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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
SCEA
DEVELOPER:
Square-Enix
GENRE: RPG
PLAYERS:   MMORPG
RELEASE DATE:
March 23, 2004
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Final Fantasy Versus XIII

Dissidia 012 (Duodecim): Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy XIV

More in this Series
 Written by Jeff Milligan  on October 01, 2003

Updated Look: Coming closer and closer from fantasy to reality...


As you take a look through the numerous titles within the gaming series that is Final Fantasy, there a few that really stand out for bringing the series into new dimensions. This isn't to say that all the Final Fantasy games in between these releases didn't improve on anything. Quite the contrary, as each release seemed to improve on it's predecessor in many aspects. First and foremost is obviously the original Final Fantasy, which of course got the entire series rolling. Next, we find Final Fantasy VII, which brought the series into the realm of 3D. The latest Final Fantasy improved on the entire graphical interface, and also added the superb use of voices, another first for the series. This brings us up to present times, where North American gamers are anxiously awaiting the next incarnation in the Final Fantasy series. What's Final Fantasy XI bringing to this already incredible gaming series? A lot more than you might think.

First things first, forget everything you remember about previous Final Fantasy games. No longer is saving the world in your hands alone, but in the hands of yourself, and a few million gamers worldwide. Final Fantasy XI is bringing the world of FF into a new light, an online light. This was one of the first facts we knew about FFXI, but this fact has been expanded upon. Using Square-Enix's PlayOnline system, players world-wide will be able to communicate, battle, and save the world together. This is more true than you may think, as it matters not which system you use to play FFXI. Whether you're on the PS2 or the PC, you're playing in the same world. So not only do we have FFXI as being the first MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) in the series, but it also represents the first cross-system title.

Before you can jump in and start battling fiends like crazy with your friends, you first have to recognize your surroundings and timeline. Final Fantasy XI takes place in the world of Vana'diel, 20 years after the Great Crystal War. Another war is upon the people of Vana'diel. A last alliance of three powerful nations is all that stands against Vana'diel being pushed into extreme turmoil by the Beastmen forces. San d'Oria, Windurst, and Bastok are looking for anyone able and willing to help their cause, and you, the brave adventurer, may be their last option.

Well, being an adventurer can mean lots of different things. Luckily, it's up to you to decide what kind of traveler you really are. Immediate character types that can be chosen include the Warrior, the Monk, the Thief, the White Mage, the Black Mage, and the Red Mage. As expected, different character types can wield different weapons, acquire different items, and utilize different magical abilities. For example, Warriors will be better on the front-lines of battle, using their strength to take fiends head-on. Meanwhile White Mages will be better off staying back and healing those wounded in battle. More character types can be unlocked as you journey, such as Dark Knights, Rangers, Paladins, Bards, and Beastmasters.

The job system as described above really isn't that new to Final Fantasy veterans. However, how you use it may seem new. Remember, FFXI is an online game in which parties of players will travel together. Creating a party of different character types might not only be wise, but actually vital. Traveling with all Warriors may seem like a good idea, as what fiend is going to stand in your way? However, not all fiends may be susceptible to physical attacks, which is why having a Red or Black Mage in your party is important. Also, having someone who can heal your party in dire times can be an extreme advantage, and having some valuable items stolen by a thief may come in handy as well. Just remember to keep balance in mind when creating a party. Jobs can be changed at any time, and even support jobs can be taken on later in the game.

For some, choosing only their job title might not be enough. Class, race, and attributes may also be important. Final Fantasy XI has you covered. After choosing your character type, you can then move on to other traits, such as Race, Gender, Face Type, Hair Color, and other characteristics. Five immediate races will be available, including Hume, Elvaan, Tarutaru, Mithra, and Galka. Due to race characteristics, only female Mithra's can be chosen, and likewise only male Galka's. Other than that, how your character looks and reacts is totally up to you.

All of these jobs and attributes not only effect your looks and personality, but also effect how your character does in battle. Depending on your job class, your character may have unique abilities only available to that particular line of work. For example, Warriors have the Defender ability, which raises their defense during battle. Likewise, your current weapon also has an effect on battle. In Final Fantasy X, you may remember having an overdrive meter which rose when characters were damaged. Final Fantasy XI encompasses a similar feature. When players are damaged in battle, they gain Tactical Points. When this TP gauge reaches a certain point, characters can unleash weapon skills. These skills are based on which weapon your character has equipped. Certain weapons enable you to double your attacks, while other may increase the potency of your spells and magic.

