10

It's a story that you remember with characters you remember. And you feel like you have been part of the world

The storyline in this game is very immersive. The whole game has an epic movie feel to it. The graphics are a distinctive manga style. They haven't gone for realism here, but artistic beauty. Hence this game has aged well unlike FF8 which tryed realism and now looks haggard. Nobuo Uematsu's soundtrack really brings life to every scene in this game. With distintive tunes full of emotion which match the scenes well. It was also a revolutionary game when it came out because it came on 3 disks and had a tonne of FMV cinematics which were interspersed seamlessly throughout the narrative. The sound effects are reminiscent of happy arcade style noises that bring back happy childhood nostalgia. There is romance, danger, great evil, adventure, plot and character developments and twists, beautiful scenery and all things that make a good story. The game also has the right balance of a set story and letting you explore and do your own thing. The Materia System is interesting. Although you do develop a feeling of attachment to the materia as it levels up, it does feel slightly temporary (especially as some of it sells for quite a lot), and the actual development of the characters skills themselves is limited and any character can really end up as any 'class' which does take a bit out of the individual character uniqueness. Nevertheless the limit breaks and ability to change each characters stats with materia is cool (reminiscent of FF5's job system where you could have the girls with the most strength if you wanted). I think FF9 had more of a feeling of actually developing the characters themselves as once a skill had been learnt through a weapon it was permanent. However the fact that materia leveled up and would 'give birth' to new materia when it was fully developed did contribute to the feeling that the materia was a character in itself.

I think what makes the storyline good in this game is all the deep themes universal to humans that were present. It played at core human desires and emotions, just like the author of the original James Bond books tried to do. You can tell the producers really put there hearts into the story and wern't just trying to copy popular cliched stories. It meant something to them, therefore is resonated with others.

There is also a great deal of variety in this game (a lesson that could be learnt by many other games). There is snowboarding, an arcade with things to buy after winning games, fighting, fighting arena, gambling, materia developing, secret finding, leveling up, beautiful music and cinematics, beautiful and scary scenery which is hugely varied across a large world which slowly opens up, mountain climbing with wind, path finding, stat developing, secret storyline finding, chocobo catching, training, racing and breeding, roler-coaster with shooting sub game, basketball shooting game, motorbiking, summon finding and armour buying, a real time army strategy game. And all of it is important and serves the narrative as well as character/money/materia/skill development. Basically there's just a lot to do and develop unlike many tedious RPG's (including other FF's).

If I have one complaint its that it's too short (even though it's actually really long) and perhaps a bit easy once you get some of the more powerful stuff. But mind you that takes ages to get anyway and by that stage its about time you should be kicking butt. Oh and there is a ridiculously hard extra end boss or two for you to try out your ultimate materia combinations (which can be really fun to experiment with for maximum awesomeness) on.

To summarize, if your one of the 5 or 6 people who haven't played this game, I would heartily recommend it.

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