GameSpite Journal 10 | Final Fantasy V

Final Fantasy V | Dev.: Square | Pub: Square | Genre: RPG | Release: Dec. 1992

Final Fantasy V will always hold a special place in my heart. Itís where I learned that Japanese RPG stories donít have to be super melodramatic. Itís where I learned that the story didnít have to be the focus of an RPG. And most importantly, itís where I learned about the Job System.

The Job System is quintessential Final Fantasy. The very first Final Fantasy introduced the concept, but it wasnít until Final Fantasy V that it really came into its own. As you play through the game, the unfortunately named Bartz and his companions unlock new Jobs. Each Job should sound somewhat familiar to RPG fans: Knights use swords and wear armor. Monks fight with their fists. White Mages use healing magic, and so on. FFV also introduced a slew of new Jobs that quickly became fan favorites and staples of the series (Blue Mage, Time Mage, etc.). Each time you switch Jobs, your characterís appearance changes. Part of the fun of the Job System is playing dress-up and seeing what adorable outfits (and make no mistake, they are all adorable) your characters will put on next. The more you play as a specific Job, the more abilities you learn for it. Once you learn an ability you can equip it on a different Job. For example, you can make a Knight who can use healing magic, a Black Mage that can use White Magic, and so on.

The Job System allows an extraordinary degree of player freedom. I can guarantee you that somewhere, someone just read my idea of a Knight who uses healing magic and scoffed. After all, from a statistical standpoint, it is a fairly ineffective combination. But in FFV, the gameís difficulty is never overwhelming. You can get away with using the ďwrongĒ Job combinations and still make progress. And if you want, you can use the ďrightĒ Job combinations and break the game in half. Thatís the truly fantastic thing about FFV: Itís entirely up to you how you want to beat it. There is no right or wrong way; just your way.

Series composer Nobuo Uematsu returns, and as usual, he is on the top of his game. As is par for Uematsuís course, musical genres are mixed and matched with aplomb and always with stellar results. Whether itís the whimsical ďTown Theme,Ē the extremely prog-rock-influenced ďBattle on the Big Bridge,í or the subdued and thoughtful ďDear Friends,Ē Uematsu proves yet again why heís considered one of the greatest game composers of all time.

The gameís story and cast are fairly simplistic; evil has returned and you must stop it. Itís nothing to write home about. And really, thatís what FFV is all about. It has a story and characters. Theyíre charming and likable, but ultimately itís all kind of irrelevant. FFV is a game thatís primarily focused on gameplay. The game is built from the ground up around fun dungeons to explore, fun battles to fight, and Jobs to mess around with. FFV doesnít have some overwrought message itís trying to impart, and thatís what makes it work. Itís just trying to be an RPG thatís fun to play, and in that regard, itís an absolute success.

By Alex Reo? | Dec. 20, 2011 | Previous: Super Star Wars | Next: Star Fox