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#1 Systemshock

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Posted 21 April 2004 - 02:21 PM

Right I'll say straight away that until playing FFXI I had never played a MMORPG before and hadn't really been the greatest fan of on-line gaming in general in any event. I haven't been a great fan of (western) fantasy based RPGs such as Balders Gate II either and the whole thing of drinking ale in Inns with other merry men, Wizards and Fairies didn't do much for me. Maybe not the the best start for an on-line only fantasy based RPG!

Mind you Final Fantasy isn't really a fantasy game (nor is it final) despite the slightly medievil setting, the dragons, the magic, the summoning, the rangers and paladins - er..... scratch that maybe it is a fantasy game! Anyway I got a brand new PC early in January and, having played KOTOR (goodish), Indiana Jones & The Fate of Atlantis (still brilliant) and Call of Duty (good) for a while, I thought 'sod it' and ordered Final Fantasy XI from Import Madness. I had previously played most of the FF games and had also read a couple of very promising reviews and I hoped that the game would be good but I didn't necessarily have any unduly great expectations.

All I can say now, having played the game for way over 150 hours is that the game is startingly, stunningly 'good' in fact it is by quite some margin the best and most involved game that I have ever ever played. Mind you in the FFXI world playing the game for 150 hours still makes me a bit of a newby so what do I know!

In reviewing a game like this there is a real difficulty in knowing quite where to start. Given that it is my first MMORPG as well there is clearly room for me to be impressed by elements that are standard fare in all or most MMORPGs too and forgive me for that.

Anyway, after setting the game up (which includes a whopping download be warned) I finally set up my character. There are basically five races - Hume, Elvaan, Taru, Mithra and Galka - to choose from, with the first three having male and female options with Mithra being cat like females and Galka large (almost Gorilla like) males. Elvaan are tall elves really whilst Humes are human. The Taru are unbelievably cute little folk whilst the Mithra are lookers (in a virtual cat like with tail but skimpy armour clad sort of way). The Galka are very big and strong as you might expect. All in all the races are well balanced, with certain advantages over each other in certain areas.

Once your race is decided you then have to select your job with initially choices like Warrior, White Mage, Black Mage, Thief, Red Mage and Monk available. Later on though other jobs (or sub jobs) like Dark Knight, Paladdin, Summoner, Beastmaster, Samurai. Ninja, Dragoon etc etc become available based on how you want to proceed in the game, what level or rank you've achieved or perhaps what side quests you've completed.

You don't fight each other in this game. You fight alongside each other, help each other, trade, craft and explore the massive world together and generally learn from your own experiences or those shared or gleaned from other players. The overall world is called Vana'diel and is made up of what must be at least 100 playing areas. Each area might be a forest or mountainous region or plain or might be a maze like Orc camp or dungeon/ cave of some sort. Each area is also huge and can take over 15 minutes to run across or much longer without a map and thats assuming that you aren't attacked or choose to attack something en route. New areas are loaded in full as you 'zone' between them.

There are four main cities included too, split each into four areas themselves, as well as a few towns and in these areas you are completely free from attack. Here you buy and sell goods, either between each other, at shops or by using the crowded Auction Houses. Later in the game you can also hire chocobos and airships in the cities and you can often see airships taking off into the sunset if you are in the right place at the right time. These areas not only have real players running around in but are also populated by many non-player characters who do their own thing. From these many missions and quests can be obtained, all of which can provide rewards or other means of progress for you.

Out of the cities and towns though there are monsters. All of the monsters can be seen (no random battles here) and these non-player character monsters come in all shapes and sizes, some animal, some enemy races, some absolutely freakish and some easily recognisable from past FF games. You start the attack or maybe they see or sense you and attack first and from that point the battle takes place. You can control the attacks that you make or particular defences that you might bring to bare. For example I might choose to fight a pretty tough opponent and to attract it over I might fire an arrow at it (providing I have a suitable bow and arrow equipped); when the mob gets closer I might then use my sword, dagger, club or fists or if I have attacking magic some sort of magic attack. I can gradually build up TP during a fight and when it hits or exceeds 100 TP unleash a more powerful attack (a limit break of sorts in FFVII terms). I also might have various other abilities that can be used every so often all of which might help me beat the monster (or mob as they are referred to). Obviously the defense level of my armour, shield and so forth have a big bearing on the battles outcome as well as the power and abilities of my weapons, and of course my own skills built up using them. Items can be used in battle in exactly the same way as other FF games with potions, ether, antidotes and remedy etc but these take up inventory space and often partying with a White Mage makes better sense and frees up more inventory for 'pick ups'.

