Well, there goes THAT little streak of post. I’ll try to do better, blah blah, yadda yadda, you’ve heard it before and frankly I bet you’re as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it. My GOAL is to post daily (barring life interfering), but like any other goal, it’s something that you have to work at and don’t always succeed in hitting.
So why haven’t I posted since I got back into town? Something profound and rewarding? Tragic and horrible? Nope and nope. Mostly it’s just been getting back into a routine with my life. I got in at midnight on Sunday, which means I was in bed by 1am, and then up at 8 for my chiropractor appointment. Did various errands (got diagnosed with Lyme Disease at my physical, so I’m on an antibiotic for the next month, which I needed to go pick up), and got some shopping done.
One of the things that we picked up while shopping was Final Fantasy XI. Yes, that IS a roman numeral 11. Yes, I HAVE played to completion every previous Final Fantasy, including Tactics, the Legends, and Mystic Quest. Yes, I AM in fact a Squaresoft fanboy. Just because I don’t wander around with a screenname like “Sefaroth” or “Cloud7777” and plaster copyrighted game images all over my website doesn’t mean that I’m not a huge fan of the series. It just means that I’m not fucking STUPID.
That rant out of the way, let me tell you about FFXI: it is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), ala EverQuest, Dark Ages of Camelot, Ultima Online, and (more recently) Star Wars Galaxies. Even prior to its release, it was receiving a lot of flack (some merited, some not) about being “yet another EQ-clone”. And in some ways, that accusation is spot on: your first 5 levels WILL be spent sitting around killing little furry bunnies and other similar creatures. In order to develop a skill, you WILL have to sit around and do the same (or similar) thing over and over again.
Before I get into how it’s NOT an EQ-clone, let me first address these issues, as they are both a little unfair and I think they need addressing: first, what do you EXPECT to fight at level 2? An astral dragon? Second, before you bitch and moan about having to do something over and over again to get good at it, go play concert-level Mozart without ever sitting in front of a piano before. Better yet, go forge your own sword: the burns from the metal splashback of you overheating the metal would do well to remind you that SKILL TAKES PRACTICE.
Man, I really do seem to be ranting a bit this time. Fine, no more diversions, just the positives and negatives about FFXI.
– The first 5 or so levels go by far more quickly than in other MMORPGs I’ve played.
– The NPC dialogue is top-notch and informative (better than others I’ve played), making for a more immersive experience.
– The graphics are gorgeous… SquareEnix’s art department has succeeded in once again creating a compelling, robust world, with interesting creatures and a beautiful environment. It’s possibly the best looking MMORPG currently on the market.
– The job system is easy to use, and the classes are fun to play.
– The crafting system is at least on par with the one found in DAoC (for those who’ve played DAoC, you’ll know how high praise this is).
– The interface is easy once you figure out that you can largely ignore the instructions for the keyboard shortcuts in the manual, and just use a three button mouse for nearly everything.
– As much as I was nervous about Playonline getting in the way, it’s actually a really freakin’ nice system. It allows you to manage universal things (options, friends lists, et cetera), chat, send email (yep, you get your own @pol.com email address when you sign up… complete with POP mail info, if you want to use the address for more than in-game stuff with your own mail client).
– Money has meaning: they did a great job setting up a working, non-inflationary economy.
– It’s the first bi-lingual, bi-platform MMORPG (it’s been out in Japan for the past year, and runs on both PC and PS2… all on the same servers). I had an interesting conversation with a level 57 Ninja from Japan, about the Ninja job class. Apparently it’s an extremely expensive job… an hour of play can cost upwards of 50,000 gil (in-game money).
– World Passes. It’s the stupidest system for server balancing I’ve ever seen. What were they thinking? It’s easy to circumvent, though.
– You run around. A LOT. The footfall sound effect really gets old after a while. (I wish they’d invested a bit more energy in this particular sound effect.)
– Resource intensive. Those fantastic graphics come at a cost. It runs beautifully on my system, but that’s because I’ve got a modern machine to run it on. It is significantly less stable on a slower/lesser equipped machine.
– the PlayOnline chat rooms suck. In game communication is alright, but the chat room interface genuinely sucks ass: no way to resize your window, nowhere to adjust font or font size, and defaults out of the box to a really stupidly low idle-out. It’s no wonder that they aren’t used much.
– It’s the first bi-lingual, bi-platform MMORPG. It means you get a lot of people who are playing it on their console, and are limited to a small list of canned chat choices. You get a lot of people who don’t know English, which can make it hard to communicate (and I’m not talking about the Japanese! The Japanese players just chat at you in Japanese kanji, to which you say “huh?” at which point they either shrug and walk off, or switch to english and explain).
– They released a GIGANTIC software patch less than a week after it was released in the US. This means that you’ve got a 3 hour (on broadband) download to deal with before you can play.
– The initial setup process (thank god you don’t have to do it more than once) is daunting and confusing.
I’d say that this is by far the best MMORPG I’ve played. If you’ve never played a MMORPG, this would probably be an excellent one to start with. If any of you DO start playing it (or are playing it already), look for Nadreck on the Carbunkle server. (My pol.com address is my handle name.)