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As the game starts out we see Nina and Cray zooming across the desert in a sand flier. They are on a mission of rescue, no joy ride that\'s for sure. Coming across an overly aggressive and huge sand dragon, the sand flier is wrecked beyond repair.
As Cray stands guard over the broken shell of a sand flier, Nina sets out to find a near-by town, hoping to locate some sorely needed spare parts. Before long she stumbles across a very naked and confused young man called Ryu. Having lost his memory, they decide to travel together.
You see, the cities in this land have arranged a fragile, yet holding peace among each other, while one incident may throw all the efforts of the leaders into disarray. You see. Nina and Cray are searching for Nina\'s sister, Elena, who has disappeared without a trace. No big deal….except Elena is a princess.
More and more get revealed as you play Breath of Fire 4, but this is where my story ends. There is much more that awaits our group of would-be adventurers.
Almost every aspect of this has been improved over the last game... Let me run down a few of the aspects for those both familiar and unfamiliar with the series.
While playing, you can have up to six characters in your party at one time. The real stand out difference between this game and its peers is in the combat system, taking on a strategical-tactical scope. When you enter a battle, all characters are available to you. Three characters make up the front row and the remainders are in back. While in back, ability points, which are used to perform skills and magic, are regained according to the individual characters stats. The really nice part is that you have total control over who fights when. You choose the character to go first, second, and third. If one of the characters is in the back row, they move up front to replace whoever is in the front row and not being utilized. Neat huh?
A few fun and well playing features were retained from its predecessor. Fishing is still alive and well, and you can use the Agetec fishing controller to boot. The map is scattered with fishing spots and the act of fishing is more interactive than before. Also the Fairies are back too! Treat these magical creatures well and nothing but good things will come your way. Let\'s not forget about the Masters.
Throughout your journeys you will encounter characters that are willing to teach you some special skills that will come in handy. To learn these skills, you or your party must accomplish specific tasks. Another unique way to learn skills is to use the defend command in combat. Certain enemy skills, those listed in blue, can be learned with a certain probability if the enemy casts this skill while one or more of your party is defending.
When you get to areas on the map you have the option to camp (Do so often). When you are camped out all your characters in your party are there, and you can talk to them and see if any clues are given, in case you need a pointer or two. Also you can learn what the characters really may be thinking about the situation you\'re in. When camped out you can also Rest, which regains your health, or check on your Master list and skill list.
Breath of Fire 4 is entertainment packed and loaded with items, secrets and mini-games. The control is very user friendly and the story line, while classic in nature is fun to follow and done in cinematic flair.
All of the cut scene actions, with a very few minor exceptions, are done using the in-game real time engine. The beauty of this though is two fold. First of all, the camera work and presentation of the scenes is absolutely excellent. Secondly, even though you get the pixilated graphics in these scenes, the story is put forward in a way that brings out the mystery and gravity of the scene at hand. Great job.
The magic spells and dragon summons are all done very well. The game has a slight leaning toward the dreary side, but that\'s how the whole series has been done. While beautiful in design, and especially motion, color schemes are often muted and earthy. Bright colors need not apply.
There are two areas that concerned me while playing... The towns are great looking and loaded with life, don\'t get me wrong. The thing is, the camera view is too close to the characters, so the buildings are constantly blocking your view. Luckily you have full rotation of the camera, which you will use a lot to see about. Secondly is the world map. The map is done on a point-to-point type system. I always prefer to run around a real map when it comes to RPG\'s. This is no major gripe though, with over 80 locations to visit, a somewhat lacking world map can be overlooked.
The sound great. While touring the many locations and dungeon areas a wide variety of music is offered. Jungle beats to mystical harmonies await your journey. Also the enemies and characters in your party make grunts, screams and words (Japanese), which I loved.
The only drawback, and again it\'s minor to me, is the lack of any voice acting during cut-scenes. While this feature is nice to have, a quality sound track is much more important.
· Explore a huge world with over 80 locations.
· More than 200 spells to chose from. Players learn magic from opponents.
· 360-degree camera control.
· Loaded with mini-games and quests.
· Two epic intertwining story lines, that of Fou-Lu and Ryu.
· Take the power and form of many dragons.
1 Block required on Memory card per save (min)
Up to 1 Players (without Multi-tap)
Compatible accessories include: Agetec Fishing Rod
Uses Dual Shock Pad Buttons
Uses Dual Shock Pad Analog Sticks
Uses Dual Shock Pad Vibration facility
REVIEW SCORE GUIDE:
We promise that we have fully played 'Breath of Fire 4' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
SUMMARY OF FINAL RATING (%)
00 - 59 This makes your console seem like an older machine. It utilises little or none of the PSone power.
60 - 69 This game is little more than average and we advise renting or play-testing before considering a purchase.
70 - 79 This is a good solid title that should still appeal to those who like this type of game.
80 - 89 This is a fantastic game that we think you will enjoy playing for quite some time.
90 - 100 This game either pushes the boundaries of it's genre further than ever before on this system, or creates a completely new gaming experience. Either way, it should not be missed and is an essential purchase in our opinion.
IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ:
It is very important that you are aware that the criteria we use to obtain review scores on the PS2 is very different to that used for games on the original Playstation (PSone). The Processing and Graphical power of the two consoles are vastly different and as our reviews are graded against what we estimate is the achievable potential of each system, it does not mean in any way that a game scoring 80 percent on PS2 is worse than a Playstation (PSone) equivalent which scores 95.
A more detailed breakdown of this guide can be read here.
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