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Final Fantasy Tactics: The Lion War for PlayStation Portable
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VGChartz Score
8.7
                         

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Alternative Names

Final Fantasy Tactics: Shishi Sensou

ファイナルファンタジータクティクス 獅子戦争

Developer

Square Enix

Genre

Role-Playing

Other Versions

PSN

Release Dates

10/09/07 Square Enix
05/10/07 Square Enix
10/05/07 Square Enix

Community Stats

Owners: 349
Favorite: 23
Tracked: 1
Wishlist: 13
Now Playing: 9
 
8.7

Avg Community Rating:

 

Review: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions

By zexen_lowe 21st Oct 2009 | 2,289 views 

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. Is Ivalice still worth a trip today?

Final Fantasy Tactics was one of my favorite PS1 games. Therefore, it was only logical that when I got a PSP, this port of the original game was one of the first games I needed to check. Yet, the PS1 version was released on 1997 (1998 in the West), how does an enhanced port compare to an actual game more than 10 years later?

The game takes place in the world of Ivalice (that you might recall from games like Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance), but outside from one or two cameos, it’s completely standalone. Here, you’ll command the young noble Ramza Beoulve as he tries to unravel a plot staged by unknown forces that are orchestrating a civil war in the country. It’s hard to describe the story, and I feel that telling just a few lines would not do the game justice. Suffice to say, it’s without a doubt one of the most complex you can find in a videogame, with lots of well-developed characters and full of plot twists. If you like stories where there’s a betrayal, a death or a surprising revelation every five seconds, this is the game for you.

Of course, the story was already excellent in the original game, but here it’s even better thanks to two additions: FMVs and a new translation. The cut scenes are presented in a cel-shaded look, almost like a painting; they sport voice acting and they fit very well the style of the game. The only problem is that there are far too few of them, I wish there had been more because they’re really gorgeous. The new translation is exactly what this game needed, as the original is sadly famous for being atrocious. No longer featuring incomprehensible dialogue, now the script reminds a lot of a Shakespearean text, because every character speaks with very ornate and old-sounding words. It can strike sometimes as odd, and the first hours you may need to read every sentence twice, but it doesn’t look out of place at all, and fits with the setting of the world. If you played the original game, you’ll also find that every term has a new translation, including jobs, abilities and even characters. It can be confusing that who was Algus is now Argath and Vormav is now Folmarv, but at least you won’t see again a status effect called “Don’t Act” (now aptly called Disable.)

Final Fantasy Tactics offers a deviation from the standard Final Fantasy formula, as battles are fought in a grid where you place and move your characters. Before each battle, you pick the characters you want to use from your roster (typically five) and place them each in one square. When the battle begins, characters take turns in moving and attacking, the order is decided by speed, so you may be alternating turns with the enemy all the time. When it’s your character’s, you can move him/her a set number of tiles and also (either before or after moving) execute an action, like attacking, casting a spell or using an item. For each action you do there are pros and cons you have to consider, and this is where the game really earns the “Tactics” subtitle. First is the height matter, as every action will only take effect into the desired tile (or tiles) if it’s within the height required by that action. Then you have to consider casting time for magic, as every spell will take some turns of “charging” before casting. This helps balancing the game, as they can be quite powerful (and they can target multiple enemies that are close), but the charge time may give the intended targets time to escape from the area. There are more things to look at, like if something is on the way of archers, reaction abilities, zodiac compatibility, and more. The game really shows a lot of depth, and will take some time to understand all the little complexities in it.

Another part that contributes to enhance the depth of the game is the myriad of choices you have to customize your party. Every character can change “jobs”, which allow them to learn different abilities for that job, and you’ll be able to execute them as long as you’re using it. A lot of these jobs will be familiar to you if you played any Final Fantasy game before; terms like White Mage, Black Mage, Archer and Dragoon speak for themselves. Regardless of the job you’re on, you can set a second set of abilities for that character from a different job. This can lead to interesting combinations, like a Knight that knows White Mage’s healing spells, or a Black Mage that can use the Dragoon’s very powerful Jump ability. Abilities are learned by earning Job Points (JP), you do that simply by doing actions in the field, like hitting an enemy, you’ll gain JP for your current job. In addition, when someone gains JP for a job, all the other party members in the field earn a very tiny amount of JP for that job, that at first would seem like negligible, but in the endgame it’ll allow you to learn abilities of jobs you never went through with a particular character.

Besides the main job command and the second job, you can set three more different types of abilities: Reaction, Support and Movement. Reaction is an ability that triggers when your opponent attacks, like the Monk’s Counter or the Ninja’s Vanish. Support is an ability that’s always present, providing useful bonuses like the Archer’s Concentration (100% hit accuracy guaranteed) or the Black Mage’s Arcane Strength (spells do more damage.) Similarly, Movement abilities do the same as Support, but only affecting movement, like the Thief’s Move+2. Picking the correct abilities is also an important part of the game, and given that you can set those abilities regardless of the job you’re in, they can lead to some powerful combos. For example, learning the Ninja’s very powerful Dual Wield, which allows you to use two weapons, and then switching to Knight to use the most powerful weapons to deal a lot of damage. To gain access to jobs, you have to reach a certain level in previous ones. Such level is unrelated to your character level, you level up jobs by gaining JP (but the JP you spend in learning abilities still counts for your level, so you don’t have to choose between leveling and learning). The system works well in practice, but since you don’t have the list of jobs available until you’ve gained access to them, it can be a bit hard to figure what you need to do. For example, I knew I wanted a Ninja, but I didn’t know what I needed to gain access to it.

