Final Fantasy IV contains a rich story and a highly memorable cast that still resonate some 20 years after it was first released. FFIV: The Complete Collection adds a contemporary touch to this epic, implementing enhanced visuals while maintaining its ground-breaking battle system. The package also contains The After Years, a sequel first released in the US as WiiWare in 2009. The collection marks the first time that both updated games have been brought together, along with a new chapter that acts as a fun transition. With updated visuals and plenty of fast-paced combat, this collection breathes fresh life into a rewarding classic.
Foes often have a few tricks up their sleeves, including bubbles of doom.
A captivating plot forms the backbone of this collection, pitting Earth's warriors against a menace from the stars. Cecil, a dark knight of Baron and captain of the Red Wings, is honor-bound to follow his king's orders to collect the world's crystals--even if it means slaughtering innocents. Torn between duty and mercy, Cecil challenges the king, who strips him of his command and sends him on a fool's errand to the village of Mist, where his quest for redemption--and vengeance--begins. A slew of diverse characters enrich the tale, including Rosa, Cecil's beloved white mage, and Kain, a formidable dragoon struggling with his own loyalties. Eidolons (usually known as summons) also figure heavily, weaving the tragic story of Rydia, the beautiful summoner, into key moments. Though the plot may appear generic, this facade hides a gripping story that spans the globe.
Exploration is both simple and satisfying. A graphically updated field map makes navigating the game's extensive world straightforward; dungeons now tower above their local villages, so it's easy to pinpoint your destinations. Most dungeons incorporate clever mazes and hidden paths that take a keen eye to find, as well as treasure and items that just might save your bacon in a boss fight. Although few puzzles or interactive elements appear, poisonous swamplands and other hurdles keep things interesting. The game's difficulty is less punishing than its DS counterpart's, but each dungeon remains challenging; under-leveled teammates or weak battle strategies can still mean your doom.
One of the game's big draws is your ability to plow through foes at a breakneck speed using the active-time battle system. Combat is turn-based, but time continues to flow as you bounce between teammates to issue commands, boosting the intensity. You're allowed up to five teammates, all of which feature class-specific abilities that keep things fresh, although the ability customization option from the DS release has been dropped from this PSP version. All the usual classes--such as black or white mage--are here, and it's fun to unlock their advanced skills and master the more unique hybrid jobs, including ninja and paladin. Another great perk is the lightning-fast auto-battle system, which conveniently speeds both leveling and dungeon exploration. Challenging bosses provide more thrills, healing themselves or casting reflect spells to avoid your magical attacks, which forces you to outthink their maneuvers. Many encourage you to use eidolons to capitalize on their elemental weaknesses, while other tactical spells, such as float, often come into play to guard against vicious magic like quake.
Great spell effects and eidolon attacks spruce up battles.