Review by Juste990
"An occasionally interesting, but overall unoriginal entry in the Final Fantasy world"
Final Fantasy is a series that did not gain its popularity from the start. It took a series of evolutions to get it to the praise-accumulated series it is today. Unfortunately the first couple of Final Fantasies were proof of this slow evolution. Square felt the need to show its age though, by remaking everything EXCEPT the gameplay, which remains just as primitive as its RPG brethren way back when. Put simply, this remake is not worth your money. Since they are charging so much for this game, you'd assume the game would be up to snuff with today's standards, but it seems Square thought you'd be content with its great FMV and music.
The story in this RPG is basically non-existent. Four warriors of light are chosen to restore the balance between dark and light. You must destroy the evil. You'd think the story would progress as the game goes on right? Well don't expect here. Aside from one minor plot twist, the story never changes. You won't even feel motivated after awhile. And why should you? With such repetition in the game, even the most patient gamer will be fed up soon. The only time when this game's story picks up is near the end, when the game randomly decides to talk about 3 people who got gifts from a man named Noah.
Basically the game has you seek out the four elemental crystals to give you strength. In order to do this, you walk around the world map, kill enemies, find a town, talk to a character to find out the town's problem, go to a dungeon, kill more enemies, have a boss hand you your ass, farm your characters, then go through the dungeon again, kill the boss, and repeat.
And when I say repeat, I'm not kiddingeverything seems to repeat itself. The world map looks the same, the towns look the same, dungeons, even enemies have palettes swapped and sent out as new characters. The towns mostly contain armories and magic shops and inns, and that gets boring fast. None of the villagers have anything interesting eitherno side quests (actually, there is one that involves riding a Chocobo across the continent, but that's moronic), not even anything interesting to say that helps aid your quest. None of areas you can go to ever feel related in any way, so after awhile you wonder why you're actually doing what you are.
The dungeons you're forced to crawl through are incredibly tedious, to the point where you just give up even after how much you level up. None of them are even fun or cool or creative. They're all the same linear pathways. They're just wastes of time and excuses to fight more enemies The only dungeon I liked was a fiery one where you're in a maze constantly taking damage from lava. It actually wakes you up and gives you a sense of urgency, however slight it may be. Other than that, expect an empty romp the whole time. The most advanced some dungeons get is having one or two locked doors or a few secret passages.
All this might almost be acceptable if the randomly-encountered enemies were at all fun to fight, but sadly the enemies are the game's biggest weakness. The fact is, it doesn't matter whether you fight goblins, or mandrakes, or kangaroos, or even Medusa (yes, you actually fight her early on in the game), you use the same turn-based techniques to kill the monster. Frankly the only difference between the enemies is the higher statistics each one has, and the occasional status ailment some enemies can put on you. This gets boring in just a few hours. It's not like any of the enemies have more than one area to attack either. Because of this it's mostly just mashing the attack button over and over. Most of the enemies in this game should just be goblins, only each iteration gets harder and harder, with a poison spell here or a lightning spell there. The only distinctive enemy in the game I found was one that divides sometimes. Whee.
About the only thing that gives the game a hint of strategy is the job system introduced in the original FF3, in which you get different jobs to turn your four party members into such as Warrior, Ninja, Black Wizard, Summoner, Geomancer, Scholar, Thief, Monk, Ranger, etc. This gives an immense amount of customization, and they are pretty varied, so it is pretty fun to toy around with many of these. Each has its own unique option it can do in battle. Wizards can use magic, thieves can steal, scholars can look up enemy HP, rangers can use bows and arrows from a distance, etc. The thing is that you'll be hesitant to change jobs because they run on your experience on them too. Magic users aren't going to be top priority though, because most of the magic is just a stronger, limited way to attack enemies or healing, at least until the end of the game.
Don't get the impression that this job-picking strategy helps the game too much, because the fact is, the enemies are too strong and too impenetrable. When you get to somewhere new, get ready to grind like hell, because the enemies are going to be taking about 1/4 of your life away in one attack, and considering you run into about 10-15 random battles in each dungeon with 2 or 3 enemies each which all take about 4 turns to kill, well, get to digging your grave, because nobody is going to do it for you. When it comes to bosses, hoo boy are you going to be frustrated as anything; your attacks are about as damaging as a twig beating up a boulder, and your armor is the equivalent of jello. Granted, they DO have elemental weaknesses, but exploiting that either requires a mage, or an elemental weapon, both of which you probably won't have because mages have crappy defense and said weapons have low attack power. Besides an elemental strategy, you just hack away until the boss dies. Of note is the boss Garuda, in which his attack can take away 8/9 of the ENTIRE party's HP in just one turn, and that's not counting the attacks he does afterwards.
Your items you get randomly or from a store aren't going to help much either. The armor and weapons in stores are generally nothing special, usually just higher attack/defense levels. None of the older weaponry give you a reason to keep them longer than until you get a more powerful weapon or piece of armor. The magic you get is usually useless, only casting similar status ailments on enemies, or elemental attacks; only the later spells are even marginally useful and aren't as intricate as other RPGs. Healing items and elemental offensive sum up most of the loot you can acquire in the game, the useless ones being plentiful and the ones you actually NEED only found in treasure chests. Seriously, Phoenix Down, which revives your character, is important when it comes to these enemies, and you never have enough. Even worse, since most job classes use different weapons and armor, and since stores usually only carry a few weapons and armor, you're bound to not find what you need. This could have been countered by having the stores carrying strictly what the job classes you have selected on your team need, but that would have required too much gameplay effort I guess.
Overall, this game is a huge letdown, I guess mostly because my expectations were a bit high for an old NES game, but then again this is a full-priced remake, so it is right to expect a game on par with today's RPGs. Even so, to the game's credit, it is playable, and you will probably have some fun if you look deep down--many parts of the game are indeed fun and occasionally breath-taking, but nothing is distinguishing it from any other RPG. The only thing this game is, is a reminder of how much the series has changed over the years, from a primitive turn based game to a sophisticated RPG/adventure with a movie-quality story, plenty of ways to strategize, and an overall fulfilling experience.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 07/14/08, Updated 07/28/08
Game Release: Final Fantasy III (US, 11/14/06)
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