Interface: Ok, not great. The [Interface Hall of Shame] does not include games because it claims that "game interfaces are often part of the challenge of games." I disagree. I have played many games with good interfaces, and many more with bad ones. Chronotrigger's elegant, streamlined interface is part of its appeal; XenoGears rough interface is one of the reasons for my love/hate relationship with that game. ChronoCross choked on the lack of a useable interface for the element system. The Zelda games have thrived on quick, clean interfaces. I'm convinced that one of the reasons Blizzard games do so well is good interface design.|
Interface: Ok, not great. The [Interface Hall of Shame] does not include games because it claims that "game interfaces are often part of the challenge of games." I disagree. I have played many games with good interfaces, and many more with bad ones. Chronotrigger's elegant, streamlined interface is part of its appeal; XenoGears rough interface is one of the reasons for my love/hate relationship with that game. ChronoCross choked on the lack of a useable interface for the element system. The Zelda games have thrived on quick, clean interfaces.|
I guess I haven't given you my rant on Blizzard's build interfaces and why a typewriter is NOT an acceptable gaming controller. :)-AlexBobbs|
''I should clarify what I mean. I've never thought that Blizzard's RTS interfaces were outstanding, just good compared to the stuff available at the time (Warcraft III is step backwards, in some respects, because Blizzard has adopted the attitude that the interface is part of the challenge, which I disagree with; Diablo II's interface is solid because it's configurable). Blizzard's interfaces, like the rest of their product, are well-built but not innovative or spectacular in their own right.
Keyboards are good for controls in some games: have you ever tried to play CivilizationII? on game console controller? Not pleasant. If you complain that this is unfair comparison, since CivilizationII? was designed for the PC, try playing the RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms? games by Koei, or any of the other variants on the same theme: the controls are awkward and annoying because you don't have mouse select and keyboard shortcuts. I'm convinced that turn-based strategy games work best on keyboards and mice. The mouse-and-keyboard combination works much better for FPS's than console controllers, in my opinion.
That said, lay it on me. I'm always interested in other opinions. --CurtisVinson''
"I suppose I should also start off by clarifying. I do not mean to say that a keyboard-and-mouse combo is a bad gaming device, by any means. I used the word "typewriter" to refer to the sheer number of letters that are used in Blizzard build interfaces. I have no problem with the interfaces to most turn-based strategy games and first-person shooters.
But, I digress... One of the main reasons that I never cared to finish Warcraft I or II and don't regularily play Starcraft is the cumbersome interface. For some unknown reason, the boys at Blizzard think that everyone who plays their games should have to memorize about 50 keyboard shortcuts. That is what I mean, when I say "typewriter". Oh, sure, you don't technically HAVE to memorize them, but the game feels really slow and clunky if you don't and you progress much slower (there's a reason I don't play multiplayer), as I'm sure anyone who's played the game can identify with. Building requires first selecting a worker, then finding the "build" icon, then trying to figure out which thumbnail represents the building you're trying to build, and then finally choosing a place. Spell-casters I found are even worse, since you generally have to use them quickly. I finally just gave up entirely on building things like High Templar entirely because every potential usage was basically a frustrating process of: find an available High Templar, select it, find the icon to select the spell, be told that it doesn't have enough energy, find ANOTHER High Templar, select it, find the icon to select the spell AGAIN, choose an area, then realize that the opportunity to use the spell is gone. Of course, all the Starcraft players will just tell me to memorize the damn shortcuts. I won't. Having to deal with that many keyboard shortcuts is annoying enough to make me just stick to single player, and furthermore, I object on principle to having to deal with poor interface design. Furthermore, the shortcuts are not even assigned WELL. Half the time, the shortcut is some non-intuitive letter in the middle of the word for the thing you want. And why does every race (for building, although I suppose Starcraft has an excuse here) and unit (for spell-casting) need it's own unique shortcuts? Can anyone explain to me why the hell spell-casting isn't simply assigned like "z=primary spell, x=secondary spell, etc.". Other RTS's have keyboard commands, but they're cleverly condensed down to a small number of intuitive commands.
The response I'm most likely to get for all my wanking is that RTS games are just so gosh-darn complex that Blizzard has no choice but to make the interface the way it is. This might be true, except that other games have found better ways of handling things. Hell, Homeworld has a much easier interface, and it's actually played in a full three dimensions! Take a simple hypothetical scenario. Let's say I want to build 5 "warships" (let this correspond to something appropriate for each game). In the mean time, I've got some fighting and exploring going on outside my base. Right now I only have enough money for one warship, but by the time that one is built, I will have collected more than enough money for another one, and so on. Here is what I have to do for each game:
Command and Conquer (Red Alert and earlier):
-Scroll down on side bar to "Warship"
-Click it again after each Warship is finished.
Command and Conquer (post-Red Alert):
-Scroll down on side bar to "Warship"
-Click it 5 times.
-Bring up the Build Menu (press B, one of four or so keys you need to remember)
-Find "Warship" on the menu
-Click on "Warship" 5 times.
Note that in these examples, I do NOT have to redirect my attention or camera away from the action to accomplish this building.
-Scroll back to your base
-Select a building that produces Warships
-Find the icon or remember the shortcut for "Warship"
-Go back to what you were doing.
-Repeat the previous steps for each Warship
I have a couple other issues with Blizzard RTS interfaces, such as the somewhat odd and inconsistant assignment of the left and right mouse buttons, or the mysterious feature that only lets you select a certain number of units at a time, but I think I'm done wanking for now. Despite my complaints, I do actually like Starcraft and Warcraft III a fair bit." --AlexBobbs
The discussion about Blizzard's interfaces has been moved here: BlizzardInterfaces.|
It's also for the PlayStation, although I haven't played it on that. I liked it as well, although it suffered for a lack of distinguishability among the characters. Because of the job-switching, the abilities you get depend much more upon the job you currently have than upon which character you have. Therefore, the characters are pretty much interchangable.
