|Review by Bobo The Clown|
Final Fantasy Tactics wipes the floor with every other Playstation role playing game not named ''Lunar''. Forget about all the other standard console role playing games, like Final Fantasy 7 or Chrono Cross. Or about the wargames such as Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre. Final Fantasy Tactics backhands them in the face, insults their mothers, and then kicks them square in the stomach while they're down.
How does it do this? As Dick Vitale would say, ''It's acedemic baby!'' Combine the easy feel of a standard console role playing game with the deep, expansive nature of a wargame. Take away some of the menial wargame functions that only strategy freaks like (Goodbye crappy resource management!) and which actually lower the fun factor of most wargames. And finally, add in one of the deepest, most engrossing stories ever seen in a video game.
The story of Final Fantasy Tactics is unparalleled by any other role playing game, and is matched in sheer brilliance only by the Metal Gear Solid series. In it, you play the role of Ramza, youngest brother of a famous family of knights. However, your loyalty is soon called into question as you see the murderous acts and deeds done in the name of your brothers and the aristocracy. From here, it's a downward spiral of twists and turns, in which everyone has their own personal agenda, and no one is as they seem.
The story is outstanding, and the gameplay does not disappoint either. It combines some traditional console role playing elements (experience, equipment) with staples of wargaming (job classes, emphasis on formation and positioning). These elements combine to create a nearly perfect system.
Your fighting squad is made up of a collection of fighters. Some are special characters, crucial to the storyline, while others are ones that you can create at towns. This in itself isn't revolutionary; however, each character has two types of ''experience'' gained. There's the traditional experience, which causes your levels and stats to rise, and there's job points.
Job points allow you to powerup in whatever class your character is learning. There's a wide variety of classes, from knight to black mage to dancer, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. There's certain requirements to unlock each class. These are gained by going up in job levels in that class, which are triggered by gaining job points.
With all these classes, Final Fantasy Tactics is unbelievably deep. Simply maxing out each character in each class can provide hours of entertainment. That's not even including the immense amount of side quests that can be performed, or multiple hidden characters that can be found strewn about. It's easy to spend over a hundred hours on Final Fantasy Tactics and not even notice.
Of course, a lot of this is enabled by the actual combat. Combat is no longer a quick thing. Don't be confused; it's not a long, hour plus affair seen in most wargames. However, most scenarios require around fifteen to forty-five minutes to beat. You can't simply stampede in each and every fight; the smart AI will rip you to shreds. Strategy and planning are essential. Positioning is a vital part; moving yourself just a little bit out of the range of a summoner's spell, for instance.
The combat takes place on a map, which is split up into squares. Imagine an interactive boardgame. Depending on a unit's movement ability and range, they can launch direct attacks, magic spells, use items, ect. Where you strike an opponent is also important; stabbing an opponent in the back has a much greater chance of connecting than a direct attack. An accuracy percentage is clearly displayed for all attacks, to ensure that you don't carelessly waste a turn.
Final Fantasy Tactics isn't an extremely hard game. However, a lot of people assume going into it that it's very similiar to the other Final Fantasy games. It isn't by any stretch of the imagination. If you're experienced with wargames, then it should not present too much of a problem. If you're experienced with console role playing games, then some fights will be difficult. Nothing impossible, just tricky at some points.
Graphically, Final Fantasy Tactics can't really compare to other role playing games. Since it only spans one compact disc, you get the feeling that Square toned back on the customary full motion video rich game that they normally produce. The graphics more closely resemble a good Enix game: bright, colorful, but not distracting.
The only major complaint with the graphics are the character models. It's back to the Super Nintendo days of character animation. Everyone seems to be around the height of 4'11'', and weighing somewhere in the vicinity of 400 pounds. However, it's not a major impediment to the game itself, and the game is so engrossing that you'll hardly notice it.
Square hit the nail right on the head with the music of the game. It's a beautiful, orchestra driven soundtrack. The mood music is right on, especially the eerie, evil music, which comes on when you know that someone is up to no good. The standard arsenal of sound effects is also present, with plenty of sword slashes punctuating the airwaves.
Buy this game. Now. It's the greatest possible deal available for the Playstation at twenty bucks. Before Square re-released this game, copies sold for over two hundred dollars, and the sale was steady. That's how good this game is. Buy it. Now.
|Reviewer's Score: 10 / 10|
|Review by chandlerbing|
Final Fantasy Tactics was originally released in 1998 and has recently been re-released in the ''Greatest Hits'' range in 2001. Although this game may not be part of the mainstream Final Fantasy series of games, it does manage to hold its own and does have many features that fans of the Final Fantasy games will immediately recognize, namely Chocobos, magicians, summons and other major attributes.
A strategy game at heart, you must manuovre your characters (a total of 5 excluding special guests) around unique battlefields or terrains to form strategic attacks on your enemy. Whether it be magic attacks or physical attacks is entirely up to you.
