"Another Great Port of the Road Worn"
Well, Final Fantasy IV, we meet again… after meeting before and before again… and here you are, on my PSP, with extra content episodes and another graphics tweak. I have beaten you again and again, across multiple platforms, and it seems only yesterday I just played an updated version of you on my DS. So now I look at you once more, but probably not for the last time.
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is a port, with a slight graphic update, to the original Final Fantasy IV (Final Fantasy 2 in the U.S.). If you have any question as to why it is ‘the complete’ collection, it is due to the addition of two chapters which extend the story further. This includes Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (which takes place 17 years after the original and was first released for WiiWare in the US) and a new chapter titled Final Fantasy IV Interlude, which bridges the original game to this 17-years-later story.
- The era-appropriate graphics have been tweaked only slightly -
So, what will you gain by playing this game? Well, it depends if you are an old-time fan or newcomer, because there are reasons for both depending on which one you are. For the tested players, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is the game you love and remember, nearly untouched. Unlike the DS version, which heavily updated the graphics and other elements, Square Enix has kept them simple and basic -- more akin to a later-looking SNES game, but definitely improved compared to the original release. This keeps a more classic feeling to the game, archiving it closer to its classic iteration on a current-gen portable console than before. It also includes the bonus chapters; bringing all this together into one place is nice for collectors. However, if you are looking for an update akin to the DS version, you’ll be out of luck.
New gamers will be thrown into a JRPG of a past age – and a good one at that. Final Fantasy IV has always gotten a bit of bashing for being such a straightforward adventure. However, whenever I go back to this game, I never feel it’s too much of a problem. The story, characters, and JRPG retro-ness always get to me and I have a great time. But that is just it – prepare for an old-school JRPG -- no more, no less. There is nothing here to convince you that Final Fantasy IV was ever greater than it was. Yes, it was great, but yes, it is old.
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is fairly basic in its gameplay structure. You take on the role of Dark Knight Cecil, and as you progress through the game, meeting and recruiting new playable characters, leveling up, opening up more of the map (via exploration and vehicles), you eventually make your way to the end of the story arc. At the time, Final Fantasy IV (or 2, for you US players) felt groundbreaking, and maybe it was… characters leaving and entering your group based on the story events, a huge story of good and evil… summons, magic… Playing this game back in the day, it felt quite epic for a console game, and it is hard not to remember those days while playing it now. While it is good to have the additional stories (and extra Final Fantasy goodness), I felt the two additional chapters weren’t important in the storyarc that I knew and wanted to know.
- Classic JRPG strategy is the backbone of gameplay -
It’s hard to say Final Fantasy isn’t a great game, especially if you played it when it first came out, but in the current world of gaming, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection doesn't stand up as anything more than a wonderful relic of the past (perhaps it is nothing more than a part of the Final Fantasy legacy and a bit of history). If you can look past its age, putting yourself in a time before story was a new concept in western video games, where very few games were expansive and epic, then you’ll be in the right mindset to see it as truly great.
I doubt we’ve seen the last of Final Fantasy IV – but perhaps it will be quite a while before the next iteration comes out.
GameDynamo's Score for Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (PSP)
Three things describe Rando: Good beer, good food, and video games. On occasion, Rando flies a zeppelin through time seeking power crystals.
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