Review by Jimmy Reznor

"Squares First Good Pioneer in Years"

To start off I have played just about everything Final Fantasy well with the exception of Final Fantasy XI. I have played only a little of this game so far and I really love it. Square has been relying to mush on the same formula for too long in the FF genre that it was starting to go bad. In fact lately my age is shown when people say Final Fantasy is only good on Playstation. I could then go on to point out that 8,9 and to a lesser degree ten were all sub par. In many ways Squares glory days were always with Nintendo. I loved Final Fantasy 6, Super Mario RPG, and Chrono Trigger. In many ways since SNES RPG quality has dropped. I was disappointed to see Final Fantasy 7 was really just the same game as Final Fantasy 6 only there were better graphics and a different story. In fact Final Fantasy 6 was the last big step Square has made with Final Fantasy console games. Well with the only exception being the Tactics series.

Story- Story is one of the parts of this game that many would call the weakest. This game unlike other Final Fantasy's is oriented around your character's development. It can't really be compared to any of the more recent FF games because the characters and story aren't dictated by the game. The basic story is your world has been poised by this mist called Miasma. Your journey is to help protect your town by refilling the local crystal. I was disappointed that you have very little input into your character. Then on the flip side I am kind of glad it's not Elder Scrolls 3.

Muiltiplayer- This is where the game shines. Everyone I hear on the internet complains about the need to have a GBA to play the game in multiplayer. I must be the only person in the world who has trouble finding people who own GBA's. In fact my biggest problem is not letting all 8 people play at once. The GBA is a great idea it keeps the game play smooth and consistent and adds an interesting new dimension to gameplay. I am really glad this is not an online game. I prefer to enhance my social skills by enjoying my time with my friend in the flesh. I have had the game less than a week and I am seeing many of my friend more and more lately. Offline gaming is what a console should be all about. On that grounds I salute you Nintendo and you too Square. For those of you who do complain about the cost of a GBA and a cable how much would a year of online playing cost? Why would I invest in a game that 2-3 years later I can't play online anymore.

Gameplay- OK the controls take getting used too. Even now I find I have an item out because I accidentally hit the L or R button. The controls could have been better maybe even if you could access menu's when the game was paused or something like that but Now I have gotten over the learning curve the game is just pure fun. I personally love the idea of fusion spells. By encouraging Co-Op play the game becomes interesting. Even the mission objective you get. On Each level your GBA will give you an objective like avoid damage or pick up items. The more times you do this bonus the sooner you get to claim your artifact for that level. The game start to focus more on actions than numbers. By having hearts instead of numbers and so on the game in more graphically designed and not D&D on a TV.

Graphics- This game is so amazingly detailed. I love the image and the look. I also love the amazing vibrant colors. This game is a very nice game for all ages too. It has the gameplay to appeal to older crowds and the cuteness that appeals to younger kids and generally Video Game hating girlfriends.

Sound- All I have to say the best music ever in a final fantasy game. I will stand by and defend that comment to the death. I sometimes just sit there and listen to the great music. The only major downside is sometimes the SFX can be rather toned down especially if you turn the GBA volume down to save battery life.

Replay-
With four different races to pick from and so many different party make ups this will be fun to have a mixture of groups. In fact right now I have three games on my memory card for my different groups.

Overall-

This game is a solid buy, make sure you have friends who like square and not just the recent FF. This game took me back to playing the first 3 Final Fantasy games and that feeling was great. The GBA hang up can be a pain but my biggest problem is getting cables more than GBAs. The only thing I would like to see improve this game is the ability to detail your character more with a back story.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/16/04


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