RPG Index: Single player Role Playing Games

Friday, 1 July 2011

Top Five Final Fantasies

The greatest Final Fantasies, listed by order of awesome
I know this article may open a can of angry fanboys that I am not prepared to deal with, but I decided to do it anyway. I will be writing about what I believe are the best Final Fantasy games. I will not be including the online version, FFXI in the list, since it has practically nothing in common with what Square-Enix usually produces. The earliest games with empty plots obviously can't compete, no matter how addictive they were, sadly I shall disinclude them too. I'll mainly be covering the games on consoles like Playstation 1 2 and 3.

There would be no contest if I were to judge by graphics, in that respect the newest edition will always win. So I have made my decisions based on the quality of storyline and combat. As always, these are my opinions and therefore open to discussion. Comment if you think I should change the ranks, please provide a good reason.

Let's get started with honourable mentions, the Final Fantasies that didn't make the list but are still excellent.

Honourable Mentions:
Final Fantasy IX (9):
 Great game, colourful cast of characters. Combat is nothing special, but interesting nonetheless. Sadly, it's just not quite there as the best that Square-Enix has to provide.

Read the review for Final Fantasy IX here.

Final Fantasy XI (11):
Square tried to launch themselves into the MMORPG market with FFXI, and did fairly well. Although the game had it's flaws, it was a great online Final Fantasy experience and many people enjoyed it before World of Warcraft.

Final Fantasy I (1):
Final Fantasy I the original definitely deserves a mention, released as a last resort to become the first game of one of the most popular franchises of all time. Despite it not being entirely original, it was still wonderful. It pulled it's company out of the ground, and allowed them to bring us many great games to date.

Final Fantasy Tactics:
I can't believe I missed this earlier, such a boss game. FF Tactics originally appeared on the PSX and was a hit with pretty much everyone. With an awesome combat system and interesting characters, this was probably the game closest to reaching the charts in the honourable mentions. Now avaliable on DS and Iphone, try it.

If you think one of these games isn't where it should be, let me know. Also, if you think I missed a Final Fantasy that deserves an honourable mention, comment!

Top Five Final Fantasy games:
5. Final Fantasy IV (4)
FF4 was nothing less than epic. It was the first of the series to implement the fabled ATB system, spicing up the combat. Characters with depth and personality as developed as Cecil and Kain were practically unheard of in RPGs back then. As one of the first games to integrate a real plot, you wouldn't expect it to be so good. Even though it gets a little freaky later on, the plot is immersive still today, and for that reason FFIV is rank 5.
If you haven't played Final Fantasy IV, it is now avaliable on DS and PSP. Grinding isn't an issue, you can make it all the way through the game without spending a few hours running in circles for battles to level up. The spells and abilities are pretty awesome, if you have played newer games in the series you will recognise them. Since they overhauled the graphics for the PSX, there are even cut-scenes that are quite pretty, this game should be on one of your to-do lists.

4. Final Fantasy VIII (8)
After the slightly over-hyped Final Fantasy 7, 8 had a lot to live up to. Despite the mixed response, the game had fresh but fun combat, a love/hate story, and the annoying ass protagonist we all come to accept. The weapon and GF (Summons) upgrade system is intimidating but worthwhile.
If you are curious to learn more about FFVIII, read the review here.
For all the haters out there for this game, there is a lover. So you'll have to play it to find out. I believe this ranking for FF8 is a little optimistic, but in my eyes, this game is my rank 4.

3. Final Fantasy VI (6)
FF6 kicked ass so much, it has been ported to more consoles than I can count. A couple of games after IV, Final Fantasy VI was an all rounded version of it's predecessors, with an epic unforgettable plot and badass characters. It is the best of 2D RPG games that Square has to offer.
Not only was it just a boss game in general, it had 14 party members in it, the most in any Final Fantasy game. Pretty much all of them can learn magic too, so you can power up who you want. If you want a blast from the past RPG, look no further.

2. Final Fantasy VII (7)
I'll start by saying this game doesn't deserve all the fanboys it has. But FF7 is by no means a bad game. As the first edition of Final Fantasy to hit the PSX, it was groundbreaking in terms of graphics and combat. The Materia system was well designed, making battles difficult and fun. Minigames present themselves as you progress, some so awesome I spent hours on them when I was a kid.
The game is flawed in many ways, but the plot is extremely addictive. Sephiroth is still one of the most awesome bad guys to date, and while Final Fantasy VII arguably isn't the greatest of the series, it deserves rank 2 for how popular it was alone. If you want to read the Final Fantasy 7 review, you can find it here.

1. Final Fantasy X (10)
It took me a lot of thought to decide on the best Final Fantasy. After much deliberation, FFX seemed like the most natural choice. Why? When Final Fantasy 10 first hit the market for PS2, nobody really expected it to be so well designed and polished. The sphere grid system is simple and fun to use, providing a class like level up system. This is an RPG where you'll want be eager to run into random battles, they are awesome. 
The plot is the good old Final Fantasy mix, with an unexpected twist or two. On my first playthrough, I was captivated from start to finish. Your party of characters have a wide range of personalities and depth, one that weaves an incredible story. Sadly, a few of the bad guys are cringeworthy douchebags. In my case that made me want to kill them more.
You will put hours of time into this game, the side content and blitzball is like an entire game in itself. I believe Final Fantasy 10 is the epitome of Square-Enix. It is one of the major contributions that brought a far wider audience to the world of RPGs, and defined it into the genre it is today.

I'll say it once more, if you disagree with the rankings, please comment why below. Thanks for reading.

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