To many Final Fantasy XIV was the surprise announcement of E3 2009. The game was due in the same year that gamers got their hands on Final Fantasy XIII, but that never happened. While Final Fantasy XIII was a single player game the next game in the series, Final Fantasy XIV, was an online RPG.
Sadly there was only one small (actually, not so small) hiccup. While Final Fantasy XIV was released in 2010, it was only for PC and the game wasn't met with much critical praise. The PS3 version was delayed, and delayed, and delayed, and then finally in October 2011 Square-Enix announced it was being reworked as "Version 2.0" or Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn as it is now known. Now, almost two years later, the game finally about to hit the shelves.
Selecting your characters emotes.
Amid azure seas, encompassing the westernmost of the Three Great Continents, there lies a realm embraced by gods and forged by heroes. Her name... Eorzea. It is here that your tale unfolds. Beckoned by the Mothercrystal - the source of all life. You must embark upon a quest to deliver the land from an eternity of Darkness.
So this game is a MMORPG which means at any point in time there could be thousands of players the world over inhabiting the lands. Upon starting the game you can create your character which, as the screenshot below indicates, gives you a pretty wide variety of options including gender, race, skin colour, and visual features.
A character creation screen in FFXIV.
Once you've created your character it's into the game and it plays very much like any other MMORPG. You enter the world, can complete tasks, upgrade weapons and armour, and then join parties to take on a variety of enemies while progressing a larger story. Of course the more you play, the more experience you will earn, and the more abilities and upgrade you unlock. You know the drill, it's an RPG, and with Square-Enix's pedigree one of the more polished efforts too.
Square-Enix have run several Beta tests of the servers and gamers can join servers from anywhere around the globe, however to minimise lag those closest to your location are preferred. Due to the lack of keyboard and mouse the developers have implemented a "Cross Hot Bar" for the menu system which operates in a very similar fashion to the XMB menu on the PS3.
Some locations are simply gorgeous.
As you can see from the surrounding screenshots Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a pretty impressive looking title - especially for a MMORPG and on an aging console. When Square-Enix decided to develop this "Version 2.0" game they scrapped the engine from the original Final Fantasy XIV and created an all-new one for this game and it's done wonders. Locations are varied, as are the hundreds of characters you'll encounter, including multiple races, in the world. As you can see from the icons in the surrounding screenshots and video below this is the PlayStation 3 version of the game - there's little doubt that the game is pushing the system pretty hard.
We must also point out that while this is a MMORPG, and the initial price of $AU49 (at least at JB Hi-Fi) seems very reasonable, there is a monthly fee to pay the game. It is also important to note that even if you buy the retail disc version it won't be playable on the 12GB PlayStation 3 as the game requires more Hard Drive space to install the game, and we suspect numerous patches and updates as one would expect from an online only title.
Taking on an enemy in A Realm Reborn.
Despite initially being announced for a release in 2010, and hitting the PC at time as we mentioned the poor reception saw Square-Enix cancel that release on PS3 with a totally reworked, and much better looking A Realm Reborn now set for release in August 2013. Early impressions, including time within the online Beta, are very positive and fans of Square-Enix's RPG series, and indeed fans of MMORPG's would do well to check this out. Hopefully we'll review the game, but it's already looking like a solid release.
Oh, one final thing, Square-Enix announced in June that the game would also be hitting PlayStation 4 sometime in 2014. Huzzah!
Below is a 12 minute video showing off the Party Play with Commentary from the developers.