Final Fantasy IV
September 27th, 2002
Final Fantasy IV is probably my least favorite Final Fantasy that I've played (still have yet to play FF, FF2, FF3, and FF5, so that could change.) I guess I was expecting it to be a lot better than it really was. While most of the characters were likable, the plot was really weak. And that's what really hurt this game so much.
Graphics - 8
Obviously, this is going by the standards of 1991, not by the standards of today (if it were, the graphics score would be much closer to the game's title.) For its time, FF4 had state of the art graphics as one of the first SNES RPGs. Looking at them today, though, they really aren't anything special. Seeing as the game's plot wasn't all that great, FF4 definitely could have benefited from a graphics rehaul for the rerelease to update it to FF7 or FF8 style graphics (too bad that's monetarily unrealistic; the game would have been a lot more fun and easier to get into if you could actually see everything like in the modern FFs.) But it's ridiculous to complain about the game's graphics because it was made over 10 years ago, and they were good at the time. I can, however, complain about the lack of CGI sequences in the rerelease. I was hoping it'd have them interspersed throughout the game, rather than just at the beginning and end. CGI sequences would have worked a lot better for telling the dramatic and dynamic parts of the story, and it's not like it would have cost Square all that much more to create a couple more sequences to improve the storytelling.
Music - 7
Final Fantasy IV really didn't have the most memorable soundtrack. It wasn't bad by any means, it just wasn't quite as good as the rest of the FF series and numerous other RPGs (can't use its release date as an excuse on this one; unlike graphics, music is timeless.) It had a few good ones scattered throughout, but for the most part it didn't have the standout pieces of the FFs that followed. The soundtrack is still worth picking up, but it's not one that you'd want to spend a whole lot of cash importing.
Gameplay - 7
For the most part, the game was pretty fun to play. The battles did get repetitive, though, and after spending a while in a dungeon fighting battle after battle after battle, you'd just want to hurry up and face the boss so you could get the hell out of there. The battle system itself was pretty nice, but there are just so many other games out there with better systems that it kind of moots that point. The loading times for the PSone version weren't nearly as bad as some of Square's other remakes, but they were still there. The Memo save was a great addition, and really fixed the problem of having to wait forever for a Save to finish up. Oh, one other thing about the PSone version. It's HARD. The original SNES version was watered down for American audiences, but they didn't pull any stops on the PSone version. God knows how many times the final boss killed me before I finally beat it.
Plot - 4
Yes, that's right, a 4. I thought FF4 had a plot deserving of its name. It just was not good. The dialogue was terrible in the SNES version, and although it was mostly fixed for the PSone release, there was still enough cheese left to make a sandwich. But yeah, the plot... You can tell what it's going to be like right from the beginning.
Cecil steals crystal. Cecil gives crystal to king (following dialogue is
Cecil: Here ya go
King: Thanks. See ya later.
Cecil: Sure, later. *pause* Say, why are we doing this anyways?
King: You disobey me?!
Cecil: Nope, just curious.
King: You can't be trusted! You're fired!
And the game stays in that same tone throughout. But hey, who needs actual reasons and motivation for things happening, when you've got good ol' dumb luck and coincidence on your side! The plot really is quite lame if you think about it. That's one of the things I don't get. Lots of people who hate games with good graphics say that Square's newer games have all had terrible stories, and cite this as one of the games with a "real" plot. I have to question whether those people have ever actually played this game, because I never quite found that great plot they always talk about. To say that this game has a better plot than any of the newer generation of FFs is rather ludicrous, but that's their prerogative.
The plot twists in this game can either be seen a mile away or are just plain stupid and more out there than the whole FF8 orphanage thing. And although there are a few parts in the game which are pretty neat, those parts are far overshadowed by the lame turn the plot takes towards the end (among other bad plot points; that one just ruins the good stuff by itself.) Also, it's hard to really feel sympathy for anyone who dies because their deaths mean absolutely nothing in the end. If only Square's writers could have been more like George R.R. Martin...
Characters - 7
The characters, while mostly from stock, are a slight redemption for the weak plot. Cecil makes for a good, dynamic character who changes and evolves throughout the story. Kain definitely has an interesting story to him, but it wasn't expounded upon as much as it should have been. In fact, none of the characters had nearly enough development. Hell, you learn more about them by reading the manual than you do from playing the game. It's that whole "show, don't tell" aspect of writing. Had the writers taken the time to really develop some of the characters, it would have been a much better game. Instead, we're left with a weak love triangle that never reaches its full potential. Really, the only character who really stands out in my mind as having been properly developed is Rydia, but there are reasons for that which you'll find out from playing the game.
Overall - 6.5
Final Fantasy IV, while not horrible, isn't anywhere near as good as the Final Fantasies that followed (FF5 not withstanding.) If Square had spent the time and money to remake it properly, with some ironed out plot points and dialogue, much more character development, and modernized graphics, this game could have been something really great even today (but you won't see me bitching to Square about that, because it's perfectly understandable why they wouldn't do that.) Don't go seeking an SNES copy, but pick up Final Fantasy Chronicles for the PSone. The Chrono Trigger remake alone is reason enough to buy it, so consider FF4 a little bonus that came along with it. It's worth playing through at least once, just don't make it a priority over your other RPGs.
Final Fantasy IV Reviews
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