Review by StephenYap3

Reviewed: 04/06/11

By the time I wrote this review, I've mastered the one job: Reviewer!

Note to viewers: I am new to the Final Fantasy franchise, so do not rush at me with hate E-mails for me somewhat disgracing the series in any way unnecessary.

Sadly for my life, Final Fantasy V is the first game I have beaten in the series. I have also played the first one, VI, X, and X-2, yet I did not beat them for either A) I’ve grown bored of them or B) I rented them from a friend of mine. So pretty much the only thing I can do to experience the series is through emulators, and that is a pretty sad life, huh? Luckily, through emulator and lately, I’ve been playing Final Fantasy VI and while that is better than Final Fantasy V, I won’t call V a disappointment for not having as much features as VI. No, V is kind of a good game in my opinion, but no better than VI.

Final Fantasy V takes place in a peaceful world, where the grass couldn’t get any greener and the mountains being as beautiful as Mount Everest, plus the towns were joyful and quite welcome wagons. Suddenly, the winds stop and a few meteors fell from the sky, each holding some kind of mystic aura to great power. Our first main hero Bartz rose up to one of the meteors with his Chocobo and find a man and a woman in trouble there with a couple of imps, who eventually were defeated. Bartz saves them and took the man and woman, Galuf and Lenna, to a cave...I’ll stop here. Not only would I spoil the plot, since I’m also too lazy to write the plot. I’ll just go onto the meat of the game.

V still manages to keep its simplicity of most RPGs: You walk around areas, get in a random battle, defeat enemies, win bonus stuff, and collect enough Experience Points to reach the next level for the character. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. It should be self-explanatory once you get into the game. However, still existing since its prequel IV is the Active Time Battle system, where you’re still attacked by enemies even though you’re selecting commands. And even though you turn on the Wait option, they still attack, but not when you’re in an actual menu list of commands. I won’t say this is a bad idea, but perhaps it would be nice for Square to give the player the option to go back to the simplistic Turn-based Battle system, first seen in the original Final Fantasy.

One of the things I enjoyed in V is the Job System, where you take on different classes of becoming a knight to donning a thieves’ clothing, and each job has different abilities that not only affect the battles around your party, but on field as well. For instance, you can run in areas as a thief or avoid pain from most grounds as a geomancer. Jobs are upgraded through collecting Ability Points (AP) after winning battles and collecting enough will level up the job, and by leveling up the jobs you may get extensive side effects or more abilities. Certain jobs have a maximum job level and when reached to that limit, the job is mastered and cannot be upgraded any further, and unless if you do not want to earn more AP, you have to switch jobs immediately if mastered. Of course, jobs can be switched at any time you desire, but it is helpful to give some AP to other jobs to become powerful.

And this is where the system shines: You can use any learnt ability from another job to the job you’re currently wearing! For instance, you can have a thief with healing magic or a magician with two weapons! This is why you must level up jobs and get their abilities to become versatile! At first you start off on the crappy Freelancer class, which you have nothing but weapons to wield. As you find crystals in the game, usually found in a bunch with other crystals, you can get more jobs. Of course, you get them through the progression of the story, which the story in my opinion was discreetly lame.

However, the Job system does not come close to perfection since it does have its fair share of flaws. Most job levels for some jobs cost too ridiculously short while a few others cost ridiculously high for a couple of useless abilities like being able to cast two spells in a row or even staying in an uncontrollable state for the remainder of the battle, and not to mention that you could only have two abilities set to each member of the party. You could have the ability to cast White and Black magic, yet you cannot equip the member with anymore abilities until you give up one of the two magic-casting commands. Customization here is very limited, so picking the right abilities becomes gradually difficult throughout the game.

The battle system too could use a little more tuning up since somehow, it seems slower than most other titles in the franchise. This is mostly due to the animations for each weapon or spell, yet while it is quite an eye candy for its stunning animation it lasts too long during battles. Luckily, I was playing V on an emulator and I fast-forward through those animations. Apart from that, the battle system seems to be on the clear.

Hidden throughout V is the series’ staple feature, known as Espers. Espers are monsters that can be summoned to aid the party in battles and can only be summoned by the Summoner job. Some Espers cause damage, some Espers restore status, some Espers casts helpful effects to party, and some Espers may even infect enemies. The high cost of MP for summoning an Esper is not a problem, but rather than easily spamming them to make the game somewhat easier. I was lucky enough to be in other jobs than the Summoner job, thus not letting me use Espers to aid in battle. Besides, we got more powerful spells to use in the game that will help us as much as the Espers would.

The equipment here is aplenty, but unfortunately it does not tell the description of any equipment, no information or any side effects to be aware of. One example would be that one of the equipments restricted the wearer from regaining HP in battles and somehow, it made no sense on whether this was a bug or not. After a while, I realized that by reading an FAQ of V’s equipment that it was not a bug; it is the equipment I have on. So anyways, if the equipments could give us the description on the Equipment screen, the equipments could have been better.

The music tracks here seem light-hearted at times, but other times it is pretty lame and uninteresting. One of those “lame” music tracks would be the common boss music that is not played during the battle against some main antagonists, which in a way it is quite good, but does not fit well with the mood at hand. The music track that I really enjoyed was the final boss’ second phase music, which in my opinion was pretty fitting and epic for a boss fight in V. And also, the ending music seems to be quite enjoyable in my opinion.

And lastly, the humor in V is pretty much a mixed bag. Some humor may work, some humor may not, some humor can save you, and some humor may appear at an unnecessary time. One of those “unnecessary” humor would be when Bartz and Galuf was sneaking into Faris’ bedroom and find that Faris, well...something else. Another example would be Bartz, looking in a bookshelf for something foul and when Lenna nearly finds out what book he was looking for. I won’t say the humor did not catch me during those times, but humor in a serious game? Seriously? Well, to tell you the truth, I did enjoy some of it.

--Final Words--
The one thing I do not understand is for what reason people are calling this a disappointment. Sure the game has a weak plot with emotionless characters, the battle system being so slow, and many other flaws, but really: Is Final Fantasy V really that bad? Oh well, I’ll just move on to playing the better Final Fantasy VI. By the way, up to this point, I’ve collected enough Ability Points to master the “Reviewer" Job!

Score: 8.5 out of 10

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Final Fantasy V (JP, 12/06/92)

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