Review by Matt Shin
"A poor port leaves this game unplayable"
After so many years, Square has decided to re-release the SNES RPG classic FFVI. It is now available for the PS, and it is the first time the game is officially available in the PAL region including Europe and Oceania. The following review is based on the PAL version. It is in my opinion that the game has come too late. The game looks much less impressive than when it first came out all those years ago. Since most gamers would have played FFVII - FFIX by now, FFVI is just not as charming as it was. The port of the game from the SNES to the PS has also been poorly made. This leaves the game almost unplayable.
The game began with a lady called Terra (or Tina in the Japanese version), who possessed a natural affinity towards magic, a rather unusual skill for a normal human. Unfortunately, she was captured by the Empire, a political power that was seeking world dominance. The Empire had Terra brain-washed and mind-controlled, and sent her on a mission to hunt for magical creatures called Espers. As the game proceeded and with the help of her new friends, Terra managed to break away from the control of the Empire. The story was unfolded as she regain her memories throughout a large part of the game.
It was my opinion that the main plot that surrounded Terra was very well written, with its moment of sorrow and joy. The story in the rest of the game was divided among other characters, with Celes, an ex-officer of the Empire, taking the leading role. Since each playable characters had his / her own story, the player would get to know more about each character. At the end of each ''side quest'', the characters involved would find the resolution to their problems and would become much stronger individuals. At the end of the game, they would all share the same goal to rid the world of the evil power. Although I have read reviews that complains of the lack of a central character in this game, I do not think that it is a real problem. In a way, this makes the characters even more unique.
Visual and Audio: 2/10
This is where everything begins to fall apart. So many years ago, when I first saw the graphics in this game, I thought they were great. It was definitely some of the best graphics for a RPG during the SNES era. Have a look at the game now. One cannot deny that the game just looks very ugly. It is made even worse because of the beautiful CG movies they have decided to add to the beginning and the end of the game. It is such a big contrast.
This brings me to another point - the addition of the beautiful CG movies. Why did they even bother? Both the opening and the ending CG movies are just a cocktail of some of the more distinct scenarios in the game. Otherwise, the presence of the movies has absolutely no meaning what-so-ever. They did not even have the grace of including all the characters in the movies. In my opinion, Square should at least have properly inserted the clips into the game (like in FFVII - FFX) so that the player would watch the right part of the movies at the right moment. Since they have not even bothered with this, one can easily tell that they have been extremely lazy.
Let us go back to the 16-bit graphics. Personally, I have nothing against 16-bit graphics. The problem is that we are talking about a port to a 32-bit console. In the ideal situation, if they were going to re-release a game on the PS, they should have completely redrawn or redesigned the graphics. After all, I am sure gamers will agree that our old PS is capable of some pretty high quality 2D graphics. It is my opinion that the game would have looked a lot better if they have redrawn the whole game using the function of the PS (or even the newer and more powerful consoles).
Well, some of you may argue that it is good that they have kept faith to all the original features in the game. The answer to this is yes and no. For hard core FFVI fans, it was definitely a good thing that the game was not changed in any way, but at least they should have ported the game properly so that a loading time would not be necessary on the PS. I simply cannot see why the loading time in the PS version of FFVI is much worse than the loading time in FFVII and many other 3D titles. By redrawing the graphics, it does not mean that they have to change anything in the game. They could simply have redrawn the graphics such that they would be an enhanced version of the original. I am sure this would have kept everyone happy.
Unfortunately, Square decided to make the most out of it. They re-released the game without making any real efforts to enhanced the experience of playing it. As far as the graphics department goes, the game simply looks outdated and very ugly - while having a very bad loading time.
The same is almost true for the music / sound department. The defects are less noticeable in this case, but are still not up to the standard. Although the tunes are generally good, I am sure players can easily notice the ''sharp edges'' in the music. Some of the sound effects also need to be improved. It is my opinion that if they had used the function of the PS properly, the ''sharp edges'' could have been eliminated.
The score on the gameplay would have been much higher if not for the loading time. There is a very noticeable loading time on almost everything in this game. It takes several seconds to load the world map. It takes several seconds to load towns and dungeons. It takes the same amount of time to load (and unload) each battle. The worst offender is the menu. It takes longer to load (and unload) the menu (and the sub-menus) in FFVI than that in FFIX. I think this is unforgivable and it makes playing the game extremely frustrating. It is my opinion that with the shear number of random encounters, the bad loading time means that the game is just unplayable. It takes too much patience to enjoy a game with so much loading time.
If you manage to live through the loading time, FFVI is a very decent RPG. It is standard Final Fantasy. The party travels to towns and dungeons through the world map. They explore towns and dungeons to gain items and information. They fight random encounters in dungeons. Winning these battles earn them experience points and money. In addition to the basic battle commands such as Attack and Item, each character in FFVI also has a special command ability. For example, the character Edgar can use Tools while the character Shadow can use Throw. During the course of the game, more characters join the party while more story is unfolded.
After a special event in the game, all characters can learn to cast magic spells and use summon abilities through the Esper system. By equipping an Esper, a character can summon it during battles and he / she gains magic points after random encounters. The character learns particular magic spells by gaining an appropriate amount of magic points. Equipping an Esper on a character can also boost the statistics of the character when he / she gains an experience level.
Rent or Buy:
Do not bother with this game if you are not a fan of the series. To PAL gamers who are fans of the series, this is probably a difficult situation. One may argue that since they are finally giving us the game, we should support them by buying it. However, it is my opinion that gamers (including those who live in other regions) should not buy or even bother look at this game. At some point in the near future, I am sure Square is going to re-make the game properly by using the functions of a new console. For those of us who have waited for so many years, it does not matter if we wait just a bit longer for a properly re-release version of FFVI. (In the mean time, I am sure many PAL gamers are still waiting for Square Europe to release the two Chrono titles, Xenogears and the original Parasite Eve. Let's see what they can do.)
FFVI was a very good game during the SNES era, but the re-release version on the PS is very poor. If Square is going to re-release some old games in a newer console, it is my opinion that they should do it right and properly. 07 June 2002
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 06/07/02, Updated 06/07/02
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