"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. "
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.
Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)
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