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Final Fantasy Grading

Discussion in 'Video Games' started by Absolute Zero, Mar 20, 2019.

  1. Absolute Zero

    Absolute Zero The second seal

    Jeff
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    Final Fantasy has been going on forever (cue a joke about waiting for the final one), and I think we can all agree it's had its ups and downs. They're at 15 numbered games so far, plus a few sequels and games that aren't numbered, and depending on your age and inclinations it's possible that a lot of us have played most of the entire series ourselves.

    How do you grade these games individually, and which is your favorite? In the interest of justice, I'm going to not grade the games I've played less than half-way, but you do what you want.

    My grading:

    I: B- (prob C- without nostalgia)
    IV: B+
    IV-TAY: B
    V: D+
    VI: A
    VII: B
    X: B+
    X-2: C+
    XII: A+
    Tactics: A+
    Type0: A-
    Dissidia012: C
    DissidiaOO: B
     
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  2. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Moderator

    Gray
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    I believe this is all of the Final Fantasy games that I've played enough to have enough of an opinion on to grade them. I'll add more as I remember them.

    Final Fantasy: B
    Final Fantasy II: C-
    Final Fantasy III: c+
    Final Fantasy IV: A-
    Final Fantasy V: A
    Final Fantasy VI: A+
    Final Fantasy VII: B+
    Final Fantasy VIII: B-
    Final Fantasy XIII-2: D
    Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: B
    Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: C
    Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates: B
    Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time: B
    Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift: C+
    Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy: A-
    Dissidia Final Fantasy NT: D
    Final Fantasy 4 Heroes of Light: C+
    Final Fantasy All The Bravest: C
    Final Fantasy Record Keeper: A
    Final Fantasy Brave Exvius: B-
    Mobius Final Fantasy: B+
    Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia: A
    World of Final Fantasy Maximus: A-
     
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    #2 Mar 20, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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  3. ShinigamiMiroku

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    Red Orb ★★★★★
    • 6 - B+
    • 7 - C
    • 8 - A-
    • 10 - B+
    • 11 - B+
    • 12 - B-
    • 13 - C-
    • 14 - B+
    • 15 - B
    • Dissidia Duodecim: Final Fantasy - A
    • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles - C+
    • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (+ Curtain Call) - A
    Note: I have played 1-5 (with the exception of 2), but not enough to form a decent opinion of them.
     
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  4. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Way of the Wind

    Bravo
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    Crown of ValorPoké Ball ★
    I saw this thread and immediately thought this was referring to Fantasy Football.

    I'm disappointed :P

    Sadly I can't give any grading since I don't play this game. But judging by it has a bunch of titles means that they're doing something right to have that longevity.
     
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  5. Dawn

    Dawn La vie est drôle

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    OK, I should probably put this in a spoiler...I have played many Final Fantasy games, and being the compulsive babbler that I am, I have to justify my grading. And you knew this was going to happen, Zero. This is gonna be a loooooong post. My grades go from A-F, which S being reserved for the FF game that I think is the best.

    I - E. Let's be honest, FFI has not aged particularly well. The Anniversary version was a nice visual touch-up, and the music is pretty great, but this is a very bare-bones RPG that has about as much content and quality as your standard Kemco RPG. It's very old, so it has that excuse. But we've moved on...or we should have. I have, anyway.

    II - F. I hate hate HATE this game! The levelling/skill system was bloody confusing and poorly executed, and honestly this had a "more of the same but worse" vibe to it. I don't have much to say about II, because I don't think there is really much that can be said.

    III – D. III was actually the first “old style” FF game I played, back when it was released on the DS. Whilst I applaud their effort to give the characters some personality, and I did enjoy the improved job system, it has some serious design issues – chiefly, the endgame boss gauntlet, and the complete lack of even vague hints of direction. This is the most Dragon Quest-like FF title of the bunch, because it offers you absolutely no hints whatsoever about where you're supposed to go...other than curbstomping you if you go the wrong way. I'm not one for hand-holding, but this was the opposite extreme.

