Final Fantasy: 4HoL is not a remake of Final Fantasy, let me be clear on this NOT A REMAKE. It has a lot of features the original had, but, oh so many more are packed into it. It IS however an original tale and a very well done game. It's tough, it requires more than just spamming attack or magic, and you'll need to actually grind, something absent in a lot of recent RPGs.
The story is very old school and traditional, it's not "bad" per say, but if you're looking for deep story, you're not going to find it here. There is character progression in the sense that everyone will grow to trust each other etc. and the 4 heroes will split off and come back multiple times in the tale; It is kind of bad seeing as when your designated healer leaves you're pretty much out of luck.
This is where the job system comes in, or Crown system, you obtain crowns throughout your tale, these crowns let you switch jobs on the spot, your healer may not be my healer, your mage may be someone different, it's a very good concept, think FFIII on the DS and you have your concept of such classes. These crowns have gems slots that you'll be picking up throughout your journey that you can equip, these will give you boosts to your stats from the class. You'll level up each class individually so expect a lot of grinding to all of you completionists out there.
One thing you will notice VERY quickly is the inventory space. Each of the 4 heroes has 15 slots, 5 of which will pretty much be saved to armor, mages can expect less because you need to carry spellbooks. This feature is a welcome change for me, as going in with 99 of everything, prepared for any battle made things too easy, to add, nothing stacks, a potion takes up a slot, and another potion will take up another slot, meaning if you give 1 person all the healing/status effect items and he goes down, you can expect a wipe. Plan accordingly. One thing to add, as you equip items, you will see each item you will see it on your character. Putting on a crown will be different for each class, putting on a set of armor will all look different. It's another welcome effect.
The battles have changed significantly as well. Gone away is MP, replaced by AP (action points) Each character has 5, and depending on what move you do it will use X amount of AP. Doing "Boost," a defensive stance will give you a point back, as well as random AP awarded for getting psyched up.
In battles you'll notice a lack of summons, sadly, these are gone, although I'd do anything to have them back, they make the game more quick paced. Classes all have their own abilities as you level each one up though, so expect some special moves in there. Fights are fast paced, and done well so it does take the sting away from grinding, but I will warn you, you're going to need to do it a lot. This game is in no sense easy, you'll find yourself stuck with no way to progress until you've gained a few more levels, even if you don't run from every encounter, you'll still need to do some.
Sound and graphics in FF:4HoL is at a crossroads for me. The graphics are wonderful, it feels like a storybook my parents read to me when I was a kid. Music has changed, nothing will sound familiar, there is no prelude, there is no infamous battle theme... no victory fanfare. Nobuo is absent as a composer, replaced by another who did everything different. This alone was enough to almost make me pass it up. Although the composer isn't bad at all, multiple times I found myself humming the tunes as I walked in a dungeon or overworld. Sound effects are well done, as they have always been, no voice acting this time around which was another downer, if voice acting means I don't get to name my heroes, I would gladly give up that simple option.
I will not comment on multiplater, as none of my friends have played it, so there was no co-op, although it did look promising, 4 player questing is always fun and probably adds a lot of depth to the game.
All in all, this game is amazing, it's a unique styled game that covers a brutal and deep fighting system. It is a wonderful experience that will take dozens of hours of your life away, and you'll gladly give them up as you get lost in this Fantasy. A definite buy.
yes: I recommend this product