

There’s a few other random skins and other worthless freebies given out through contests and promos, but nothing really worth mentioning.

I’ve included a handy-chart below that provides details for every single possible purchase option for the game. (Because this is way more confusing than it needs to be).

*Click to enlarge*

*In a nutshell: If you have the Deluxe Edition and preordered from Amazon to have 99% of the digital perks from the Collectors Edition – If you missed out on any of this, please don’t worry. None of these perks are particularly game-breaking or game-boosting in the overall scope of things, and knowing SE – it wouldn’t surprise me if these don’t appear for sale in the future as individual DLC.

Speaking of downloadable content, the game has a handful of DLC planned in the coming months. These will be available individually for purchase or you can pay the reasonable price of $25.00 for a season pass. At the time of this writing, only the Holiday Pack is available for download. (More on this later).

So. Now that you’ve figured out which version of the game is right for you, I would like to make suggestion. Before playing the actual game itself, I highly recommend installing and completing the free Final Fantasy XV Platinum Demo. The demo is a unique scenario that does not exist in the game itself. Not only does it do a great job of teaching you the combat mechanics of the real game, but upon completion it unlocks a special perk within the retail copy of the game. (A special summon).

FFXV Platinum Demo

So… you’ve watched the Brotherhood anime and the Kingsglaive Motion Picture, you’ve played the demo… you’re finally ready to play Final Fantasy XV. Here’s what to expect from the storyline.

The story of Final Fantasy XV takes place in a world called Eos. The majority of this world is ruled by the militaristic Empire of Niflheim. However, to the north, the small Kingdom of Lucis remains free from Imperial rule. Lucis, protected by a magical barrier, has been able to ward off the Empire for generations. Recently, peacetalks between the Empire and Lucis have manifested. One of the conditions in the peace treaty requires that Noctis, Prince of Lucis is to marry his childhood friend Lunafreya, the oracle of Tenebrae (an area under Imperial control). The game itself mainly focuses on the character of Prince Noctis and his three companions as they journey to the nearby nation on Tenebrae, for the Prince’s wedding. However, shortly after leaving the Crown City of Insomnia, their car breaks down – halting their journey temporarily. While awaiting repairs on their vehicle, the news reaches Noctis that the peacetalks were nothing more than an elaborate ruse. The Empire has occupied the kingdom. The King, Noctis’s father, is said to have been slain. Now, last of his line, Noctis undertakes a journey across Eos to claim the magic powers of his birthright and retake the kingdom from the Empire.

Despite having a backstory this epic, a large focus of Final Fantasy is actually on the relationship between Noctis and his three friends. The first half of the game can appropriately be described as the ultimate Bro Roadtrip. Three guys, hanging out.. being guys. The banter between Noctis and his companions really does a great job of making you care about all of the characters on a very personal level.  In the entourage we have; Noctis – the Prince. Gladiolus – Noctis’ bodyguard. Prompto – Noctis’ childhood friend. And finally, Ignis – Noctis’ personal adviser and attendant.  Each character has their own personality and quirks that you’ll grow very familiar with throughout the game. Gladio is a bit rough around the edges, Prompto is easily excitable and obsessed with photography, Ignis is the straight-man and an accomplished chef, often preparing meals for the party when they camp out in the field.

The game is split into 15 chapters. To be quite honest, the main scenario of the game can be completed in just over 20 hours by most players. This is actually a fairly short time for these types of games nowadays. However, there’s way more content in Final Fantasy XV than just what is found in the main storyline. There’s tons of sidequests littered throughout the game. Most of these can be discovered pretty easily by playing the game normally. But there are a handful that can only be uncovered by venturing a bit off the beaten path. With a few exceptions, you have free reign to explore the entire world at your leisure. You can do so on foot, via car, and after a certain point in the game by Chocobo. Most the time, the car will be your main mode for transportation.