    IV – C. I've played three different versions of this game (GBA, DS, and PSP) and whilst I appreciated the DS version for its somewhat harder gameplay (at least it sure as hell felt that way compared to the GBA version!) I think the PSP version would be the definitive edition, with the updated visuals...and lack of Yuri Lowenthal voice acting. How I hate that man's voice. But IV still tells a fairly entertaining story I feel – maybe not the best quality one, and one that relies heavily on stacking trope after trope rather than taking the time to flesh things out, but still a good one. Sure, why not. Let's go to the Moon. The Moon is fun, right guys? I think this game is also responsible for some of the better music in the series, as well as more recognisable enemy designs. It's not the most shining example of the series, but compared to III it's a pretty big step up.

    IV: TAY – F. I'm not even going to go there with this one. This is the Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World of Final Fantasy games. If you've played the game, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, consider yourself lucky you don't understand the reference.

    V – C. You know what, I don't think V gets enough appreciation. It had a somewhat-interesting cast of characters and, I think, one of the best iterations of the job system that has been a staple for many FF games. Even now it holds up pretty well comparatively, and it at least tried to shake things up a little. Also, this is Gilgamesh's introductory game, and Gilg is one of the better recurring elements of the series, for his fantastic wit and fourth-wall shattering antics...maybe that's not groundbreaking by today's standards, but it's pretty standout by Final Fantasy standards, where the majority of characters are permanently serious from keeping their swords scabbarded up their backsides, or deliberately serve as poorly-written comic relief...or love interests.

    VI – C. Mmmm. I feel much the same way about FFVI as I do about Chrono Trigger – great for its time, and still a rather good game in its own right, but time has shown the gaps in what appeared to be once perfect armour, and whilst it's better than many, I still wouldn't say it was anything more than a slightly above average experience. Worth experiencing, but not worth praising to the extent that it is. As an antagonist Kefka is definitely one of the better ones in the series for how utterly insane he is, but honestly that's all the game has going for it in terms of characterisation...and that invariably carries over into the plot, because the only good thing about it is that Kefka wins. It has a distinctly “been there, done that” feel to it – even at the time it had this – and honestly, it could have been better.


    I feel weird giving IV-VI all C grades, but they all hold up passably well, and they're not offensively bad experiences. They're not as good as people preach, but I see a C-Grade as the lowest possible pass mark I guess, and to say these games failed, now or then, would be doing them a disservice.

    Now, let's get down to business...


    VII – D. Siiiiigh. I recognise the importance of Final Fantasy VII in gaming history, and I don't hate it because it's cool to hate it. I also played it when it was first released, so I have that nostalgic connection to it, to some degree. I just...don't think much of it. There were SO MANY MINIGAMES in this damn title that it was hard to remember at times that it's a JRPG! It has some of the least fun moments in the entire series, it doesn't do anything that hasn't been done before – come on, major character death in Final Fantasy games was a thing long before Aerith entered the picture – and the graphics really have not held up well with the test of time.

    Looking at it without the rose-tinted spectacles – and remembering at the same time to see it in its proper context – I still don't think it spectacularly revolutionary. It was the best they could do at the time with the hardware, and they wanted to make it stand out, and it did. But earlier Final Fantasy titles provided a more engaging story experience, and later titles improved upon the visuals and systems introduced by VII. It was a stepping stone. An important one, but not a memorable one for what it was. At least to me.


    CC VII – B. I know sooooo many people would want to throttle me for this, but Crisis Core was a solid experience and a joy to play. I liked Zack. It is just so rare to have a truly optimistic character in a Final Fantasy game as the central protagonist who can pull that off convincingly. The game benefited immensely from its smaller cast, and honestly the only thing stopping me from giving this game an A is the awful roulette system. RNG in combat to that extent is not good game design. But this was a great example of how to tell a prequel story. One that I would say is better than the game that spawned it, because it provided some desperately needed personality and context to so many characters, Sephiroth being the most noticeable.

