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Review - Breath of Fire IV

Started by Nightcrawler, September 06, 2005, 12:26:29 AM

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I found some time to get back to playing an RPG for a little while over the past few months and played through Breath of Fire IV.  Here is my review.

This was the Bof game I had been looking forward to for quite some time.  I had played a few hours worth several years ago and found it enjoyable.  While I hated BoF1+2, 3 was a large improvement and left some hope for 4.

It was once again a large improvement over BoF 3, but yet once again left with me with an overall tone of dissapointment in the end.

The graphics were terrific.  The animation was amongst the best I've seen on the PSOne.  The characters were a joy to look at and the 3d world wasn't half bad either.  I don't have anything bad to say about that.

The sound was a big step up from previous games.  This time around, the game actually had some tunes that stuck in my head.  Not to mention, the Asian sound to many of the tracks were a nice fresh touch of originality.  However, many tracks weren't quit long enough and got repetively annoying.  A good majority of the tracks were also just mediocre.  So, overall, I'd give the sound an 'average' ranking.  It got the job done, but I would have hoped for a bit more.

The gameplay once again received some refinement.  I thought the inclusion of all 6 playable characters being interchangeable at all times was ingenious.  That really adds some depth and fun to the usual turn based RPG gameplay.  It also gives more realism to the fact that all 6 people are actually in your party at all times.  The combo system took some getting used to, but I think it was a pretty cool overall addition.  Battles moved fast for the most part, but were plauged with Misses.

This was by far the best Breath of Fire translation yet.  The script looked great and all the menus were properly expanded and put in English.  The credits were in Japanese, so I can't tell, but I swear there must have been an entirely new translation team because it was so much better than previous BoF games, it couldn't possibly have been done by the same idiots who did the others.  

The story was interesting and very well paced for the first half of the game, but it all but dissapeared in the second half until the end.  It also failed to keep me hooked and waiting to see what happaned next.  I think the story was just too plain and simple for most of the game.  Look for Elina, go to the capital.  The revelation about the Endless and the dual identity depth on Fou Lou was a nice addition, but that's really all it had keeping it going.  Adding the playability of Fou Lou and seeing things through his eyes was a great thing, but I think they failed to do enough with it.  His relationship with the girl who took care of him in that one town looked like some meaty character development potential and then it was just dropped and never touched on again.  His travels just didn't come together enough for me to really believe why he believed humans were so terrible.

The monster selection was terrible.  Tons of battles were much longer than necessary because of misses.  Over and over, misses.  Monsters could only select one of two attacks most of the time, so they did the same thing over and over.  There was no monster variety either.  You could encouter the same 3 monsters exclusively for an entire dungeon.  This quickly killed the freshness of having 6 characters and combos.  The monsters were just too damn repetative and annoying, BUT at least they had good animations.

The last dungeon was simply insane.  It was way to long and 'mazy'.  I enjoy a lengthy final dungeon, but they just took this one way to far.  And then, they took the final battles even farther to the point of being rediculous.  It took me TWO HOURS for the final battle.  I think that's the longest final battle I've ever had in my over 10 year history of RPG's.  Cheap reduce everyone to 1 hitpoint tactics, repetive attacks, and status ailments really made the final battle one of the worst and least fun battles in any RPG I've ever played.

And once again, they stupid designers decided no save spots were necessary before bosses.  Thankfully I didn't die on any(came very close sometimes), but it's rediculous to expect you to go through a long dungeon, fight and beat the boss, AND get back out before you can save your game.  This was a huge flaw in ALL of the BoF games.

Overall.. the things that took this game down to a dissapointing level were the lackluster, underdeveloped(they did have some good concepts) story, and horrible battle gameplay due to the repetive monsters, lack of monsters, and cheap attacks. The ending was also just mediocre.

So, every Breath of Fire has been dissapointing to me.  I have learned my lesson and never plan to play another BoF game ever. - The central hub of the ROM hacking community.


Not going to give Dragon Quarter a shot?  It really is a totally different experience than the other Breath of Fire games.  Hey, Ryu even talks in this one, though Nina doesn't...  =P

It can be quite difficult at first, but if you are inclined, yocan abuse the system to get massive reserves of party xp (spendable bonus xp you earn, that you can use to raise anyones levels, get more of a bonus by quick and efficient battling, getting the first strike, etc...) to raise everyone's levels with.  

It takes a while to get used to fighting and decent tactics, since there's no inns of any sort, and you can really get your ass beat quick if you aren't careful.  Learning good use of Nina's traps helps a ton.  Especially if you stick three of them on top of each other.  =)

The limited save tokens never ends up being a problem.  If you run out, as soon as you run out, put your items in storage, keep your stuff equipped, and pick the quit option in the menu, and do an SOL Restore.  Should load you at the last spot you saved, with all your stuff as long as you put your normal inventory in storage.  Equipped stuff doesn't matter, I think.  You keep money, and your party xp.  (You can abuse that easily, by creaming bosses with dragon form, then doing the restore trick, since you keep any party xp you earn, though you lose the regular xp since your save.  But, killing bosses quick with dragon form should net decent party xp.)  But, when you do an SOL restore, I believe you get a save token, a single revive item, and 5 healing potions in your inventory.  So, you really never have to run out.  Besides, you can quick-save at any time if you need to stop, which you don't need tokens for, just to make a permanent save.  If you have a choice, you do NOT want to do a restart or restore from the menu that comes up after you die.  You lose half your party xp if you do that.  If you do it from the quit option in the menu, you lose none.  

I had some trouble at first, did a couple restarts to build up some xp and skills (heh, and stocking up the healing items in storage), but after a bit, I cruised through most of the game, having quite a few close calls at times and managed to approach the final gauntlet of areas and bosses with about 50% on the D-Meter.  Just about enough to use the Dragon form on pretty much every boss left, and squeak by to the final encounter with 99%.  There's a lot of bosses very quickly near the end and they're quite difficult.  It's pretty much essential to use the Dragon on the last few, since they do a lot of damage, and take very little.  

I still have to go through a second playthrough to see all the extra scenes that get unlocked...  If I could only get the extra time...

You really should give it a shot.  It's really a different game, though it almost falls under as a dungeon crawler.  I don't remember enough of the story to be able to make an opinion on whether it was outstanding or not, but there was enough going on to make me stick it out until the end, and besides, I was having fun doing it.  Took a while to get into the game, but I couldn't put it down when I really got into it.