Breath of Fire IV
  • Genre:
    • RPG
  • Platform:
    • PlayStation
  • Developer:
    • Capcom
  • Publisher:
    • Capcom
  • Released:
    • JP 04/27/2000
    • US 11/28/2000
    • UK 08/03/2001
Score: 75%

This review was published on 10/28/2007.

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Breath of Fire 4 was released in the United States near the end of 2000. A strange yet bold decision, as this is the sort of game that looks like it was developed at the beginning of the PlayStation's life cycle.

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Improvements over the third game are numerous: sprites are bigger, polygons are more smooth, and the dialogue is written better. The faerie village mini-quest and the master/pupil system are here too, in improved forms. Of course, not everything has seen improvement. A few things, such as fishing and dragon transformations, have been changed for the worse. Fishing used to be an enjoyable activity, but it's been made slower and more mundane, like real fishing. Another annoying issue is how sensitive the controls are outside of fights. A single press on the directional pad sends you a long way. I often found myself struggling to do simple things, such as facing a sign post.

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I have to dedicate a paragraph to the mini-games. They're an incredible annoyance. Pretty much all throughout the game, you'll randomly be forced to enter into a pointless mini-game. You can easily tell when this occurs as you'll be shown lengthy instructions on how to play. While not very challenging or involving, the mini-games are so frequent that they will get on your nerves. I'm not too sure why they did this. I suppose they thought it would be a good way to add variety to a mundane experience. Instead, they ended up with a mundane experience that has persisting annoyances.

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Combat is fought like in any standard RPG, but with the addition of "combos." This is a newly added feature that doesn't suck. Not entirely, anyway. Casting a number of spells in a certain order can add hits to your combo counter, which progressively increases the maximum damage you can do. If you cast specific spells in a certain predefined order, you could end up with entirely new spells that are often far more effective. A nice little feature, though it doesn't significantly change the tide of battle. You could easily get through the game without ever utilizing combos or combination spell attacks. Not necessarily because the game is easy. Rather, combos just aren't too useful. I do feel that combat has improved on the whole, though. Mostly due to magic actually being useful this time. Breath of Fire 3 suffered from the useless magic syndrome, you see.

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Equipment still has adverse effects on your characters' agility stats. Unlike before, this effect is easily ignored as it's very insignificant. You can still learn skills from enemies, only this time it's been made far easier. You merely command your characters to guard and they'll have a chance of learning any skills used during that round. The rate for learning skills is pretty good, too. You'll usually learn the skills in just a few tries. One nice change is how the entire party will always receive experience, regardless of whether they're placed at the front lines. In fact, you can easily and quickly switch characters around during battle, without wasting turns or putting yourself at a disadvantage. You can even go as far as healing and reviving your injured characters who're not in your front line-up. A typical strategy would be to move the injured to the back row while your healthy units continue the fight. It's a very nice change of pace that encourages you to experiment with various characters as opposed to stubbornly sticking to only a few.

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The story is told through two sides. On the one hand, you have the indisdiously powerful anti-hero, and on the other, you have the "good guys" going through their typical grand adventure. It's an interesting (though not entirely original) approach that offers plenty of potential. The potential seems largely unused, however, as the whole thing falls a bit short. It really isn't anything your average RPGer hasn't already seen a billion times. This is especially true if you've played the previous Breath of Fire games. I'd say the plot falls short even when compared to your average cliche filled RPG. Playing as the villain character does has it's moments, though. His side of the story is the only one that's worth seeing.

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Breath of Fire 4 is an underwhelming game in an RPG series that isn't very notable to begin with. It's certainly not the worst, however. It just doesn't quite touch the ground that the third game covered.

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Word Count: 753

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