When cruising the roads in the Regalia (the model name for the car), you can instruct Ignis to drive to various destinations on the map. After a certain point in the game you will also unlock the ability to drive manually. Driving the Regalia is fun at first, but it does get tiresome after a while. During your time on the road you will treated to banter between the guys and occasionally some important exposition. One neat little feature during these roadtrips is the car stereo. Just like in games such as Grand Theft Auto and Sleeping Dogs, you can scroll through the channels and listen to cool music. Expect in FFXV the track selection can include soundtracks from other games in the series! Tracks can be purchased throughout the game when visiting gas stations and rest areas. I thought this was a nice touch.

The downside to these drives is the time it takes to get from place to place. Thankfully, once you’ve arrived at a particular area, you can fast warp there in the future for a small price. This certainly saves time, but to be honest – the loading times when warping from place to place, or even when loading new chapters and cutscenes in the game seem unusually long. Sometimes, I found myself sitting on a loading screen for well over a minute. (This was my experience playing on the original Playstation 4. Perhaps this is not an issue on the Xbox One or on the new PS4 models… I dunno). But, it’s long enough to be an issue.

Sadly, I was not as impressed with the soundtrack for this game as I usually am with Final Fantasy titles. There are a good number of great tracks in FFXV, don’t misunderstand. But overall, the background music just feels “off”. Even when the songs are catchy… to me they just seem a little out of place. But this could just be me being quirky. My 8-year old son absolutely loves the music. He likes it so much, I had to make a CD of game tunes at his request so he can listen to it when he goes to bed at night… So, take my opinion with a grain of salt here.

Graphically, the game is gorgeous. To date, it’s the best looking console game I’ve played. If you have one of the newer model PS4s, FFXV will take full advantage of the hardware as well. The game can also be tweaked even further for HDR televisions and home theater audio.

Progression in the game is tallied as you complete sidequests and battle monsters. Experience points earned by your characters are paid out whenever you rest in camp or at an inn-room. This serves to level your characters up. Your party also earns AP during their adventures. These points are spent unlocking new abilities.

Combat in the game is a bit of a mixed bag. Especially at first. Starting out, I had a hard time grasping it. The combat controls felt awkward and not very intuitive. But, as you continue to play and unlock more combat skills, it starts to come together. By the end of the game, it felt like second nature.  My biggest complaint has to be not with the control scheme, but with the in-game camera during combat. More often then not, battles take place in dense outdoor areas or in confined dungeon spaces. The camera tends to go haywire and it can be difficult to focus on what you need to see. A prime example of this can be found during the mega-boss fight against the Adamantoise. The boss is so massive that the camera doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself. This is very long fight, and my biggest problem with it was not the battle itself, but dealing with the darn camera angles. This seems like something that might be easily fixed with a patch. Time will tell.

All in all, Final Fantasy XV is a very different type of Final Fantasy game. Square Enix has declared that this entry is intended to appeal to both veterans of the series as well as new players. When I first settled in to play this game, it wasn’t at all what I expected. I think my JRPG-mindset may have kicked in too hard at first and I misplayed the game from the get-go. Out of the 80 hours I clocked in playing FFXV, I’d say the first 40 were spent in the first four chapters alone. I grinded sidequests and hunts like nobody’s business.I was hesitant to proceed with the main story until I completed absolutely every bit of optional content I came across. While this was great in terms of leveling up and getting ahead of the curve, it made for a very slow start.  Once I managed to put this aside and just enjoy the game for what it was, everything fell into place. By the end of the game, it ended up feeling very much like a Final Fantasy title.

Wrapping things up, I want to touch a bit on the game patches and DLC.  At the time of this writing, the game has received an important day-one update and a small bugfix/feature patch.  So I’m going to assume anyone playing is going to have installed these. The developers have expressed a desire to further patch the game – adding some additional cutscenes and possibly making major changes to the 13th chapter of the game itself. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Having already completed the game, I hate to think I might miss out on some crucial story elements. We’ll have to see how this manifests.

