Review by Haste2
A fantastic, gameplay-driven RPG.
Final Fantasy V, released in 1992 in Japan, wasn't released stateside until 7 years later. While I am grateful that we can experience the game today, the fact that we received the game so late has taken the spotlight away from the game. FFV is famous for it's Job System, and is often compared to FFIIIj. While FFIII is a fun game, FFV improves on almost every aspect of it. In fact, I find FFV to have the best gameplay in the entire series.
Graphics - 8/10
Squaresoft never fails to utilize the graphic capabilities of the SNES. The characters themselves on the field are small and look dull, which is perhaps the weakest part of the graphics. However, each of your party members has his or her own unique look depending on what Job they have, whether it's Bartz as as Knight, Galuf as a Time Mage, Faris as a Hunter, or Reina as a Thief. The enemies don't look too shabby, either. You will find many famous enemies (Tonberry, for instance) that make their first appearance in FFV. Cool.
Sound - 7/10
Contrary to the opinions of others, I find the sound to be up to par with the rest of the series. I find the town, over-world and emotional themes in particular to be quite enjoyable. The main theme, "Ahead On Our Way", is my favorite piece Uematsu's ever written. More good news on top of that is that the main theme gets used in many pieces in the game. My main gripe is that the pieces are a bit TOO simple, with almost 100% focus on a single melody line. Uematsu never fails with his melodies, however.
Story - 5/10
To those of you who are expecting a glamorous epic story like that of FF6 or FF7...I hate to break it to ya, but FFV doesn't have that. Basically, it's a story about 4 crystals with a different spin on it. Basically, some evil dude named Ex-Death is trying to destroy those crystals so that he can destroy the world, pretty much. The characters in party are Bartz, Reina, Galuf, and Faris, all of which you obtain in the first half-hour of the game. While they do have their own personality and stories (thank goodness) and there are storyline cutscenes, none of them are truly significant to their development and you never grow to actually care about the characters. On the bright side, the characters and storyline development actually are really amazing compared to that of FF3j. :p
Gameplay - 10/10.
Most RPGs try to make a good balance between storyline and gameplay. With the weakness of the weakness, that leaves the gameplay as the sole crutch that FFV has to stand. Let me tell you, It has the typical basic structure of the Final Fantasies, with the random enemy encounters, Active Time Battle, and linear progression that you all so love very much.
The battle system is what sets FFV is from the rest. First, take FF3's job system where everybody can go switch to whatever job they want whenever they want. Then, add the idea that you can permanently learn certain job abilities that you can equip regardless of what jobs you switch to. Next, add the idea of Ability Points in which you can "level up" your jobs, encouraging you to choose your jobs wisely in order to best prepare your abilities in the future. Some jobs have uses outside of battle, such as the Thief's ability to have your party walk twice the normal pace on the field, or the Geomancer's ability to see invisible traps. The enemies stand out in this game, too: almost every enemy has unique ways to try and mess you up, whether it's an instant death move, a petrifying move, or an instant death+petrify at the same time!
FFV also takes big step forward in the series in terms of convenience in the menus. Instead of blindly having to purchase a piece of armor to see its abilities, you can now what it can do ahead of time. This is also the first Final Fantasy game you can automatically sort your inventory. The Optimum option is handy, too. My one minor gripe is that whenever you change a job or ability, your equipment automatically changes to your "optimum" equipment, which isn't always what you want.
The difficulty is just about perfect. It never gets overly easy, but with proper planning you can overcome just about any dungeon or boss without over-leveling. The difficulty curve is also very good: clearly World 1 is the easiest world, while World 3 is the most difficult. Also, unlike other Final Fantasies, there's no way you're gonna beat Ex-Death by just attack attacking and using Cure3 every round. If you think Ex-Death is too easy, try fighting Omega and Shinryuu!
Replay Value - 9/10.
Unlike several other Final Fantasies, FFV is very much worth replaying. With over 20 different jobs, the combinations of ways to build up your party is endless. You will constantly be finding new uses with almost every Job. There aren't a whole lot of side quests, but, hey, it's improved from the earlier Final Fantasies.
Overall - 9/10
I high recommend that you obtain this game. It just never gets stale. You can find this game as part of Final Fantasy Anthology for the Playstations, and the port is actually pretty good, with only minor slowdown and loading issues. If you can forgive the mediocre story, it's easy to discover the beauty of the battle system and the flow of the game.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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