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Role Playing (Games) Games

Final Fantasy XIV Launches To Scathing Reviews 401

RogueyWon writes "Now that the massively-multiplayer Final Fantasy XIV has been on the shelves for a couple of weeks, the reviews are starting to arrive; and it appears that the game is the subject of a critical battering unprecedented in the history of the main Final Fantasy series. First it was the Amazon user reviews, then Gamespot weighed in, describing the game as a 'step backwards for the genre,' and now IGN has described it as 'an arduous experience that, in its current state, isn't worth playing.' Given the general dissatisfaction that surrounded the release of the (offline) Final Fantasy XIII earlier in the year, many long-time fans of the series must now be wondering whether the magic hasn't departed."
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Final Fantasy XIV Launches To Scathing Reviews

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  • long time vet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:51AM (#33868976)

    I've been playing online RPG's since MUD's in junior high and FFXIV was the first time in my game-playing history that I've ever desperately wanted a tutorial.

  • by koreaman ( 835838 ) <uman@umanwizard.com> on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:54AM (#33869014)

    Haven't played FF XIV, but the issue plaguing XIII was the insistence of the developers on having a beautifully-rendered world full of gorgeous eye candy.

    Turns out you don't have enough space on a standard PS3 DVD to make a beautifully-rendered world full of gorgeous eye candy that is as open and expansive as FF players have come to expect. Result: one of the most boring, linear games I've ever played. In fact FF XIII is more like watching a several-days-long film than playing an interactive game.

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:06AM (#33869174)

    I don't know. Despite starting the series with 7, I actually enjoyed 8 through 10 more. YMMV I guess. It's been downhill from there though. I only got about halfway through X-2 before giving up due to the general silliness of it. 11 I skipped because I wasn't interested in online play. Played 12 for a few hours, gave up on it. Did the same with 13.

    I think to some degree, it's culture clash. Not saying they're wrong, or mocking them, but certain things that end up in Japanese games just seem incredibly odd to my western mind. In X-2 I don't want to have a concert and play dress-up while saving the world. It just comes off as something I would be embarrassed if any non-gamer types saw me playing. There's also the oddity that so many of what are supposed to be strong male characters are portrayed very effeminately. Kuja from FF9 was the worst here. First time I saw him it was hard to take the character seriously. It almost felt like I was watching a parody or something.

    Like I said, it's just a cultural divide, and neither side is right or wrong, but I just don't find the games appealing as I once did. Particularly as I've gotten older my ability to suspend disbelief has waned, and I just can't accept certain oddities anymore.

  • by TriezGamer ( 861238 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:24AM (#33869464)

    I fully agree with this. Final Fantasy games in the 8-bit and 16-bit era always had a little bit of a steampunk flavor in their settings, but never enough to remove the 'fantasy' feel from the game.

    Final Fantasy VII dropped you in the middle of Midgar, and didn't feel like a fantasy at all until you were well outside of the city, approximately 1/3 of the way into the game. Even afterward, it never settled quite right with me.

    Final Fantasy VIII had the gardens -- massive, mobile behemoth-cities that felt far too modernized compared to the majority of the game world's setting. The pseudo sci-fi last 25% of the game doesn't help in that regard either.

    Of the single-player games, Final Fantasy IX was probably the heaviest on the 'fantasy' scale after the SNES era, but it suffered from generally unlikable characters, a story that was passable but nothing spectacular, and a final boss that didn't seem to make any coherent sense in the context of the plot.

    Final Fantasy X left a bizarre disconnect between various aspects of it's plot -- it seems to have modern technology mixed in with a lot of magic -- which is alright, I suppose, but it never 'felt' fantasy-like to me. The additional mind-screw of a storyline didn't help it one bit.

    Final Fantasy XI played high fantasy pretty much completely straight, had an epic storyline that shamed all of the recent Final Fantasy offerings, and no one cared because it was an MMORPG that took several hundreds of hours to actually experience the plots it offered. Based on my experiences with the beta of XIV, it appears to be the same way.

    Final Fantasy XII was a decent attempt at making a fantasy game again in places, but giant fleets of modern-looking mechanical airships ruined it, even if those airships are supposedly powered by magic. The airships in the older Final Fantasy offerings were more like zeppelins than aircraft.

    Final Fantasy XIII ... ugh. See FFVII.

    It's not impossible that I'm just getting jaded, but it feels like the fantasy left this series a long time ago.

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:24AM (#33869468) Journal

    Just for a quick bit of info, from what I understand in the Japanese culture the effeminate looking bishounen (prettyboy) with the heart-shaped face is actually an ideal of masculinity. The massive square-jawed body-builder a la Zangief is actually their stereotype for gay.

    So, yeah, those spikey-haired hermaphrodites are Real Manly Men.

    Yeah, it makes no sense for me either.

