Well is a (constatly updated post), and while I finished FF XII just a short while ago, I'm currently making my way through FF II, and I thought I would place it in my very detailed ranking system, and get your thoughts as well. Below are my overall rankings (updating always in progress), followed by a breakdown of various assets and how I rank each game within them. Let me know what you think!
(As a sidenote, I have not, nor will I ever unfortunately play 11, or 14, due to their online nature, so I cannot rank them, and they probably shouldn't be included anyway, as they represent a somewhat completely different type of game. Differently, I cannot play 3 either, as I don't even know how to go about finding a port for it, thus it is not included. Neither are any side games, sequels, tactics, et al included.)
RECENTLY: FF2 has pulled a little farther away from 9 and within reach of 4 and I'm loving the game. It's quite fun if you're a fan of the old school games, and if you've never played them, it's a good one to start with. I love the memorize function. I'm set for a 9 replay though, and from some of the things I've learned about it, it could make some headway, although I'm not sure if either title can catch FF4?
Also I have completely revisted my take on battles & bosses and the re-ranking has prompted 10 to vault past 6, which is interesting and an internal debate I was having anyway between a good modern game vs the best of the oldschool games. 5 has also slipped some nearly worst overall status, but not yet.
Lastly, I've added an entire new half to the scoring, where I have ranked the individual categories themselves by importance and weighted the scores with the most important factor having more value. It's interesting to note that not much changed in overall ranking, but that 8, a game I value highly did lose significant point value by that method and slipped barely behind 10. But I am averaging the two scores together an 10 was well behind 8 in aggregate, so that 8 remains 2nd overall. 1 unfortunately, lost by 1 point to 5 in the weighted section, and thus reclaims it's "worst" title by the smallest fration. Only 1 game had a better weighted score and that was 6, pulling it back closer to a 3rd place position that it did occupy for some time for me.
OVERALL FF Ranking (Score Avg = Net/2):
1. FF 7 (30.09)
2. FF 8 (36.37)
3. FF 10 (39.28)
4. FF 6 (41.82)
5. FF 12 (50.73)
6. FF 4 (61.23)
7. FF 2 (70.14)
8. FF 9 (74.14)
9. FF 5 (84.37)
10. FF 1 (84.46)
Aggregate Stats + Weighted Score(reviewed at bottom of post) = Net Score
Aggregate Stats + Weighted Score = Net Score
1. FF 7 (28),,,,,,,,1. FF 7 - (32.18) == (60.18)
2. FF 8 (32),,,,,,,,3. FF 8 - (40.73) == (72.73)
3. FF 10 (38),,,,,,,2. FF 10 - (40.55) = (78.55)
4. FF 6 (42),,,,,,,,4. FF 6 - (41.64) == (83.64)
5. FF 12 (50),,,,,,,5. FF 12 - (51.45) = (101.45)
6. FF 4 (59),,,,,,,,6. FF 4 - (63.45) == (122.45)
7. FF 2 (67),,,,,,,,7. FF 2 - (73.27) == (140.27)
8. FF 9 (71),,,,,,,,8. FF 9 - (77.27) == (148.27)
9. FF 5 (80),,,,,,,,9. FF 5 - (88.73) == (168.73)
10. FF 1 (80),,,,,,10. FF 1 - (88.91) = (168.91)
1. FF 6 - Just tons of character's here, all with fun unique abilities, and with strong unique ties to the story. They each really pulled together to show you how the world was impacted by what was going on.
2. FF 4 - In a very similar way to 6, there were great charaters in this game, several of which make really cool transformations into very different versions of themselves, which I can't say happens in any other FF game. Cecil, Rydia, and Polom and Porum esspecially.
3. FF 7 - Almost the same strength as six, in fact, yes the same, but there were fewer characters, and the uniqueness of each in regards to what they could do was somewhat dulled. But that makes it sound bad. AWESOME AWESOME characters in this one.
4. FF 10 - Strong, uniquely powered, and uniquely portrayed. They loose a tiny bit of luster since everybody is there for the exact same cause the entire game, unlike the above games where a root cause effects everybody differently and draws them together.
5. FF 9 - Fun characters, though some of them I question. Amarant? mkay, Eiko = lesser Garnett clone?
6. FF 12 - See the description for FF10. Although I did like everybody, the only one I really thought was cool was Balthier, but there were just no Auron's or Waka's, or Lulu's to put any meat on the bones of the cast.
7. FF 2 - They're good, though probably as homogenous as 8's, but with a slightly better cast of side character IMO.
8. FF 8 - I love this game, but good lord the characters are so homogenous as to not matter one lick which ones you're actually playing with. The same with their backstories. Exactly the same.