One of the major contributing factors towards the charm and addictiveness of FFT is the Job system (which is taken and improved upon the FF5 job system). You are allowed to customize your characters upon whatever job you want as long as you meet the requirements to get a certain job. So theoretically there is nearly an endless combinations of how you wish to set up your characters. Because there are 19 jobs in total, this means that you will take a long time to master them all and gain every ability from every available job. This is ideal for perfectionists as well as non-perfectionists.
This is a game where you cannot afford to rush. It is not simply the case of bashing the same command over and over again to try and end the battle quickly. Doing that simply sends you to the Game Over screen more times than you can count. The charm of FFT is the sense that no battles will ever feel cheap (unless of course, you resort to cheating) because all the enemies in random battles levels up just as you do (similar to the SaGa games) and you need to do some planning ahead to guarantee success in a battle. Battles can be long but will ultimately give you a sense of achievement once you complete the battle, especially difficult ones.
Accompanying the game is an in-game tutorial mode which is hugely helpful and hugely recommended to all new-comers to the genre or more so to this game. There are lots of stuff to cover in this game so don't worry if you spend an hour or so in the tutorial session. Unlike games in the platformer, fighting, or racing genres, Final Fantasy Tactics as a strategy game should not picked up and rushed into the game without consulting the manual or the in-game tutorial.
The graphics, though not spectacular are very decent. The fantasy world is well established and the individual characters are distinguishable. Magic and summon spell effects are very neat and there's none of that long-summoning-sequences that plague FF7 and FF8 which is good news.
War/Battle fare themes are the tunes of the day. There's no poncy ''cute'' music in the game that covers dark and serious themes of political and religious corruption of society. Battle music is very up-lifting in that it gives a sense of morale to you, the player as well as the characters themselves. Surprises are presented with abrupt stop in music and sound which is neatly incorporated into the game and the player will ''feel'' genuinely surprised due to great timing in plot events.
Note that this is not a short game. The battles themselves (not only story battles but random battles too) ensure that many extra hours are added into the amount of time you spend in the game. There side quests that you can embark on such as the Propositions to help boost gil and JP for your characters as well as embarking on quests to recruit secret characters and training monsters too...
If you are a perfectionist, then mastering all the jobs and abilities will take up a LOT of your time too.
RENT OR BUY
In my recommendation? I would say buy it. If you wish to get into strategy games, then this will be the game for you. The tutorial is beginner-friendly so you can ensure that you will not be left stuck in a rut if you feel stuck. You can access the tutorial anytime during the world map to read up on points you're not clear about. If you feel really unsure, then do rent this game out first and I can assure you that you will not feel disappointed.
With a new price tag of around $20, everyone can afford to buy it. UK gamers like myself may need to pay a price far more than the American retail price, but it is totally worth it.
- Challenging, especially for new-comers. You won't beat this game in a hurry.
- The story is incredibly in-depth and engaging in both plot and characterization. The story of political powers and the corruption of nobility is covered very well in the game.
- The job system allows for customization is entirely up to you. Many abilities for you to tamper with.
- The FF traditional aspects are neatly incorporated into the the game.
- A nice array of characters at your disposal (monster and special guests alike)
- Guest AI is low, they may get themselves killed because of stupid decisions that you wouldn't have done.
|Reviewer's Score: 10 / 10|
|Review by EPoetker|
This is now and will always be my favorite game of all time. No amount of comparison to the same genre, nitpicking, or flaming can change that. It is an absolute masterpiece in every single category one could possibly list. As it is, I shall list them all...
Usually I start with graphics, but now I'd like to take a moment to savor the intricacies of the story. To all those people who mash the X button as soon as text comes up, you are missing a tale of truly epic proportions. C.S. Lewis once told of a police state, where the ''history'' taught was ''duller than the truest history you've ever read and less true than the most exciting adventure story.'' The story of Final Fantasy Tactics in itself deals with that kind of history(as written by the state)while its characters go through experiences that, while fantasy, have real truth lying just below the surface, which a little delving soon reveals. More than any other video game I've seen, Final Fantasy Tactics is, at its core, about REALITY. In an unfortunate move by Square, the translation of the story was rushed(as usual) so one has to read carefully to grasp the full import of what the writers were trying to say. Anyway, the story begins with...a princess being kidnapped. Not the most original way to begin a video game, but very soon threads of state, religion, friendship, good, evil, and power are all woven in. Some have erroneously said that Tactics only deals with political intrigue, but that would ignore the enormous depth of characterization brought out in the NUMEROUS cast of characters. There are many, many players in this story, much more than even a strategy RPG would normally have, and ALL have distinctive personalities. And, as in real life, sometimes you sympathize with the good, other times you root for what appears to be evil. However, the ambivalence one feels gradually lessens as the climactic battle nears, ever so slowly polarizing the two sides until the question of good and evil has been answered before it has been asked. However, I can still guarantee that the ending will shake you to the core, more than any other video game ending I have seen. BTW, this is one of the few games which I have seen which has dealt with church history in a serious and nonbiased fashion. All those Christians who think that fantasy is of the devil should take a good look at this one...
