Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions User Review
Final Fantasy Tactics is, as stated above, a strategy RPG. Players direct units around block-ish battlefields via a grid system similar to that of Tactics Ogre and Square’s own Front Mission series. Tactics take center stage as terrain type, weather, depth (height), and even the zodiac sign of each individual unit all affect each confrontation. Players must also consider attack/spell range, depth, charge time (CT), and line of sight. The depth of each battle is staggering, yet the interface is, for the most part, easy to navigate.
Final Fantasy Tactics introduces players to the Charge Time Battle system (CTB), which uses a gauge that charges from zero to one-hundred. Since these bars are visible for both ally and enemy units, players can predict the order of attack (except when multiple units have 100/100, for example). This plays an important role, especially with attacks requiring CT. If you charge an area-effect spell and the targeted unit moves before your CT is ready, you will be unable to cast said spell. This adds another layer of strategy to an already robust combat system.
On top of these basics is a deep job and ability system. Characters level in a traditional EXP-based system, while also earning Job Points (JP) for every action taken in battle. These JP can be used to “purchase” abilities within each class, supporting a deep customization system. Job classes can also be leveled (up to level 8), and with the right combinations of jobs new classes are introduced, making experimentation extremely rewarding.
All of these options mean that you will be spending the majority of your time with FFT in menu screens. That may sound like a bad thing, but when you see the efforts of your strategizing pay off in one of the game’s many epic encounters you will be amazed at how satisfying such a system can be. On the flip side, if you don’t spend time carefully building your team, you may find yourself staring at the dreaded GAME OVER screen.
FFT is a challenging game, especially in the early stages. In fact, most of your early attacks will consist of stone-throwing and rushing, i.e. forcefully “bumping” into another player. If you can get past these seemingly dull moments, you will find yourself growing powerful beyond measure. By the end of the game you will be sprinting around the battlefield shooting lightning from your sword and killing normal enemies with a single stroke. You will also have gain access to some powerful allies who, in many cases, make the game feel TOO easy. There are also ways of making the game more challenging, including using a party of all squires or simply going through the game using one character. The deep customization options allow this type of flexibility, though I never tried any of these tactics myself.
While the game revolves around battles, the story is no less deep as the gameplay. The world of Ivalice has become divided by war. Your character, Ramza Beoulve, is a young noble whose father and brothers become major players in an epic game of thrones. You will meet kings and queens, princes and princesses, thieves, priests, and every class and character type in between. The story is epic and its scope is wide. It deals with themes such as honor, class, and religion, taking on such topics without alienating any particular audience. With so much content, the story does lose focus a time or two. You will most likely forget names and, in some cases, entire events will be lost among the many twists and turns. There is a log system in place to remind you of people, places, and events, but I never felt inclined to be reminded. Focus on the main themes, throw out the minor players, and you will have yourself a memorable, if not emotional story that stands among the best video games has to offer.
Aside from the story, the graphics stand up amazingly well (thanks in large part to the genre), the musical score is among the best in the FF series (and highly underrated IMO), and the massive amount of content is made easy to navigate by a simple-yet-effective menu system. In terms of graphics, the colors look gorgeous (I played on a Vita, so that is almost always the case), character models are exceptional, and the battlefields are extremely varied and well-designed. The game excels at showcasing the creative skills of the design team, constantly rewarding players with new units, terrain-types, and musical themes that suit each character perfectly (listen to Delita’s Theme and you’ll know what I’m talking about). If there is one complaint that has carried over from the PSOne days, it is the slowdown that occurs during some of the more flamboyant attack animations (summons in particular). I found this to be a minor annoyance, but if you are constantly utilizing summon spells, I can see how this could negatively affect your experience.
Since I have so few complaints, I will dedicate this space to all of them together. First, story battles may be triggered unexpectedly and, if you choose the wrong party, you leave yourself almost no chance of victory. Remember to save every chance you get and this will cease to be an issue. Second, when the condition for victory is set in such a way that you must protect a character, said character often tries to fight, only to be quickly killed (Game Over for you). My third and final complaint, and I'll admit I'm reaching here, relates to the fact that if one of the characters in your party dies and they are still dead three turns later, they will be forever lost. It makes sense (in real life), but if I've spent a lot of time building a character and they disappear, I'm going to reset. You know I'm going to, so just let me save mid-battle and we'll be all set. No harm done.
All of the above analysis can be attributed to the original. So, what does FFT: War of the Lions offer that is deserving of a rerelease? How’s this: beautiful, fully voiced cut scenes, new job classes, new abilities, new weapons and armor, and a cameo by one of the most beloved FF characters of all time, Balthier. Oh yeah, there is also newly added multiplayer options!
This is truly a complete game, well deserving of the remaster and rerelease Square-Enix produced. At only $10 on the PSN, any PSP or Vita owner should not hesitate to add this to their collection. FFT: WotL is deep, complex, absorbing, and surprisingly fun for the amount of time you will spend on menu screens. I recommend this game wholeheartedly to both longtime SRPG fans and newcomers to the genre. If the battle system and customization options don’t hook you, the story and characters will not disappoint. Pick this up! Now!
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.