As for the plot, I thought it wasn't too bad. I didn't like the game play all that much though -- by the end, I was resorting mainly to cheap tricks to defeat enemies (MgcSword?! + Break and MgcSword?! + Psych, mainly, with plenty of Reset thrown in when necessary), rather than actually fighting out battles.
I'm not quite to the *spoiler* third world yet, but I have found that cheap tricks are quite profitable... $toss made one of the last bosses *really* easy, for the small price of 30k gil (or whatever they call the currency).
I hear the game has a bonus dungeon worth playing? ... no, apparently that's the *final* dungeon...
The game isn't bad, but after playing FF6 the graphics and music aren't quite up to par any more, and I miss being able to switch characters (PhantasyStarII let you pick your party, for crying out loud!... though PhantasyStarIII? apparently does not). Definitely somewhere above a neutral rating. (better review when/if I finish it).
This is definitely one of the harder FinalFantasy games, though perhaps part of that is due to my rather insane job choices...
The PlayStation port suffers from the horribly slow-to-access menus of other Square SNES-to-PSX ported games. In addition, the Save screen doesn't appear to work quite right all the time on the PS2. It's just a *temporary* graphical glitch, thankfully, but it's still rather frustrating. The script translation is rather poor; there are capitalization and romanization errors galore (Antolyon? Come *ON*...). If you have the choice, I'd recommend finding the fan translation of the SNES ROM. Buy a copy of Final Fantasy Anthology if you feel Square deserves the money for the game (and hey, aside from the menu thing, the FF6 port isn't bad; they at least tried with the bonus features...)
I just finished playing through this game.
Graphics: Old-school. For a game of its era, they're decent, but not as good as FinalFantasySix or ChronoTrigger.
Music: I found the music to be appropriate, though the ordinary battle theme annoyed me sometimes. The crystal theme makes its final appearance here, if I recall correctly. Like many other parts of the game, the music was decent but not outstanding.
Story: Old-school, also. This FinalFantasy was the last to feature the Four Warriors of Light schema. This schema constrained the plot to be a variation on the theme of its predecessors, so I didn't find it very involving. If I had been playing it when I was in middle school and had not yet played XenoGears, I might have been more impressed. Jaded as I now am, I would summarize it as a typical 16-bit CRPG plot.
Characters: The characters lack color; I swear that the characters in FinalFantasyFour had stronger personalities. You never get to choose your party; on the other hand, it doesn't change much throughout the game either, unlike in FinalFantasyFour. The changing forced party improved the dramatic qualities of FinalFantasyFour, and I think removing it weakened this game. I'd like to see another CRPG try that with more sophisticated storytelling and modern graphics.
Gameplay: I wanted to play this game to futz around with the Job system because I thought it was interesting. I wasn't disappointed. The system is similar to that of FinalFantasyTactics (as well it should, since the designers based FinalFantasyTactics' system on a variation of the same): as you spend time in class and earn AP, you get abilities that you can then equip regardless of which class you choose. Your class influences your stats, determines what you can equip, gives some free innate abilities, and a free action ability in battle (like !Throw, the traditional FinalFantasy ninja standby). As you master classes, you gain their innate abilities and statistics for the "base" class. Interactions between the abilities you choose, your equipment, and the innate abilities available in the base class make the system interesting; I succeeded in a wringing a fair amount of synergy out of it, so I didn't find the game that hard. For another perspective, see AndrewSchoonmaker's commentary above.
AlexWilkins stated that the Job system made the characters indistinguishable. I can't disagree with this from a certain perspective. Why, then, did I like this game, while I criticized FinalFantasySeven for a similar problem? In FinalFantasySeven, the materia developed, rather than the characters; the characters acquired new limit breaks, but all other development of magic and skills took place in the materia. By trading materia between characters, you could turn a mage into a fighter or vice versa with no effort at any point in the game. In FinalFantasyFive, the characters start out indistinguishable but as you train them in Jobs they become more distinct; by the end of the game, you can have definite mages and fighters, mutant combinations of both, or ineffective putzes. I also found the interactions between equipment and Job abilities, and among the Job abilities themselves, more interesting than the materia interactions, which I thought thin.
Interface: Ok, not great. The [Interface Hall of Shame] does not include games because it claims that "game interfaces are often part of the challenge of games." I disagree. I have played many games with good interfaces, and many more with bad ones. Chronotrigger's elegant, streamlined interface is part of its appeal; XenoGears rough interface is one of the reasons for my love/hate relationship with that game. ChronoCross choked on the lack of a useable interface for the element system. The Zelda games have thrived on quick, clean interfaces.
The discussion about Blizzard's interfaces has been moved here: BlizzardInterfaces.
FinalFantasyFive's interface is functional, but has some annoying quirks. Whenever you change an ability, regardless of whether it affects your equipment or not, you are either re-equipped to "optimum" (it then becomes necessary to manually reequip the character to the true optimum) or stripped. This is aggravating and unnecessary, and laziness on the part of the coders is the only possible explanation: how hard could it have been to check whether altering an ability would affect the current equipment? The sort function in the item screen sorts into three categories: weapons, armor, and item, and does not sort within categories at all. There are a few others, but those two were the biggest annoyances.
Summary: Gameplay good, most other aspects mediocre. Fun, but not outstanding. 3/5
GameChallenge: Finish the game earning as little exp as possible. I found about this through a [FAQ] on [GameFAQs].
FinalFantasyFive is one of the GamesWhereWaterHealsYou?