If I win the battle I win extra EXP and for example at level 15 (which I am at present) I need 3600 EXP to progress to level 16. An easy mob might earn me 15 EXP whilst a tough one 100 (or more). Monsters EXP worth though is regulated to my level so as I progress monsters that were hard become easy and eventually worthless (ie of no XP value to me). All monsters though can also drop items of value, money (gil) or weapons/ spells all of which will help me buy and sell new gear.

The sub-jobbing aspect to the game means that once you have gained experience in the game, you are able to create customised player abilities by merging the abilities of two jobs into the one playable character. Your main job still has the most influence but your players stats and fighting abilities are strengthened. You have to unlock the ability to use sub jobs by achieving lvl 18 with your initial job and completing a quest but can then mix and match jobs to your hearts content. Of course you have to level up the other jobs to make this worthwhile. Another clever aspect to sub jobbing is that your main job level dictates the level of your sub job with the SJ level being no greater than half of the main job level - for instance if I am level 18 thief and level 10 monk, I can either be a lvl 18 thf/lvl 9 mnk or I can be a lvl 10 mnk/lvl 5 thf. Both are strong but at significantly different levels. Given the wide choice of jobs available it means that higher experience players are always playing at lower levels too - this really helps true new players join in with experienced players and keeps all areas of the world fresh and in use.

The trading houses in this game are always packed with everyone buying and selling. The Vana'diel server (world) that I play on is called Garuda (its the Rllmuk FFXI server of choice) and usually has a population of player characters in play of 3500 to 4000 at any given time spread across all of the 100 playing areas in Garuda. Last time I looked there were around 30 seperate server worlds so, if you have friends playing, be sure to get their help to set up your character on their world. Now that the game is available on the PS2 and PC in both Japan and the US the game populations is growing further and, because it is an international server the game is always well populated at any time of day or night. Incidentally all of the servers are based in Japan and the game allows you to use an auto translate function when talking to Japanese players, some of whom are now uber leveled up, wear some stunning armour and are incredibly powerful.

You not only are able to fight on your own but can also fight in parties of up to 6 player characters. In fact not fighting as a party in some areas is blatent suicide. This is where all of the jobs balance out - warriors and thieves have no magic (can't use the spell cure for example and can only slowly heal between battles) but can attack or steal, White Mages are great at curing and protecting the party in battle whilst Black Mages attack with black magic etc. I won't go into the details but partying is just brilliant with some real strategy coming into play and communication between players vital.

As you take damage in a fight you lose HP - my HP limit at the minute is 213 with attacks hiiting me for anything between 0 and 80 HP depending on the mob, but thats only in fights I fancy my chances in - enemies is some places could wipe me out in one hit so you have to be extremely careful where you go. Certain mobs 'aggro' and attack you on sight (or sound) and if your are trying to traverse a dangerous area populated by highly dangerous mobs you have to try and keep out of their way. It is possible to break and run from an attacking mob and, if you can 'zone' before your HP runs out, you can survive but often mobs gang up and chase you leading to trains of mobs on the loose - this causes dangererous situations for any player in the vicinity, not just the player being chased and in orc camps especially you can often hear warning shouts of orc 'trains' coming your way.

If you lose all of your HP in a fight you're KOd and, unless you are revived within a time limit, you go back to your last home point, usually in one of the towns and cities. You also lose a shed load of hard earned XP so the tension in fights is electric when the going gets tough and your HP is low. Fighting in parties allows you to take on much tougher opponents of course and believe me some of them are super tough and also crucially allows you to potential level up much quicker. The banter between members of parties is cracking good stuff too. Of course the make up of parties is entirely down to the players that you agree to join up with and you will often curse at the stupidity of other members of your party. But this game is populated by very like minded players and the whole ethos of the game is to help each other - inexperienced party members are always helped in my experience and the overall mix of the players in game is fantastic.