To date, only one piece of DLC has been released: The Holiday pack. This comes in both a free download and an special paid-for version. For the most part, there’s not much of value in this package currently. A few random in-game items, and a costume that will be unlocked at a later date. The real gem in this DLC is the upcoming limited-time carnival. Apparently, SE is waiting until after Christmas to open up this event. Details behind what this carnival will contain are still sketchy, and I’m not really sure how I feel about having a time-locked event as part of a DLC package… but we’ll see how it all plays out. As more downloadable content is released, I’ll review them separately on the site.   – But in regards to this carnival, don’t let this pending release stop you from playing the game to completion. Upon finishing the game, you have the ability to continue playing. So anything you may have missed and any new add-on content like this, should be available to experience.  In fact, there’s even a secret optional dungeon in Final Fantasy XV that’s only available once you have completed the game.

All in all, I found Final Fantasy XV to be a solid game and one worthy of the franchise. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly worth a look if you’re a fan of the series. Despite experiencing a slow start, I found my enjoyment of the game to grow the longer I played it. The storyline is second to none, certainly one of the more impactful in the series, in my opinion. I feel that longtime fans will be divided on what to think of the game. But, putting nostalgia for the previous games to the side, FFXV certainly stands on it’s own.  I look forward to seeing what’s to come in terms of the upcoming add-on scenarios.

Difficulty: Variable –  Final Fantasy XV has two difficulty options: Easy and Normal. Easy mode turns down the difficulty of battles considerably. Also, when Easy Mode is enabled, if you do die and you have the Carbuncle summon unlocked from the demo, you get an instant raise. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that Carbuncle, in fact, only appears when the game is on the easy setting – as I never saw him appear once when playing the game on Normal. I would recommend Easy Mode only for players that want to experience the game story with no challenge whatsoever. Normal mode is really not that difficult as long as you spend a little time grinding and preparing. Plus, you miss out on one of the coolest fights in the game if you play to the end using the easy setting. As usual, most the really difficult content comes in the form of optional bosses and dungeons. These are intended to played post-game.

Story: The storyline presented in FFXV is simply amazing. It stands just fine on it’s own, but backed up with Kingsglaive and Brotherhood, the lore behind game is just fantastic. In the later part of the game, a lot of concepts are introduced at a pretty fast pace, so if you’re not paying attention it will be easy to miss some key elements.

Originality: For a series with no less than fifteen installments, it can be difficult to keep things feeling fresh. But Square Enix always seems to manage to pull something new out their hat, while keeping the elements that make a Final Fantasy game a “Final Fantasy game”.  This is certainly true here for XV where we have a game that is both somewhat hub-based, yet also very open world. Many of the concepts in this game are indeed recycled from previous entries; Hunts are a prime example. Yet, the setting that encompasses the game manages to keep things feeling new. One shining feature here is the social media integration. SE has flirted with this before, but never got it right until now.  Throughout that game, Prompto will randomly take photographs. Every time you rest, you have are able to review the pictures he’s taken and share them on social media… pointless, yes. But fun.

Soundtrack: Don’t misunderstand what I said above. The music in this game is very good. It’s beautiful and well composed when it needs to be, and quirky and playful when appropriate. But, when compared to other games in the series, the bulk of it does not seem as memorable.  The exception to this gripe is the main theme “Somnus” – This is an absolutely lovely track. When it comes to voice acting, the game has it’s ups and downs. Noctis and his companions are overall, very well done, but their banter can become repetitive after a time. The side characters on the other hand… are cringe inducing. (I’m looking at you Cindy and Dino).

Fun: Final Fantasy XV, for me, was very enjoyable. RPG fans should have a field day. Heck, even my 8-year old is in love with the game. But, I feel like large portion of games just won’t “get it”. If you like RPGs that don’t hold your hand, there’s a lot to like about FFXV.

Graphics: Incredible. The scenery and most of the models in the game are absolutely excellent. There’s a few odd exceptions, but overall Final Fantasy XV is once of the prettiest games I’ve ever played.

