Review by KnightsoftheRound
"The GBA might be on it's way out, but you'd be a fool to pass up one of the best role-playing games for the system."
The Good: Plenty of interesting jobs; lengthy adventure; interesting story line; high replay value; new jobs exclusive to this version; extra dungeon after you complete the game; unlockable music player.
The Bad: Leveling up jobs can become tedious; frequent random battles; the game can become quite difficult if you don't level up enough; story isn't as fleshed out as the other Final Fantasy games.
Final Fantasy V isn't the first Final Fantasy to use the job system; however it's definitely the best. The job system was first introduced in Final Fantasy III, was then used in Final Fantasy V, and finally incorporated into Final Fantasy X-2. Unlike the other two games, Final Fantasy V has always been remembered for it's refinement of this system and what made it such a great choice for Final Fantasy titles. Unfortunately the only future game to use this system was the underwhelming sequel spin-off Final Fantasy X-2, which in my eyes was an extremely disappointing game as a sequel to Final Fantasy X and as a return of the job system. That being said, those who enjoyed the job system in any of the other titles are sure to love Final Fantasy V.
Final Fantasy V unlike most of the other Final Fantasy games doesn't have the most complex plot, but suffice to say it works. For the most part it's generally more lighthearted than the others and doesn't get very serious until much later in the game. Like all of the other job system based Final Fantasy games all of the characters you use throughout the majority of the game join your party very early on so you won't be meeting any new party members during the game. There are a handful of NPCs to interact with though throughout the story. That also includes the original Dawn Warriors, who are the original four warriors who defeated the story's main villain Ex-Death some thirty years ago. The four characters you control in Final Fantasy V soon learn that they are the light warriors who must now defeat Ex-Death once again upon his return. It's difficult to go into the story line without severe plot spoilers so the best way of describing it is simply that the story has very many twists and turns which are quite interesting and will also be quite surprising to anyone who is playing Final Fantasy V for the first time.
There is also quite a bit of character interaction with one another, and the game tries very hard to be funny. Granted there are many humorous scenes throughout the story but the occasional time you will feel as if they were trying too hard to make the game funny at certain spots. Not that there is anything wrong with that though. The only real complaint I have with the story line is that it didn't have as much closure as I would have liked it to have after the final boss fight. Final Fantasy IV had a very long ending that gave closure to pretty much every character, but Final Fantasy V didn't really have much in the way of character closure other than the fact that you beat the game.
The Job system is definitely the best part of Final Fantasy V. There are tons of jobs that you will acquire throughout the game as well as several bonus ones that are new to this Game Boy Advance version. You will start off with your characters simply being Freelancers, which is basically a free agent, as they have no specific class and can equip anything. Early on in the game however, you will earn the ability to use several different classes. Early on you will acquire classes like the Knight, Monk, Black Mage, White Mage, and so on and so forth. Later on you will acquire classes like the Mystic Knight, who is a melee character who can use his Spellblade ability to enchant swords with magical properties. You will also acquire classes like the Time Mage, who excels in magic like haste, slow, and meteor. There are even a few new classes, the best of the new ones being the Gladiator who uses the Finisher ability to perform either a critical attack, or an elemental attack to (as the game describes it, I'm serious) attack the enemy's weak point for massive damage. The different classes provide a lot of replay value after completing the game, as well as replay value for playing the game all over again. If you preferred a handful of classes you can play through the game again using entirely different ones you didn't use the first time.
The battles are just really fun. Final Fantasy IV was a great game, but with the new class system it's a refreshing change, especially if you've just recently played Final Fantasy IV. It's quite difficult to become bored with Final Fantasy V as well because you can constantly change up your party if you don't like what you have going on, or to further benefit your situation. What's really cool is that at the end of a battle you will gain experience points as well as ability points. Gaining more experience points like any other RPG will cause your characters to level up and their base stats will grow stronger. On the other hand, when you gain enough ability points you will gain a job level and permanently learn an ability that was exclusive to that job. Each job has one ability permanently attached to it that cannot be changed. However, you can add up to one other ability to that job. So if you want to, you can take an ability you learned from another job and use it with another job. For example if you have learned White Magic Level 3, you can use up to white magic up to level 3 while using the Monk job class.
Final Fantasy V has been overhauled graphically and looks quite better than any previous versions. The world design and levels look quite nice and are designed well; however the game still does look slightly dated, as do the other Game Boy Advance Final Fantasy games like Final Fantasy IV. It still has a really nice and clean look to it though, and the monster designs look great. It's still unfortunate that enemy characters don't actually animate, but instead simply move their entire body a little bit similar to how pokemon battle in the pokemon games for Game Boy Advance. The special moves look pretty cool though, and the battle and attack animations have been updated a little bit since Final Fantasy IV. For example, when a Dragoon class uses a lance they do a stabbing motion towards their enemy, instead of a swinging motion like in Final Fantasy IV. All of the weapons have been updated to have attack animations that more closely resemble how they would be used in real life, rather than simply being swung like they are in Final Fantasy IV.
The music in Final Fantasy V isn't the best in the series but it's still quite good. I wouldn't say it's anywhere near Nobuo Uematsu's best compositions, but there are still quite a few great tracks to be found. The music starts off a little slow in the sense that it doesn't really stand out that much early on as it does in Final Fantasy IV. In Final Fantasy IV the music is very emotional, and has a very deep connection with the game. However, in Final Fantasy V the music is slightly less emotional and more lighthearted early on. Despite this, the music does have a larger impact later on in the game, especially at the introduction of the world map theme 2, titled Unknown Lands which was one of the first truly memorable themes from the game. The difference between Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy IV is that Final Fantasy IV opens up with some very distinctive themes such as The Red Wings and the main theme of Final Fantasy IV, which most probably know as the world map theme. That being said, Final Fantasy V does have some memorable music, it's just unfortunate that it takes a while for it to pick up and reach that memorable level, where as Final Fantasy IV's music was able to establish itself as quite memorable from the very beginning. The sound effects are quite good as well, and basically what you'd expect, they are very similar to those of Final Fantasy IV.
The main story in Final Fantasy V is about 30-35 hours long without doing much of the extra stuff in the game. Upon completing my first game I was nearing just over 30 hours but I had to spend some extra time leveling up near the end game due to having troubles with the final boss. That being said, you can give or take a little bit with the completion time, but after that there is still plenty to do. You could easily extend the time spent playing Final Fantasy V to well beyond 40 hours after playing the extra dungeon, as well as mastering all of the jobs if you are into that kind of thing. The game could even possibly take you 40 hours to reach the end depending on how quickly you figure things out and how much time you spend in each area. I went through many areas of the game rather quickly, which may have been the cause for my need to level up a bit at the end of the game. In the end Final Fantasy V is a very long game, and is comparable to newer RPGs in length and replay value. There are some fun sidequests you can do to achieve extremely powerful weapons, and there are some extra job classes to find, and some dungeons to explore.
Overall Final Fantasy V is a great game. It may not be as memorable as the other Final Fantasy games, but it's simply an amazing game. There is still a very interesting story in Final Fantasy V, with many memorable characters. The combat system is highly replayable and entertaining and anyone looking for a great RPG for their GBA would be a fool to pass up Final Fantasy V. Don't let the recent release of Final Fantasy VI for the GBA let you overlook Final Fantasy V, because it's a great game that deserves to be played.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/23/07
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