    VIII – A. This is me throwing my pitiful attempts at objectivity out the window! Yes, the Draw system is bloody weird, and the plot past the first disc only really makes any kind of sense if you buy into the theory that Squall actually died at the end of the first disc and what follows is just his delusional fantasy in the moments before that death. Yes, it has an ATB system that has aged badly (although not as badly as IX's, which would be going backwards if it was any slower) and character models that look like stretched Minecraft nightmares. You know what else it has? Triple Triad, and the best soundtrack of any Final Fantasy game. From Liberi Fatali right up to the Ending theme, FFVIII's soundtrack is amazing and consistently high quality. I also spent more time on Triple Triad than I did the rest of the game, and it's still the best minigame of all time. This coming from someone who despises minigames with every fibre of their being. And it has some pretty fantastic moments – the entire ending of Disc 1 is worthy of being endgame material for how atmospheric it is.

    IX - E. This game is bad. The only reason it doesn't get an F is because of the music, honestly. The remaster cleans up nicely, but it's painfully slow - those loading times and the ATB combined, kill me now - and honestly, overall the cast is mediocre and barely developed outside of Zidane and Garnet. It starts out promisingly enough but ultimately fizzles out before the end of Disc 2, and drops a Star Ocean/Xenoblade 2-level information dump by Disc 3 that just throws everything out the window and tries to give you some reason to care...it fails. Poor storytelling, as far as I'm concerned. Not the worst FF I've played, but a strong candidate for that.

    X - C. People need to get over FFX. Yes, it holds up better than most FF games...because it has a vanilla turn-based combat system of the kind you'd find in the original sprite-based games. It also has a story of the type you'd expect to see in a very early sprite-based game. Absolutely diabolical voice acting – yeah yeah, James Arnold Taylor, you can say it was “supposed” to sound like that, but how do you explain the rest of your crappy performance throughout the entire game, huh? - and mediocre soundtrack. The Sphere Grid system was interesting and it still looks and plays pretty well so it's not ENTIRELY a bust, but...well, let's face it, it's not exactly revolutionary. As VII is remembered for it being the first FF on the PS1, this is only remembered for being the first FF on the PS2. It's nothing special.

    ...also, the minigames are awful. Bliztball, chocobo racing, AND lightning dodging? NO! This isn't Kingdom Hearts! God.


    X-2 – B. I give X-2 a higher rating than X for completely disregarding everything about X other than the setting. I like Yuna in X-2. She goes from being a miserably weak and dependant girl who needs her man/her guardians to do the work for her to a strong, independent and quite likeable person. Yes, the tone is more light-hearted, and it has some very 90s moments (pop concerts, my god, help) but this game is just better for being its own thing, rather than playing it safe and giving us a NES Final Fantasy with a PS2 coat of paint. The Garment Grid system was a nice blend of the classic jobs and the sphere grid that was one of X's better features (and I like magical girls, so yeah) and honestly, with the light-hearted tone it had, I found the narrative a more emotional experience. It was nice to see Yuna do something for herself for a change.

    XII - S. Whilst VIII is my favourite FF, XII has to get the S because it really is the better game when nostalgia isn't factored into things. XII stands leagues above the other FF games for having a fantastically detailed world and for providing some much-needed dimension to the franchise. FF titles have always been very black-and-white, good-vs-evil affairs, but XII is a game that is infinitely more complicated than that. I love this game for its political intrigue and focus on the world instead of the characters. With many Final Fantasy titles the events of the world often give way to the characters, or are driven by them, but the whole point of XII was that events were out of their hands, and it was a journey for them to break free from that. For that it was infinitely more interesting, at least for me.

    The Zodiac Age was an absolutely fantastic remaster, too. The 2x speed modifier brought the game up to a comfortable pace – because it was painfully slow otherwise – and the added jobs gave the game so much more depth. Plus the extra content was amazing...fighting all of the Judge Magisters at once was as epic as I was hoping it was going to be. I haven't had that much fun since they included the fight with the three Seraphim in Tales of Symphonia on the PS3.


