Final Fantasy XI Online Review

If you read this site or any other gaming review outlet, you pretty much know how video game reviews are put together. The author starts will a snappy, funny or interesting introduction, followed by the laundry list of reasons why that game you've been looking forward to is either great or terrible. Every so often, reviewers get a game that can't be squeezed into this normal format; Assassin's Creed was the last one I came across (check out my review here… it's pretty funny if you've got a minute). The twist in that game was so… stupid, that breaking the review mold was an absolute must.

Final Fantasy XI: Vana' Diel Collection 2008 for the Xbox 360 (also available for PC and PS2) is the most recent game that had me stumped. How do you write a review on a years-old MMORPG and its expansions when most gamers either aren't interested or have already played it? I'll still be letting you, the reader, know what I think of my second trip to Vana' Diel (played it first on PS2), but before we get to that, I'm going to take you through the exhausting, hours-long setup process FF XI demands in a more narrative form. Follow along, will ya?

When I put FF XI into my 360 for the first time, I had no idea what I was getting into. Oh… before I even unwrapped the game, I knew I'd need a keyboard to play. You just do. There is no way around it. Thirty dollars later, I was the proud owner of the Xbox 360 Messenger Pad, which, admittedly, is one of the cooler peripherals I've seen and played with.

Let's get back to starting up the game. Upon putting FFXI into the 360, I was informed that I needed to install the PlayOnline viewer, which is kind of an online gaming hub, created by SquareEnix, for use with this particular game only. Imagine if Xbox Live was only created for and utilized by Halo 3 and you've got a good idea about how the PlayOnline system is set up.

Installing the viewer to my HDD took about 20 minutes, which didn't seem so terrible. The next step was to set up my PlayOnline account information. This process was so elaborate that if they had asked for my blood type and what I liked on my pizza, I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised (the answer to both is mayonnaise). After entering my name, address et. al, I moved onto the payment option. These are secure servers so for those who may be worried about theft, don't get all freaked out yet. Also, the first 30 days of Final Fantasy XI are free, but additional months cost $12.95. Not too shabby, but not free either.