  • by Wornstrom ( 920197 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:41AM (#33869724)

    I have been playing since it was released (not the collectors early release) and I have found it quite enjoyable. The main thing I have a problem with right now is the bazaar-only system. They really need to implement an auction house. I've left my game logged in overnight several times just to sell off some inventory, because the market wards just seem too cumbersome to actually use them. I'm sure my video card loves that... and high pop servers probably appreciate the associated lag of loading everyone's character model etc. Another thing they ought to do is give us recipe books. The crafting system is intricate enough without having to go to a 3rd party website to look up mats for everything you want to craft. Love how crafting damages your gear too.

    I figure they have until WoW:Cataclysm comes out to sink or swim, at least for me.

  • Re:Well shit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TriezGamer ( 861238 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:49AM (#33869842)

    If you look at many successful games, you'll find a lot of consistency, both MMO and non-MMO alike. I'm going to focus on UI here, because it's one of FFXIV's biggest flaws, and it's the easiest example.

    A user interface needs to be designed in such a way that it communicates information clearly. Furthermore, the interface needs to be designed in such a way that accomplishing any particular task is straightforward, quick and intuitive.

    The UI for Final Fantasy XIV is excruciatingly poorly designed and fails on all aspects of this. Everything is accessed through a main menu that has a mess of nested sub-menus. There are no assigning of simple hotkeys for most actions (though you can assign combat and skill related actions to 0-9), and the entire interface responds VERY slowly, often taking 3-5 seconds to open each sub-menu.

    Changing options such as screen resolution, detail settings, or controller configuration (if you have a game pad) is done by closing down the client entirely, running a separate configuration utility, and relaunching the client when you are done. Running the game in full-screen prevents you from alt-tabbing, else you crash the client entirely. This is particularly bad because these are chief complaints people have had about their own previous MMORPG, so they should be painfully aware of them -- but they appear to have learned nothing.

    Square-Enix is just not in touch with what makes a game good as a game. They have a knack for compelling stories, and they have a solid art-design team, but these aren't enough to make a good game.

  • Re:Well shit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _KiTA_ ( 241027 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:50AM (#33869860) Homepage

    Furthermore, Square-Enix needs to do some serious market research and learn what players actually want from a game.

    Please elaborate.

    Both FF13 and FF14 have been plagued by poor design decisions that represent management who are woefully out of touch with their target audience.

    For example, FF13's dungeon design was vastly simplified, to the point that 99.99% of all dungeons in the game are single straight corridors, with no side paths nor possible ways to get lost. They're very pretty, but it's also very similar to playing "Final Fight: The RPG" -- walk forward, fight, walk forward, fight, walk forward, fight... This is indicative of a group of executives who have a very, very poor opinion of their target audience as a whole - "Today's gamers aren't smart enough to figure out a maze, make it a straight line." There's a reason that game was 98% off in stores a few weeks after release, it tanked, HARD. I would be pretty surprised if they made back the absurd development costs.

    Final Fantasy 14, amongst other things, implements a "reverse rest EXP system" -- the more you play, the less you get out of playing. Not only that, when people openly started talking about this, Square Enix bold faced LIED about it to the player base -- claiming that it was all made up by "foreign websites trolling for hits." It took 2ch and the other Japanese fansites breaking NDA en mass and saying "no, that's all true" for them to own up and admit it publically. Blizzard specifically said they originally tried the same thing for WOW, but decided it was stupid and inverted it -- instead of punishing you with fatigue for playing too much, they gave you bonuses for taking breaks. Similar long cooldowns are implemented in the repeatable quest systems, the crafting system, the works.

    These are symptoms of a company that knows their game isn't fleshed out enough to keep people busy, but is out of ideas on how to keep people from quitting before they can fix it.

    This has actually been going on for a while, but these latest two have finally put it to the point that the detractors are louder than the fans. FF12, for example, had an atrocious plot, and they dropped the main character in lieu of a 14 year old metrosexual because "gamers can't associate with a middle aged (you know, 20) protagonist." But the rest of the game made up for it - the combat was aces, the open, near sandbox style map was great, the bonus fights were actually fun, etc etc.

    FF11 was legendary for taking your characters hostage -- if you ever quit, they "deleted" (read: blocked you from using) your characters. Yes, they fixed it later, but only after the subscription numbers crashed. They still thought this was a good idea at the time. To say nothing about the design of the game as a whole -- the UI choices, especially on the PC, were downright criminal.

    There have just been one bad design decision after another over there the past few years, and it's getting worse.

    Fortunately the Enix side appears to still be ran intelligently -- Dragon Quest 9 was pretty much spot on perfect, Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 has some missteps but is much better than Joker 1, etc etc. And the new Final Fantasy 4 Heroes of Light game is also pretty close to perfect as it stands, so there is hope for the franchise. Just not in the current path they're going down.

  • by twoallbeefpatties ( 615632 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:00AM (#33870010)
    I don't think that's a bad deal, I just have had it with unpolished games.

