Final Fantasy II
Review by TKDBoy1889
"An underrated title of the series"
When people think of Final Fantasy most people's minds stray to a few of the games right away, such as 7 and 10, while others are not mentioned as much. Sad, because this game is a very fun game. Not the best title in the series but well above average and enjoyable, and it brought many things that became commonplace for the Final Fantasy series. This is the fourth game in the series, labeled 2 in the US since the real 2 and 3 were only released in Japan.
Final Fantasy 2 (4) was originally planned for the NES, but after various delays the development team decided to wait and release it out to the SNES instead. Graphically, speaking, this point is somewhat noticeable throughout the game, as sometimes the sprites look like slightly enhanced 8-bit sprites rather than pure 16-bit graphics.
That said, they aren't BAD at all. The artwork is actually pretty nice, and the visual of magic attacks are are beautifully rendered as well. The various dungeons also fit their themes fairly well. They are just somewhat primitive at times and a bit bare, failing to take full advantage of the SNES's powers. Ultimately though, it's far from a disappointment in terms of graphics. Could definitely be better, but it's pretty good.
As is standard of the Final Fantasy Series the soundtrack is excellent. Nobuo Uematsu is something of a legend among videogame music composers. He really knew hot to make complex beats that are simply amazing. And this game is one of the many games that are proof of that. The battle music and boss music are especially epic, and the opening theme has a very powerful tone to it , fitting the opening scene very well and grabbing your attention from the start.
Music is a very important aspect of gaming, especially in games like this. And this game hits a bulls-eye with it.
Final Fantasy 2 (4)'s story was somewhat generic as it revolved around a similar core feature to most previous FF titles at the time: Elemental crystals. Elemantal crystals were, since the first game, a core element of the series. The main story revolves around the bid of an evil character looking to wield their powers to take over/destroy the world. Not very original.
But story-wise, Final Fantasy 2 (4) does incorporate many elements that had not been seen in the story before. For one, all the characters are pre-named real characters of the world with unique personalities and back-stories. It was also the first game of the series where the main protagonist was not a righteous moral hero from the start. The games main character, Cecil, actually starts off as a more conflicted character doing things that he feels might be wrong, but it takes a while for him to realize he's on the wrong path. And Cecil, while trying to save the world, is also seeking atonement. And character interaction fairly deep, with various relations established between many character, each cemented thanks to events during and/or before the game.
Final Fantasy four also has it's fair share of twists along the way in terms of the story. It's not the most complex but there are things that surprise you, keeping it entertaining throughout the game. This game is more character driven than previous titles, and that pays off. The core plot in itself is pretty typical, generic, but the details surrounding it give it good flavor.
Just like the story, Final Fantasy 4's gameplay is similar to the older titles, but brings about many new aspects that become common in later titles. The biggest point is the introduction of the ATB (Active Time Battle) system. Rather than a pure turn-based system, this system revolves around the speed stat of every character determining how long they wait between turns. Also, enemies can attack independently of the player's turns, keeping the gameplay intense and somewhat quick-paced as you constantly try to stay ahead of the enemy in terms of attacking.
Final Fantasy also introduced many more playable characters than older establishments of the series: a total of twelve. It also introduced the concept of characters frequently joining and leaving your party. Throughout the game many party members join and leave, sometimes multiple times. This keeps the gameplay and fighting fresh throughout the game as the constant changing of party members means you have a constantly different set of classes to make use of. This helps keep the it from becoming too repetitive.
Aside from the above point, the gameplay can get repetitive over time. Also, grinding is, especially for a starting player, almost essential. And that can be a bit grating from time to time. This is countered somewhat by an open ended world that at various points allows you to explore and perform optional quests, often yielding nice rewards. And ultimately, most games are repetitive to an extent. The main question is "Is it fun?" And the answer to that here is "Yes."
Replay Value: 7/10
The replay value of this game largely falls under playing the game to do optional exploring you didn't do before or to go through the game without doing said exploring. Otherwise, the game's pretty linear and straightforward so it ultimately comes done to the fun factor. If you enjoyed playing the game first time, you'll enjoy it again. If you don't like your first playthrough, you probably won't like a second attempt.
This game is overshadowed by many other titles of the series, which is a shame because while it's not perfect, it's really fun and it started many concepts that later games owe to it. It's at times repetitive, and feels a bit generic. But overall it's loads of fun with it's combat system and it's cast of memorable characters that keep you wanting to learn more about the story. If you like Final Fantasy, or RPGs in general, I suggest this one.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/31/12
Game Release: Final Fantasy II (US, 11/23/91)
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