May not be for everyone, but it is for me...
Given that I am the hard. The core. The hardcore...I can handle this game. In fact, despite having GRAW, Oblivion, Battlefield 2 and Tomb Raider at my finger tips...countless hours are spent playing Final Fantasy XI.
Originally, on the beta, I held back a little. I wanted to test the waters, but wasn't sure how much I could get into it. I got my character to a level 10 warrior. Decent, but you're not able to do much yet. The fact that the retail version opens up a number of options to you should let you know there's much more to anticipate here. First off it includes all three expansion packs, one of which JUST came out and is selling for $30. So to get this game for $50 is a bargain (if you exclude the monthly fee).
One thing to note, especially about the beta, was that you just got dropped into this world. No manual, no real sense of what the heck I'm supposed to do. This is where the game fails, it is -at times - too large of a sandbox. It is a MMORPG, and the game is supposed to live forever, but goodness. When you don't know what does what, we have a problem.
A couple saving graces about the final version is that 1) we have a manual now, which includes some of the keyboard shortcuts. 2) We have veterans from the PS2 and PC who have been playing for years, and for the most part are friendly and willing to share their knowledge with you (I've had on a few occasions high lvl characters stop what they're doing to help me though a quest). These two factors add to bring a sense of "I know what to do now" that most probably didn't have before.
You can go solo, or in a group - its your choice. You can hook up with a Linkshell (CLAN) and check to see when your friends are on, and when their not. The reason this (Playonline) needs to be seperate from XBOX LIVE is because you are online with PC and PS2 players. So to keep track of a friend playing on a PS2, a gamertag they have NOT. So, the game itself keeps track of who is where, much like Halo 2 did on the XBOX 1. Not only will it tell you if your friend is online or not, it will tell you which region and what level they are.
Are you a white mage looking to hook up with a warrior? You can do a search for someone in a number of ways. By level, by job, or just see who's in your area. Once you know what you're doing it really does improve the gaming experience.
Outside of its dated graphics (though noticably better then the PS2 and in widescreen) and the audio (which is ashamedly electronic sounding as oppossed to the amazing orchestrations I know Square Enix can do), there is a great game to be had. It will not fit everyone, but there are some of us that I've run into (Japanese gamers included) who are playing on their 360 and share my heart.
Yes, it is for the hardcore, but the game is so relaxing...It takes a hardcore audience to get into it, but the gameplay isn't fast and frantic. You want that, play an FPS. This game rewards you in so many areas. It takes time to build a strong character, but then you will be a force to be reconed with. From there you can adventure whereever you want. Explore the new lands included in the expansion packs. Pick up a craft like woodworking and make a living creating and selling items. Furnish you house.
For those who have the patience this game is highly recommended.