    Not to defend FF14, but it's worth remembering that a few months after WoW was released, Penny Arcade famously rescinded their game-of-the-year award as protest against the terrible lag and glitches, so it's not like you even had a smooth experience with the biggest MMO in the world.
  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:09AM (#33870124)

    Just for a quick bit of info, from what I understand in the Japanese culture the effeminate looking bishounen (prettyboy) with the heart-shaped face is actually an ideal of masculinity. The massive square-jawed body-builder a la Zangief is actually their stereotype for gay.

    Not quite. Although bishounen are considered an ideal of beauty, they aren't considered an ideal of masculinity, per se. That has a different archetype with its own name (otokomae), and it's much more similar to what most Westerners consider manly (though there are still some cultural differences, of course). To give some examples in FF terms (specifically FF6), Edgar is a bishounen while Sabin (Mash, if you go by Japanese naming) is otokomae.

    You're right about hyper-muscular bodybuilders being a gay stereotype in Japan, though.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:26AM (#33870444) Homepage Journal
    It seems the beta testers were doing a pretty good job of communicating the problems up to the developers, but the developers never gave much feedback about those messages and did not really address most of the problems that were pointed out. If they fix that feedback loop in the future, it would surely lead to a better game.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:42AM (#33870770)

    -NPC do not give any directions at all. They'll say things like "go get some materials from xyz". You then have to open a help website if you want to know where XYZ is because the game gives you no help at all.

    I have to expand on this because it's actually so much worse than you're saying. First off, they in fact do show you where the next NPC is. For story quests. And nothing else.

    Which means the feature is there. The game supports it. It works. They just don't allow you to use it for your every day "only thing there is to do in the game" quests.

    But wait, it's worse!

    So you've decided to go look for the NPC yourself. You've searched every nook and cranny, but failed. So finally you look up where the NPC is. Wait, but you've been there. WTF?!

    Well, see, it takes a good four to five seconds for NPCs to load when you - well, stop moving, basically. So the only way to find the NPC by yourself is to basically walk a "square" forward, then stop and wait for five seconds to see if the NPC loads in.

    And then repeat. And these zones are massive.

    -Worthless maps.

    This also needs some expansion - there are a ton of obstacles that block you while you travel from one place to another.

    These are not on the map.

    However, there are obstacles on the map that simply do not exist in the game world.

    Then there are the roads on the map that are drawn between areas. These roads do not exist in the game world, and exist solely on the map. Combine this with obstacles that do exist but aren't on the map you've got an incredibly worthless map.

    But wait, it gets better! The map is also subject to the four-five second load time before it adds the overlay that displays useful things like the location of quest "camps" (although not the NPCs in the camp).

    To recap: the map doesn't cover things that do exist in the game world. Some of these are slightly important like paths between zones. However, it also includes things that don't exist in the game world. Some of these are slightly important like paths between zones that aren't, in fact, there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @12:55PM (#33872230)

    Even better is the crafting interface. Crafting is such a huge part of this game, and yet it's so tough to use that it's borderline imbecilic. For instance, you get a recipe for something as a quest reward and it's displayed in your log. Once. Unless you wrote it down or have perfect recall, you're going to have to consult a fansite, on another computer, because alt-tabbing away from the game currently crashes the thing.

    Run in windowed mode, and you can alt-tab away. Which removes the excuse for alt-tab not working originally, which was "it allows people to cheat." Not supporting alt-tab means that Square Enix can't call it a Windows game, because you must support alt-tab to be able to say "runs on Windows." This is why it says "PC DVD Software" on the package and NOT "Windows." Seriously, check out their website [finalfantasyxiv.com], no mention of Windows, because the game fails the Windows quality standards. (Try and digest that one - the game doesn't even live up to Microsoft's standards of quality.)

    But, ugh, the crafting UI is awful. There's no reason for it to exist the way it does. Do it WoW style - list the recipes you know, with them listing required/available items, and just select that to enter the crafting game.

    If they offered a customizable UI, this would be fixed in an instant, but... oh well.

    Yeah, that uses another resource called 'anima' that regenerates at an abysmally slow rate (and I couldn't find a gauge for to see how much I had left).

    You couldn't find one because there isn't one. The only way to see how much anima you have is to attempt to teleport. (Which is Main Menu -> Teleport -> Region -> Zone, for four layers of menu.)

    Or you can just select Return on the main menu, since that's a teleport too. It's the easiest way to see how much anima you have. Did you know that you can Return even if you're not dead? You can, it costs 2 anima. This is documented nowhere!

    I never did get the payment thing set up right. For whatever reason, Square-Enix outsourced their credit card processing to an outfit called Click and Buy that I've never heard of.

    And that right there is the biggest bullshit ever. Turns out that Click and Buy sells themselves as Europe's answer to PayPal.

    But wait, Square Enix ALREADY ACCEPTS CREDIT CARDS for FFXI. There's absolutely no reason they can't accept them directly themselves other than sheer asshattery.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev