It's better to play with the keyboard cuz it's easier to macro your skills that way.. The server do still have players. My suggestion on buying FF 11 is to wait for FF 14 which come out next month.. and If you pre-order the collection edition, you get to play the game 8 days earlier.. which is on the 22 or some what of September.. Normal edition is on the 30th of September.. This way you have a better grip of the game and everyone is new to the game unlike FF 11 where it may be hard to find party because you just started out..
But overall if you want to give FF 11, buy the game for like 20 bucks or so with all the expansions and give your first free month a try..