...then marvel at the music. Why had I not heard of Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata until this moment? The two composers have single-handedly managed to come up with the BEST music EVER heard in videogames! When my somewhat jaded ears were first exposed to the opening theme, I thought...how beautiful...but they can't possibly keep making original, inspiring songs for the full length of this game...I was WRONG, and for once in my life, I was GLAD. EXCEEDINGLY glad. It's almost indescribable, getting such a perfect orchestration on a synthesizer(yes, they ARE using a synthesizer, and a darned good one, too!) Let's go over a few categories:
Random battles: Four different selections, each perfectly fitting the ''random'' concept. There's something very ''nature-y'' about these themes. They generally start off very softly, then slowly build...and build...till the crescendo of chord heights has been reached. Others choose to go with one theme and then ever so cautiously segue into another one, which greatly reduces the boredom factor. To sum it up, you really don't mind hearing these pieces over again. Seriously, if I had to have a song stuck in my head, I would much rather have something beautiful, like ''Random Waltz,'' rather than something which just jars the senses, like...most popular music!(Okay, I don't listen to that much of it anyway. But still...)
Yes, this deserves its own category as well, if for nothing else than the full, rich melody that plays when you select ''Brave Story.'' It can almost bring you to tears if you listen to it closely enough.
Here's where it varies a little, but the same masterful orchestration is brought heavily to bear, whether it's a spooky underground tune, the super-tense ''chase'' beats, or some of the more grim-sounding themes that seem to play more often when the odds are firmly against you. Great stuff!
Talking to people:
Normally, RPGs play some generic tune when engaging in conversations, or even worse, just go on with whatever music was previously playing until the actual fights start. Not so here! A simple conversation with characters has such wonderful harmonies lavished on such a small scene that it almost makes you want to go through the scene that much more slowly(a good thing, because a story like this requires in-depth comprehension to understand fully. Stupid translators.)
In the end, however, my modest power of description is futile, and the music must still be heard to be truly appreciated. You were waiting for something?
Now on to the category that can make or break a game(no matter how much fun it is)GRAPHICS! Watch the opening movie again. Naaah...don't, I don't like to base everything on really good CG sequences. Watch the game from the point the princess appears praying in the church to the end of chapter one. Note how EVERY area in which you fight or talk is drawn down to the last detail. Note how the lush battlefield settings perfectly match the mood which the music attempts to convey. And take a look at your fighters, who, despite having no mouth and no nose, (battlefield sprite, not close-up picture) manage to convey emotion and expression with every stab and dodge. They were not made that way by accident, this was a calculated move. And when you DO get characters important to the advancement of the game's story(Mustadio, Agrias, etc.) their expression and demeanor on the face close-ups perfectly matches their temperament and fighting style. This is a great example of how graphics SHOULD be done, to serve the purpose of the game's story and music, not to eclipse them with too many unimportant yet flashy CG sequences. Excellent, excellent work!
Now, on to the most important category of all! GAMEPLAY!!!! Finally, Square has managed to make fun what was previously boring drudgery! RANDOM BATTLES! If you played through Vandal Hearts just wishing for a few of those, FFT's got them for you by the truckload. But why so many? Because of the new, improved JOB SYSTEM! Essentially, it boils down to this: You get JP(Job Points) in addition to experince points whenever you hit an enemy or cast a spell. These points, when added up, give you new abilities in your current job and add a whole new element of strategy(should I save up for the really cool ability or get all the slightly cool abilities right now?) But the REALLY fun thing is that you can research abilities which can be used in other Jobs. Have fun equipping your Knight with Summon Magic! However, to prevent this from getting out of hand, the stats for each job are altered, making the combination mentioned above a little problematic until you get some other abilities. This is one reason why so many people get wasted early on, they didn't bother to learn the system. But once you do, the fun just goes on and on...until the incredibly intelligent AI finds a way to smack you down. I've seen the computer make stupid decisions in Shining Force and in Vandal Hearts(don't have your sorcerer cast Blaze on the hero, have him do a physical attack! He's close by, isn't he?), but somebody finally installed a brain into this one. You'll swear that there's a human playing on the other end, judging by how the computer makes good use of all classic battle strategies straight from the beginning. (My friend's a marine, and when he played this, he recognized a whole bunch of formations that he had been taught in military school.) The ONLY way to prevent getting walked all over is to either have a stronger team(i.e. level up) or a BETTER team(different Job specifications.) Usually, it's the latter. Strategy...Tactics...the meat of those words is ALL here. Understand the Job system, and you will have LOADS of fun...
