“Final Fantasy XI”: One of the nicest video games you have never heard of.

The “Final Fantasy” franchise belongs to Square Enix and first began in 1987. “FFXI” first premiered in Japan in 2002, then was released in North America and Europe in 2004. Originally released on PC and PlayStation 2, it is now on PC and Xbox 360.

It has won several rewards, including tying for the grand prize from Japan’s Consumer Entertainment Software Association (CESA) for 2002–2003, GameSpy’s PC MMORPG Game of the Year Award 2003 and IGN’s Game of the Month March 2004.

“FFXI” also has over 200 songs, many of which are included in Distant Worlds, an orchestral performance that features “Final Fantasy” songs and is performed worldwide.

“FFXI” is a massively multi-player online role-playing game. Unlike traditional games where only several people can play together at once, with MMORPGs hundreds of thousands of people can play simultaneously. “FFXI” was the first cross-platform MMORPG, a game that can be played on PC and multiple consoles, and it was the first MMORPG available for Xbox.

As with many MMORPGs, there are various playing styles. Some people play for the joy of smashing pixilated heads, some play for the honor and prestige of owning hard-to-get items and others play for the storyline.

I have played “FFXI” since 2004. I am also an RPG-motivated player. The stories told in this game are amazing, both in the main mission lines and side quests. They interact to form a rich lore that truly brings the planet of Vana’diel to life.

There are five major “expansions”, brand new stories available for download that usually involve visiting new continents and battling new monsters. There are also about a dozen smaller stories and battlefields that have been added over the years that do not equal the massive collections a full expansion represents.

The basic controls of “FFXI” are simple enough for beginners, but have higher functions to give the complexity master gamers crave. It was the first “Final Fantasy” game to feature Real Time Battle. The only other game to feature this is the newly released “Final Fantasy XIV”.

There are two facts about this game that are often overlooked. One is the ability to turn various battle-effects off. This means people with seizures and other health issues who cannot normally play videogames can play this game.

The second is that its servers are not segregated by region. In other MMORPGs, like “Final Fantasy XIV”, players from North America play on special NA servers, Europeans play on Euro servers, Japanese on Japanese servers, etc.

On “FFXI”, anyone can play anywhere. For example, I have friends in Britain, Gibraltar, Australia, Canada, even Japan, along with others from across America I would never have gotten to know without this feature.

Critics will often point out its old-fashioned graphics and game play, but just because it is old does not mean it is bad. “FFXI” is just as exciting today as it was when I first picked up the controller almost a decade ago.

If you have a spare $12 a month, use it on the monthly subscription fee and join the quest to save Vana’diel.

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