I have played this game a little over the past few days so I thought I would offer my first impressions. This is a MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game.... what a mouthful, don't ask me how to pronounce the acronym!). Essentially if you have played EQ, Dark Age of Camelot, Asherons Call, Anarchy Online, EVE Online etc etc you will know what I am talking about. I must say that I am mightily impressed by this game, I have played most of the major MMORPGs that have come out over the last few years and I did burn myself out on EQ. Where FFXI really stands out is the presentation, this is a Final Fantasy game, the initial intro is nothing short of amazing. Exactly what you would expect from S-E (Square-Enix) massive battle scenes with gorgeously rendered models and a very bitter-sweet ending (made me choke a little hehe). Next the character creation is fairly straightforward, the game offers a few choices, but to be honest there is not a pleathora of options. However, do not worry about chars all looking the same, once you get in game the armour is significantly different that people don't look like cookie cutters. Once you have got in game as is usual with these games you will be lost and alone, there is a small kind of intro explaining your country choice and you get a small quest to go find an NPC (marked on a map! what a godsend you have maps in this game!) and off you go. The Game Mechanics for combat are fairly standard, it is good though that you get job abilities that are passive (ie Gilfinder on a Thief increases the money NPCs drop), job abilities that are active (Steal can be used every 5mins) and weapon skills that are active (this is a good part of the game, when you train in a certain weapon you will get a skill, for instance Hand to Hand level 10 gives you the skill Combo). Weapon skills rely on a TP meter that you charge up when you strike an enemy or you get hit. Watch out though the enemy NPCs also have these and some can be pretty devestating. Later on you have to learn how to combine these with other players to create group combos. Again the presentation stands out, the games NPCs make you feel you are in a Final Fantasy world. They have their little quirks and there is always a feeling of amusement. Most of these type of games use NPCs as vendors or quest starters. FFXI uses NPCs for these and also for the storylines that are there, this is the closest online game to a single player RPG I have found. I have spent hours just wandering around chatting to people and laughing at their comments. Things to do are kept reasonably fun, there are quests of the usual kind, there are also missions, which raise your rank with your home country and also carry on the storyline. Crafting (I have not really looked at this) is not too laborious and does actually offer real reward. The economy is excellent, most items dropped from NPCs are usuable in some kind of craft and this helps you sell the items you have farmed as a newbie to those higher levels who cannot be bothered to collect them themselves. Selling is easy through Auction Houses, where you set a price and then leave them there for someone to bid on. Buying is great as you can get real bargains. Overall my initial impressions are very good, I have only played through the first few levels as a warrior and a thief and I look forward to progressing to a decent level. Already there is too much to talk about and I believe anyone who enjoys these types of game will love it!