Review by benatunk
"Breath of Fire IV on the PC is...Breath of Fire IV...on the PC..."
If you're a fan of Breath of Fire IV on the Playstation, but are leery of PSOne -> PC ports because of the horrible Final Fantasy 7-8 ports, worry not! The game supports joypads with rumble, but not the 360 controller, which I use. (If you wanna use your 360 controller, find Pinnacle Profiler on Google, it is my favorite program ever and $20 well spent. And no, I don't work for them :) The keyboard works ok, but I can't really get comfortable with that sort of set-up. And I know it's frowned down upon to comment on other reviews, I think giving a PC game you haven't played a poor review because it wasn't compatible with your system is really poor form.
The graphics benefit the most from the port. The game supports many high resolutions, and it uses the similar texture smoothing techniques as PSOne games on the PS2. However, the PS2 doesn't upscale the resolution of PSOne games, so the point I'm trying to make is that PC Breath of Fire IV looks better than the Playstation Breath of Fire IV on a PSOne or 2. The main problem with the graphics is that switching to a widescreen resolution just stretches the graphics, rather than expanding the playing field.
The music sounds great, I haven't noticed any load times. The animated sequences don't look that great, but that doesn't have much of an impact on your enjoyment.
My biggest gripe, and an admittedly minor one, is that there is no way to exit the game apart from hitting Alt-F4. Also, I couldn't change the resolution from the main menu, I had to do it from the actual menu.
Breath of Fire IV has beautiful graphics. The style is similar to BoF3 only more refined. Like many PSOne RPGs, the characters and NPCs are 2d sprites, while the backgrounds and many of the monsters are 3d polygons.
I was always disappointed that the game used polygons for many of the larger enemies and dragons, whereas BoFIII had beautiful large sprites. However, they end up looking very smooth and beautiful on this port.
The character sprites are the real draw, in my opinion. Each character has literally hundreds of frames of animation and it shows.
This is the first BoF to have animated sequences, and while they look a little stretched out on the computer monitor, it's interesting to see them, as they employ the same art style as the in-game characters, and it's neat to see them in a full blown animated sequence.
While I'm sort of sorry to see the jazzy style of BoF3 thrown to the wind, I do recognize that it was one of the more polarizing aspects of that game. Some loved it (like me) and some hated it so much they couldn't play the game. Breath of Fire IV has a similar sound to it instrumentally, but the music is more traditional for an epic fantasy RPG. There are some middle-eastern influenced parts used throughout, and it always sounds appropriate.
The music is good, it's just that standing between the killer soundtracks of BoF3 and BoFV:Dragon Quarter it's not quite as good.
Like many aspects of the game, the gameplay is almost identical to Breath of Fire 3. It's a traditional turn-based RPG, so if you have played one before you'll be comfortable. There are several things that make it a bit more interesting. For instance, like BoF3, you can learn techniques from enemies, however in this game you can learn them from just defending, whereas in 3 you had a separate "examine" command.
Breath of Fire IV is unique in that all of your party members can be swapped in and out mid-battle, which hasn't been used since Breath of Fire I. Final Fantasy X used a similar technique, as well. It is great because I end up using more of my party than I do in other games where it is more of a hassle to switch.
Another new aspect is combo magic. For instance, if one character casts a fire spell and another casts a wind spell in the same turn they combine and make a more powerful spell.
The main thing wrong with the gameplay is the point of view. BoF3 had a fixed camera that you could slightly tilt on a point to see areas hidden from view behind the environment. BoFIV has a fully rotatable camera, so the cities are designed with buildings on all sides. During the crowded cities, it is hard as hell to see your party, as well as other things you may be looking for.
The fishing mini game returns, and it is every bit as addictive as in the previous game. The PSOne version supported fishing rod controllers, but I'm not sure how that translates to the PC port.
Also returning is the master system. It is virtually identical to the previous, the masters teach you skills while affecting what stats you gain per level. The difference here is that the skills they teach you are unlocked by different factors for each master, rather than just straight levelling up. For instance, one master will only teach you skills depending on how many hours you've played the game, and another on how many random battles you've fought.
The fairy village mini game is here, and is pretty similar to BoF3's, but a bit more complex. I honestly ended up not spending a lot of time with it because there's so much other stuff to do in the game (in other words, I kept getting addicted to fishing).
This is sort of where the game falls flat for me. The story is told from dual points of view, the typical Ryu story as well as a new character in another time and place. As you can guess, the new character, Fou-Lu's story tends to be more interesting. Ryu's story is pretty generic, and lacks the sort of laid-back sensibility of III's and the epic world spanning adventure of the first two. It is pretty typical of Breath of Fire.
Breath of Fire IV is probably the last traditional Breath of Fire we'll probably ever see, and probably the second to last of the series forever, considering it is five years since BoFV came out. It is a solid entry to the series, and a great port.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/07/07
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