Final Fantasy V: Almost Finished, For Real This Time

I’ll be brief. No, I haven’t finished the game. I’ve reached X-Death’s hideout in the void, where, confronted, he transforms back into his original form: a tree. Yes, a tree. No, this wasn’t a surprise. This gets into the pre-backstory: long ago, someone sealed another evil sorcerer’s soul in this tree, and over the centuries it corrupted and transformed it into the baddie we know. I’ve mentioned how the Dawn Warriors seemed to be the previous generation’s iteration of the same quest the player characters are on, but it seems that variations on the cycle have been going on for a long time. I expect that the final cutscene will contain hints that the evil still isn’t gone for good, and that future generations will face their own version of the story, making the title ironic in a new way.

Anyway, the reason I haven’t plunged ahead into the final battle (or, I suspect, final uninterrupted series of battles) is that it’s so tempting to just keep mastering jobs. It’s so easy now! New job levels come so fast in the end zone. In fact, I was so keen on getting job experience that I didn’t even notice that the encounters in this area don’t yield any normal experience points at all: if you enter with a party of level 50 characters, they’ll still be level 50 after they’ve mastered every job in the game. This strikes me as a clever compromise. In a well-balanced CRPG, it takes about as long to get through the story as it takes to get enough XP for the final battle. But there’s always some danger that the player will decide to spend more time on that treadmill, rendering the mid-game boring and the endgame too easy. Extra character experience comes at the price of a diminished player experience. My singleminded pursuit of job mastery could have easily led me down that road, but for this XP-free zone. Mastering all the jobs in the game mainly just makes your characters more versatile, not more powerful.

Except that versatility yields power. Some job skills allow for extremely potent combos. Give the Ninja’s dual-wield capability to the Berserker, and you get a character who can hold a warhammer in each hand.

1 Comment so far

  1. Lefty on 15 Jan 2008

    have I mentioned that hearing about this “Job” stuff is the first time since Final Fantasy 1 I’ve felt any desire to play a Final Fantasy game?

    Personally I don’t care about the stories & would like to dig in to the stat/class numbers game; what I remembered of seeing friends play FF games after 1 was all about “Now a healer joins your part for a while! Then leaves! Now you get a warrior!”, which seems to kill replayability/player control of the party. But the Job stuff made it seem like you had some control of how the Party’s developing.

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