Well, what can we say about square this time? In the return of the series we all have come to love and enjoy. For us old school gamers it started a long time ago way back on and 8 Bit systems that we called the NES. But for the more recent and larger audience of gamers, it started with the Playstation and its release of Final Fantasy VII. Many fans seemed disappointed with the FFVIII, myself believing that while it was a very good strong game, and it did suffer from certain weaknesses. We then to hear news of another Final Fantasy; once again the speculation about the titled started amongst the crowd and population of video gamers. Statements such as ?ganother one??h and ?gthis ones going to be even worse than the last?h began to spread throughout the audience. However a surprising effort by square released little or no materials as to the plot, or characters, or game-play in the game during development. Only until late did square release information about this new series, and what was this we heard, a tribute to the roots of the game?
And that it is, this game, Final Fantasy IX is the epitome of an immaculate game. It has no ?ereal?f flaws, but only strong solid features that make it one of the most enjoyable experiences in RPG?fing today. From beginning to end you will not want to stop playing, square throws every form of adventure at you, anything from acting in a play to getting catching frogs, to taking down demons of pure evil, its all in here. You will enjoy hours upon hours of gaming, once you start play the game will begin to suck you in, you will not want to put down the controller, because at every point you will be wondering what will happen next, like a good book.
As soon as you start the game, during the first FMV, you get a feeling that there is something special about this title, its not just your run of the mill (though nothing is run of the mill from square) game. You wont see anything that resembled the last two square titles, you wont see any futuristic ships, or hit-tech buildings, or new inventive gadgets. But what you will see is a game that has a mid-evil feel to it, a game that will take you back in time and not forwards, it will present the setting with such good accuracy it will feel like you are there. Square wanted to show all the gamers whose first RPG was FFVII what they have missed, and a good job they did.
You begin your adventure with a boy named Zidane, and you team up with a band of thieves to capture the princess of a town named Alexandria. Once this is accomplished, the games story explodes into a whole different level. The story will leave you with feelings of sympathy, anger, frustration?c etc all of which elements provide you with great satisfaction throughout the remainder of the game. Final Fantasy IX, accomplishes its task very well, every element of this game is an allusion to the past Final Fantasies. For instance, there are black mages once again, there are magic users, both attack and healing, all of the characters in this game are balanced quite well, a strong suit for one is a weakness for others, this portrays they feeling of group effort, you need to be able to work all your characters together to succeed in this game. Also there are no ?gHUGE?h summons, they only do about as much damage as normal magic attacks.
This game battle system is great; it has a certain level of deepness with out being to bogged-down with options. The basic jist of it is similar to that of FFVIII but instead of using GF?fs you use items to learn abilities. You equip items that allow you the users to game certain abilities for certain people, you can use that ability right away with that item equipped however, you learn the ability as well. Once you have enough AP to learn the ability, you can then equip a different item and still be able to use that ability that came with the other item. This method works really well, however at times you can never find the item that gives you the ability you want, or you will get a new item and can?ft equip it because you didn?ft learn another ability, but other than these minor annoyances the system works great.
The battle system for this game is nothing really unique, but more a solid form a past additions. Characters have special abilities that are unique to their person, and they also have abilities that they gained, only the black mage can use black magic, and only certain people can use white magic. There?fs nothing really new innovation wise here, but again it?fs more of a tribute game, making the system being based of the best other ideas they?fve had/have. This theme is carried all through out the game, and almost every element of it represents that.
We then come to the revamped graphics engine, instead of using the life-sized characters like on FFVIII; square took it in a different direction. Again as a tribute to old gaming, square has gone back to using what has come to be know as ?gsuper deformed?h characters. They?fre heads aren?ft in correct proportion to their bodies, it seems as though square has used the same graphics engine as the one in FFVIII, however they have improved upon its character animations. Characters now have different stances to help further express feeling through their characters, and a wider range of motion than before. All of which are improvements upon the previous games. As far as the graphics go, FFIX is superb in the fact that it effectively combines game play with cinema, for every FMV in this game, there is a smooth transition, they come at the some of the most unsuspecting times (not to mention that they look incredible). Square truly went out of their way for this title, as it brings a new level of detail within it. This games graphics have not only been increased, in these areas however, the battles scenarios are really where an improvement can be observed. Between the perfect balance of the characters, variety of weapons, enemies, and difficulty levels, the graphics just help to further expand on then experience. The background details have been increased in this title, for they are now animated, and can see things moving at times during battle. The special effects for the attacks have been changed but take advantage the PSX?fs light sourcing, and other things that just make the whole experience enjoyable. The magic and summon attacks are done as well, while not being as impressive as those in VIII, they still pull off the effects they need.
Final Fantasy IX is a game of mass proportions, its hard to even begin tell what the player will experience with in a short amount of space. Everything about this title is strong; the only lacking space with in it is the sound. FFIX uses an almost midi sounding choice in music, and not the normal, magnificent CD quality, orchestra type sound tracks we?fve come to know and get used to on the Playstation. But again, as I?fve said many times, this game I feel was meant to be a tribute, and a window to the previous games, show the new RPG?fers what they?fve missed. So in the case the sound fits in with that, however that same epic CD quality music and sound is heard during FMVs, so those looking for a great new sound track, square was not left you empty-handed. FFIX provides its player with a great amount of pleasure, possibly even enough to play through it a few times, but other than just the experience of the game, there is no real incentive to play it more than once, just like every Final Fantasy game, but that shouldn?ft stop anyone from doing so.
All in all, final fantasy is great game, one of the strongest RPGs we?fve seen from square since FFVII. This game has no real flaws, the story is amazing, and the graphics, FMV?fs, battle system, and total experience of playing the game are as equally amazing. This game is magnificent in all of its aspects, so to square what can I say, keep up the good work, because you are on the completely right track. Keep the level of quality high at all times, and Final Fantasy IX does nothing less than that; in continuing a legacy that started a long time ago, and we all know square will continue the tradition with the level of dedication needed, so, until next time enjoy this magnificent work of art (and try keep all your drooling to a minimum during play).