The interface in the game works a treat and is amazing considering all the information available. I use a PS2 controller together with the PC keyboard although you can do it all on the keyboard and mouse if you want. Playing on a US or chipped PS2 is supposed to be excellent too.

I could go on (and on) and I've read through all that I've said so far and can't believe just how much detail I have left out. The danger of trying to explore new worlds, trying to open up new areas, the various traps that you can walk into, being able to travel by boat (in real time) and be attacked by pirates, travelling by Chocobo (3 times faster than on foot) or by paying someone to warp you to a warp point you've visted before or eventually travelling by airship. Your own Mog house (with the ability to add furntiture for storage), the guilds for learning crafts, the special events (hunting eggs at Easter anyone?), the mining, the differing prices of goods around the world, the food and its varying affects on your fighting ability. The sense of community and that player characters often goes miles out of their way to help or offer a revive, the linkshell system (think clan), the mind blowing beauty of the whole world, the incredible environments, the graphical effects, the way the economy of the game works, the gambling, the black market trading, the fishing, the crafting (making) of items providing you put in the time to learn necessary skills, the whole look and scale of it all, the way mobs can gang up on you and chase you down, the way other players will jump in and try and save you, the ways of speaking and communicating to each other in game, the sheer joy of finally getting your new armour and equipping it. Refreshingly SquareEnix also look after the servers exceptionally well and are regularly updating the game and extending features available.

Its breath taking all in all. Each and every time I play this game I learn something new and have absolutely unique gaming experiences. Since starting with this game at the end of February I haven't wanted to play any other game (not even once for 5 minutes) and haven't bought any other game which is some kind of world record for me. I can't see that situation changing anytime soon. Given that the game costs $13 a month subscription I'm actually saving a fortune!

Suzakuseven has some awsome pictures at
Suzakuseven photos

See Jeem's stunning in game pictures below:

http://www.jeem.org/ffxi/ff1.jpg
http://www.jeem.org/ffxi/ff2.jpg
http://www.jeem.org/ffxi/ff3.jpg
http://www.jeem.org/ffxi/ff4.jpg
http://www.jeem.org/ffxi/ff5.jpg

See here for some in game pictures taken by Rushy.

XI out of X
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#2 Pungee

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Posted 21 April 2004 - 03:08 PM

Great review, sums up my feelings about the game perfectly.
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#3 Systemshock

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Posted 21 April 2004 - 03:11 PM

Great review, sums up my feelings about the game perfectly.

Thanks Pungee
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#4 xiphoid

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Posted 22 April 2004 - 03:26 AM

aces
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#5 Systemshock

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Posted 22 April 2004 - 08:41 AM

I've edited the review a bit now to correct one or two typos and add in crucial :D details that I left out in the first version.
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#6 sith

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 01:23 PM

Damn those pics make me jealous, nice review mate
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#7 hub2

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Posted 24 April 2004 - 01:02 AM

Damn those pics make me jealous, nice review mate

Pah! You think those are pretty?

These are suzakuseven's screenshots... Even I didn't realise the game could look so good after playing for over two months.

http://uk.photos.yah...zakuseven_no_da
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#8 Systemshock

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Posted 24 April 2004 - 07:31 AM

Pah! You think those are pretty?

These are suzakuseven's screenshots... Even I didn't realise the game could look so good after playing for over two months.

http://uk.photos.yah...zakuseven_no_da

Your photos look alright too Hub. I can see Im goinbg to have to put my photo album up too!
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#9 Systemshock

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 05:41 AM

SquareEnix are beta testing for a European PC release now, so this will be out here eventually.
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#10 suzakuseven

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 08:56 AM

I'm glad everyone enjoyed the pictures :unsure: I really need to remember to start fraps before each game session so I can take bigger pictures!
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#11 Systemshock

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Posted 14 June 2004 - 01:00 PM

I have just read through my review again and realise now how much I have really left out. Since writing the review I have finished the sub-job quest and levelled a monk job to level 15 and also a warrior to 6 with my thief now being 22. I am now able to combine my levelled jobs to include elements of the other (sub) jobs making for some unique and tougher combinations. I have attained rank 3 and only need one more mission for rank 4, I have collected all three dungeon keys from the beastmen encampments of Giddeus, Palborough and Ghelsba and have finally travelled on the airship to Kazham. Ranking allows you to receive further missions and quests and at rank 5 a worldwide airship pass is freely available. I have together with other members of the linkshell slayed the Palborough Mines Dragon. I have also earned the trust of Chocobos and can now ride them making journies around the whole world much quicker and a whole lot safer.