9. FF 5
10. FF 1 - Well this one didn't even have characters perse'
Character Upgrades / Battle System:
1. FF 8 (Junction)
2. FF 10 (Sphere Grid)
3. FF 12 (Gambit/License Board)
4. FF 2 (Increase skills with experience)
5. FF 7 (Materia)
6. FF 6 (Learned Esper Skills)
7. FF 9 (Learned Weapon Tokens)
8. FF 1, 4, 5, (Simple Buy & Equip)
1. FF 7 - Draining planet life, impending doom, Aerieth's appearance at the end. Son of Jenova, bent on completing her "work". Breathtaking.
2. FF 6 - This game might actually be my favorite story, I can't decide. Ancient Magic, created a war, was sealed, was re-discovered, was abused. Just epic.
3. FF 10 - I abolutely love the bitter inescapable tragedy of what Sin really is. It is almost without a doubt the most "unique" setting in the series and provides perhaps the most beautiful world and cast of characters because of it.
4. FF 8 - There wasn't a more fun debate in any game than trying to figure out who Ultimacia really was. Do we really know?
5. FF 4 - Still epic. Who wants to be a Paladin?
6. FF 2
7. FF 9 - I love the merger idea, but by the time you even knew that was what was happening, you already knew the game was almost over. For instance in 7, you saw Meteor looming the entire game. In 6 you knew Kefka must be stopped and you knew his goals, even though they kept getting worse. In 9, you knew nothing until the game was over and almost after the fact they let you know how bad it could have been.
8. FF 12 - Very small in scope really. Did the gods even care about the world at large, or just these 3 countries?
9. FF 5
10. FF 1
1. FF 8 - Weapon & Ultimacia were bar-none the best two battles of any game in the series, period! It's not even debateable. They were magically fun. Combine those with some other solid fights, quests for aliens & rouge GF's, a near death experience, and the control that junctioning gave you in fighting even random enemies, and battles in this game were off the chart good.
2. FF 10 – The unique abilities for each character were so well done that even random battles were engaging. Seymour got a little tiring the 10th time you fought him, and Jecht & Yu Yevon were pretty easy in the end, but I did like the concept of each character. Plus Omega, a couple of guardian lizards, Sin, etc, made for a great collection of battles overall.
3. FF 12 – The non-random battles, along with chaining made fighting in general much more interesting in a lot of respects. Gambits forced you to pre-plan a strategy, which may cause it to lose some points here on a replay but was certainly cool on an initial play through.
4. FF 4, 6, 7 – It’s difficult to separate these. 4 had a terrific final dungeon and plenty of fun special enemies, 7 had the weapons, and 6 offered plenty of split party challenges.
7. FF 1, 2, 5, 9 – And I can’t split these either, but don’t have anything special to write about any particular battles or how they were fought for any of them.
Graphics/ Cutscene Quality:
(Now this one kind of goes in order from newest to oldest by definition, but I've clumped 1-6 together as a sprite character is a sprite character. Check out the newest releases of the older games though as the fmv's added to them are outstanding.)
1. FF 12 - Obviously superior in visuals at all levels.
2. FF 10 - You can buy the videos to rewatch them. How cool was that?
3. FF 8 - BAR NONE, the best opening FMV of any game ever. I almost want to rank it first just for that.
4. FF 7 - BAR NONE, the best ending FMV of any game ever. I almost want to rank it first just for that. If you didn't gasp as a certain flower girl casting an upward glance, and realize what that meant to the overall story, I'm sorry you missed that.
5. FF 9 - I dock this game for having extremely short FMV sequences, almost none of which add to the story. They're just pretty pictures of various Summon's or first appearances of characters. Nothing like an Arieth death scene, so despite their beauty, I always felt they left something to be desired.
6. FF 6, 5, 4, 2, 1
Enjoyment/Depth of the World Environment, Cities & Towns):
1. FF 12 - It has the most immersive world by far. You can speak to almost everybody and even the shopkeepers and random townfolk have interesting little side stories. Some even offer very very mini sidequests. And I enjoyed immensly that there was often several places within a town to buy weapons and that each sold different items, and those items changed throughout the game.
2. FF 6 - Just an incredible history to this world, esspecially considering how much it changes by the end, and you can see that in conversing with almost everybody. Each town gives a different vibe and point of view and little things like the soldier and his girl sending letters back and forth were inspirational.
3. FF 7 - Offers a similar appeal to 6
4. FF 10 - Roaming around this landscape was fun, but while I thought that there wasn't as much to see as in other games, you really were able to get a sense for how the characters within it coped with the reality. Very introspecitively detailed. Great to see the parralleling of both order and irrationality that any world view possesses.
