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Final Fantasy XI

The Final Fantasy franchise dates way back to the late 80s, but for the legions of Xbox fans, it is a strange and unfamiliar universe. Final Fantasy has a reputation as the ultimate role-playing opera of blades, bows, and fireballs on the PlayStation, often starring unsettlingly pretty men. With the release of Final Fantasy XI, which has had online presence now for two years now on PS2 and PC, can the series sell its brand of androgynous she-males on the 360?

FFXI plunks you down in one of three starting areas within the magical land of Vana'diel. It might be a hopelessly cute, rural hutland or a medievally urbanized castle-city. From there though, it's pretty much standard MMO fare. You go here, talk to this guy, go there, kill four o' these, jog back ... all while enjoying the profoundly Japanese character design that has made Final Fantasy so beloved of Nintendo and PlayStation fanboys.

You can choose your character from five playable races. There's the teddy-bear-esque Taru Taru, the massive, hulking Galka, the playful, cat-girl Mithra, plus humans and elves. The major difference between these races is their appearance, but some are better suited to certain jobs than others due to slight bonuses. You can tweak your character a bit so that you don't look exactly like everybody else, but the real way to distinguish yourself is with your "job." Although the word "job" is misleading, as it really just defines what class of character you play whether it be a swordfighter, spellweaver, or some combination of the two. If you like hurling spells, follow the path of the mage; if cartwheeling a broadsword is more your thing, take up arms as a warrior. If you're totally confused by all of this and can't make up your mind, use magic and weapons together as a red mage. No matter what you choose, FFXI allows for you to get a second job later on, so you're covered.

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