FINAL FANTASY VI
Final Fantasy VI (9/10): Quite possibly, the greatest RPG ever.
"Long ago, the War of the Magi reduced the world to a scorched wasteland, and magic simply ceased to exist. 1000 years have passed... Iron, gunpowder and steam engines have been rediscovered, and high technology reigns... But there are some who would enslave the world by reviving the dread destructive force known as "magic." Can it be that those in power are on the verge of repeating a senseless and deadly mistake?" The empire is determined to revive magic, and overpower the entire planet using this deadly force. Your quest is to stop this from happening. Assisted by the forever developing cast of characters, the story never has a dull moment. One thing I particularly enjoyed was where your party splits into three groups, and you have to advance the story from three different perspectives with different characters.
Terra seeks to find herself, and understand love. Locke seeks to redeem himself from his past, where he failed the one he loved. Celes seeks to justify herself of the role she played with the evil empire. Sabin seeks to reconcile his purpose in the world, after watching his brother take the throne. Edgar seeks to pick up females, and deal with the responsibility of his kingdom. Cyan seeks to avenge the death of his family at the hands of the empire. Gau seeks to find his lost father. Shadow seeks to make money... and then to rid himself of his past. Kefka seeks to create a monument to non-existence!
I think it's safe to say FFVI boasted the strongest, most developed and memorable cast of characters in any RPG. The game clearly rises above it's competition, even years later. Nothing can touch the character cast. Perhaps Xenogears boasted a better story, but most of the characters from FFVI are forever sketched in the minds of those who played.
FFVI boasted incredible graphics, the best of any rpg for its day. And considering the length of the game, number of dungeons, the character/monster designs, and the backdrops for several stages (phantom forest, waterfalls), the graphics reign supreme. I didn't even mention the airship mode, which brought you into a 3d environment. The only reason graphics lose a point is the grass looked shoddy in the dungeons, and the overworld could have looked a little nicer. All in all, the graphics were breathtaking for their time.
Perhaps my most memorable soundtrack next to Xenogears. The sound deserves mention. The spells sounded awesome using stereo speakers. I believe this to be Nobuo's greatest work.
I found myself searching to find out "where to go next" a few times. It's a nice touch most games leave out these days. You usually always know where to go next. At the beginning of the world of ruin, you had no clue where to go. You just went wherever you could. You were truly lost, and had no direction - just like Celes. EXCELLENT touch. I died a few times against the second last boss, the first time I played, if I remember correctly. The one flaw with this game was the fact you could become so powerful it negated the challenge, if you spent any time at all leveling up.
Battle/Magic System 7/10:
FFVI set the stage for summons by non-summoners, and limit breaks - elements used in each FF that followed. Props for those additions. But unfortunately, FFVI did not have a class system. Anybody could become a warrior or a mage - or both. This took some of the strategy out of the game. I deduct three points for no class system. Everything else was right on.
There were several. You could fight at the Coliseum. You could seek to find all the hidden characters. You could also try to get all Gau's rages, or Strago's lores. The search for Brachosaur. The subquests were few, but high quality quests that were very enjoyable.
Flawless. Some people complain there were too many random encounters. To them I say play the game a little more thoroughly and get the moogle charm. I replayed this game eons of times, and thought it had the smallest frustration factor of any rpg I've ever played. NO load times. Perfect. PERFECT!!!!!!
Pure bliss!!!! My all time favorite ending. As they were escaping the dungeon, they showed the pages of the book opening, and went through character by character, playing the theme song for each.great touch. Granted the ending didn't show what happened after they returned, but I liked how they kind of left that up to the player to resolve. Just like in many classic movies, the ending doesn't always have a total resolution. I thought it was perfect!
Replay Value 10/10:
I replayed again..and again.and again! I replayed more than any other game, to search for cut scenes I missed, get every item, etc. The game is truly "fun to play". I don't know any rpg fan who didn't level up all their characters and learn every spell...and six years later, anyone can talk about the game like they played through it yesterday. I want to replay it again after writing this review!
FFVI ... it's only flaw was lack of challenge. Everything else was perfect!