But even players with no experience in this series can pick this up as a new game. Final Fantasy IX's story follows a group trying to stop Brahne, the evil Queen of Alexandria, in her quest to rule the world. Zidane, a skilled thief, teams with a young mage, a royal knight and a princess, who all soon discover that the queen's threats are fronting an even more sinister plot involving a powerful sorcerer named Kuja. It's your job to control the eight playable characters--each of whom begin the game with one weapon, one piece of armour and one special power--and to uncover Kuja's motives before he carries out his deadly plan.
The game's opening sequence sets the stage for what's to follow and, as we've come to expect from the CG wizards at SquareSoft, what is an utterly amazing visual scene. Long-time fans will revel in SquareSoft's decision to return to the disproportional-character look of the past.
Like VII and VIII, Final Fantasy IX uses the ATB (Active Time Battle) system. With each character learning the abilities and commands appropriate to his or her job class.
An Active Time Event (ATE) lets you see events that are happening elsewhere. For example, while you are controlling the main character in a town, you can view what the other characters are doing in another part of the same town. This function provides additional information and behind-the-scenes details about the story and the characters.
The game's visual splendour touches even the most ordinary scenes, such as shadows in the street alleys and the mazes of cobblestones. Final Fantasy IX's colour palette does a remarkable job in creating interest on every single object, location and person.
This will be SquareSoft's last venture on the PlayStation for the Final Fantasy Series, with its awesome graphics, a good story, and random battles that reveal curious bits about each character, Final Fantasy IX is an epic adventure that'll have long-time fans of the acclaimed series beaming with pride and joy. As for everyone else who has yet to experience the Fantasy, now is the time! --Stuart Miles