Review by Psycho Penguin

"Legendary. That's what I expected. Oh so close. That's what I got."

Introduction

Final Fantasy 9 was a game that had been hailed in video game magazines, as well as online websites, as the next big thing in video gaming. Featuring incredible graphics and a killer battle system, how could the game not go wrong? When I got the game four days ago, and opened the package for the first time, I expected a lot from the game. When I put down the controller 40 hours later (yes, I played this game a lot), I got a lot, but I expected a bit more.

At first glance, the game seemed perfect. I had not really enjoyed Final Fantasy 8 too much, especially once I had beaten it. So, I expected Final Fantasy 9 to be a lot better than Final Fantasy 8. And from the moment I turned the game on, I knew it was going to be better. And it turned out to be a lot more fun, especially with the return of the classic job system, as seen in Final Fantasy 5 and Final Fantasy Tactics.

So, in the end, I had a lot of fun with the game, as it turned out to deliver on must of the hype. The battle system was great, the graphics were crisp, and the music (especially the battle theme) was simply awesome. This has got to be one of the top 10 role playing games of all time, bar none, even with a few problems that I encountered.

Storyline (9.2/10)

The storyline in Final Fantasy 9 was great, as it delivered a much more solid storyline than I would have expected. It had lots of turns and twists, and the character development in the game was also great, whether it be Zidane or Freya transforming right before your very eyes. I really had a fun time reading and following the intriguing storyline of the game.

The basic storyline is this: you are in the world of Gaia, which is basically a world with four continents and not much else (well, besides water that is). Cid (yes, he is in this one also) is the ruler of Lindblum and he becomes worried about his neighboring continent, Alexandria, when their queen starts attacking various towns for reasons unknown to anyone. Cid sends a group of bandits, inclduing the main character Zidane, to find out what is going on, and the quest begins.

I usually expect a lot from the storyline of a role playing game, especially when that role playing game just happens to be a Final Fantasy game. The game was hyped a lot, and I felt the storyline lived up to most of the hype, even with the small problems with the storyline. Plus, I preferred some of the older storylines in the series. Regardless, this game still has a classic storyline.

Graphics (9.8/10)

WOW! These are some of the most amazing graphics I have ever seen on the Playstation! The game almost looks like a PS2 game, with the design of the characters and backgrounds. Everything looks crystal smooth, which is more than you can say about FF7 and FF8. Yes, the graphics in those two games were great, but I think it is safe to say this game blows those two out of the water graphically. This is definitely one of the best looking Playstation games of all time.

Character designs in the game are simply fantastic, but I did notice a small problem with that. I saw some of Mr Amano (the character sketcher)'s designs prior to playing the game, and was disappointed to see that a lot of the character designs in the game are different than what he originally intended. For instance, Princess Garnet had blonde hair in the sketch I saw of her, but in the game, she was a brunette. I do not quite understand that at all. Otherwise, I have no complaints. Overall, the character designs in the game are great, but I wish Mr Amano's designs would have been used more effectively.

Enemy and boss designs in the game are incredible, as well. If you thought you have seen it all, you are wrong. Dead wrong. There is a variety of enemies in the game, from the simple frogs and insects to the more advanced grandfather clocks and dragons. The thing I liked most is the fact that I barely saw the same enemy design repeating itself later on in the game, which plagues some role playing games. The boss designs in the game are simply amazing as well, especially later on in the game. Overall, the enemy and boss designs in the game are fantastic.

I don't usually like to talk about these, but I have to mention the full motion video cut scenes in this game. They are simply amazing, and definitely the best I have ever seen in a video game! This includes games such as Parasite Eve, Final Fantasy 8, Legend of Dragoon, and more! The cut scenes are so well designed that they will blow your mind! Words cannot describe how good the cut scenes are in the game! Overall, the cut scenes in the game are great.

Overall, these are the best graphics ever seen in a Playstation game, bar none. The game looks incredible, with the various backgrounds, etc. that it will simply blow your mind! Add to this the great character designs (even with the problems I ahd with them), the superb enemy and boss designs, and the incredible cut scenes, and you have quite a graphical feast!

Music and Sound Effects (9.5/10)

I expect a lot from the music and sound effects in a role playing game, but when that role playing game is a Final Fantasy game, my expectactions are raised a lot. And when that game just happens to be Final Fantasy 9, the next great thing, I really expected the music and sound effects to be top notch. Did SquareSoft deliver? You damn right they did.

Music in the game is simply awesome, as I liked every piece of music in the game. The town theme was great, and I liked how there was a variety of songs in the different towns. For instance, one town would play one theme, while the next town would play a different theme. This is great, and the variety is definitely a good thing. The battle theme in the game is simply awesome, and is one of the best battle themes I have ever heard. The boss themes in the game are awesome, as is the victory music and overworld theme. Overall, the music in the game is superb and lives up to even my highest expectations.

