Final Fantasy V, the underappreciated masterwork
Game Title: Final Fantasy V
Genre: Turn Based RPG
ESRB Rating: Teen
Director: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Release Date: 09/30/1999
Overall rating: 9.5
In the begining, there was the void...
The main focus of Final Fantasy Anthology is and has always been Final Fantasy VI. Those of us that have played it understand why. 6 is a truely amazing game, deserving all the praise that it gets. However, it is not the only timeless classic that comes with Anthology. The package also includes Final Fantasy 5, which, sadly, gets overlooked. The game is a masterpiece of the artform in my opinion, and here is why I think so.
Gameplay - 10/10
The gameplay for this game is your typical active time turn based battle system, except for one thing: the job system.The job system is a fantastic and engaging. It allows for quite a bit of strategy in battle. Try different combonations and see how they work. Want to make a lancer with white magic? You can. The system is very flexible, and I love it for that. All of the jobs have their own particular uses throughout the game, so experiment with all of them. Once you learn a job, it stays with your character even after you switch to another job, so feel free to do that at will. With about 30 total jobs, there are many possible combos that you can do with your different characters.
One thing that I would like to note about the gameplay is the difficulty level of this game. This is probably one of the harder games in the FF series. You will die at some point during this game. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. There are parts of this game that will be very difficult for you. If you choose to fight either of the optional bosses. you need to spend an eternity leveling up. Omega Weapon is quite possibly the hardest boss in the series. He will lay you to rest quick if you don't act fast. The final boss is significantly less difficult than the one in Final Fantasy IV, however. I found that odd. He still is not a walk in the park, though.
Graphics - 7/10
This one is tough to judge. The game was originally released on the Super Famicom back in 1992. As a result, the graphics for it are very much out of date. However, back in 1992, this game did look pretty good. The overworld is rather boring to look at, but the graphics in battle, as well as the dragons, towns and castles all look pretty good for an SNES game. All of the enemies in battle are loaded with detail and are colorful. The castles are large. Every brick can be seen. Fantastic for it's time. I would also like to note that this game saw the begining of Squaresoft attempting high production value in the Final Fantasy series. There are multiple scenes throughout the game where they attempt to do things like use tricks with the camera or create special effects. While all of this was surely impressive in it's time, it is outdated by todays standards. Still, it is nice to see. If you think of it from the perspective of the SNES, it is actually rather impressive
Squaresoft added FMV scenes to this game. There is one at the begining that serves as an intro, and one at the end of the game that shows multiple scenes througout the game. These FMV scenes look nothing short of amazing. You all know what to expect from Square's PS1 FMV scenes, and this game delivers some of their best stuff. From the crystal slowly twriling and shattering, to the meteor falling from the sky, these scenes look absolutely stunning.
Sound - 10/10
What can be said about Nobuo Uematsu that hasn't already been said? The man is a genius, an absolute musical genius. He proves it once again with the soundtrack to Final Fantasy V. Despite a bit of a rough transfer from a Super Famicom cartridge to a Playstation disk, the music alone is enough to warrant this game a perfect score for the sound.The music is fantastic. It is emotional when it needs to be. It can be fun at times. It is action packed at others, and very dark and serious as well. The music constantly fits perfectly with the situation that you are watching in the game. The Chocobo theme from this game is excellent. It is a mombo, and is alot of fun. I love it. X-Death's theme is fantastic in my opinion. It is very dark and fits well with his personality. Clash on the Big Bridge is one of my favorite tracks from this game. This one was covered by the Black Mages. I love this track. The music is just your usual Nobuo stuff, which is always a very good thing
Sound wise, it does sound out of date. It has a wide range of sounds throughout the game, and it doesn't get old, but it is also not as detailed or as clear and beautiful as more modern games. That is to be expected, however, since it is not a modern game. I will not detract from the overall score of this game because of this. The sound track is just that good
Story - 9/10
The story is the bread and butter of any Final Fantasy game, and V has a great one. While it certainly isn't at the level if Final Fantasy VI, this game does have an excellent story. It starts off with King Tycoon sensing that something is wrong with the wind. He climbs aboard his dragon with intentions to fly to the wind shrine. He gets interrupted by his daughter, Reina. She begs him not to go, but he feels that it is his duty and leaves against her wishes. Then, the wind dies, and Reina thinks that something might have happened to her father. The wind crystal shatters with King Tycoon approaching it. While Reina is out traveling, a meteor strikes earth and knocks her out. A nearby traveler named Bartz (or Butz as it originally was written in Japan) hears the noise from the crash and goes to investigate. When he arrives, he finds Reina being carried away by goblins. He kills them and wakes her up. The 2 of them then hear a moan of pain nearby. When they go to investigate, they find a man named Galuf that almost got flattened by the meteor. The impact has caused him to have amnesia. This is how things are set up at the begining of the game, and it goes along and gets deeper from there.
This story starts off slow. When you play through it, give it time. The first 10 hours or so will be very slow. Once you are reaching the end of the first world, however, the story picks up in a big way. It starts chugging along at full speed, and it unleashes some truely fantastic plot twists. It doesn't slow down again for the rest of the game. Sit back and enjoy the fantastic, plot twist filled story line that is aided by great structuring and beautiful music. Admittedly, there are a few parts of this story that are cheesy. They keep it from getting a score of a perfect 10, and they hold it back from being on the same level as FFIV and FFVI. However, the story is impressive, overall.
No FF story is complete without great personalities, and FFV has them. This game has fantastic personalities all arround. The characters are diverse with an added level of depth from FFIV. This is the first game in FF history to have back stories on the characters. They are not too in depth, but it is a nice touch. It is also cool to know where the back stories started. The characters may not be as good as the 2 games that surround it, but they can stand on their own 2 legs. My favorite characters are Krile and Faris. One more character that I really like is X-Death. This game, to me, seems like it was Square's first attempt at making a bad guy that is truely worthy of your hatred. If you are like me, there are multiple points througout the game where he will tick you off. That, in my opinion, is what makes a great villian
Replay value - 9/10
As with any great role playing game, this game will make you want to play through it again after you beat it. The story is worth revisiting and there are loads of things that you can do with the job system, that allow for many ways to play through the game. Also, there are a ton of added quests, like seeking out bonus summons or finding the hidden job. There is alot to do in this game, and, if you do it all, it can take you upwards of 60 hours. I did not 100% it, and it took me 42 nad a half to beat. The good length of the game, coupled with multiple ways to play through it add alot of replay value to this game
I love this game. In my opinion, it is an underrated game in the FF series. It has some of the best gameplay that the series has ever seen. It also has a fantastic story, beautiful music and loads of extra quests. This one is deffinitely worth your time and attention.
Gameplay - 10/10
The job class sytem is very well implemented in this game
Graphics - 7/10
Beautiful FMV scenes. In game graphics were excellet for their ttime, but are out of date now
Sound - 10/10
Nobuo Uematsu hits another home run. Amazing musical score
Story - 9/10
Stars off slow and has a few cheesy parts, but very good overall
Replay value - 9/10
Loads of bonus quests. A story worth revisitng and many ways to play through the game