COLUMN: Aaron’s Backstage Pass: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn PS3 Review

Updated: 09/09/2013 4:57 PM By: Aaron Chalich

Photo courtesy of Square-Enix
Photo courtesy of Square-Enix

I have been a fan of the “Final Fantasy” series since the first one was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back in 1990. 

Final Fantasy is an extremely popular role-playing game where you can control multiple characters and battle many different monsters and creatures.

When I received a review copy of Square-Enix’s “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn,” I was pretty excited.  It has been years since I have played a game in the series because I just don’t have the time.  The Final Fantasy games are so complex that it takes many hours to complete.  Plus they are so much fun to play that a person can really get sucked into the story and game.

“Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn” is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG).   In order to play “Final Fantasy XIV” you must be connected to the Internet at all times, you need register the game and pay a monthly fee. 

I thought the story of “Final Fantasy XIV” was pretty good and very interesting. 

The story takes place in a world called Hydaelyn and has three large continents.  The main story takes place on a continent called Eorzea.  The Empire that rules Eorzea is called the Garlean Empire, and they decide to try and calm another group called the beastmen along with the some of the other city states of Eorzea.  After a huge battle, the Bahaumut, which is a very powerful dragon, is released.  Now they must try and stop the Bahaumut before he destroys Eorzea.  They are unsuccessful at defeating the Bahaumut. After some time passes, players start to rebuild Eorzea and end the battle with the beastmen and the Garlean Empire.

The graphics are amazing and stunning.  A new graphics engine was used and you can really tell, because the characters and backgrounds look astounding and will blow you away.  The creatures and bosses are unique and very detailed. You can see the rough skin of the giant tortoises and when you are riding on the Chocobos, their feathers all blow in the wind.  Its small little details like this that makes the game great.

When you first start out, you can create your own character, and that’s awesome.  You can choose if you want a male or female character and you can choose their clothes, hair, and more. Then you can choose one of five races along with your class such as a mage or gladiator.  One cool thing about the class systems or armory system is that you can have your character be skilled in all 17 classes.  They can switch from one to the other pretty easily and quickly.

There are so many different things you can do in “Final Fantasy XIV” that are extremely fun to do.  For one, there are so many different quests that you can choose to do.  All you do is walk up to someone that has an exclamation mark above their head and talk to them.  They will then give you a job or quest to do.  Once you complete the quest you will earn experience points, money and sometimes items.  You can do multiple quests at a time.

One thing that I really thought was helpful was that you knew where you can bring up a map to see where you are and the people or task you need to do will be marked on the map so you know where you need to go.  There are also some quests that you will not be able to do until you reach a certain level.

You gain levels by gaining experience points.  You gain experience points by fighting creatures, completing quests and doing full active time events (FATES).

The full active time events (FATE) are pretty amazing, and I know a lot of people will enjoy them as much as I did.   You never know when one of these events will take place.  You could be walking along and come across some beastmen attacking a group of villagers. Now you must stop them from attacking and save the villagers.  If you come across a FATE that is already happening you can join in.

The best thing to do in my opinion in “Final Fantasy XIV” is to join a group of people and go raid a dungeon or try and complete a “Guildleves and Guildhests” event.  Everyone plays as a team, and you all have to work together to complete the quest.  Each character has his/her own unique skills and abilities and that’s what makes playing online so fun.  It’s challenging and you really have to communicate with the other people so you are all on the same page and know what each other is going to do.

Another fun thing that I liked to do is the player vs. player (pvp) matches.  You can go to different arenas and fight against other players.  You can play four vs. four or eight vs. eight matches.  These are pretty challenging and are a lot of fun.

The controls are kind of complicated to learn.  The basic controls were easy to learn, like fighting, jumping, interacting with people and objects, and moving around.

However, there are so many different things you can do and there are also so many different menus that it does become a little confusing.  One nice thing is that when you encounter something new, a menu will pop up and will explain a new skill or item in detail.  I thought that this was very helpful, and it did make things a little easier.

I do think that if you are a familiar with MMO’s you shouldn’t have any troubles with the controls, but this was the first one I have played so I did have some problems.

Moving around to different areas was easy; because there are chocobos and airships you can ride.  Then there are Aetherytes.  These are crystals that are scattered all over Eorzea and you can teleport from one area to another by touching them.  When you first encounter one in an area you must touch it and then you will be able to teleport to that particular area later.

I thought the fighting was really great and very easy to do.  You just walk up to a creature and attack it with your weapon.  Once the battle starts, you will automatically keep attacking the creature, and the creature will also start attacking you.  You then can use magic or items during the fight.  If you start losing the fight, you can run away.  The creature’s energy bar and your energy bar are displayed at the top of the screen so you know how much damage you are dealing and how much damage you are taking.

Overall I really enjoyed Square-Enix’s “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn” a lot.  This is a game that will never get old because there will always be new content added to it.  The graphics are amazing, and it is so much fun playing with a group of other players.  There are so many different quests and monsters that you will discover something new every time you play.  If you are a fan of MMO’s or of the Final Fantasy series, then I would highly recommend “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

*The copy of the game was provided by Square Enix for review purposes

Aaron Chalich is a columnist with writing about entertainment news.