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A High Quality Clone,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bravely Default (3DS) (Video Game)
If you're going to rip off a series then you damn well better rip it off from its good period and, in Bravely Default (BD), that's exactly what we've got. This is, in fact, an excellent Final Fantasy game from the series' strongest point. It stands up (mostly) as a companion piece to FFIV-VI, with lovely graphics, an excellent and cleverly thought through battle system and tons and tons of content. If it weren't for a few issues you could go so far as to call it a masterpiece. But, sadly, those issues are there and they're intrusive enough that you can't look past them.
Shepard Tiz is out with his sheep and his younger brother one day when... a huge hole opens up in the ground and swallows his village, his flock and, most tragically, his brother. He falls unconscious and... the plot begins. From there, it's your typical FF story: crystals, an apparently evil empire, the end of the world, airships, archetypal characters, twists, betrayals, all those things for which the series became so well known, they're pretty much all here in one way or another.
That's great and there's more good news: the battle system not only takes bits and pieces from the series better ideas X-2 dress sphere (Okay so X2 mostly sucked but the dress sphere stuff was good) which allows you kit out your characters in all sorts of combinations from twenty four different roles. It's a truly flexible and intriguing system. If you have any kind of interest in this sort of game mechanic, then, in this aspect, BD has hit it out of the park. It's glorious and you can keep on gaining new jobs till quite close to the end.
Then there's the bit for which the game's named, the Brave/Default mechanic. This is another excellent concept. It allows the player to either spend up to four turns in advance, or to bank turns so that you can spend them later. This, again, makes for huge flexibility in your fighting and, given the occasionally massive difficulty spike in boss battles, it's highly welcome. It's also welcome if you want to spend time levelling up the afore mentioned jobs, as with a proper use of brave you can floor most normal enemies in random encounters in a single round. Added to this you also have the chance to set up the system to auto battle for you, so you can run about the field, get a random encounter and, a couple of seconds later, xp and loot. For power gamers it's seriously sweet. Hell, you can even, right from the beginning, set up the game to give you anything no random encounters right up to getting them practically every six steps.
In all these regards BD is an exceptional piece of work and beautiful to look at, for 3DS game. And, really, given just how cleverly, how thoughtfully, how gracefully, the designers have worked in creating these aspects it truly pains me that I've got to now rain on the parade.
What causes the game to fail to achieve it's true potential? Well there are several aspects. The first and maybe most obvious, is that, unlike, say, FFIV or FFVI the plot of Bravely Default (Which is a terrible, terrible title, even if it does call attention to one of the games better points) is dull. It's not terrible and it does have a few welcome surprises in it. But, really, it just doesn't cut it. In particular it fails to be as mature, as impactful, as moving as, say the story of Cecil et al from FFIV. Now there was a story, clichés and all, which just worked and made you feel for the protagonist.
The next problem is the voice acting, it's not awful by any means, indeed a lot of it is rather good, and, in some cases excellent, but there are some characters who's squeaky, hi-pitched performances are just ghastly and make me reach for the mute button at warp speed. It's not as bad as some Japanese, adaptations I've come across, for instance, it's does hold a candle to Star Ocean: The Last Hope, which had characters which nearly made me fling the game across the room (despite it being another example of a deeply compelling battle system) but Airy needs to die and die now and, sadly, Agnes is not far behind her.
The problem is not nearly as bad as either of these two. It's really just a nasty little bit of money grubbing from Square Enix. The game give the player a chance to use a command and freeze time allowing you to recover in a battle where you're being heartily beaten. So far, so good. Unfortunately, these commands are things which you can buy for x amount of real world cash. It's crass, it's unpleasant, its unnecessary and it pulls down the tone.
So, all in all, Bravely Default is an exceptional game, it has its flaws, sure, and some of them are too big to be over looked when trying to sort out what I really think of it. But... but, overall, the pluses far and away outweigh the minuses making BD one of the best 3DS jRPGs of recent memories. Indeed, if it weren't for the problems I outlined above and the comparatively recent superior game Fire Emblem: Awakening, I'd come close to calling this a classic. And, even if it isn't one, it's still the best damn FF game we've had for a long time, probably since Crisis Core, which is now some seven years old. And I for one will take a good new FF game (even if it's not officially part of the series) over the dross we've been fed under that banner for such a long time now.