Final Fantasy XI is an outstanding entry in a series that is nearly twenty years old. The Final Fantasy series was created by the Japanese company Square Co. in 1987. At the time Square were in a difficult position, as they had focused on making games for the Nintendo Famicom Disk System and this format had become unpopular. The company were eager for success and saw great potential in the role-playing genre. Final Fantasy was their attempt to make a new kind of role-playing title.
Final Fantasy came out in Japan at the end of 1987. It was excellent, offering a fresh and original role-playing experience. Final Fantasys strength was that it had a strong narrative that ran throughout the game. This made it very compelling and helped it to capture peoples interest. It was an enormous success and launched what would become a hugely popular franchise. It would lead to Final Fantasy XI and beyond.
When Square made Final Fantasy, they looked at the role-playing genre and explored the possibilities of what it could do. Final Fantasy was innovative, and this sense of invention would become a major element of the series, continuing all the way through to Final Fantasy XI. The first sequel, Final Fantasy II, was equally creative, surprising people by coming up with a completely new plot and characters.
The Final Fantasy series flourished and a number of dazzling games followed. Final Fantasy IV was a gripping, brilliant game and became the second title in the series to be released in North America. Final Fantasy VI had an enthralling story that gave it serious emotion and depth. Final Fantasy X used voice acting and beautiful three-dimensional visuals to create its own game world. These were all strong titles and laid the way beautifully for Final Fantasy XI.
Final Fantasy XI has continued the sense of innovation that is expected of this series. A highly ambitious game, it saw the franchise move into the world of online gaming. Final Fantasy XI is a massively multi-player online role-playing game. It is also unique as it is playable on both consoles and PCs, all of which connect to the same game servers. This has made it the first cross-platform title of its kind.
There was great curiosity about Final Fantasy XI before its release in 2002. Images and previews of the game captured peoples attention. A special bonus disk was included with the release of Final Fantasy X, containing a trailer for the game. Its creator Square Enix also held beta tests for the game to gather players feedback and improve it. This allowed them to handle any concerns that people had and fine-tune it.
Final Fantasy XI was launched in Japan on May 16 2002 for the Sony PlayStation 2. The PC release came on November 5th. It had its PC release in North America on October 28 2003, with the European release following in September 2004. The initial Japanese launch was a complicated affair, as the game required a hard drive for the PlayStation 2 console and stocks of these were limited at first. Square Enix responded well to any issues that developed, and also released a game patch to enhance it.
Square Enix adopted an interesting approach to the game, developing it and reworking it even after it had been released. The company has revised it since its launch and made it even better, adding in new areas and new content. This has enriched the Final Fantasy XI experience. There have been two expansions, Rise of the Zilart and Chains of Promathia, to complement the game. A third expansion, Treasures of Aht Urhgan, is planned for spring 2006.
Final Fantasy XI has established itself as a major presence in online gaming. It sold well, building up more than 500,000 subscribers by January 7 2004. There were almost a million game characters active within this time period. It was well received, enjoying many positive reviews from the game press. It was crucial in building up Square Enixs PlayOnline service and more than fulfilled their hopes for the title.
Final Fantasy XI is a truly great game. It has combined the creativity and innovation that is the hallmark of Final Fantasy with a state of the art online gaming format. It is an amazing experience and has taken the series in a new direction. It will continue entertaining people for a long time to come.