Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
Final Fantasy IX will always be seen as the return to the fantasy roots of the series. Instead of the strong, layered worlds of machine and sci-fi, we get the castles and airships of the old school style. Complete with a story of greed, self worth, corruption, and life and death, and we have a strong entry into the Playstation chapter of Final Fantasy.
You star as Zidane, a thief who is a true a-typical main character from the FF series. Zidane is loud, crash, somewhat chauvinistic, and a greedy bastard. But, he gets caught up in a chain of events that can lead to the worlds destruction, and he, along with his band of friends that are acquired throughout the game, you have to stop the evil from taking over the world.
Graphics- At its peak, it was the most fluid and realistic of the PSX games. The graphics were crisp and had enough detail to satisfy anyone. The cut scenes, although few and far between, were done well. One problem, all of the characters were clearly defined in this one, but they all remind of typical anime characters. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it is certainly a turn from the realistic characters from FFVIII.
Final Score- A
Gameplay- The game goes back to its roots, and instead of doing the junction system, you do classic battles. Here, some characters should only use magic, like the loveable Vivi, and the knight Steiner should bash everyone with his sword. Also, the ability meter is a nice addition, as it will greatly affect the game in the long run, and should be used.
But where it improves and makes simple, a few steps back are going to be made. None of the battles, with the exception of the boss battles, felt really challenging. The monsters are not to strong, and there are little, if any, reason for you to lose to them, especially if your characters were fully equipped. Also, while the story is great, as always, this time around it seemed more like a well-scripted Shakespeare play than a realistic, human story. The subplots in the game, like Vivi’s self worth and Freya finding her lover, were more powerful than the main plot of the story. I also had problems with Kuja, who seemed like Sephiroth watered down, but regardless of them, the gameplay and the story are solid.
Final Score- B+
Sound- The game had a decent soundtrack, but unlike FFVII or FFVIII, nothing stood out. The sounds were classic FF themes, made new with orchestrated tracks. The sound effects were also good, but again, nothing new was really made.
Final Score- B-
Overall Score- Final Fantasy IX was a classic made new, and a good one at that. The story is a bit weak, the game is real linear, and the battles are definitely old school, but it is worth it in the end. The game is what RPGS were and how they can be, and it is a great entry into the timeless series we all know and love.
Final Score- B