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Final Fantasy IV Review

by Jiggs

It is only fitting that the first review I’ll be writing for The RPG Place is none other than Final Fantasy IV! The significance of this game cannot be understated. For the RPG genre, it has set trends that go way back to this release. I’ll be covering that aspect later. When I first sat down to play this game, I had no idea what to expect upon transfixing my eyes to the screen. After watching the first five minutes, the introduction drew me into the game immediately. From that moment on, I endured many sleepless nights -- and wasted plenty o’ hours to the end, but it was all worth it. When the smoke cleared, my increasing interest in RPG’s grew enormously and I became a fan of Square. Why is this game great? Here are my reasons...

Characters & Plot
The first thing that will come to mind when you begin playing is the plot. The attention to detail makes this not just a game, but a theatrical experience. The characters have emotions and motivations that carry on the story. Relationships between characters develop over time, which makes it seem like you personally get to know them. The struggles that go on between characters causes the plot to twist and turn making every scenario seem fresh. The major theme itself isn’t too shabby. Like most games, it centers around the coming of a world crisis that has or will soon befall a civilization, usually medieval. In this case, FFIV’s storyline is about an empire’s sudden urge to obtain crystals for their own selfish gains. The crystals are the key elements that your characters will strive to find, and are your opposition’s objective also. The opening scene has Cecil of the Red Wings Squadron taking command of the fleet of the Baronian Empire, which is trying to gather the crystals. En route back to Baron, the soldiers begin to question their mission and how unethical it is to go rob a village of innocent people. Cecil commanded respect for the Red Wings and obliged his fellow men to complete the task. A flashback describes the invasion that ensued once the fleet had landed. Villagers, confused and bewildered, plead for the reason behind all this. As Cecil began to depart without an explanation, he felt guilt on his mind. Back on the fleet, monsters flank the ship without warning. A few battles occur and the crew make it back safely to home base. Then the whole journey begins from there...

Lots of things happening within that first five minutes eh? There was my teaser. Bottom line is the character development and plot was unlike any RPG that came before. It was in a whole new class. There may have been some RPG’s with good plots but the non-personality characters didn’t seem too interesting to care about, that is until this game! That said, you’ll be extremely involved in this extremely long quest instantly. It won’t be a drag to say the least!

The game style is the traditional turn-based “it’s my party's turn to whoop your ass, then it is your turn to whoop my ass” game play, but the feature that FFIV introduces is new and innovative -- the Time Active Battle System. This supposedly makes the game a bit more of a challenge because now your enemies can attack you when it’s your turn. So don’t keep stalling. Decisions must be quick and decisive. It also makes the game seem more fast-paced than previous RPG’s. Most games nowadays use this feature, found here first on FFIV. The next thing to be included into the battle system is characters have a certain ability that is exclusive to each individual depending on their type. For instance, one can jump-attack for massive damage to one opponent. Another can jump-kick in the air dealing damage to an enemy party and one can call upon a monster to reek havoc when cast. FFIV gave the abilities function it’s own command and made that feature a norm in the menu battle system instead of having to learn the abilities.

There are other things that made the game engine original. I don’t have time to explain it all, but those are the key features of the gameplay.

Graphics & Sound
This game looked "purty" and even though it may look outdated now, it still looks good on it’s own merits. It takes advantage of the Mode 7 effects and scaling of the Super NES, considered a marvel to look at way back then. If I need to explain the effects without ruining the plot then...uh the fleet of airships landing on the ground at the start of the game! These effects gave the graphics some depth which made FFIV by far the best looking RPG released in its time. Not to mention characters could display body gestures to further enhance the character’s personality. The character art is first class also. The hand-drawn art of the monsters are vividly detailed and heroes are drawn cutesy. Sound on the other hand is magnificent. While you are roaming around the world or fighting a boss, the music accompanies the action and scenes rather well. They are fully orchestrated and just like movies, the music creates and enhances the overall mood to accompany those scenes.

Last Impressions
This was an awesome game nearly 10 years ago and it is still an awesome game today! The plot is timeless! It still captures my attention because it is well-scripted. There is a certain charm that its PlayStation sequels seem to lack in some ways. The cast of characters is enduring and memorable. In respect, this was the game that made me like RPG’s in the first place. That is saying quite a lot. Bottom line: This game kicks ass! I strongly recommend this classic if you haven’t played it already. One other note: this review is based on the localized, U.S version called Final Fantasy II.

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