The review that inspired me to play this game was that in PC Format and the writer of that only played in one region and reached I think level 15 in what 50 odd hours of play- realistically what did he know and what do I know even now?

After Christ knows how much time spent playing, my options are now wider than ever:

1. Get levelled to 25 so that I can sensibly travel to Kazham and be able to survive there. Quifm ( a snowy ara) being ideal for parties of 6 now and relatively safe for me to get high experience points to grow my level. 2500 experience points short of level 23 at the minute..

2. Travel to Kazham and explore (and fight in) Yuhtunga and Yhoator jungles. Far far too dangerous for me at the minute (but could still be fun to try and explore if I'm very careful and rely on a lot of luck).

3. Get to level 30 (which looks a long way from here) and complete the Ninja sub-job quest and become a Ninja!

4. Continue to solo fight in areas like Meriphatoad Mountains, always more dangerous than partying, and build up my evasion skills.

5. Go on the odd farming rampage now and then, killing each and every monster in an area just to collect items to then sell for gil.

6. Finally think about properly learning a craft - can really help make gil and unusual items/ armour/ weapons etc

7. Take up fishing again - can also help make gil

8. Finish off some of my outstanding quests

9. Join other members of the linkshell on various partying and quests - the LS is currently organsising an alliance based quest (thats a group of 18 players all working together) for this Saturday.

10. Use my lower level jobs to party with lower level members of the linkshell. Get my Monk up a couple of notches perhaps.

11. Start another job from scratch - I've never used magic at all and could do with some healing magic for sure.

12. Go hunting Notorious Monsters - rare and tough mobs that can drop very valuable items.

13. Try (again) to get through to a hidden valley below a huge waterfall in one area of the game.

14. Explore some of the other accessable areas in the game that I still haven't visited.

Given that I haven't wanted to play any other game since the end of February, its amazing that the ghame still offers more and more things to want to do and achieve! If Half Life 2 or Metroid 2 or FFXII or the next Zelda were all out tomorrow, although I'd probably buy them I can't see that I'd actually play them, not yet anyway ;)
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#12 Stolly

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Posted 28 July 2004 - 01:10 PM

I'm now a level 30 Thief and have succesfully completed the Ninja quest and levelled a Ninja to lvl 16. Aiming to get Ninja to level 20 and then continue as my Thief with Ninja as a subjob (to at least level 40). Before that I have to also finish a Ninja quest which will allow me to properly open up some Ninja only special abilities. Also want to do Samurai advanced job quest and start levelling a Samurai.

Still haven't done any crafting, fishing, mining or logging! Have finally ordered a new game, the first since buying FFXI.....it the FFXI expansion pack :D due in September which coincides with the European PC release of the game.

If you don't get this game before GET IT IN SEPTEMBER.
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#13 CrispinG

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Posted 02 August 2004 - 09:02 PM

I really want to play it, but I have only a mere Macintosh. Sob.

Does it require broadband?
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#14 Rushy

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 08:57 AM

Does it require broadband?

56k friendly <_<
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#15 Laine

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 12:33 PM

Rushy!

Didn't you buy a US PS2 to play this? I'm thisclose to getting it, but where did you get it from, and did you get hit by customs?

Hang on, I don't think that was you...can anyone else help?
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#16 Tlojan Clowbawr

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 01:06 PM

You should get it and play with me and Rin.
We're going to be gaying it up in a double team style by the weekend if the postal system get's it's shit together, but I think we'll need a few more low level folk to start off with.
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#17 Alan Stock

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 01:17 PM

Ahh but the beauty of the jobs system is that us "high levels" can revert to a different job to play at low level at any time. That means you're never left crying because noone is a low level as well, when you start off.

