TGS 2005: Final Fantasy XI Impressions

We get a look at Square Enix's Xbox 360 port of its popular Final Fantasy MMO.

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The Final Fantasy series is at last making its way to a Microsoft system with Final Fantasy XI's massively multiplayer 360 debut. The game is on display at the Tokyo Game Show, and we were able to check out one of the many events that were used to illustrate different parts of the game during the day. We were in time to catch a chocobo race in progress, across the arid lands of the Buburimu Peninsula and down into Bibiki Bay.

The game seems to be mapped to the 360 controller much like it is to the PS2 controller in that version of the MMO. All movement, menu manipulation, and general actions were accomplished via the controller, though there were keyboards hooked up to the systems as well. None of the keyboards were used during gameplay, however, so they were likely present just in case one of the contestants wanted to chat away their time. They appeared to be standard keyboards (and definitely not of the keyboard-controller hybrid variety).

Visually, Final Fantasy XI seems to be gradually making itself home on the 360. The characters look good; the environments the players moved through were predominantly dry, rocky canyons, flowering cacti, and stretches of deserted beach that the chocobos trotted through. One thing we did notice, though, was that the game's frame rate took a noticeable, large dip when there was a lot of onscreen action. For example, certain areas on the Buburimu Peninsula blow up dust storms that drift across the arid landscape. These dust storms, in conjunction with a number of enemies spawning or popping into view, made matters sluggish during certain points in the gameplay. The draw distance didn't seem to otherwise get in the way of matters too much, though, and seemed to occur at a reasonable distance out from the characters.

Would-be adventurers keen to enter the realms of Vana'diel have to wait only a bit longer--the 360 and this new localization of the popular MMORPG will arrive in just a couple of short months. Keep your eyes on this gamespace for more news as it emerges.

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