Final Fantasy V
ďFinal Fantasy V? Underrated? Surely not,Ē you scoff, dunking a biscuit into your Earl Grey. After all, youíre a sophisticated gamer. You know that the Final Fantasy series has seldom repeated the heights reached by number V, but... oh. Oh my. While Final Fantasy V has been praised for its sublime gameplay, often that praise is amended with ďdespite the inconsequential story.Ē
Sandwiched between two of the seriesí most fondly remembered narratives, Vís plot does seem a tad simple. Unlike the colorful casts of IV and VI, you just have four guys who arbitrarily meet up and wander from place to place, fighting monsters and breaking crystals.
However, this simplicity is Vís secret strengthóitís the quintessential Final Fantasy. Airships, chocobos, moogles, summons, secrets? Itís got them in spades. Thereís a simple sophistication at play here. And just when you think youíve got a handle on the structure of the story, V ditches the ďsave the crystalsĒ plot and leaves you wide-eyed with a whole new world to explore. And when youíve settled into the new groove it goes and does it again.
The same treatment is given to the characters. Sure, there arenít as many of them, but theyíre given more individual development. More than any other Final Fantasy the cast of V feel like friends. Their easy banter is a joy. When one of them bites the big one he is immediately replaced with someone who has all his old skills. From a gameplay perspective, there is no change. But for the rest of the game weíll miss that lovable, gruff old man. His loss is felt.
Though V does get suitably epic near the end, thatís not what itís about. No, itís about enjoying the small things in life. Itís camaraderie between friends and adventure for adventureís sake. Itís getting up early to watch the sunrise. Itís stopping to smell the roses. Final Fantasy V is the simple pleasure of afternoon tea. And I know thatís something youíll appreciate, wot?