Review by japanzaman

"It tries to do too much, but maybe that's a good thing."

Opening Confession:

To be completely honest, this game had no excuse not to be good. It was the third installment of the Final Fantasy series for the PS, and the developers knew exactly what they could achieve on the platform and what they couldn't. This game is a marked improvement over XIII, which was just a complete mess in terms of a battle system in my opinion. It tried to take things back to a simpler time in terms of gameplay and design, without sacrificing character development and deep thinking issues. Whether it succeeds will depend on the player, and if they found a connection with any of the main characters. Personally, I think there's something in this game for everybody, but some will definitely like it more than others.

Strong Points:

1) A revamped skill system that uses items to unlock skills of characters. This is one of the better systems that has ever been developed in the Final Fantasy series, as it allows for tons of strategy and keeps every character unique in their own way. Definitely one of the bigger draws of the game.

2) Goes back to old school. After experiencing Final Fantasy VII and suffering through XIII, most of us were done with the dreary futuristic final fantasy world and wanted to see what a more traditional set up would be like on the PS. The game doesn't disappoint, as all the settings are beautifully designed and the game maintains the classical style from start to finish. The FMV sequences are breath taking and really serve to tell the story well. Even the over world is designed fairly detailed given the graphical limitations of the platform.

3) The story. This is more of a personal taste issue, perhaps, but the story is well developed and draws you in early. The translation is spot on, and every character is unique and consistent.

Weak Points

1) Very linear until the end of the game. Don't expect much latitude in terms of exploration until towards the end of the game, as the game pretty much runs one way. There aren't any multiple endings either, so replay value of this game is pretty small unless you are gunning for some of the harder challenges.

2) Long battle animations. When will the developers at Square learn that we aren't interested in watching the battle sequence animation for 2 minutes of every battle. The game drags out because of this set up, and makes leveling up very tedious, even when the best possible methods are utilized.

3) Rather average soundtrack. For me, music is as integral part for an RPG as the game mechanics and story. The soundtrack, while not poor by any means, just doesn't have a theme that really stands out and defines the game like many of the other Square classics. While not bad, it doesn't match up with the other aspects of the game.

Final Decision

Any fan of the series will love this game, as it is as unique and well thought out as any other installment in the series. However, a lack of any signature characters and a so-so soundtrack keeps this title from ascending to the top of the Final Fantasy series.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/27/09

Game Release: Final Fantasy IX (US, 11/13/00)

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