    XIII - D. Time has softened my perspective of XIII, but not that much. I don't condemn this game for funnelling me down long straight corridors for 90% of the game at all; it's a valid design choice and, as it was the first FF on PS3 and had a troubled development, it's to be expected...and considering how incomplete XV was, in hindsight it's even to be commended. But what I DO condemn it for is its boring and nonsensical plot that is explained predominantly through glossary entries, appalling cast, and frustratingly bad AI and combat systems. Paradigms were a nice idea, but god your party members were stupid. The weird difficulty curves in Eidolon battles were maddening, too. I have several nasty things I'd like to say about Hope but I won't.


    XIII-2 - B. XIII-2 is a paradox in itself; it shouldn't be as enjoyable as it is, but it is. Seeing Serah of all people, the useless damsel in distress, evolve into a strong and confident character with an actual personality – and unfortunately a useless boy-toy on her arm, but I suppose you have to take these things in a Square Enix game – was both shocking and gratifying. Lebreau slapping her and tell her to man the fuck up was probably the best moment of all three games in this mess.

    And you know what? It noticeably improved on the systems from the original game. The Crystarium is still a glorified Sphere Grid, but at least it wasn't capped this time – and that was a damning flaw in the original for someone who loves grinding – and everything felt much more responsive. Having monster companions is lazy as hell, but it made for some interesting Paradigms at least, and the series FINALLY got the antagonist it deserved in Caius Ballad. Hot damn. Liam O'Brien really outdid himself with that role.


    LRFFXIII – D. God, why couldn't this be another Crisis Core? Throwing away Serah and bringing the focus back to Lightning was a colossal mistake...and having Hope as a side character in his original younger appearance was an even bigger one. LR was an absolute mess that somehow managed to make the story even MORE confusing than it already was – it didn't just crash the narrative train, it drove it right off a bridge into a canyon, THEN collapsed the canyon on top of it for good measure – and that it actually tried to write its laziness into the plot by providing a reason why the characters had no personality was just...sad.

    It seemed to draw inspiration from some of the better titles in the series – Crisis Core, X-2 – but it failed to observe WHY these games were so good, and in the end it was a mediocre experience with a headache-inducing narrative and poor characterisation. Avoid avoid avoid.

    XIV - D. This is solely for the base game, I've not played any of the expansions. From what I've been told, the story gets better. But in ARR it's absolutely awful, and honestly if you don't have friends to play it with there is no reason whatsoever to play this game...and the need for other players in dungeons is going to result in some very long wait times if you're playing as a DPS class. Also, the design of the starting cities is awful. Limsa Lominsa gave me a headache, Ul'Dah is basically Rabanastre, and Gridania is a sprawling mess.

    XV - D. You know, I can appreciate the narrative choices this game made - they wanted to tell a story about a group of guys, and show how they interacted, and I think they did a good job with that. I got a distinct sense of personality from each of them. But this game has "unfinished" written all over it...it's a mess, frankly. The narrative is disjointed and lacklustre, spread out across multiple different media - I want a complete JRPG experience, thank you, I don't want to watch a movie to understand major plot points - and the combat is basically Kingdom Hearts with heavy emphasis on teleportation and having very little control over what you do. I really wanted to like XV – well, everything about XV except Prompto, anyway – but there's just not enough in there to like, and what IS in there is sub-par. That's it! I've come up with a new recipe...for disaster.

    Dissidia - D. This was actually amazingly fun gameplay-wise, but it had a pretty threadbare choice for characters, some questionable voice acting decisions (get out of my ears, Yuri Lowenthal) and it was repetitive as all hell...and the plot...my GOD, even Kingdom Hearts made more sense than this! I don't think I've ever heard the word “conflict” get used more in any media, either. This was such a good idea, but another studio REALLY should have handled it. One that knew what it was doing.

