Review by Shirow

"Foul Breath"

I have played the older Breath of Fire titles but never really found them that good although I did enjoy them. Their unique (back then) gameplay made them interesting enough and while not on par with all the other RPG's for the SNES, Capcom's series actually managed to be a solid one. That was years ago. Because you know Capcom, right ? They never know when to put an end to a series. Just count how many Street Fighter titles there are now, without forgetting that most of the DC titles are basically the same (Street Fighter III series). Well, they did manage to churn out good titles but they really blew it off with their sole RPG series. This second PSX BOF is possibly the worst RPG that I've ever played and manages to break my initial impression of the far away prequels.

STORY : 2

There's a boy named Ryu (Capcom's inspiration when it comes to names always amazes me) who starts naked and who doesn't remember anything about his past and what he's supposed to do in the game. There's a wanna-be princess, Nina, who's looking for her sister with the help of a certain Cray (I think they meant Crap but made a typo). There's also a gerk, Fou-Lu (understand foul) who makes a stylish entrance before shattering it with the most pitiful dialogues I've ever read. There are also some other characters, one of which is actually quite funny but too bad Capcom never tried to give her more importance.

Anyway, the story has it that Dragons and humans collide, Nina looks for her sister and that stupid Ryu lets himself get dragged along without ever knowing what the hell is going on. That's really all you need to know. This new Breath of Fire title has the worst story I have ever seen. I mean, even titles where the story isn't really important have better stories than this ****. The cool thing is that even if you try to give Capcom a chance and actually follow the story and spend your time reading the horrible dialogues, the lame twists will very likely scare you off.

To top if off, Capcom have tried to intertwine different sub-plots alongside the main one. I'll let you imagine what ensues. Let it just be said that you shouldn't expect a lot from Breath of Fire IV's story because the disappointment you will surely get upon playing this game will be tripled.

GRAPHICS : 4

If you don't press START immediately, you'll be able to see cool anime cut-scenes with all the characters. What you will be seeing will not really make any sense to you since you don't know what the hell is going on but enjoy it because you'll have to put up with craptacular designs throughout the whole game. Everything is now in 3D with revolving backgrounds and seemingly tons of details. That's what you'll think upon seeing the intro and during the first 5 minutes of playing the game but just wait until you walk into a town.

It is only then that you'll realize how the game is full of glitches and how there are some serious flaws everywhere you go. Nina's eyes look as if she was punched by Ali each morning, Ryu looks like he's been run over by a truck while some enemies, specially the bigger bosses, are laughable. The bosses are the worst of them all with legs that don't even attach to their bodies, provided they have legs (which doesn't happen very often). Dragons look like worms or insects and you won't even know what to believe next.

Anyway, you can still play the game since graphics are do not matter in a good RPG. But it will be only then that you notice the lousy camera angles and chances that you'll throw your joypad in disgust here are so high I advise you to put cushions everywhere in your room. Each time you get to a new screen, the camera finds it fit to come behind you. And that's not all ! You will constantly have to press the L1/R1 buttons to adjust it and even if you do so, the camera will again turn as you run forward or move in any direction.

Getting through doors and up to a ladder is a miracle in this game. There was this place where as soon as I emerged into a new room, I had to go behind a curtain. Well, just because the door was really close to the part behind the curtain, I struggled with the controls for about 5 minutes before that stinking Ryu moved behind it. Each time, that fiend just went back into the room and getting him to bring back his butt was sickening.

Moreover, even if you do toggle the camera angles, don't be so sure that you'll see your characters well because there is always something to block them and to irritate you further. You'll feel like smoking plastic after barely one hour on this game due to the constant hassling the poor camera angles and directioning automatically cause. As if the poor graphics were not enough…

SOUND : 2

Oh Christ, must I really talk about the sound now ? OK, I'll abide by CjayC's rule for the purpose of this review but just thinking of it is giving me a headache.

The themes are utterly boring and seem to drag along too, just like that foul-looking Ryu. I have heard monotonous themes in other RPG's before but this is really too much. All of them fall short of being…well…uh…if I mention it, the review won't be posted but I guess you can guess what I mean. Made from piss and feces, the music in BOFIV is vaguely reminiscent of my friend singing after drinking a bottle of whiskey, but ten times worse !! And no, I won't talk about the battle theme because that just has to be the worst one I ever heard. I swear, if you don't feel like killing yourself after hearing the music in this game, hats off to you, my friend ! But then, you could also be deaf, so let's not jump to conclusions, K ?