5. FF 8 - This felt like a happy and upbeat world. I didn't so much love the people you met, and many of them weren't all that interesting, but the musical score and art work set a fun and relaxing tone that kinda made it fun to just walk around and be immersed in.
6. FF 1, 2, 4, 5, 9 - As with several catagories, the old school games just kind of bleed together here. 6 not withstanding, I set 4 above any of the older games, but when it comes to environment, it felt just the same. I'm tempted to put 9 below any of them, because I didn't find much enjoyment in any of the shop or townsfolk, as none of them ever really felt that interesting to me, or unique, and so I'll lump it with the rest.
1. FF 7 - Just too much to rank it lower. Chocobo raising, chocobo racing, The Gold Saucer, Materia hunting, secret character side quests, the village with secrets of the ancients, fights with various weapons, and on and on.
2. FF 8 - Well Triple Triad was just my personal favorite mini-game, but hunting down weapon through that long starcase, tracking aliens across the world, finding the secret GF's, all good stuff.
3. FF 12 - This game just has a ton. Hunts, might wind up ranking it higher here for me on a replay, but Esper Gathering, and other sides make it solid too.
4. FF 10 - Blitzball got kinda tedious, and was never really that hard, but recruiting a team and signing them to contracts was certainly fun, and again, you could buy movies and music to watch them again. I kinda felt the monster hunt was somewhat boring and the ultimate weapons got extremely tedious, but still they were ok. I just refuse to spend my life jumpining lighting bolts. Have a good time if you want to do it though.
5. FF 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9 (None of the others had much of note despite how good they were overall. And 9 for me, even though it had sides, offered nothing I cared about in the least. Jumping rope 1000 times? No thank you. Moogle Mail was ok, but really gave you nothing for the all the effort, and Hide & Seak? Really? An inferior card game they didn't bother to include directions for? OK?
1. FF 7 & 8 - I couldn't seperate them. I want to play them both again for the 4th time right now.
3. 12 - I just finished it, but good lord there's so much left to do. When I get a good 2nd playthrough done, this may slip down a notch depending how much fun those final hunts and esper quests are.
4. FF 6 - Just a superior and dynamic cast and world to explore and live in for this last game of the sprite era.
5. FF 10 - This is a beautiful game worth revisiting, but it's kinda short if you don't blitz for 40 hours. I easily got through this game in 60 hours on a first replay and I took my time.
6. FF 4 - Well it's solid, but hurt by 6's dominance of the sprite games. I loved it, but why play it when I could play 6?
7. FF 9 - It's ok. Just ok. I'd play it before I'd play 1, 2, or 5, but only for it's visuals, and maybe Vivi. I really get nothing out of it.
8. FF 1, 2, 5 - I'd replay for pure nostalgia only.
(This is something I've thrown in, and to give you a better understanding of what I mean, I'm rating how successful a game was based on it's primary marketing tool. For instance, 9 was the game of references to the past. Did it work well that way?)
1. FF 7 (The Move to 3D) - An absolute homerun that may place it as the best game period of all time.
2. FF 1 (Hail Mary) - Don't forget the series was titled Final Fantasy because the first game was supposed to be the final game Square ever made, but was so successful it started an entire line of what might be the best RPG series ever. 7 made the entire RPG genre what it is today, but 1 got that ball rolling.
3. FF 8 (Junction) - WOW, if you used this system to its full potential you could really take it a long long way in characters attribute development.
4. FF 10 (Voice Acting) - You know, Auron was solid, Yuna was solid, Tidus was annoying, but Wakka and Lulu were spot on, and so was Seymour, and it just worked exceptionally well.
5. FF 12 (Gambits) - I did love it. I'm not sure I'd want them in every game, but they were fun to toy with, esspecially in the early stages as you were adding significant spells and abilities.
6. FF 2 - (Memorize & Experience) - Now this was a really cool feature. Not sure how cool just yet, but at several points you had to utilize it to get the info that you needed and it worked and was very fun. It even made a lot of sense. So did the weapon & skill upgrade system. You got better with things that you used more. I'm actually suprised that that element didn't stick around. It's wonderful, and allows you to customize in anyway you choose.
7. FF 4, 5, 6 - I can't seperate these. They just built successfully upon the series in turn.
10. FF 9 (References to the Series' Past) - EPIC FAIL!! Every reference this game supposedly made to the past of the series was tragically underdeveloped IMO. IE: The statues in Cid's throne room of previous Cid's were clear references of the line of Cid's in each game, yet each numbered statue was in no way representative of the Cid from the game it's number represented. And that's how the whole game went in regards to reflecting the series' roots. It just never took the extra step to go from Good to Great, and think that's because the developers didn't want the series to go in that direction. IMO 9 was a mere placation to satify those who thought they would never see a castle again.