For instance although my main job is Red Mage at level 38, I have loads of jobs at Level 1, and my Black Mage job is Level 7, so I can easily just change to one of them to join you.
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#18 Tlojan Clowbawr

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 01:47 PM

That's really quite good. Brilliant in fact.
One thing that bothered me about other MMORPGs was the need to keep up with anyone you played with. I remember playing PSO on the DC, stopping for a while, then coming back and not being able to play with the same people because they were miles ahead of me. That was a bit crap.
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#19 Stolly

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 03:45 PM

That's really quite good. Brilliant in fact.
One thing that bothered me about other MMORPGs was the need to keep up with anyone you played with. I remember playing PSO on the DC, stopping for a while, then coming back and not being able to play with the same people because they were miles ahead of me. That was a bit crap.

My Job levels are

Thief 30
Ninja 20
Monk 15
Samurai 11 (but going for this one to at least 20 at the minute)
Warrior 10

With White Mage, Red Mage and Black Mage all at level 1.

I can also quest for advanced jobs of Ranger, Paladin, Dark Knight, Bard, Summoner, Dragoon and Beastmaster which Id all have to start at lvl 1 and all of which offer completely new skills and experiences.

No such thing as being left behind really.
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#20 Mallet

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 05:31 PM

No such thing as being left behind really.

I'd agree with this, I could have went straight ahead and tried to level up as quickly as possible to get my advanced job. Instead I decided to give thief a go and work on my crafting skills a little.

One of the best things about this game is you can do what you want when you want. In the highly unlikely event that someone here can't help you if you need some guidance the vast majority of people (on Garuda at least) are very friendly and more than willing to help if you're polite and friendly in return. At least in my experience of the game.

Of course the cost of all this is pretty cheap, the game just takes over your life and takes away the will to play any other games :P
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#21 CrispinG

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Posted 06 August 2004 - 05:46 AM

I'm here in the US right now, and I could probably sneak a PS2 past customs, assuming they don't riddle me with bullets first. Can anyone help me with what I actually need - and also explain what/who I'd be dailing with a modem in the UK, bearing in mind I use AOL on my Mac?

- A US PS2
- A copy of Final Fantasy XI for said PS2
- The Sony hard drive
- Some sort of network thing
- ?
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#22 tyagi

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Posted 21 October 2004 - 04:30 PM

Given that upgrading a PC to a good spec normally costs around 300-ish, and the price of chipping (or importing) a PS2 + FFXI may work out cheaper, can people who play it on the PS2 post some thoughts? I'd be interested to hear about the graphics/sound as well as any interface problems - i.e. do you need keyboard/mouse etc. for the PS2?

ta.
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#23 Mallet

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Posted 22 October 2004 - 08:18 AM

Given that upgrading a PC to a good spec normally costs around 300-ish, and the price of chipping (or importing) a PS2 + FFXI may work out cheaper, can people who play it on the PS2 post some thoughts? I'd be interested to hear about the graphics/sound as well as any interface problems - i.e. do you need keyboard/mouse etc. for the PS2?

ta.

First off FFxi won't work on a chipped machine it has to be a US, or JPN I suppose, machine.

The graphics on PS2 aren't great to be honest in comparison to other PS2 games let alone the P.C version, they are low-res and the best way is to see for yourself, check out Gamespots screens and video from the PS2 version gamespot FFXI page but it is still a beatifully designed world you play in and even on PS2 I have been left staring more than once.

I play on my home cinema set up so I find the sound to be very atmospheric, you get the footsteps behind you when you're being chased etc

As for interface problems I personally have found none, the game was designed for PS2 and it shows in the way you navigate menus and the controls ingame. In fact you're more likely to be frustrated with the controls on PC and quite a few people end up playing with a PS2 pad via a USB adapter. The ingame menus will be familiar if you have played any console Final Fantasy before.

A keyboard is essential as trying to communicate via a controller is incredibly slow and annoying, I personally bought a cordless keyboard so I'm not restricted by the lenght of the lead as to where I can sit and once I got used to typing on my knees it works great. You don't need a mouse, I have one and I've never used it.

As for the game itself I love it! I've played over 500 hours ;) and it's the only game I play now.
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