If you've read a good number of my previous articles, it's probably fairly apparent that I love Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy IV was one of the first RPGs that I ever played and it left quite an impression. Oddly enough though, my top 2 RPGs aren't Final Fantasy games, but I'll talk about that another day. First off, I'm only talking about the main series of FF games and I'm not including XI or XIV since they're online games and I haven't played them anyway. No spin offs of main series games either, like Crisis Core or Final Fantasy X-2. Just Final Fantasy to Final Fantasy XIII.
Final Fantasy II
Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy V
One thing of note in FFV is something that I mentioned in my Persona 4 article. Final Fantasy V contains one of the only transgender characters in gaming that isn't a gag character, and like Naoto in Persona 4, the character is female. I still can't think of any respectable male transgender video game characters. Maybe Poison counts but her gender is kinda disputed, and I'm not sure what Capcom's stance on her is.
Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy X
in my article but I'll hit the finer points. The battle system is my favorite in any RPG and the soundtrack is amazing like every Uematsu composition. The story was pretty lame and the sphere grid was pretty pointless, but overall I think the game's strengths outweigh its faults.
Final Fantasy XIII
Everything else about the game is just fine in my opinion, and I would even go as far as to call bullshit on a lot of common complaints about the game. Probably the biggest complaint about the FFXIII is that it's too linear, with some players claiming that you can win by holding up on the control pad and spamming the X/A button. I DARE anyone to do this. I CHALLENGE you to videotape yourself beating this game by only running forward and spamming X. Yes, I know what hyperbole is but I've seen it said so many times that a few of them must be serious.
People also complain that the story is too complex, which is just moronic. I can describe the plot in one sentence. A group of people are magically enslaved by a powerful entity who wants them to complete an unknown mission that gradually becomes clear to them over the course of the game. That's it. I wonder if I cleared up anyone's confusion.
I will admit that the game does have a very simple battle system, which I guess pissed off a lot of people who enjoyed the complex systems of yore. By that logic though, Super Mario Bros is the worst platformer ever made and Wolfenstein 3D is a steaming pile of shit. Anyhow, your characters chose their actions automatically, though you can chose what your lead party member does if you want to. I don't see anyone bitching about Phantasy Star II or Persona 3 which did the same damn thing but whatever. The main thing you have to worry about is the paradigm system.
There are six classes that each character can choose from and you can create several combinations of these classes, which are called paradigms. You can swap your party's paradigm any time during battle, so for example, if you need to heal you would switch to a paradigm with a medic and maybe even a sentinel who can soak up a lot of damage. If you want to beat a boss quickly, you'd switch to a paradigm with a saboteur who can weaken enemies and a synergist who can strengthen your party, then switch to a combination of commandos and ravagers, the two damage dealing classes.
One thing I'd like to quickly mention is that the music is actually really good despite no involvement whatsoever by Uematsu. Saber's Edge is one of my favorite boss themes ever, though I will admit that most of the songs aren't quite as catchy as before. It seems that with access to an orchestra, a lot of composers just try to make every song sound epic and not worry about making them catchy. Shadow of the Colossus is always my go to example of a game with an orchestrated soundtrack that is still very catchy.
I'll talk about this game much more in depth in the future so I'll shut up now. My point is that FFXIII gets too much shit for really weak reasons. I don't expect everyone to love the game but for God's sake people, spend a little more time talking about games that you like and don't be so negative all the time.
Final Fantasy VII
There's only two games left on the countdown and one of them is this game's direct predecessor, FFVI, so you know that it had a lot to live up to for me. First off, Final Fantasy VII has one of my favorite casts in the whole series. It's kinda weird finally seeing where they originated after how much I've heard about them over the years. I mean, is there a single gaming forum in existence that doesn't have a guy named xXDarkSephirothXx or some shit like that? Hell, not just one guy, I swear on GameFAQs there's an endless supply of Sephiroth based usernames. Anyway, my point is that Sephiroth is actually a pretty interesting villain in my book. I find it fascinating to watch his descent into madness over the course of the story.
Beyond the story, FFVII is quite a fun journey. There's a few cheap bosses but it's a pretty well balanced game overall. It also has the highest number of songs of any game in the FF series on my iPod so yeah, the music is pretty damn good. This one will definitely be in my top 5 games of 1997 (spoilers: maybe even at the top of the list) so I'll talk about it much more then.
Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy VI