1. FF 7 - Nearly Perfect in every way.
2. FF 8 - Really Really Good
3. FF 6 - Stellar. If the battle or upgrade systems had been more robust, or maybe the graphics it might have been the best.
4. FF 10 - Beautiful if a little easy in the end. A touch short too.
5. FF 4 - Almost sterotypically good. It was really really good.
6. FF 2 - It's great fun.
7. FF 12 - Really really really fun for about 60 hours, however about halfway through it bogs down because about a half dozen areas in a row have literally nothing to do in them.
8. FF 9 - I just kept waiting for something interesting to happen, or for there to be a fun side game, or at least an optional anything to explore. I never found much worth doing and just kept plodding through the game fairly uninspired.
9. FF 5
10. FF 1
Use of Summons:
(This is an interesting Category, as some games fully involve Espers, Aedelons, Aeons, GF's, Summons, etc. directly within the story of the game. Others don't define their role quite as much. Some you can upgrade, others are there at face value.)
1. FF 8 - The key elements in winning this category, was that there was an appropriate amount of them, they played a key background role in the story, and they were both fun and useful. I loved the hidden ones that you had to draw or lose forever.
2. FF 6 - There has not been a more critical set of Summons to the actual story. More than even 8 or 10, the Espers in 6 were actually the very genesis of what was going on. And you also had the ability to learn every piece of magic in the game by using them, so they were incredibly useful as well. Graphich obviously down, and there were probably a few too many, but still really good.
3. FF 10 - I'd love to put this one 2nd but A - there were way too few of them, and B - they just got rediculously powerful by the end, BUT, wow were they fun to use in actual battle. They nailed that part IMO, and I really wanted to use more of them. Plus they were obviously crucial to the story.
4. FF 7 & 9 - We'll call this a tie. Good, really good. Not stellar like the ones above, but good.
6. FF 4 & 5 - Another tie, but not as good as 7 & 9's. Ok, nothing special.
8. FF 1 & 2 - Yet another tie, but this ones fun, because these 2 games didn't even have summons, yet look at poor 12 below. That's how bad I thought 12 were, seriously!
10. FF 12 - Awful, Horrible, Rediculously Bad! I didn't use an Esper one time, other than to open that door, for any useful purpose. I summoned the first few I got just to see what they looked like and ran and hid from them the rest of the game. Nevermind the fact that none of them were the classic summons. I always love when there are new ones, but NO classic ones? Really? Thanks!
I don't include music as a ranking, because I just think every sound track has worked well. I can't think of one that is any better than another for any reason, and I just love all of the music equally. Even the midi era to what we have now. It's all good.
I thought I needed to give some credit to which of the elements in a game are more important than others, which is tough. Story is great, but the game involves so much battling that if that element is very weak, then can the story bring it along? Actually I think it can, and the below rankings reflect the total number of points credited in every other category, weighted in proportion to that categories importance which is as follows. Make sense? :-) Just go with it. If you want more confusion, the weighted rankings count for half of the total value.
1. (Enjoyment/Depth of the World Environment, Cities, & Towns) - It's first because really why else are you playing the game if not to enjoy the places you visit within it?
2. (Characters) - Likewise to #1 above, although I prefer the former.
3. (Weapon/Character Upgrades) - This is really the strongest customizable aspect of any game and the one that can put a game over the top for me. It's the element that is always focussed on most for how one game is different from the next.
4. (Story) - Why isn't this higher you ask? Because an acceptable story is ok as long as points 1, 2, & 3 are good.
5. (Side Quests) - These beef up the game and really just enhance #1 above, but are only part of what that represents in total.
6. (Unique Element) - I actually didn't think I'd rank this as high, but honestly, FF is all about the uniqueness from game to game. It's a major point of the series.
7. (Replay Value) - A little important getting down this low, but I always love anything that leaves you wanting more.
8. (Use of Summons) - Well honestly this can be an alluring factor, but it's not a dealbreaker, nore is it the major selling point almost no matter how good it is.
9. (Graphics/Cutscene Quality) - Exactly what I said about the use of Summons.
10. (General Impression) - And I put this last because it's the least thought provoking of any catagory and is merely a shadowy reflection of what your enjoyment of the world environment is really all about to begin with.
1. FF 7 - 32.18
2. FF 10 - 40.55
3. FF 8 - 40.73
4. FF 6 - 41.64
5. FF 12 - 51.45
6. FF 4 - 63.45
7. FF 2 - 73.27
8. FF 9 - 77.27
9. FF 5 - 88.73
10. FF 1 - 88.91