Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Final Fantasy Tactics (Video Game, PSX, PSP)

The War of the Lions subtitle is from the PSP version.

Final Fantasy Tactics has been in the works to be re-released for the iPhone.  This game, which originally came out in 1997 for the Playstation and then in 2007 for the PSP, was radically different than any of its other Final Fantasy counterparts.  Battles with enemies were much longer and resembled a chess match more than the classic role playing turn based combat system.  The franchise, at the time, was moving into more of a steam-punk era with Final Fantasy 6 and 7, whereas Tactics seemed to revert to a more medieval setting (there is a robot secret character in the game but little is known about it).  Does this 14 year old game still hold up enough to warrant a re-release, or could another leap of faith send it into obscurity?

The story is pretty involved.  The main character, Ramza, born of royalty, starts out as a young man who join the local armed forces under the banner of Prince Larg (the "White Lion").  However, during Larg's fight for power against Prince Goltana (the "Black Lion"), Ramza abandons his royal title and becomes a mercenary.  During his time as a mercenary, he discovers that the Church is behind the "Lion War" between Larg and Goltana, by using magical artifacts called the Zodiac Stones to gain control.  Ramza, with the help of others who join his cause on during his adventure, sets out to collect the stones, overthrow the Churches grasp on the lands, and settle the power struggle for the crown.

A total of 22 jobs in the first remake,  not including
special jobs and enemy jobs.
The epic story line is complemented well with the games tactically style of play.  Long drawn out battles give chance for dialogue to take place, which adds some suspense during game play.  The player controls several combatants during a battle and each can hold a different job, ranging from knight to wizard to bard and many in between.  Each of these jobs add a whole other level of complexity or frustration depending upon your experience and attention to detail when playing the game.  The job system is a lot to take in, but overall, it adds to the games replay-ability since there are so many different jobs to master (and doing so requires a lot of work) that you could easily have a party with an entirely different job composition several times over.

Lovely attack, too bad there is still about forty
minutes of battle left.
The highly strategic and long drawn out battles are also a source of infinite hatred as well.  The average battle in the game lasts about a half an hour.  Take into consideration that back in the Playstation 1 days, games were not automatically saved.  If you had forgetting to save, you could see yourself losing a long battle and then have to replay quite a large portion of the game over again.  When first learning to play this game, this could be unbelievably maddening.  It really separates the big boy gamers from the Farmville gamers.  Another irritant about the combat system is actually hitting your target.  Before you attack there is a numerical percent chance to actually land that attack. This measurement is based on terrain, experience of the character, position, and a lot of other things that are probably technical and boring.  Sometimes you cannot seem to get a hit off with better than a 50/50 chance depending on the composition of your party.  Other times you could have a percentage of 95% and still miss. That usually leads to broken controllers, and in extreme cases (missing at 99% chance to hit), broken televisions too.
Look past the awkward graphics of the late 90s and the cute
cuddly animals and see a great game.

Despite sometimes high collateral damage costs, Final Fantasy Tactics could definitely hold up today.  It is a timeless, classic role playing game of the 90s.  Intriguing story, character development that holds interest, and (when things are going the right way) fun game play make the case that they just do not make games like they used to anymore.  The controls will probably be a bit irritating on the iPhone and the long battles may be asking for a bit much when considering that you are playing a game on your cell phone, but this game is really too good to let it just fade into the past like some many others from that decade.

No comments:

Post a Comment