I played in a core only game with a new GM. I wanted to be a magus, so I made an elf wizard wielding a long sword using the transmutation school to get enhancement bonuses into strength and cast shield and mage armor all the te while setting up flanking. I also had more hp than the barbarian at level 1 with my toad familiar, toughness feat, higher constitution and favored class bonus. His name was hulk hogan]Gary Rrrroderick PAYNE[/hulk hogan] and he used prestidigitaion to appear 7'8" with a handlebar mustache.
Dude played like a fighter, talked like a pro wrestler, had more hp than the barbarian and was actually an Elven wizard. Core only can still get pretty weird and is not more balanced. If I wanted, at any point as a wizard I could have opted to change what spells I was preparing and done any other character class's job, or just been a wizard and been a lot more powerful.
Weirdly the character's viability dropped when my party opted to stop flanking with me. I wound up leaving the game due to the other players making nonsensical choices that ruined my fun. "I won't flank, even though I could, because I don't think I need it *miss*" (this happened more times than was reasonable.) "I don't carry a ranged weapon because this is a melee character, I will stand back here and full defense instead."