Final Fantasy 2
Reviewed by Brian Kerr
Epic. It's the single, unquantifiable element that ties together all of the
great artistic achievements of the human race. From the
_Odyssey_ to _Star Wars_, epic is what brings us together.
And epic--the sheer scale of storytelling--is what makes the Final
Fantasy series of Role Playing games worth the while.
Final Fantasy 2 is incredible and playable, despite its accumulated
age, simply because the epic story it presents surpasses all of its
The story itself can be summarized on many levels--as coming to an end
of a great, ancient civilization, as a personal quest of one man to discover
inner peace and morality, or as a political thriller, or as a love story, or as
a religious allegory...
You get the idea.
Graphics 27 out of 42
The graphics are your standard over-the head little cartoon figure affairs.
Clear, stylistic, and varied. However, the background textures and enemy
graphics are suspiciously recycled at times, probably due to the constraints
of the console and the laziness of the artist.
At their worst, the graphics are merely adequate. At their best, they are
astounding. The character animations are quite revealing of personality
and psyche--somehow, the characters' emotions and actions are made
crystal-clear through the little 4-frame animations.
Music and Sound 35 out of 42
Video game music is often hailed as "catchy". Final Fantasy 2's large and
varied score, while "catchy", is also plain old good. So good, in fact, that
I imported the soundtrack. :)
Each of the main characters and important locales has its own musical
track, and there are several important themes that are subtly varied upon
several times throughout the course of the game.
The music is so well-written and tightly integrated that it tells a story
in its own right, independent from the game. And since during the game
itself, the music changes dynamically to suit the situation, the whole
experience could be considered a 20+ hour ideological fugue.
Only problem is, some of the tracks are downright annoying.
Game Challenge 42 out of 42
Final Fantasy II is essentially a linear game, but there are enough
tangential options and sub-quests to allow the game to expand to
meet the gamers difficulty expectations.
It is totally possible to bomb straight through the game, and as such,
it is not horribly difficult. However, to collect the secret weapons and
monster summons and whatnot, requires an almost insane amount of
vigilance and skill.
Game Play-Fun 25 out of 42
The story line and game engine are not geared towards "fun", per se,
but towards dramatic depth and meaning. I mean by this that Final
Fantasy II is not a game to be played for fun in the same way that
an arcade racing game is fun.
Final Fantasy 2 is meaningful and enjoyable, on a deeper, more cerebral level
than almost any other game, and, as such, isn't really that fun.
At all times during the game, you have clearly stated goals and
objectives--you know where to go and what to do. The interface
and battle engine are intuitive in their complexity, and the story is
straightforward, if deviously layered and Epic.
Some of the boss enemies take a while to beat, but it's really just
an issue of working out a strategy and making sure all of your characters
are properly equipped and levelled up.
It's frustrating at times, yes, but just enough to make finishing it all
the more worthwhile.
Replayability 35 out of 42
You will never find all or even most of the hidden and/or optional stuff the
first time you play through it. Period.
The story itself is linear, but it's big enough that you will want to play
through it several times to understand it all.
Game Value 41 out of 42
Final Fantasy II is my favorite story, on any medium, of all time. For me,
it is priceless. However, for most people it is just a dated, boring RPG.
I have given it quite an impressive value rating, and will justify my rating
by saying that I have played through the game 5 times. Each time it takes
me about 30 hours. 5 * 30 = 150 hours. The game, used, runs about $30,
making it cost a whopping 20 cents an hour. Now *that's* quality
entertainment on a budget. :)
Overall 40 out of 42
The most important element of Final Fantasy II, the story, is the one thing
I have not written about at all in this review. It is best experienced with
as little foreknowledge as possible, and I must close with this:
If you want to have fun, play Super Mario Kart or some such.
If you want to play a fun game, play Final Fantasy II.