Final Fantasy V ReviewTiffany Shafer
Originally, Final Fantasy V (FFV) went unreleased in the United States. Final Fantasy fans had to wait seven years before they could play the fifth installment of the franchise. In 1999, FFV was released as part of the Final Fantasy Anthology. By then, the next generation of gaming consoles had come out; causing the 16-bit SNES title to be released on the more technically advanced PlayStation. It proved worth the wait, becoming a long-held favorite for many RPG fans. The game was popular enough to be re-released in 2006 on the Game Boy Advance (GBA) with a few changes. Four more jobs and a bestiary were added. The translations received much appreciated improvement, and a quick save function was affixed. FFV was released yet again on PSN in November 2011. So, why has FFV been so popular for almost twenty years?
The Final Fantasy series is widely enjoyed for its storyline. However, this title is one of the weaker of the bunch. There is not much in the way of sub-plots or originality, at least not for what one would expect from a Final Fantasy title. Here, Princess Reina sets out to investigate a shattered wind crystal. Wind has ceased to exist. Now, Reina must prevent the rest of the elemental crystals from breaking and destroying the other elements. She is joined by an odd pairing of personalities during her journey: a pirate, an old man with amnesia, and an adventurer. Some of the components of the storyline, such as the crystals, have been played out in the first four installments of Final Fantasy. Although, some of it is all too familiar, it is still a story worth playing through.
The gameplay is what makes Final Fantasy V a game for the storybooks. FFV was the first to introduce the active timing gauge during battle, but its biggest improvement was its character customization. Building on the job system of Final Fantasy III, FFV took the whole design up a notch. It offers twenty-two professions to choose from. A career can be changed at anytime during the game, and learned skills from a previous profession can be tacked onto a new job. Players can also freelance to learn new jobs skills outside of their profession. The depth of customization that can be achieved is unparalleled in RPG gaming. This makes gameplay much more interesting than using the standard three classes in battle. With such powerful enemies and a high rate of random enemy encounters, players must strategize party and character development. With so many choices, there is no one right or wrong way to manage your party. Player choice reigns. FFV also rewards players with a lengthy campaign, variety of battlefield scenes, and fun boss battles.
The 16-bit visuals don't subtract from the experience of a great RPG. The battles are faster than more recent Final Fantasy releases due to its lack of flashy, drawn-out visuals The sundry locations encountered include: castles, ruins, libraries, and caves, to name a few. The characters' outfits are also varied, changing according to their chosen careers. The opening scene has been redone with updated graphics, but it feels disconnected from the rest of the game which is still 16-bit quality. The music follows suit with other Final Fantasy titles of the era, providing an epic feel to the story. Even though the fifth installment doesn't boast the best plot, it still features an impressive battle system, lengthy campaign, and the notorious larger-than-life experience that comes with Final Fantasy titles.
There is something to be said for any game that has lasting appeal for almost two decades. It has survived several translations, including a fan version. Even the character names have changed in different releases, but the core of the game still exists. An ambitious job system and battle design coupled with an epic world-shattering storyline makes for an attractive RPG installment.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.