Playcontrol: This is where the game suffers the most. But, in theory, this is something that could easily be fixed. Number one, as mentioned above, the camera during combat is big a issue. Second, the jump-button also serves as the button needed to initiate dialog or interact with objects. This often leads to you trying to select an NPC for conversation, only to end up jumping in their face for no reason. Annoying.

Downloadable Content:  Yes. Free and paid DLC.

  • Various pre-order and deluxe edition weapons and skins.
  • Holiday Pack
  • Episode Gladiolus
  • Future character-based episodes
  • An online co-op expansion has also been announced.

**This section will be updated with links to more details as they become available and are released**

Mature Content: Some language and scantily clad characters.

Value:  The base game retailed for $60.00 new. The Deluxe Edition sells for $80. As recent as a month after release, the standard game has been seen on sale for as low as $35. – To me, considering the amount of content the game offers, it’s well worth the $60. To be fair, considering the $80 version also comes with a Blu-Ray movie as well as additional in-game content, this amount is also justifiable.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – Final Fantasy XV is a great game. But, it has it’s share of flaws. Its not a perfect title by any stretch. Considering how long the game was in development, some of the issues are quite honestly, inexcusable. But, none of them are major enough to detract from the overall enjoyment of the title.  There’s plenty to enjoy in this game, and the story presented here is absolutely breathtaking.

Available on: PS4 and Xbox One

 

Other Reviews In This Series:

IIIIIIIVVVI VIIVIIIIXXX2XIXII XIIIXIII 2XIII Lightning Returns XIV – XV 

IV: After YearsVII: Dirge of CerberusVII: Crisis CoreVII: Advent Children (Movie)XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s TaleXV: Brotherhood (Anime)XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia – Dissidia 012

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Dimensions – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight 

Review: Justice Monsters Five

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The countdown to the Final Fantasy XV release moves forward. We are now just under two weeks away from the release of this much awaited title. In the meantime, we’re going to celebrate by reviewing another tie-in to this much anticipated game; Justice Monsters Five.

So what is Justice Monsters Five exactly? Well, the answer is simple. “Justice Monsters Five” is a pinball game that exists within the universe of Final Fantasy XV. It is hinted in the promotional materials for XV, that it is played by some of the heroes in that game. So, expanding on the hype that is Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix decided to release a playable version of the pinball game to the public.

The premise behind Justice Monsters Five is simple, essentially, you are presented with a number of pinball-like challenges. Inside the table exist bumpers, obstuctions and… monsters! To complete the table, you launch balls (represented by various collectible GOOD monsters) at the BAD monsters on the table. Striking a bad monster with a good monster-ball will result in damage. Once all of the bad monsters on the table are defeated, you proceed to the next stage. Eventually, each level will end with a final “boss table”. Upon defeating the boss, you have cleared the course. At the end of each course, your performance is tallied. Depending on your final score, you may earn various rewards. This includes gold, materials for enhancing your monsters, and Gold Eggs.

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Gold Eggs are redeemed for “Monster Spins”. Spins are how you obtain new monsters for your ranks. Each spins will net you a new monster ranging from common to super-rare. As mentioned earlier, Gold Eggs can be won in-game, but they can also be purchased for real money.

Once you have a full roster of monsters, you can continue to train and improve them, making them stronger. Learning how to enchance your monsters is the key to the game. As you progress through the game, either by doing the “Quest” tables or even the limited “Event” tables, you’ll be able to choose a difficulty level. Some of these harder levels are really only possible with a strong, enhanced monster.

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Justice Monsters Five is a quirky little game. It’s very different from many others, but also shows signs typical of other mobile titles. After playing for a while, you’ll find yourself stuck behind time walls and nudged to spend real money in order to progress faster. There are daily login rewards, and all the typical schemes one finds in this type of eco-system. But also, Justice Monsters Five seems to have a way of feeling quite casual when compared to other mobile games. Personally, I find it a great way to kill 10-15 minutes on any given day. Plus, it’s refreshing to see a title that doesn’t take itself very seriously.  I’m curious to see just how much of this game we actually will get to see within Final Fantasy XV itself. Time will well.

