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Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan
Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Media: DVD/1
Players: Massively Multiplayer

Graphics & Sound:
While most of the MMO playing worlds has become trapped in World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XI has managed to pull and maintain a healthy following. The game, which is one of the only multi-platform MMOs on the market (both PC and Xbox 360 versions are available and interact with the PS2 players), has also seen a good dose of new content since its release. This began with last year’s Chains of Promathia expansion and now with the recent addition of Treasures of Aht Urhgan.

Treasures of Aht Urhgan doesn’t offer too much in the way of visual or sound upgrades over the original game. Other than seeing new creatures, armors, weapons and lands, the game still holds the same visuals as the original and expansion. What this means for players who have yet to jump into Final Fantasy XI is detailed areas and characters in a persistent, open world.

Like any good expansion, Treasures of Aht Urhgan opens up new areas, adventures and jobs in Final Fantasy XI. However, simply purchasing the expansion is only half of what is needed to really experience the expansion – you’ll need to complete a special quest, which will then give you access to the new area. Once there, things get a little more complicated since you’ll also need to perform three rather difficult quests in order to unlock the three new job classes: Corsair, Puppet Master and Blue Mage. While this will rule out most low-level players, the more seasoned ones shouldn’t have too much of a problem.

The new Corsair class is a ranged fighter whose main weapons are guns and special dice abilities. These abilities, which include stat and experience buffs, use dice rolls to determine just how strong they will be. Puppet Masters are another “pet class” and have control of puppets that can be used in battle. These puppets can be modified to include different attributes. Perhaps the most anticipated of the three is the Blue Mage, who has the ability to absorb skills and abilities from enemies. However, Blue Mages must first be hit by the ability and then defeat it in order to gain use of the ability.

Two new modes, Besieged and Assault, have also been included. Besieged is the FF XI equivalent of the Battle of Helm’s Deep in “The Lord of the Rings”. At certain points in the week, groups of beast men will begin attacking the town, at which point players are asked to help defend. Dying during a siege does not come with any penalties, but at the same time, it’s not a free experience spout either. Instead, participating in sieges opens up new items and quests.

In Assault, players get a series of quests that earn points which can later be spent on new items and equipment. Most of the new items found in the expansion are gained through amassing assault points, including a set of special items that must be appraised before equipping.

Other additions include a Mog Locker, which gives you a little added storage while you’re in the Whitegate.

Treasures of Aht Urhgan is meant for the higher-level characters rather than for anyone. With enough backup and potions, low level characters can take on the quests to reach the new areas, though simply jumping to an area you’re not at a level to compete in typically isn’t a smart thing to do.

Game Mechanics:
Treasures of Aht Urhgan holds onto the same control mechanics as the original game, so the only real surprises in store for long-time players are the new skill sets that come with the new classes. Some, like the Blue Mage, add a new dynamic to groups and will have some groups rethinking how to reorganize their groups in order to make full use of the Blue Mages.

Overall, the expansion is a nice addition to Final Fantasy XI, though most of the expansion is clearly aimed at higher-level players rather than newcomers. This shouldn’t become much of an issue for players who have been around for a while and are in the market for something new. Players who are relative newcomers might want to see what the rest of the game has to offer before traveling into the larger world.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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