With promises of a return to the more traditional style of
Final Fantasies, Square brought to America probably one of
their strongest FFs for the Playstation yet. Sporting highly
detailed characters, eye-blowing FMVs and a return of the
four-person party, Final Fantasy IX is a great game that's
fun to play. In fact, the game is as addicting as they come.
The story is deep and well written. Conversations are actually
interesting to read and there are a number of genuinely funny
parts to the story. To go with the more refined conversation
is excellent character modeling and animation. The fully dimensional
characters show their emotions in their actions. The characters
themselves are interesting as they develop from single-minded
icons into dilemma-ridden heroes.
One of the standouts of this game is the CG-rendered FMVs,
which shine in their quality. This time around, the FMVs tell
portions of the story, instead of merely segueing into the
next scene. In fact, some of the FMS are so startlingly good
that you might want to watch them multiple times.
Gameplay: Combat is often a blast. Allowing characters
that can steal to be able to nab more than one item from creatures
is a great addition. Stealing from bosses multiple times will
often net you items and equipment that far exceeds your current
stash. The skill-learning system is a nice change of pace,
taking its cue from Final Fantasy V and Tactics.
Sound: Probably the weakest part of the game. I'm
not saying that it's bad. Some tracks are excellent, while
others get to be annoying after a while.
Extras: The mini-games are fun. The greatest part
about them is that there are so many of them. You can't help
but turn around and find yourself another mini-game to participate
in. "Chocobo Hot and Cold" is just plain fun and addicting.
"Tetra Master" is another thing altogether. If you understand
how to play this game, then you're leagues ahead of the rest
The Downside: As said before, the card game is confusing
and not explained really well. It's that lack of explanation
that makes most of us just skip right over it. Also, the game
is extremely linear throughout most of the first three discs.
There is very little in the way of free-roaming exploration.
Also, there are a number of things that if you miss it the
first time through, then you'll have to catch it on the next
time you play through. And, that's what really hurts this
Also, even though we appreciate the excellent FMVs, we almost
wish there were fewer of them. With so many of them on the
first disc alone, we were left wondering how long the game
would actually be. Here in the office, we averaged between
10 and 13 game hours on the first disc alone (which easily
beast our 18-20 hour first disc time for FFVIII).
One last gripe we had was just merely a matter of taste.
While Square made an effort to make FF9 a tribute to past
Final Fantasies, we couldn't help but feel like there was
very little new here. Square apparently tweeked a little here
and there and then stuffed the game full of nostalgia.
With the number of secrets and mini-games, you'll easily
play this game all the way through multiple times and be glad
you paid for it. Despite the few complaints (which were merely
being nit-picky), this game is fairly enjoyable. If
you're tired of the old Final Fantasies, then don't expect
much more new here. If you're a fan of the old games, soak