Miscellaneous/extras: All RPGs should have these, and FFT is no slouch. You can go on side missions as soon as you begin Chapter 2, sending parties of soldiers out to search for gold, secret items, or undiscovered countries. (Also a great way to gain JP for inactive soldiers.)And right in the middle of Chapter 4, there's a HUGE side quest which eventually opens up a HUGE Deep Dungeon, which holds oodles of treasure and an extremely cool secret...read the Faq for details...Hidden moves, items which can only be gained through theft, monsters which can be motivated to join your party, and a bargeload of secret characters make this one of the longest and most rewarding playing experiences one will remember. What a wonderful game...what a wonderful name...what a wonderful reason to go out and BUY THIS GAME RIGHT NOW! Squaresoft DESERVES the money, don't even think about trying to emulate this one...
|Reviewer's Score: 10 / 10|
|Review by FatedSwordsman|
The graphics here are really very good. The game's visuals aren't designed in that realistic sense, as Final Fantasy VIII was, but that's probably a good thing for this type of game. The character designs themselves are reminiscent of classic Final Fantasy games (and sometimes identical to them), but much better looking and more detailed than ever before. The battlefields are very colorful and detailed, and can be completely rotated using the L1 and R1 buttons, so you can see everything that's going on. While they are much clearer in this case, the graphics in FF Tactics are most similar to Breath of Fire III and Grandia. Goes beyond classic 2D, but doesn't have the look of many modern RPG's, either. A very good choice, in my opinion.
The spell effects and special attacks look truly excellent, and are probably the best aspect of the game as far as graphics are concerned. The Summons are the most spectacular of all of these, often involving a long and detailed display, but not so long as to be frustrating like in Final Fantasy VII and VIII. The number of different spells and abilities in the game is amazing, and each has an animation and/or special effect to go with it. A truly impressive job.
This is basically just a strategy game with a Final Fantasy theme. There are a total of 19 Character Classes in the game, such as Wizards, Knights, Lancers, and so on. Each Class has it's own unique set of abilities, and most are based on Final Fantasy games of the past. The more experience a character has with different classes, the more new classes open up to him or her. You can have many characters in your party, but you don't use all of them at once in a battle. Before each encounter, you select the characters from your party that you want to use in that fight. You can only choose a handful, though this number depends on how many NPC's will be fighting with you. I think it would have been better if you could take a few more total characters, as it would add to the strategy aspect a bit and make leveling up or learning abilities a little easier. It should also be noted that all random encounters have enemies at the same level as you, while battles that develop the plot and progress the game have enemies at a fixed level which you can surpass.
Each time a character successfully performs an action (attacks, uses an item, uses a spell, etc.) he or she gains experience points and job points. The experience points go to normal leveling up. Whatever class a character is, they still maintain their level. The job points are used for learning new abilities in that class.
Unlike most Final Fantasy games, there is no overworld to explore in this game. There is simply a flat, plain looking map with various points on it. After you clear one area (point), the next one opens up for you. Basically, you just move from battle to battle with little to no exploration. When you reach a city, you can buy items and weapons, but you cannot explore or talk to residents. It's all done through a menu. You do have the option to travel to previous areas to battle random enemies and build you characters' levels and abilities, however.
This entire game revolves around the battles, and has very little exploration involved. Luckily, the battles are set up in an extraordinary way. They are menu based and involve a great amount of strategy. Fights range from very easy, generally in the beginning of the game, to very difficult later on. Obviously, the challenge can vary a great deal depending on how much youve prepared your characters for that particular encounter. This is not an easy game, especially the first time through, and will probably take you at least 40 hours to complete. If you want to really do everything there is and build your characters up extensively, you may spend much more time than this.
The story in this game is incredibly detailed, and really makes up for the lack of exploration. The story can actually be a little hard to follow in certain places, so the game provides on option called brave story. In addition to summarizing all the major events in the plot, it also provides detailed and constantly updated biographies of all the characters. Things almost always stay interesting, and there are plenty of surprises. It really gives you a lot of motivation to keep playing, even when things get a little tough.
I found almost all of the music in this game to be excellent, although it sometimes got slightly repetitive in certain areas, like the random battles. But this is true in almost all RPGs, so it's hard to fault this game for it. There's truly some wonderful stuff here. And really, when all things are considered, this game's soundtrack would rank very high, compared to new games and old.
This game is really an excellent one. I would recommend it to any RPG fans, and certainly to fans of Strategy Games. However, if you find that you arent too good at getting through RPGs, or that you get frustrated very easily, you might want to wait awhile, or rent the game first. Although, since the game has recently been rereleased as a Greatest Hits title, there's really not much to lose.
|Reviewer's Score: 9 / 10|