Final Fantasy IX
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation
Publisher
Square Electronic Arts
Developer
Square
Genre
RPG
ESRB Rating
Violence, Mild Language
 
Grade
The Good

• Grand CG-rendered movies
• Excellent story and characters
• Numerous side games and hidden items

The Bad

• Linear gameplay
• Tetra Master is difficult to play
• Maybe too many FMVs

 
Grade
B+

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 of us.

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 game.

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 it up.

- - kinderfeld

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