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Platform: Playstation 2
Publisher: Square-Enix
Developer: Square-Enix
ETA: March 23, 2004


Related Links:

Review: Final Fantasy X (Playstation 2)

Review: Final Fantasy X-2 (Playstation 2)

Review: Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II





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Final Fantasy XI


With so many companies jumping on the online RPG bandwagon, one has to wonder how many of them actually make any money from their endeavors.  The market has quickly become tremendously saturated and yet more and more of these games get released each month.  To have any hope of actually gathering a decent player base for a MMORPG, developers need to have a series or license that commands gamers attention, and of course with that we have Square and their long running Final Fantasy series that are more than up to the challenge.  With Final Fantasy XI already out on PC since late last year, the company’s first entrance into online gaming in a major way has proven quite successful in North America.  Now they are getting ready to do the same with the PS2 version of FFXI, brand spanking new PS2 hard drive in tow.  


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As one would expect, the game has players choose their character from five (Hume, Elvaan, Tarutaru, Mithra, Galka) different races and six job classes (warrior, monk, white mage, black mage, and red mage).  As the game progresses players will see more job classes become available to them.  On top of this, players can change their job any time they want, and as the game progresses they will also be given the opportunity to select supporting jobs that allow players’ characters to hold two different jobs at the same time.


Of particular note, though, is how quests are divided in Final Fantasy XI.  Usually in an RPG a quest is a quest is a quest, but here they have been further subdivided so that they serve different purposes.  First we have the Quest with a capital “Q” which will have players completing a task more or less however they see fit.  The parameters for these are generally kept quite vague; so long as players find a way to complete them everything is smiles and sunshine.  Next we have the Mission, which will have players performing tasks for their nation.  These may have certain parameters that must be stuck to, 



and will often require certain levels of allegiance to the nation, and in turn trust from the person or party assigning the mission.  Lastly we have Conquest, and as the name suggests these sorts of outings are all about seizing things belonging to a competing nation.


When embarking on these various types of quests, players will obviously get into more than a few scuffles along the way.  Battles will have the usual mix of white and black magic, job-specific attack abilities, as well as the weapon skill super attacks that have been present in the Final Fantasy series for quite some time now.  Adding something new to these standard combat features are Skill Chains and Magic Bursts.  What these do is allow parties to unleash very powerful attacks either by more than one person launching a magic attack in relative unison for a Magic Burst, or doing the same with a weapon skill attack.  If nothing it’s definitely a way to encourage teamwork in an online gaming environment.


Travel will be handled by a number of familiar means, including chocobos, ferries, and airships.  With a large world like that found in Final Fantasy XI with its numerous kingdoms and countless smaller cities players will need all of the transport methods they can get their hands on.  


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What is of particular note with this PS2 version of Final Fantasy XI when it hits store shelves is that it will be the first game in North America to make use of the Playstation 2 hard drive which has been out in Japan for quite some time now.  Sony’s plans for the peripheral are to make it act in much the same capacity as the HDD already installed in the Xbox, allowing players to use it to save games or install titles onto the drive so to speed up load times, or avoid disc swapping, something that will be very handy for Final Fantasy XI as expansion sets are released.  With that, Final Fantasy XI will come bundled with the HDD upon its release.  How long this will remain the case is unknown.


PC gamers have had the pleasure of enjoying Final Fantasy XI since last fall, despite some problems with world passes that made it very difficult for friends to play together since gamers had no choice in what server their character was made on, causing them to jump through some hoops to actually play with their friends.  Whatever the case, PS2 owners can soon get their chance to see for themselves how a MMORPG edition of Square’s long running series plays, and snatch up a new HDD for their console while their at it when Final Fantasy XI is released in a few weeks.


Mr. Nash


(March 1, 2004)




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