Review: Final Fantasy IV
Posted 27 Oct 2008 at 13:26 by Derek Wheatley
|"It is a little frustrating when an enemy attacks your party while you're choosing your attack, especially if that attack KO's your character."|
Those who don't know about the Final Fantasy series have clearly had their heads stuck in the sand or somewhere else to have not heard about it. Final Fantasy IV for the DS is based on the game of the same name released in 1991, but wasn't released in Europe. A direct port appeared on the Game Boy Advance in 2006. The next stage is giving it a 3D makeover, which Square Enix have done…
You take control of Cecil, former leader of the Red Barons, who appear to work as mercenaries for the King of Baron, after your last mission of collecting crystals it seems you slaughtered innocents who didn't put up much of a fight. Your faith in your king wavers. When you return and even hint at asking the Kings intentions, your control over the Red Barons is taken away and you are given a mission to take an item to a neighboring village (after going through a dangerous cave of course). Kain, your best friend joins you and the adventure begins. I won't spoil too much but it eventually leads to a quest for redemption, picking up a variety of characters as you go along. As you can imagine you have the main all-rounder, the healer, the summoner, the ninja to name a few.
Cecil shows his men who's boss. Despite having doubts of his own.
The touch screen offers little in the main quest except for a map of the world and when in dungeons, if you explore every nook and cranny in a dungeon you get a free item. When in battle it shows the life gauges of your party. You can use the touch screen to move Cecil but I found it very unresponsive, when I wanted to move left he kept running forward into a wall. I was surprised that you couldn't use the touch screen in battle as you could have produced attacks that little bit faster, considering the battle system. There are some stylus controlled minigames, which can be use to enhance Rydia's Eidolon, called Whyt, who can take her place in battle and is under computer control, acting on the abilities you choose.
Final Fantasy IV was the first in the series to use the Active Time Battle (ATB) system, where each character has a gauge above their head which fills at a different speed, and can only pick an attack when full. Enemies have the same ATB concept, except you cannot see their gauge, so when they will attack is a mystery. You can hinder them by casting spells like Slow, but they can do the same to you. This offers a fresh take on the normal turn based combat, making battle more fast paced as you try to get your attacks in quick before the enemy can retaliate. It is a little frustrating when an enemy attacks your party while you're choosing your attack, especially if that attack KO's your character.
As for the script being a complete copy of the GBA predecessor, which in turn was based on the SNES release, I played both the DS and GBA versions side by side for the first section before control is properly handed over to you, and although the script had changed, the main gist was carried over. The DS version did sound more formal, which does work in its advantage, giving the characters more depth. However the voice acting was only used in the first half. Disappointing.
The back of the box boasts "witness gorgeous all-new cutscenes", however I am very close to the end and the only gorgeous FMV I've seen is the summary video you get if you don't press any buttons as you switch the game on. Apart from that you have a delightful 3D adventure with some beautiful colours here and there, especially during some of summoning moments, but I shall say no more.
Yeap the little DS is indeed running a nice FMV intro sequence.
As for the music, it's Final Fantasy, you should know what to expect from the music by now. The battle theme and victory seem vaguely familiar... Voice acting is another thing added to this DS incarnation. However the moments are so few and far between you don't really notice them until they appear at one of the more important plot twists, but not all.
Final Fantasy IV DS is an RPG, and if you are used to what an RPG provides – walking long distances battling many different monsters (sometimes humans) collecting items and completing side quests, with a diverse set of characters: then Final Fantasy IV DS is for you. If it isn't your bag however, then I'm afraid you'll have to pick something else.
If it does suit you, until you reach those "point of no return" stages in the game, you could go back and complete dungeon maps, but the items you get are so common it's hardly worth the trouble at times. Other than that there is not much point in going back from whence you came unless you really have to. RPG's are meant to be long, so you can expect 30, maybe 40 hours of gameplay in this title.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Final Fantasy IV DS is a solid RPG which has survived the test of time, the first incarnation being released in more than 15 years ago. Recommended for all RPG fans.
A good solid RPG
Survived the transition from 2D to 3D nicely
Fresh combat system
Can get frustrating, as most RPGs can.
A little repetitive, as most RPGs are.