Sound effect wise, the sound effects in the game are awesome, although they are not perfect. First off, there was barely any voice acting in the game. Now maybe this is a cool thing for the Japanese version, but I hope SquareSoft adds voice acting for the American version, because I like voice acting in my role playing games, if it is well done. Other than that, the sound effects are well done, as most of them take place during battle, and are your basic battle sound effects. Nothing fancy here. Overall, the sound effects in the game are decent, and I hope voice acting is featured in the American version of the game.

Overall, the music and sound effects in the game are wonderful. I liked most of the music in the game, and might feel inclined to purchase the soundtrack now. I especially liked the battle theme and boss theme. The sound effects were great too, if not a bit limited. I hope more voice acting is added in the American version, and that it is fairly well done.

Gameplay and Control (9.2/10)

Now, a role playing game can have great music, great sound effects, great graphics, it is all good. But I want it to deliver great gameplay and control, which means having a good level building system, having a good system, having kick butt control, etc. Fortunately, Final Fantasy 9 delivered great gameplay and control. I really had a blast playing this game.

One of my main complaints about the gameplay in Final Fantasy 8 was the freaking junction system. I really was annoyed with that, because I didn't want to spend my magic that much, because it would decrease my stats. It really got annoying and frustarting after a while. Fortunately, Final Fantasy 9 improves on the junction system a lot by bringing back a classic system... the job system.

Yes, the job system is back in full force in the game, but it is not one where you can gain job points to gain certain abilites, etc. Instead, think of it as a lot like Final Fantasy 1. Each character has a certain starting job class and it cannot be changed. For instance, Quina is a blue mage, and can only be a blue mage. I wish you could change the job classes of the characters but it is no big deal, because the game ends up playing a lot like Final Fantasy 6.

All of the classic Final Fantasy icons are represented in the game, from airships to moogles to chocobos to Cid himself. The airships are no longer these huge machines that can go to outer space, no, instead they are simple propelled ones like the ones featued in the original Final Fantasy. No more of the big spaceships. Also, you can change your party in the airship, like Final Fantasy 6. Also, you can now once again control four people in your party at one time.

The skill building system in the game is quite unique. It is a lot like the job system featured in FF5 or FFt but with a new twist: you have to equip weapons to gain abilities. For instance, let's say you have Zidane equip the Black Mage Staff. With this staff, you gain the use of Fire magic and Osmose magic. You gain AP at the end of battle which goes to Fire and Osmose, and when you gain AP, you can use Fire and Osmose without having to equip the staff. There are a total of nearly 260 weapons in the game, and nearly all of them have some form of skill embedded on it.

Overall, this game was expected to be the next great Playstation game, and unlike Final Fantasy 8, it delivers entirely. I really enjoyed the job class returning, and the fact you cannot change job classes may be a good thing because of the innovative weapon based ability system that SquareSoft implemented into the game. The control is great, as I like how you can use analog control in the game, which is a must nowadays. The great gameplay overshadows the killer music, outstanding graphics, and killer sound effects, in my opinion, and I am glad of this. What a great game. This is the third best game yet made for the series. Great job SquareSoft!

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Other Important Scores
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Replay Value: High


Yeah, like this game is going to get anything less. There is a wide variety of secrets featured in the game, which adds to the replay value off the bat. Then there is the amazing weapon based skill ability system, which is just as addicting as the classic job system in Final Fantasy 5. Overall, the replay value in the game is incredible.

Challenge: Medium

I beat this entire game in four days. Maybe because I have become somewhat of a Final Fantasy master by now, maybe not, but I really had little problem going through the game. I only died four times the entire game, and two were by complete bad luck (believe me, its true!). However, newbies to the Final Fantasy series may have problems with the game, hence the ''medium'' grade. Overall, the game was wuite easy for me, but you may have problems with it.


GOOD POINTS
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-I love the weapon based skill ability system in the game.
-The cut scenes in the game are simply gorgeous.
-The battle theme, the boss theme, all of the music is great.

BAD POINTS
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-The job system could have been a little better.
-I wanted to hear more classic Final Fantasy music.
-The game could have been a lot more challenging, like FF8.


Overall (9.3/10)


Overall, this game was expected to be the next great Playstation game, and unlike Final Fantasy 8, it delivers entirely. I really enjoyed the job class returning, and the fact you cannot change job classes may be a good thing because of the innovative weapon based ability system that SquareSoft implemented into the game. The control is great, as I like how you can use analog control in the game, which is a must nowadays. The great gameplay overshadows the killer music, outstanding graphics, and killer sound effects, in my opinion, and I am glad of this. What a great game. This is the third best game yet made for the series. Great job SquareSoft!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/08/00, Updated 07/16/01


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