Performance/Lag - 8
FFXI runs very well, and is 56k friendly. This is due to the 56k cap on all users. As a result of a constant latency between all users, lag is minimal, even for those who play on dial-up. It has been very successful, and all players seem to enjoy the performance of the game. The downside is that players can never surpass 28 frames per second, so the game never flows perfectly smooth. That said, the human eye only registered 30 frames a second, so it's not really that big of a deal.
The only time performance seems to be an issue is right after content updates, expansion packs, or large patches. However, this seems to be normal in the world of MMORPG's, and is usually resolved within 24 hours.
Customer Service - 3
Customer service in FFXI is rather laughable. GM's are seemingly powerless to do anything. If you trade an item and it disappears, that item is gone forever, and it won't be getting replaced. While billing issues can usually be resolved with great efficiency, in-game problems are normally just ignored. It can be extremely frustrating when a repeat botter is constantly reported, and no action is taken to prevent these illegal activities from going on.
One other thing of interest is the fact that Square Enix will nullify your content ID, which is essentially deleting your character, if you stop playing for more than three months. Considering inactive characters aren't really affecting their server, it seems peculiar that they would not want to secure their customer's satisfaction by just leaving their character alone, at least for a longer amount of time. Games like Dark Age of Camelot have kept characters forever and it's absolutely laughable that Square Enix does not.
Fun - 8
I won't say that FFXI is fun for all, only that it can be fun. It will depend on your personal play style.
FFXI is not a game for the casual player. Advancement requires a great amount of dedication to your character, your guild and your in-game finances. I would say that if you can dedicate at least 20 hours a week that you can enjoy this game. However, if you only have an hour or two to play every other day, than I can't honestly advise you to buy this game.
There's a variety of things to do to keep you interested in FFXI. You'll be plenty occupied by leveling for the majority of the game. Should you decide that's not enough, there's seven complete storylines for you to play through with your linkshell. Maybe you'd like to spend some time crafting or fishing on a slow day. Also, there's a huge array of quests to be completed throughout the various cities in the game. Top it off with the festivals that are held to celebrate certain holidays, and you should be occupied nearly all the time.
For the more demanding players, there are exciting events like Dynamis and Limbus; large raid content that takes several hours to complete, where player can acquire some extremely special gear sets. There's Ballista, and sometimes, there's inter-server PvP contests between players and guilds alike, called Brenner. In the next upcoming update, SE has announced that they will even be implementing chocobo breeding and chocobo racing, which will add all sorts of new excitement to the game.
One of the newest features, Besieged, is particularly fun and rewarding. Essentially, it's a large gathering of Beastmen enemies, who will ''invade'' a particular zone. Players must band together and fend off the Beastmen invasions, or they will risk large hordes of high level mobs running rampant through that area. While this is still slightly an in-works event, as in I don't believe they've figured out which difficulty is suitable, it's very entertaining. To this point, I'm proud to say that most of the servers are still undefeated, and the Beastmen have not achieved a successful invasion.
Lastly, the game's learning curve is very simple, yet still appealing to the experienced vets. A veteran can hop onto FFXI and master it within a few minutes, and even a newcomer to the genre (and even if this is your first online game, you can pick it up and get the hang...) can pick up the game and get the hang of it within a few hours. A special challenge to all those who believe they are truly tough (skilled); I'd ask you to try and fight Absolute Virtue. That's a super-god, who takes a minimum of a full day, real life time, to be killed.
So yes, this game deserves an eight, if you're this type of hardcore MMO player. You'll just want to make some good friends, spend a decent amount of time on it, and spread out your time on things besides just grinding to level 75.
Value - 8
Regarding the game's value, I definitely believe that if you're the right type of player, this game is more than worth the initial monetary investment. There's something for everyone, provided you have the time to dedicate to the game. I would recommend that all moderate to hardcore online gamers give this game a shot.
While the game is not perfect, it's both a memorable and an enjoyable gaming experience, and I think it has a lot to offer any player who's willing to give it a fair chance. With three expansion packs out, an upcoming balance patch and chocobo breeding/racing right around the corner, now is a wonderful time to enter the world of Vana'diel, and live out your own adventure. The overall score is dipped by some serious problems on the periphery of the gaming experience. This is one of those games that is more than the sum of its parts.