Gaming Today Reviews Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions
Final Fantasy Tactic: The War of the Lions
System: Sony PSP
Rated: T for Teen
There are some classic games that deserve consideration for rebirth. Asking Final Fantasy fans in recent years which games resonated most strongly with them and in many cases you’d be greeted by two answers from the majority: Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Tactics. While Square has remained elusive and evasive on the subject of reintroducing FF VII to the masses on a new console, it has systematically re-released every other classic Final Fantasy game on more than one gaming platform to capitalize and re-capitalize its coffers. Final Fantasy I-VI have all made new appearances on the Playstation, Nintendo GBA and DS and lately on the Sony PSP.
Final Fantasy Tactics, now renamed with a subtitle: The War of the Lions is but the latest in the series to receive the port treatment for modern systems. Originally released for the Playstation (and actually still playable on backward compatible PS2 and PS3 systems), this version makes its way to the handheld world on the PSP with just a few enhancements. While Final Fantasy III made waves on the DS earlier this year with its recreation and updating, this is mostly a simple port of the popular tactical RPG.
Tactics and its gameplay evolved from the job and class system of early Final Fantasy games, but unlike the traditional turn based RPG that the series has grown away from, the Tactics games instead focus on turn-based tactical combat with the slightest hint of plot and story through a mission based structure.
Players assume the role of the youngest member of a noble family in the world of Ivalice. Final Fantasy fans might recognize Ivalice as the setting for the latest PS2 Final Fantasy and while this was the first game to feature the setting there is not a whole lot to ties the two representations together. Tactics is a historical drama that plays out through flashbacks and eventually introduces a fairly simple interweaving of politics and feudal warfare. Sure there is a princess involved, a holy war and a war of succession but the fantasy trappings themselves are nothing new or unexpected.
What makes Final Fantasy Tactics stand out against some of the other Strategy RPGs of its day like Tactics Ogre is the cartoony characters, familiar Final Fantasy job roles and approachable mechanics. So much of the game relies on planning your tactics in a methodical way only to have to be flexible enough to change once the computer artificial intelligence knee caps you unexpectedly mid-plan. This difficulty to plan and assess is good. The combats are often quite challenging and require players to select the correct team to deploy without always knowing the forces you are set against.
Tactics has made the transition from Playstation to PSP very smoothly. The control scheme is naturally mapped and if its possible feels to work better on the hand held than it did on the original controller. The graphics are crisp and clean but not noticeably enhanced in any real way. Sprites are maintained instead of 3D models and Square-Enix simply reoriented the game and its menu system for the landscape screen of the PSP.
The only real difference between this title and its original version is the updating/replacement of the crude CG movies with beautiful woodcut cel-shaded style 3D animation that mirrors the character designs and art from the game’s manual. Additionally the creators inserted a few characters and references that are meant to tie this game to the overall world of Ivalice by including some characters from Final Fantasy XII. New weapons, equipment and an expansion of the game’s team character limit in many battles really has little impact on the overall product.
Fans of Final Fantasy Tactic or Strategy RPGs in general should investigate picking up a copy of this title if they have a PSP handy. Initially I questioned the concept of moving a game that essentially requires long sessions to complete missions on a system with a short battery life and the game lacks any functionality to warn players that the power is about to go out. While the translation leave me with no doubt of the fun of playing while mobile the platforms inherit flaws are still a concern. Those who get sucked in will find the game rewarding, but be sure to plug in and avoid gaming on the go without considering the power issues.
When compared with other games of the same age Final Fantasy Tactics is a strong performer, only newer games like Disgaea 2 look better and this game was published in 1998 originally.
The addition of fully voiced cut-scenes and a pleasing soundtrack that does not grate over long play sessions is a very good thing.
Final Fantasy Tactics is a good representation of the Strategy RPG genre. It features simple menus and works surprisingly bell on the PSP.
Replay Value: 8
The number of missions, job classes and character options means that those who enjoy the strategy elements of Tactics should find many ways to amuse themselves over and over again.
Final Fantasy Tactics is a simple game with great depth and a good example of the strategy RPG genre. There is a reason it is so beloved by players and this PSP remake is worth picking up.