Nevertheless, the depth of the game is astounding, and will keep you constantly on your toes because every time there will be some minor consideration you didn’t take into account. Final Fantasy Tactics is a game that rewards careful planning and not just rushing forward hoping to out muscle the enemy. Of course, if you ever get tired of thinking, you can just go to the map and grind a few battles to level up your characters and get better abilities so you can crush your enemy without trouble, but that takes the fun out of the game. Yet, something to consider is that some characters that join your party later in the game (and specially one in particular) are far too overpowered. While in the end it’s up to the player to use them or not, because you’re never forced to, using them feels like defeating the purpose of the game.

 

The tactics feeling is enhanced by a ruthless AI that won’t let you take a breath easily. They’re very quick in ganging up against a soldier you’ve left undefended, and, of course, they take into account all the little features of the game like range and casting time that you might have overlooked. The difficulty of the game is not very consistent, as it will fluctuate constantly and some battles will seem easy. Still, not even the hardest battles, of which there are a few, feel unfair, as it’s nothing you can’t overcome with a finer tuning of your party and a better battle plan.

On the presentation side, it has to be said that, FMVs aside, the game looks exactly like it did on the PS1 in 1997. There are no remade sprites or higher resolution visuals. While this may seem disappointing (and some parts of the game might have needed a lift), the game looks serviceable enough to not be a bother. Some parts are clearly outdated, though, and Square should have fixed them. The camera, for example, can only be rotated in 4 directions, always with the same isometric perspective, which makes seeing some characters difficult at times when they’re hidden behind tall buildings. Another issue is that the interface doesn't always function as it should; when you use an ability that targets an area, you can only see the info (expected damage, chance of hitting) for the center of the area and not for the others, customizing your party in the menu takes more work than it should, and so on. But without a doubt the biggest annoyance of the game is the slowdown caused in the game when most spells are cast, the framerate drops significantly and noticeably. It’s far from a game breaker, but it can be a nuisance and it’s something that Square-Enix should have fixed.

Though there's nothing to criticize with the sound. The soundtrack composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata is as masterful as it was in 1997, with each theme capturing the feel of the moment brilliantly, and each tune given a great care. Even the song that plays while you’re customizing your party has an epic feel, and even after hearing it over and over it’s still stuck in my mind as an excellent song. The voice acting given to the FMVs is very good, and it fits all the characters nicely. But, given the overall lack of FMVs, you won’t notice them much, which is somewhat disappointing.


Tactics should take between 30 and 40 hours to finish, depending on how much time you spend on doing side quests. Outside the main quest, there are a few detours you can take to either get better equipment or to recruit some bonus characters (including cameos like Cloud and Balthier). Also, the PSP version features some extra side quests compared to the original game, plus the addition of a multiplayer mode, playable through ad-hoc. You can play either versus or co-op, and it’s a nice feature since it also gives you items to use in the single-player game, provided that you can find another friend with a copy of the game that has his characters in a level comparable to yours.

Overall, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions is a great port of an already excellent game. The original was a classic that shone brightly (and still does) even amidst the very populated RPG library on the PS1, and it’s usually credited for popularizing the tactical RPG genre (even though it wasn’t the first of its kind), influencing many games that would come up later. More than ten years later, this port proves that the core of the game is still as good as ever. While Square-Enix hasn’t done the best possible job porting the game, as there are more than a few annoyances in the presentation, and there haven’t been as much additions as there should have been, the ageless gameplay, the brilliant, complex and now understandable (thanks to the translation) story, and one of the most beautiful soundtracks to grace the videogame genre make this a must-check for anyone that didn’t play the original game. And if you did, it may still be worth checking out if you’re interested in the changes and additions. This is still the classic PS1 game, only now it’s even better than before.


VGChartz Verdict


8
Great

Read more about our Review Methodology here

Shipping Total

1,000,000 Units
As of: December 31st, 2017

Opinion (34)

Keybladewielder posted 26/04/2015, 03:53
I really like this game but there's certain battle that is wtf, I still can't believe I beat it XD
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-girgosz- posted 18/04/2011, 06:55
So many PSP adjustments. Great game, I'm glad it sold a million. PSP has like 10 new million sellers. :D
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Yamaneko22 posted 14/04/2011, 02:28
Million seller!:D Hurray!
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Galvanizer posted 03/04/2011, 09:53
Sold better in NA than Japan. I wonder how much is sold in the EU...
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zexen_lowe posted 28/08/2009, 08:15
OK, let's see how this masterpiece has aged
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d21lewis posted 16/08/2009, 04:01
Just got it. It's as good as I remember!!
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