Editor's Rating

This is a challenging game with lots of customization, and a deep plot. The English translation is terrible. but luckily the remake saves it. The story gets dumped on you pretty quickly.

Replay Value

I got into strategy roleplaying games later than in other genres of video games. It was probably because there have been so few of them historically, that I just missed them. My first game in the genre was Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword (known as just Fire Emblem in the States), and I absolutely loved it, and the next three in the series. At the time, I thought that was all I had to expect from strategy RPGs. And then I bought Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and realized how incredibly simple Fire Emblem was. It was like comparing checkers to 4D chess. Again, I thought that was all I had to expect from strategy RPGs. Then, on one of my many trips to used video game stores, I found the original Final Fantasy Tactics and bought it on a whim. And, for the first time ever, I was blown away by a game that kicked my butt again and again.

In A Word, Whoa:

I’ll reiterate: Final Fantasy Tactics is hard. Way more difficult than I thought it would be. It could be because I don’t have a lot of experience playing games like this, but I found that I need two or three tries to beat even some of the early levels. This difficulty isn’t entirely a bad thing, however. In fact, I really enjoyed having to think for a change; it’s the first Final Fantasy where the goal and how to achieve it wasn’t instantly clear. And because of the way battles are laid out, there are countless paths to victory. Whereas most strategy RPGs focus on size, Final Fantasy Tactics isn’t like that. You’ll always have a small group of characters to control, against another relatively small group of characters. So, the battles are a clash of quality instead of quantity, and every step is crucial. Before the level begins, you arrange your fighters on a 3D grid that’s built like a chess board. During battle, the camera is freely movable, allowing you to zoom in or out, rotate the field, whatever you need to get a sense of what needs to happen next. The battles are turn-based, and you can move a character across the grid depending on their speed; the faster the character, the sooner they can move and attack. Like I said before, the grid is 3D, so you have the chance to move vertically, too. This can offer a lot of advantages. As you might think, placing units higher up make them harder to hit and able to more easily hit their targets. However, this often limits their mobility in the latter parts of a battle, so it must be balanced to assure victory.

An example of how battles are set up.

Variety is the game’s main selling point. There are several different terrains in which you’ll be fighting, and several different conditions to attain victory. Combined together, battles rarely seem redundant. The greatest diversity comes from the characters themselves. There are 19 different character classes, and over 400 abilities with which to give them. This makes it so you can customize your characters into your ideal fighters, molding them over time. This is true for the enemy, as well. As battles go on, you’ll find enemies of stronger classes with a wider range of abilities, and so an intimate knowledge of each is necessary, which you’ll build over time. The ridiculous amount of customization will, by the end of the game, make you feel like a real general; with a glance, you’ll recognize an enemy’s strengths and weaknesses, and know the perfect deployment to do the job.

I Really Have To Try To Find A Complaint:

The art style of Final Fantasy Tactics is incredible. The characters are all drawn to be adorable, and they contrast well with the darker mood of the game, captured by the expertly made soundtrack (it’s Final Fantasy, what else is new?). The terrains are also incredibly made. Be it a swamp, forest, field, or town, each has a level of detail that is hard to find in that generation of video games. The characters are also well-animated. My only real complaint is that the characters all…kind of look the same. If they’re not story important characters, but just your regular units, they can be hard to tell apart (besides the crazily randomized names, of course).

A Story That’s Grating To The Ears, But Saved By A Remake:

Normally, I play an RPG for the story. I want to learn more about the characters and the world they live in, and how to become a part of the solution to whatever problem the plagues their universe. This was certainly the case with Final Fantasy Tactics, but to a much lesser extent. To be blunt, the gameplay stole the show. An atrocious translation to English quickly forced me to skip most of the actual story and get myself back into combat. By the end of the game, I had little idea why I was fighting, but I didn’t care. My focus was on preparation for battle and executing my strategy to achieve victory. But even if I had focused on the story, I don’t think I would’ve cared any more. Gameplay takes up the large majority of your time, so it’s only natural for it to take up an equal amount of your attention. The story, also, is dumped on you. Place names and battle histories will be thrown at you in the beginning of the game, and remembering them all takes a lot of effort.

An example of the cutscenes available in the remade version of the game.

However, the story does have one saving grace. The game was rereleased on the PSP with an entirely new translation, free of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. I’ve played it, and even though I still believe the story becomes too thick too quickly, it’s much better delivered and, towards the end, an engrossing tale. The remake also has two new character classes for increased customization, improved graphics, and several inserted animated cutscenes. It’s a beautiful rendition of a classic game, and it’s this version of the game that’s also being made available in the App Store. It’s almost a direct port, with limited touch screen functionality, but the graphics have also been updated, making them even crisper. Granted, $16 is pretty steep for an iOS game, but it’s still less than buying the PSP version, and much less than the PSOne original. I’ve bought it, and it’s great. Definitely worth the money. You can buy the iOS version with the link below:


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