Friday, August 6, 2010

Game Review - Final Fantasy V

This review marks a special moment for me. Having beat Final Fantasy V, I have now completed every game of the main series of Final Fantasy (excluding XI due to MMOs having on going stories).  So, with this game, how does it measure up in the overall series? Is it good? Bad? Forgettable? Middle of the road? Read on to find out!

Story: 3.5/5

The story for the game isn't bad, nor is it an epic masterpiece. That may sound like it's just bland, but no, it has really good moments, and the story does the purpose to carry your interest from start to finish. Basically four people band together to challenge the dark forces lead by the evil wizard-knight Exdeath. Over the course of the game you learn of the origins of Exdeath and how he was defeated once many years ago by the Warriors of Dawn.

Over the course of the game, you lose alot of characters you meet to Exdeath's lust for power. Eventually he shatters all four elemental crystals, and you travel after him to a new world to try and stop him there. There you see the Empire of Exdeath growing once more, and eventually he shatters that planet's crystals. When you awaken again, you find yourself back on your world, but as you explore it, you find it changed.

In your exploration, you see that once, a thousand years ago, the two worlds were one, and were split to seal away the terrible power known as the Void. Exdeath seeks to control that power, hence he shattered to crystals that caused the world split. In the end, through many battles you face off against Exdeath in the Interdimensional Rift. There he begins to suck many places and people into the Void, then tries to turn the power of the Void onto the four Warriors of Light. Eventually this power turns upon himself and transforms him into Neo Exdeath, a nihilistic monster who wishes to turn all creation to nothingness, then he would do that to himself. In a climatic battle in the Rift they heroes defeat Neo Exdeath and the world is returned to it's former glory, though those who died before the Exdeath unleashed the Void are gone for good.

You watch as Krile (one of the heroes of light) talks about the events since that battle, and as she visits her grandpa's final resting place. The scene is well done, especially as you hear the Final Fantasy theme play as the others come to see her, showing her she's not alone. Over all, the story is solid, especially considering ones like Final Fantasy III (read my review for that). The characters are given some depth, and there is some emotional weight to their presence in the game.

Characters: 3/5

This one is rather short. The characters are detailed, but not too much, just four people (a wanderer, a princess, a pirate, and an amnesiac old man for starters) who all band together to save the world. The characters seem to have a weaker development than the previous game (IV) or the one that follows (VI). I don't know if it's because the job system was the focus or what, but they don't have the same weight that other main characters do. While Bartz is a likable fellow, he pales whem lined up with the guilt ridden Cecil, or the half-human/esper woman Terra. They have much more to their characters than Bartz.

Other than that, the characters do their job and give you enough to know them and care for them, but little beyond that. IV's characters came from all over the world and had so much to their story. While you have that here, it's not touched upon as much, maybe because the world doesn't seem as populated as previous and future games, but don't misunderstand, they do serve the story well.

Graphics:  4/5

This area is reviewed through the lens of nostalgia. I like the graphics, they are a step up from IV's sprite work, yet still not to the level of VI's, it's a good and well done stepping stone. The overworld sprites are still smaller than the battle sprites (something they changed in VI), but they work, and are expressive enough to give you enough visual flair to enjoy. The spells are well animated, the summons and monsters well detailed, it's just a nice game to look at.

Music: 4/5

As always, the music of a Final Fantasy is really well done. While this one might be weaker than others in the series, it still has a lot of solid tunes that are very well done and enjoyable. Battle on the Big Bridge is the star of this game, the theme for Exdeath's top henchman, Gilgamesh. This song has been remixed many times over the series and it rocks. Other such great themes for this game are Exdeath's theme (starts off like Psycho's theme), the boss battle themes, and the final battle theme of course.

Gameplay: 5/5

The gameplay of this game is great. It takes the job class system that was used in III and expanded on it in so many ways. I love the Job Class system, as it makes the game more tactical in how you come at the battles. The battles give you EXP (experience points) for levels, and ABP (ability points) for learning job skills. Each skill you learn from a job you can assign one to another job when you use it, and alot of the passive ones are automatically learned by the Freelance (starting bare form).

The Job Class just gives you so many choices, to be Mages or warriors, to use enemy skills or summons, the choices give you endless hours of fun to replay the game and learn new combinations of skills and abilities.  I usually prefer the Job Class system over the one where everyone is pretty much the same (granted you can make everyone the same class, but even then, there are limits).

Replayability: 4/5

There is actually alot you can choose to do to earn new job classes and magic and weapons. The Game Boy Advance version adds even more jobs and such to earn, giving you alot to do. So even if you beat the game on the Advance mode, you can save a clear file and go back to before you enter the final dungeon and go and grab most of what you may have missed towards the end, plus a new secret dungeon to fight some more super bosses.

Overall: 4/5

This is a strong game. The story might be a bit generic, and the characters might not be as deep as others, but they still serve to give you a great game experience. The gameplay is the star here with the Job Class system, it's why you want to play this game. I highly recommend going out and obtaining the Gameboy Advance version, as it adds more jobs, skills, and gear to obtain, new dungeons and bosses, plus it lacks the loading times of the PSOne version (though that version had the pretty FMV cut scenes). This game would be a stepping stone to the best Job Class system in the series, Tactics. Here they refined the Job system so much, you should give it a shot, you'll enjoy it I think.

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