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Final Fantasy 16 Review: A fantastic real-time action JRPG

Hear my Chocobo roar!

Final Fantasy XVI is the latest iteration in a franchise that has rightfully established itself as the king of JRPGs, redefining and shaping the genre with each new entry. Some staple elements that make Final Fantasy what it is are still kept in the game, much to my delight. For instance, Chocobos, which are the flightless birds that have provided means of transportation throughout the whole series—make a comeback once again, as well as certain easter eggs that give previous titles a gentle nod.

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Since each Final Fantasy iteration stands on its own, I've also come to expect smaller doses of innovation with each new title. Still, I wasn't ready for what FFXVI offers. While some newly introduced elements may raise a few eyebrows in the traditionally-oriented FF community, Final Fantasy XVI successfully reinvigorates the combat system with a real-time action approach and adds a darker tone to its world-building and narrative elements, making this FF entry a well-rounded, innovative masterpiece.

Graphics & Performance

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There are no two ways about it—Final Fantasy XVI's graphics are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Featuring stunning backdrops, lush forests, and washed-up, blight-consumed wastelands, the details of the world's environment are crisp, well thought out, and highly detailed. I can safely say that there isn't a single frame that looks bad in this game.

FFXVI uses a high-fantasy approach in its storytelling and visual artstyle. That said, it often aims for realism and forgoes the romanticized and overpronounced elements. The armor and weapons of the characters look realistic and normal, for instance, which immediately caught my eye. Every sword in the game looks like it could actually be wielded by a human, and armor pieces—despite being stylized—still retain the classical function-over-form feeling, which I found refreshing.

My visual immersion into this captivating world was only sometimes marred by the game's inability to deliver the full 60 FPS at all times. FFXVI sometimes struggled to perform well, even when I selected the option that favored frame rate in the Game Performance setting. The occasional stuttering, however, is easily forgivable thanks to the unique graphical experience.

Score: 5/5


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The combat in Final Fantasy XVI is another element that received an overhaul, forgoing the turn-based tactical strategy approach in favor of a real-time action system. The new combat system is smooth, elegant, and flows perfectly. Anyone could approach it from a casual, button-mashing perspective and still make it work, but I was rewarded for the extra effort I put into learning to chain and composing my movesets and skills with care.

While the combat did seem chaotic to me at a glance, I was able to break it down very quickly into its core elements. Clive relies on standard, combo-driven attacks, but he can also put magic to good use, casting spells for additional damage and inducing stagger to his opponents. Learning which spells complement which moves rewarded me with the ability to stagger my opponents more quickly, which is a crucial mechanic, especially during boss fights.

Throughout the story, I was able to unlock more Eikonic powers that provided me with a wide choice of spell combinations that I could use against my opponents, opening doors to endless possibilities. FFXVI gave me up to six different spells, and I could choose a pool of powers divided into their elementals or Eikons. This wide range of spell choices let me craft various builds to suit just about any kind of playstyle I liked, and I spent a significant portion of time experimenting with different powers on a personal quest to make the perfect build.

Score: 5/5


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The storyline of Final Fantasy XVI takes us to the world of Valisthea. There are lands of stunning beauty that are streaked with corruption and death as the terrible Blight spreads, sucking the world dry of Aether and life in the process. What's more, the magical Aether is introduced to the world through the five mysterious and imposingly gigantic Mothercrystals strewn about the lands, which are thought to be remnants of a long-extinct civilization. I really can't think of anything more exciting and mysterious than that for a premise!

The story follows Clive Rosfield, the first son of the Archduke of Rosaria, one of the five realms. Helping him thread the path of a vendetta and slowly uncover the exciting mysteries of their world are his childhood friend Jill and his loyal and adorable dog, Torgal. Jill and Clive share a unique connection that evolves throughout the story. Watching their relationship flourish made me feel like I was watching a high-production television show.

Another honorable mention must also go to Cid. He is a flamboyant but classy rebel leader who befriends Clive early on in the story and quickly captivated me with his witty remarks and incredible voice acting by Ralph Ineson. His boastful charm and sharp tongue provide excellent balance to the overall serious tone that follows Clive's story, introducing a dash of relief that works perfectly in the narrative.

Score: 5/5

Sound & Voice

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I must admit, ever since I dropped a first glance at the world map in Final Fantasy XVI, the famous Game of Thrones score immediately popped into my mind. But this association was quickly replaced by the game's incredible scores that deliver the perfect musical background to any situation I encountered. The orchestral production during the titanic fights between Eikons is worthy of any high-fantasy movie, and the gentle violin pieces during the romantic scenes accent the emotions perfectly.

The overall sound design in FFXVI is perfectly complemented by the voice acting, with Ralph Ineson's talent highlighting my new favorite character, Cid. Clive and Jill's voice actors, at least the English ones, don't fall behind either, and both are able to transfer emotions perfectly and convincingly.

Score: 5/5

Verdict – Final Fantasy is completely reimagined for the better

Final Fantasy XVI is an excellent sequel that will significantly impact the series. Its overhaul of the combat system, coupled with the overall narrative elements, presents a turning point in the series. And if I may say, it feels like the game's coming of age. The narration beautifully presents its captivating storyline, the characters are complex and lifelike, and the combat system kept me coming back for more. The developers over at Square Enix and Creative Business Unit III have truly outdone themselves with this one!

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Image of Luka Rakočević
Luka Rakočević
Luka Rakocevic works as a full-time staff writer at Pro Game Guides and is a new-generation gamer. Backed with old-school gaming knowledge, his oldest gaming memories are on SNES, trying to beat Super Mario. Games are his big inspiration, and he frequently draws from that well to create new art. He prefers narrative-driven games like God of War, Killzone, Half-life, Uncharted and similar. Luka mainly writes science fiction in his free time. When he's not home banging away at his computer keyboard, you will most likely find him at a local pub or a metal concert in the middle of a mosh pit.

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Final Fantasy 16 Review: A fantastic real-time action JRPG

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