Review by Mykas0
Reviewed: 01/06/08 | Updated: 01/22/08
"I know, let's add some fireworks and sell it again!"
Yet again, Square Enix releases a remake of one of their older games. Same story, same characters, but it was remade with the grahical quality that made the latest Final Fantasy III port famous. Below this shiny cover, there are some surprises waiting for those who decide to pick up the game, but it's up to you to figure out if those small modifications are actually worth your money.
Thinking about additions, one of the biggest ones is the presence of a New Game +, an amazing option that usually allows players to replay the game with the very same setup they had when they defeated the final bosses. Oddly, such an option was here changed to comprise only a very limited number of items, which deprives it from some of its usual appeal. Instead of replaying the game with every character at the level they had when they fought the last boss, you'll only retain some of your key items, making the task of replaying the game slightly uninteresting, since you'll always be facing the very same events over and over.
Another interesting addition are Decant Abilities. Unique to this remake, those are key items that allow your characters to learn unique talents. They range from basic ones, which may increase someone's stats, up to ones that actually make it possible for your characters to learn new moves. Ever wanted to use the Sing command with Cecil, the main character? Well, now you can, and even if there is more to this system that first meets the eye, the basic concept is as simple and enjoyable as it sounds. In fact, this may end up being one of the few reasons to play the game.
In terms of storyline, the game is basically the same. Once in a while, you may spot new events and slightly changed sequences, but the kernel is still the same as in the original game - you'll be playing as Cecil, a Dark Knight who is ordered by the king of Baron to collect the so famous crystals. Everything goes fine, until one day he is confronted with unexpected events, which lead him to rebel against his former master. From there, you're taken across a story where almost nothing is what it seems, and where you may end up being surprised in every corner, if you hadn't played any of the previous versions of this game, that is. Although some storyline sequences are now imbued with voiced characters and cool special effects, they tend to be nothing more than a shiny version of their former selves, and end up being simple makeovers fit for those who simply care about looks and sounds.
Cecil's voice, for example, doesn't really fit the charisma of such a character, and even if some voices are actually in touch with the character they were assigned to, others aren't that good. In terms of songs, there are quite a few enjoyable themes to be heard across your adventure, most of which appear to be improved versions of their classic versions, yet enjoyable and surprisingly fresh.
Graphically, this game is great, having nothing to envy to games such as Final Fantasy III or Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker. There are good special effects, perfectly drawn characters and impressive cutscenes, but it is a pity that they are simply reusing a storyline that every RPG fan has probably seen by now. No matter how good everything looks, you'll constantly feel like you've already played this game, and that they simply gave it a new package, in order to win some extra cash.
Battles are something that really wasn't improved. Apart from Rydia's summon command, which now unleashes a small (and extremely annoying, since it resets your cursor position) cutscene, everything is still placed in the very same place as before. Be aware that the stated command also allows you to call Pochika, a small (and fully customizable) monster whose stats are improved via five different mini-games, but that's as far as changes go, and even if Decant Abilities give a more strategic feel to the game, most players will stick away from them, as they're never given any kind of formal introduction. Unless you come online and research them, it is even possible to complete the game without ever noticing their existence, which is sad, since they add some interest to the overall product. Apart from that, it's the same Fight, Thrown, Summon and Magicscheme that every other game of this series throws at you.
Fortunately, some confrontations were slightly modified, which adds some more interest to the game. Now, certain monsters and most bosses tend to counter some of your attacks, which hints at possible strategic thoughts that you should try to develop. For example, striking Rubicant usually makes such enemy unleash a powerful counter attack which, when combined with his special attack, may lead to the quick demise of your party. However, if you follow a certain strategy, it is possible for you to dodge such counter attack and manage to cause more damage while taking less risks. It's still possible to defeat most enemies while relying on the usual strategies, but it is harder to vanquish certain bosses if you're not aware of their strong and weak points, in every sense of these words.
One can activate Auto Battle by pressing a certain button in the middle of battles, but you'll easily notice that such a system is nothing more than fireworks. You're allowed to assign an action to each character, one they must constantly perform while in such a mode (Fight, by default), and it is easy to realise that there's no interest in using such an option, since it is just too limited and makes it harder to deal with unexpected battle occurrences, even if you're able to disable and enable such system as you like.
Now, if you want to compare this game with the last remake, released two years ago for the Gameboy Advance, I'd have to admit that they're pretty much the same. This one is shinier, features some more sound effects and has an interesting Decant Abilities system, but it was deprived of the interesting things that the last versions offered players, such as extra dungeons and new items. Instead, players are given an extra quest and two secret bosses, which serve as nothing more than an excuse to take advantage of the New Game + option. Beating those two bosses may require you to complete the game quite a few times, but sooner or later you'll realise that doing so just isn't worth your time, since subsequent replays add nothing new to your experience.
It is easy to understand that this game just isn't worth your time, if you've played any of the remakes. Instead, keep your money and spend it in some new games, instead of purchasing repackaged titles. This is a perfect example on how a specific treatment can work differently for two games, and even thought it worked great for Final Fantasy III, a game that most fans had probably never played, it doesn't really benefit Final Fantasy IV, a title which has been commonly ported for years. Nevertheless, if you've never played any of the previous ports, you may want to give this one a look, it isn't such a bad title.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Final Fantasy IV (JP, 12/20/07)
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