I'm already done with FFIV. I didn't do any mid-way posts because the game held my attention so well. It only took me a couple weeks of lunch breaks and commuting time to finish. Let me tell you, Final Fantasy IV is a fantastic entry in the series! More than anything else, the story made all the difference.
There was so much character development and interaction, especially compared to the first three entries. Now that I've finished this game I've come to realize how much I was missing a solid story in the older games. A memorable story with interesting characters has become a hallmark of a Final Fantasy game and this is the first place that it's evident.
This game actually has a bunch of firsts for Final Fantasy. First use of the Active Time Battle system. First time class is tied to characters and their personality. First decent story. First time having lots of temporary characters to fill out the roster. First major character sacrifice. First amazing music.
The music! It's so good! I absolutely love Nobuo Uematsu's work in the series and this is the first time it shines. Themes from this game will stick with me forever. I've already found a couple tracks that have made it into my regular playlist.
I don't know how much more I have to say about FFIV. It's a good game. The first good Final Fantasy. I'll be recommending it to others in the future. If anyone asks me how far back they should go in the FF lineup I'll be telling them to start with FFIV. The first three are so skippable in comparison.
It's remarkable that my total play time is almost identical to my playthrough of FFIII. III felt like it took forever to slog through. With IV I enjoyed each play session and I was disappointed when it was over.
Total Play Time: 25 hrs 6 mins.