It’s important to point out, this game feels largely unoptimized. The game seems to hang and lag for no reason at all, even on top-of-the-line flagship phones. Despite being fun, Justice Monsters seems to be quite unpolished at times.

Worthy of note: even though this game has been out for a month of so now, players starting out are still subject to a special “pre-registration bonus”. This includes a number of free Golden Eggs. So, if you’re procrastinating, you’d better hurry. It’s unclear how long this will last.

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Difficulty: Medium –  Overall, many of the standard quest levels in the game are quite easy. One of the hardest parts about the title is learning exactly how to control the ball. At first, I found myself overthinking things. I was trying to flick the ball or point it in a certain direction. None of that is neccesary. Once you get a feel from how to control the ball, many of the basic challange require little effort. However, as you progress, some of the Very Hard and “Wizard” tables can be pretty brutal. But generally speaking, it’s a fairly middle of the road game in terms of challenge.

Story: Despite being a “game-within-a-game”, Justice Monsters Five actually has a very basic storyline. It’s presented to you during the tutorial and serves as a very basic backdrop. But to be fair, this is not a very story driven game.

Originality: When this game was announced, I was honestly expecting a traditional “ball and flipper” type of pinball experience. But instead, SE has done a really nice job of presenting us with a a very original, pinball-like experience. The game was not what I was expecting at all, and I was pleasently surprised.

Soundtrack: The music in this game is loud, heroic, and fast-paced. At times it come off as a little busy and hyper-sounding. But it works well. It’s best described as a mix between techno, metal and chaos.

Fun: I personally enjoy this game a lot more than I probably should. I don’t play it every day, but when I’m bored or looking to kill some time, it seems to be a pretty good way to unwind.

Graphics: The tables and background graphics are very well done. The monsters have a silly cartoonish vibe to them. But all in all, this is a beautifully rendered mobile game.

Playcontrol: The controls for the game take a little getting used to. Be sure to reach the instructions and play the tutorial. Once you have a grasp on how the controls actually work, there’s no real issues here.

Downloadable Content: YES– In-game currency can be purchased with real money. The game receives regular free updates and features special limited time events. – Buyer beware! In the few short months since SE introduced this title they’ve switched backup routines for the game data three times. Players who were not diligent in renewing their data backups can easily find all their progress and real money purchases lost when restoring their device or changing phones.

Mature Content: None

Value:  The game itself is available for free. Optional purchases can vary in price.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 2 – A silly, fast-paced, pinball game with a Final Fantasy theme. Not to mention one that integrates into a larger universe. Its like a mini-game for your phone. I enjoy it way more than I probably should. – However, performance and flaky account issues can make this hard to recommend.

Available on: Apple App Store and Google Play

 

Other Reviews In This Series:

IIIIIIIVVVI VIIVIIIIXXX2XIXII XIIIXIII 2XIII Lightning Returns XIV – XV 

IV: After YearsVII: Dirge of CerberusVII: Crisis CoreVII: Advent Children (Movie)XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s TaleXV: Brotherhood (Anime)XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia – Dissidia 012

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Dimensions – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight 

Final Fantasy XV: Brotherhood

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I’m back from a week-long vacation with a review of another piece of Final Fantasy XV media. Alongside the Kingsglaive motion picture, Square Enix has also released a serial anime that ties into the events of the upcoming Final Fantasy XV game. Over the last few months, SE has trickled out a total of five short anime episodes called Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV. A special sixth episode will be available on a blu-ray included with the Deluxe Special Edition of Final Fantasy XV.

Brotherhood focuses on Noctis, the lead character of the upcoming game and his friends as they make the trek to his wedding amidst the dangers of Imperial occupation. Each episode focuses mainly on a specific character, providing a little backstory and setting up the events leading up to the game.

