Rating: Here's the truth, I would give this game a 2 star rating for all non-role playing game lovers, 2 and a half stars to non-final fantasy lovers (but RPG fans). For lovers of both, 3 and a half stars.
WORDS OF WARNING! This is not a game you can simply jump in and out of. It requires patience, commitment and most of all… time.
First challenge for FFXI on the Xbox 360 is the lengthy install process. On inserting the game disk you are required to install the PlayOnline viewer (The 360 acts like an emulator for the original PC program). This installation took 1hr 10mins, which is acceptable. The next challenges is to follow and read all the information and then fill in your billing information (even with the first 30 days free, this information is still required) and then the tedious task of linking your gamer tag and PlayOnline profile. And now, probably the most frustrating and insulting wait of any game I've ever played, the updating (you cannot play the game without the current build, hence the 4365 items needed to be downloaded and installed). This took 4hrs and 45mins!
Now this is not it, final step is to create a content ID and the link it to you PlayOnline profile (which is also linked to your gamertag, yawn). You can finally smell victory. The relief of seeing the character creation page is overwhelming and exciting, as you can here the classic Final Fantasy music and you begin to look forward to all the wonderful challenges ahead. So, set aside, at least 7hrs to get to this point in the game.
Now the harsh and daunting reality sets in, you're in a Massively Multiplayer Online game, and you are all alone. Due to the secluded nature (and time zones) of the Oceania region, the only players online during respectable hours are of Asian decent, the translation modulator works perfectly, but there is the issue that they are mostly all in clans (or lvl50 and above, so they would consider you to be not a worthy adversary).
But with commitment and bargaining (like offering Gil to someone to assist you), you will reap the rewards and satisfaction of levelling up and completing tasks. Trust me when I say, don't rush in and try and explore everywhere and do the all the tutorial tasks within the first 2 hours of game play (I learned from my mistakes). Take baby steps, spend time levelling up, and selling all the items you receive. Soloing is suicide if you are under-levelled.
There is a mountain of opportunity and tasks in FFXI, so at level 12 (which will take approximately 5hrs of solo gaming) look at synthesizing items and selling the resulting outcomes. This will break-up the repetitive nature of attacking foes and will also gain you money. So basically don't get down hearted and give up, put in the miles and this games gives so much back to.
Overall: Worth the wait? Only if you're committed!
(If you need a friend on the game, search for Webstar in the Bastok region, on the Gilgamesh server. I'm more than willing to assist. Also, use this website, http://wiki.ffxiclopedia.org/wiki/Main_Page it's a life saviour)
WEBSTAR 9 (gamertag)