Staying on the topic of battles for a moment, there is one final feature which can be utilized while in battle. This once again focuses in on which weapons the characters in your party are using. If numerous characters gain weapon skills at the same time, they can release them one after another, creating a combo of either powerful attacks, or devastating magic. When numerous weapon skills are used in the fashion, it's called a "Skillchain". Also, magical attacks and skills can be added, which results in "Magic Bursts". Harnessing these Skillchains and Magic Bursts may result in your party pulling out an otherwise difficult victory with ease.

If battling enemies and saving the world isn't really your thing, you may want to look into other activities Final Fantasy XI has to offer. Item creating and selling is a large business in the world of Vana'diel. Through Crystal Synthesis, players will be able to create a number of valuable and rare items that would otherwise be unavailable to buy. Similarly, players can go fishing when they're tired of battle. Increasing your fishing skills can also result in gaining valuable merchandise.

When you've had your fill of certain items or have no use for them, there are a couple different ways of selling them. The first way is using the auction house. Final Fantasy XI will feature an option where players can auction off their items to other players. After the seller designates an asking price, the player who offers a higher price will be able to buy the item. The auction house will also be a great place to gain rare items, as prices may be lower than those asked by computer-controlled shops. Besides the eBay of FFXI, players can also use the Bazaar system. Players can set prices on items in their inventory, which can be looked at by others. These items can then be bought outright.

In the world of Vana'diel, thousands of players can be interacting at the same time. Not a very easy place to find your friends in is it? Well, it is thanks to the World Pass system. When you create a new character, you can find certain NPC's in your world that will give you a string of numbers. These numbers are called a World Pass, which can be given to your friends so they can join your world. While your friend creates a new character, they can input this string of numbers, which gives them access into your world. However, once a character is created in a certain world, they cannot leave it. In other words, world-hopping is not allowed.

As Final Fantasy XI is released stateside, gamers may find a little surprise within. The expansion pack "Rise of Zilart" will be included in the final U.S. release. Rise of Zilart goes deeper into the world of Vana'diel, and features lots of new additions. Featured in the expansion pack is 3 new jobs: the Samurai, the Ninja, and the Dragoon. Players will also gain access to all summons, over 40 new areas, and various new missions and quests. Remember, this is included in the final U.S. release, so you won't have to spend anything to attain it, other than buying Final Fantasy XI itself of course.

So far, it's been pretty much all good news concerning the upcoming release of Final Fantasy XI, but there are some darker sides to the games release as well, depending on how you look at it. The actual buying of Final Fantasy XI may be a little different than you might have imagined. The release of the Playstation 2's HDD (Hard Disc Drive) grows ever closer for U.S. gamers, and right along with it will come Final Fantasy XI. However, it won't be actually packed in with the HDD, but instead pre-installed on it. This means that players will have to slap down $99 for the entire package, and neither will be available separately. Although this may seem like a bit much, it's really not that big of a deal, as the HDD is essential to play Final Fantasy XI anyway. One good detail that will come of this is the option for downloadable content, right to the HDD. Extra jobs, characteristics, races, locations, and other goodies may become available later on in FFXI's lifespan.

The second update of that can be seen as bad news is the monthly fee that comes with Final Fantasy XI. Similar to Everquest Online Adventures, players will have to pay a monthly fee to use PlayOnline's service, which is currently situated at $12.95 per month. Included in PlayOnline's besides being able to play Final Fantasy XI include chat, e-mail, and extra games, including the card game Tetra Master from Final Fantasy IX. You will also gain access to support straight from the Square Information Center and 24 hour Game Master support. Again, it all depends on how you look at coughing up 13 bucks a month to play what looks to be one of the best FF's in the series, and to receive lots of extra goodies and support.

Final Thoughts
Assuming you've actually read all of this, you can see that Final Fantasy XI will be bringing more than just an online experience to the world of Final Fantasy. Yes, it's a change from what we Final Fantasy fans are used to, but from the attention it's been getting in Japan, it looks like it's a positive change. With 10 impressive single-player Final Fantasy games already in the books, and another in development as we speak, maybe this change of pace was imminant. As long as Final Fantasy XI lives up to everything it's claiming to do, then it should be well worth the price of admission. Currently, Final Fantasy XI is slated for an early January 2004 release. However, this date may, and most likely will change, after all, the release of the PS2's HDD isn't scheduled until March. Remember, patience is a virtue, especially when you're waiting for more Final Fantasy.


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