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I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I generally have a difficult time getting into anime. But I found this series to be very enjoyable. Everything from the art to the writing/storyline had me hooked. Once the series was over, I was left wanting more and for me, that’s unusual for me when it comes to anime.

I really liked the way the characters were presented and I feel like I’ll have a better appreciation for them going into the game as result of watching these episodes. Brotherhood does an excellent job of illustrating the bond between Prince Noctis and his companions. Getting to see them in situations that range from combat to just bantering in a car like friends on a roadtrip is interesting and refreshing. Again, I feel like Square Enix really hit a home run with these serials.

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Currently, Brotherhood is available to watch for free on YouTube. The episodes are also included with retail copies of the Kingsglaive Blu-Ray. I would recommend this anime to anyone who is eagerly awaiting the upcoming release of Final Fantasy XV. In fact, I personally found this series to be more enjoyable than the Kingsglaive film.

Overall Opinion:  Vivid art and animation. A mature, slow paced storyline that’s often insightful and inspiring. Final Fantasy XV Brotherhood is a great companion to the upcoming game. I was surprisingly impressed and I recommend it to any Final Fantasy or anime fan.

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Other Reviews In This Series:

IIIIIIIVVVI VIIVIIIIXXX2XIXII XIIIXIII 2XIII Lightning Returns XIV – XV 

IV: After YearsVII: Dirge of CerberusVII: Crisis CoreVII: Advent Children (Movie)XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s TaleXV: Brotherhood (Anime)XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia – Dissidia 012

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Dimensions – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight 

Introducing the Final Fantasy XV Universe

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I know I’m a few weeks late on this post, but considering I recently completed my Final Fantasy main series playthrough, I did want to make a mention of it on the site nonetheless. Recently, Square Enix announced a release date for the upcoming Final Fantasy XV and also outlined other titles in the universe. I’ll take a moment to go over each of these here.

First off, Final Fantasy XV itself. This is the big game that everyone is waiting for. SE has admitted that they are banking everything on this one title. They understand that recent offerings in the series have drifted away from what fans wanted. While the Final Fantasy XIII series offered pretty good games in their own right, the universe largely just doesn’t feel like “Final Fantasy” anymore. SE hopes to rectify this with Final Fantasy XV. Also, they hope to lure in gamers that are new to the series. Final Fantasy XV will be released on September 30, 2016 for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One.  The game will be available in standard, deluxe and a pricey “limited collector’s edition”.

For gamers anxious to get a sneak peek of the game, the “Platinum Demo” is available now. The demo is about 30 minutes in length from start to finish and features a storyline separate from the retail game itself. So, in many ways, this can be considered the first entry in the XV universe. The main point of the demo is to show off the new battle system. Players that manage to complete the demo will unlock an in-game summon for the final retail game. So if you’re a fan, it’s very worth your time to download and explore this demo.

Next up, we have a feature-length CG film: Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive. This movie will feature a story related to, but separate from the actual game itself. Blu-Ray copies of the film will be available in the deluxe and collector’s editions of the game.

SE also announced a five-part anime series; “Final Fantasy XV Brotherhood”. This episodic series will serve as an introduction to the characters and events of the game. The complete series will be included with the collectors edition, but each episode will be made available for free online. In fact, you can watch the first episode now using one of the links below  (will be updated with new episodes):

Final Fantasy XV Brotherhood:

Episode One: Before the Storm

Finally, SE also announced a mobile tie-in game:  “Justice Monsters V”. This is a mini pinball type game featured in Final Fantasy XV itself, but a replica will also available to players to enjoy on iPhone, Windows and Android devices. At the time of this writing, the game has not yet been released, but is expected within the next few days. Upon it’s release, I will be sure to offer a short review.

The available editions of the game are outlined in the promotional graphics below. All three editions are available on both PS4 and Xbox One.

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