The third volume of the Ultimania series collects art, facts, quotes and all sorts of information about Final Fantasies X-XIV. It is a must for big fans of the series in this era.
Several months ago, I began a journey to play, and finish, a bunch of Final Fantasy games I never managed to complete growing up. I started with IX, am now working on X and plan to move to XII once I finish it up. When the chance to review Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive 3 came up, I had to jump on it.
This massive tome comes in at 344 pages of full-color tidbits, artwork and plot recaps. Each of the single-player FF games are featured in equal measure, with the MMOs (XI, XIV) receiving just a little less detail.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the detail given. For example, every single player game has a wealth of information, from characters, story synopsis’ and much more. I want to make sure I’m not underselling just how much attention is afforded to each book, character, story location and everything in between.
Every main character is profiled in detail, from race and age to class and biography. It is exceptionally interesting to read about characters whose games I have played, if not completed, and see what the developers intended when creating them. The detail continues with location profiles, weapon profiles and much more. Even avid fans who haven’t picked up one of these games in years will be able to kill hours paging through and reminiscing.
I can honestly say from my time with the text that there is no piece of information I wanted that I was unable to find.
Artwork and Layout
It is fair to say that without a megaton of artwork, a book like this loses much of its appeal. Luckily, the pages are filled with all kinds of it. Concept art joins art from the completed games and maps, ensuring browsers never run out of interesting eye candy.
I want to specifically mention the relationship maps. These are layout marvels in themselves, and go a long way to help confused players, even years on, recall the relationships between characters. Color-coded lines and single-word descriptors make what should be an unruly page into a fun delve for even casual fans.
One thing I was not a huge fan of are the monster artwork sections. With so many monsters in any given Final Fantasy, it is tough to give every one the space it deserves in terms of concept art and full artwork. It seems the publishers went with a strategy to give some monsters finished looks and others conceptualized looks. I’m not a huge fan, but FF mega-fans might well like the change of pace here.
Depth of Information
It is only fair to say that this volume can surely act as an encyclopedia for fans of X-XIV.
No matter which game you’re looking at, with some minor exceptions, you will likely be able to find whatever you’re looking for as a student of video game history. I don’t intend to imply this book is useful as a strategy guide.
Even as someone who grew up playing through the first dozen or so hours of X several times, I learned much going through X’s pages in this volume. It is enlightening to go into individual characters’ biographies, see how others are related, and see how the whole story fits together in ways I might never have realized playing the game as a young kid.
Even regarding the games I never actually got around to playing, it is deeply engaging to page through and read about these massive worlds, speaking as a huge fan of fantasy, science fiction and other types of fictional storytelling.
The only way I can knock the volume here is in reference to XIV. XIV’s section is much shorter than the other games’. This can probably be attributed to the fact that the game is still ongoing, but I would have liked information on the first few expansions, at least.
Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive Volume 3 is an excellent addition to any Final Fantasy fan’s collection. As anyone who follows my reviews will know, I love coffee table books, and this one would fit right in with my others.
Dark Horse delivers a deep dive into the world of some of the best and most recent Final Fantasy games. Character art, relationship maps, location descriptions and more make this an engaging book for any fan.
A digital copy of this book was supplied by Dark Horse Comics for the purpose of this review. The book is available for pre-order now.
Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive 3
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Format: FC, 336 pages – HC; 8 1/2″ x 11″
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Written by: Square Enix
Cover Artist:Yoshitaka Amano
Genre:Video Game, Fantasy, Art Book