Fantasy Earth Zero Review: Final Fantasy It Ain't
By Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG journalist
The first thing that came up when I tried Fantasy Earth Zero is the Square Enix logo that you can see in the lower part of the start screen. I thought immediately the game was made by one of my favorite game developers so I was excited with it.
Then I found out when I was doing this preview that Square Enix let go of the game after a few months of its release and GamePot took the reins and kept the game going. So my first warning is that don't let the Square Enix logo make you judge the game immediately.
Fantasy Earth Zero uses an over the shoulder perspective which actually caught me off guard. It took me quite a while to get used to the game's point of view because MMORPGs normally don't use this kind of perspective. The unusual point-of-view takes time to get used to and the uneasiness it brings may be one of the main reasons why you wouldn't want to continue on playing FEZ.
Getting past the unusual perspective was the biggest struggle with the game however once I got used to it. I started to enjoy the numerous game features the game has. Though the game's pov really is gnawing at me all throughout my game time, but I think the game has enough to make you keep on playing.
The Game's Looks
The game really looks like an old-school Role Playing Game. You get the feeling that the game's graphics is from a final fantasy game that's what lead me to think that the game was developed by Square Enix. There were moments where the game's choice of light colored backgrounds and environments feels that it has a dated graphics engine.
However, there are moments where the game's graphics provides a nice feel that would encourage you to keep on playing. The game isn't heavy on the eyes that you can play it for hours on end.
How it Plays
With the game taking an over the shoulder perspective, the game solidifies the feel that the game is a console RPG rather an MMORPG. There are times that you find it harder to play the game with a keyboard and mouse than a gamepad or controller. In fact the game gives you the choice of playing it the usual way with the keyboard and mouse or go with a controller.
Actually using the controller rather the keyboard and mouse plays even better on moments where you are surrounded by monsters because sometimes you fumble through the controls especially on crunch time. Also using a controller gives you a faster response time especially during PVP battles where a split second can really turn the tides of the battle.
Speaking of PVPs, FEZ is very much a PVP-centric MMORPG. With a lot of game features that provide a highly competitive PVP atmosphere. Players even level faster with PVPing rather than going with the usual PVE grinding. The game has a very stable PVP setup where players can keep on battling each other as long as there are people playing.
The game has five nations where you can join in and compete. The game's PVP system is reminiscent of Warhammer Online's PVP nation battle. The only problem this game has is not really the game's system but rather the lack of people taking advantage of the PVP action.
Among the PVP features in FEZ I really liked the game's Kingdom Battle system. It's provides a refreshing change of pace to the usual PVE grinding because of the intense competitive PVP action in place. Actually, it seems that FEZ was actually made for the game's kingdom battle because taking part in kingdom battles provides more experience points compared to PVE.
Also, the game seems to change into a more RTS type of MMORPG. Strategy takes centers stage when you are in kingdom battles rather than just relying on your character's power. The game's biggest equalizer is the summons system where you can control summons that have a specific strength or affinity.
I also liked the fact that the game's kingdom battle system has a building feature in place where you can build buildings that help you fight in the kingdom battles you are in. The only downside in FEZ' kingdom battle system is its reliance on the amount of players who are logged in the game. That's the clincher in the game's system because if you have no one to go against in kingdom battles then you can't take part in it.
Lack of People
After playing for a few hours, FEZ' main problem actually comes out. Majority, if not all of FEZ' game features are heavily reliant on the amount of gamer population currently logged in. As I have mentioned in this whole article, population reliance is the game's strength and also it's Achilles heel. To fully enjoy what the game has to offer there should be a lot of players logged in and busy playing the game. However, in the most part that I was playing the game I've met only a few players and there was only about one kingdom battle of two that's occurring.
I think though the fact that the game is still in Open Beta is one of the main reasons why this is the case. Hopefully when the game goes commercial the game's population drastically blows up so that when you get to join in there would be a lot of things happening all at the same time.
As far as I'm concerned, FEZ has a solid gameplay and the game developers knew what they're doing because they have the game features pegged down on one thing, PVP action. The game took a different route in the MMORPG in terms of the game's core systems. The question if it works or not is up to you, however seeing the game's history, it seems that the FEZ has missed the mark far enough for Square Enix to let the game go. Now that, says a lot about FEZ.