    Dissidia 012 – E. This is just an expansion pack for the first game, and honestly it doesn't even add any worthwhile characters...well, apart from Gilgamesh, and I guess Yuna was pretty fun to control too. But this was so low effort I'm not sure why I bothered to rate it, really. More of the same nonsense. CONFLICT CONFLICT CONFLICT CONFLICT CON--

    Theatrhythm Curtain Call – B. I'm knocking a rank off this one for locking some of the better songs behind a DLC paywall...I mean, COME ON. Liberi Fatali is the opening song for FFVIII, and that's DLC?! What the hell, Square Enix. But other than the questionable DLC choices, the song choices were solid, and that's what counts with a rhythm game. Surprisingly fun to control with the touch screen too, and...yeah, the art style is kinda cute. Kinda.

    Tactics Advance - B. This was one of my first SRPGs, and I loved it. The cast was universally likeable – and god, is it rare for me to say that about a video game – and the gameplay was absolutely solid. Whilst I loathed them at the time, the Judges provided some added dimension and strategy to combat (or a quick way to have your units punted from the battlefield) and this game has some of my favourite soundtrack from the FF series. I only wish I still had a copy of it...

    Tactics A2 – D. Hrrrmn. Honestly, this is a pretty weak game, especially for an Ivalice title. There isn't much to say about it, because it didn't really try to break the mould in any way. The story was bare-bones and didn't take advantage of the rich lore Ivalice already had, the cast was mediocre at best, and the systems hadn't improved since Tactics Advance. I was quite disappointed by this.

    Tactics War of the Lions – A. This is one of the best Final Fantasy games ever made in my opinion, and easily the best spinoff. I really liked the art style of the cutscenes in this game – it went well with the overworld sprites – and the job system just lends itself so much better to a strategy game like this. The narrative was absolutely fantastic, too. Whilst slightly more character-driven than FFXII, it still had that grey morality and political vibe to it that really brought the world to life, making it a more interesting place to be in.

    Playable Balthier, too! Balthier! That was a nice Easter Egg. Oh, and Cloud was in it too I suppose. Yay Cloud. A soulless drone was just what this game needed.

    Type-0 HD – F. Why were people in such an uproar over this not coming to PSP? It's literal garbage. It compensates for the lack of personality in its cast by drowning you in playable characters, has a pretty awful plot with a terrible take on recurring elements, has motion blur that is so bad just THINKING about it makes me dizzy, and gameplay-wise it's really nothing special. It also makes even less sense than FFXIII, if such a thing were possible.

    Crystal Chronicles - F, or C with friends I guess. The friends dynamic was the ONLY thing that saved this game from being the steaming pile of trash it is otherwise. Carrying that goddamn Chalice around everywhere was an almost physically painful experience, made all the more so in single player by your lazy ass Moogle constantly whining about being tired and outright stopping at points, forcing you to carry it...leaving you wide open to attacks. Coupled with the dismal narrative, there is not much to recommend this unless you have people to play with, really...nice people. Who you actually like and can enjoy yourself with on pretty much any game.

    CC Ring of Fates & Echoes of Time – E. Yeah, I know these are two separate games, but I'm doing them both together because neither of them is noteworthy enough to be examined separately. They're very average experiences with Final Fantasy slapped onto them...not offensively bad like the game that spawned them, but a colossal waste of time nonetheless.

    4 Heroes of Light – D. Affectionately known as the Bravely Default title that nobody ever played...or it seemed that way, anyway. Don't get me wrong, I didn't HATE this game by any means. The visual style was cutesy, and the soundtrack was pretty great too, but...well, it was very minimalistic. It had a barely fleshed out job—ahem, crown system, an infuriating lack of direction, and a steep difficulty curve coupled with an anti-grinding setup (as in, it took an eternity to level up) that made playing it a real slog. It seemed to take the worst parts of the first five games and wrap them up in a neat package.

    ...but seriously, that music was really good. Especially for a DS title.

    Explorers – F. As far as Monster Hunter clones go, this is waaaaaaay down there as one of the worst I've played. They could have done SO MUCH with this, having some spectacular battles against summons and bosses from various series. Limitations of the hardware will only get you so far as an excuse. This is in dire need of an expanded and much-improved Switch remaster, but I won't hold my breath.
     
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