The various voice-acting thrown in is equally lame. Well, I wouldn't actually call it voice-acting since it's just a bunch of groans, cries and other exclamations thrown in during battles but how the hell am I supposed to call it ? Oh yeah, maybe 'Garbage-acting' would do ? Anyway, the few sentences are in Japanese. IN JAPANESE !! The whole game is in English. The dialogues, although extremely shallow, have been well translated, so why keep the voices in Japanese ?! Ok, that does it. Let's move on !

CONTROL : 4

The control is actually quite good but since you're supposed to fight with the shoulder buttons all along, it just becomes another frustrating factor in one of the worst PSX RPG's ever. Controlling characters as they move about is easy if you forget about the camera angles for a while. Battles are handled quite well too but they're boring and disappointing. Oh yeah, if you like to pause your games a lot, keep a hammer by your side. You'll need it, trust me !

GAMEPLAY : 3

Ouch, this hurts ! Oh man, does the gameplay really hurt ! The reason I took the pains to play this game was just to review it and because there was no other interesting title when I got it. Because as I stumbled along freakishly, I just wanted to stop wherever I was (don't ask me plot-wise, I don't know) and throw the game away. Slow-paced, plagued with flaws, crappy mini-games : BOFIV has 'em all, sadly.

I'll mention the only good thing first before rambling on about the flaws. There isn't really a world map in this game. Towns and the likes are represented on a sheet and the path you should take is the dotted line. As you press just a direction to move on the line, you may see a question mark or an exclamation one on Ryu. This means there is something in that spot that is worth checking out. But I'd advise you to completely forget about those since they're never interesting, except when it's something you need to do to move on in the game.

Putting this sole, dark fact aside, the gameplay is simply pathetic, horrid, flawed, etc…The main stuff itself manages to be boring and never really enthralled me. Learning abilities and magic is the biggest joke ! You need to guard and when a certain opponent performs that magic on you, you will learn it. Must I really tell you that it seldom works ? The enemies apparently never bother to use the magic you need, so if you're dumb enough to fall in Capcom's plan, you're either an idiot or a fanboy or you just got your PSX and this game (seeing this review is being written in 2002, let's discard that last one).

Moreover, there's some comboing stuff you need to do (taken from Street Fighter before it got ported to Devil May Cry ?). In order to do so, you need a certain 'Burn' spell which is learned as I explained above. I spend on hour trying to get it to no avail. And when I got it, it was purely accidental but getting it did not change anything. I screwed the spells later on and concentrated on physical attacks instead.

Ryu and that other geek can also transform into Dragons but this costs a ****-load of AP which means doing so isn't really worth it. Still, you can try it once and go vomit afterwards. Anyway, magic isn't really worth it in this game. You'll do fine with just physical attacks. As I already said, getting all the magic is tedious and never rewarding. Of course, this will also add 100 hours of gameplay for all the sadomasochists out there.

The mini-games (a must in RPG's) are so boring I never really cared about them. The only one worth noting is the Fairy mini-game where you are a dictator and send them to do all sort of stuff but even that becomes a drag after a while. The fishing one nearly drove me mad. I never liked it in the prequel but its level of crappiness has just reach a new maximum. The bad thing is you are forced to do it if you want to beat the game while taking minimum risks.

REPLAY VALUE : 1

Getting to beat it once is already an achievement, so no need to talk about replay value. Even if you do enjoy your first play-through, the magic and battle systems are bound to kill off any enthusiasm you had. Leveling-up too is quite tedious but fares well against the other aspects. At least, that's one good thing (who cares how I got to it).

OVERALL : 2

BOFIV was already a rushed and horrible RPG. It may have done well on another console though with the bunch of innovations but keep in mind that this is the PSX. And Christ knows how top-quality RPG's are abundant on the PSX, whether it be the ever-popular Final Fantasy series or the sadly overlooked Legend of Legaia. Seriously, why are you still here ?

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Disconnecting!


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 03/28/02, Updated 11/09/02


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