Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions
Reviewed by Anna Slado
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-11-04 PSP Strategy SCE / Square Enix

How can I explain the love I feel for this game? Well, I played it for the first time in 2002. I had met a person online who told me that this was possibly the greatest game ever and he sent me a burnt copy of the game just so I could play it. Sadly, the game lagged and I couldn't play it like that. Then it was re-released to the PlayStation as one of the console's "Greatest Hits" titles. So now I could finally enjoy it. I remember waking up in the mornings, sitting up in my bed, turning on the TV and gaming until my mom forced me to eat something. I cursed like a sailor whenever the battles didn?t go my way and I immediately fell in love with the music and the graphics. I didn?t grasp much of the game's story back then, maybe because my main focus was the battles, but the translation was pretty bad. But what I did get was that this was a story of friendship and the toll it takes during war, the struggle for power and the quest for freedom. A tale of wanting to save those you care for, a saga about heroism.

Now this all time favorite of mine has been released to the PSP. I remember when I didn't feel the need to buy re-releases, but now I do. Of course I had to have this game as well, even though I have the original. For starters, the translation is a lot better. True, characters speak as in Shakespearian times (or just as they did in FFXII) and that can be hard enough sometimes. But it sets the mood and characters express themselves so much better in this version.

Final Fantasy Tactics is all about jobs. In the original there were 19 different jobs to take, in this remake there are 22. There are over 400 abilities in total and some characters that you meet and recruit have their own unique job and skills. Now, these jobs (apart from the battles) are what will take up most of your time when you're playing. You want to master each and every job there is, and you want to learn all those cool skills.

Honestly, there is no point in rushing through this game. And I must tell you that it's a great idea to have at least two save slots.

For some battles, you are asked to save before it commences, and maybe you win that fight, but then there's another one right after, and you have no time to stock up on items or new equipment, no chance to level up if you need to. This is what it normally looks like when a boss battle lies ahead of you. I'm telling you this now because I myself was so close to get stuck in the game after almost 20 hours played. My point is: it is worth leveling up in this game, not just for the jobs' sake. The battles themselves can take up to 20 minutes or more to complete, since this is a strategic game, but time really flies.

The battles are fought on a 3D-isometric (if that makes any sense) grid, that you can rotate 360 degrees. Depending on their range (which can be changed with equipment), characters can walk a certain distance or jump to a certain height. When it's time to act, a character can either attack with their weapon or bare hands or use a skill of some sort.

What's so good about FFT is that you can set an extra set of skills to a character. For example, you can have a Black Mage use healing magic. You can have a Ninja that's also a Chemist. The versatility in this game is one of its biggest strengths. So, playing around with characters and their skills and abilities and putting together one that is basically indestructible will take a lot of time, but it's worth every second. During battles, every successful action will give you Job Points and EXP. Once a character reaches 100 EXP, he or she gains a level. When you've accumulated a good amount of job points it's time to set them to any ability you wanna learn.

FFT is not only filled to the brim with jobs and skills, but it also blows you away when you see how much equipment and weapons there are. Of course, with 22 jobs, what did you expect? Everything in this game is so well thought out, the quality is amazing. I can?t feel that they have forgotten or neglected any part, whatsoever.

Now, let's talk about the music. Back in 2002, this was the first time I had ever come across Hitoshi Sakimoto. I didn't even know his name back then, but his music left a mark in me and this soundtrack is one of my favorites still to this day. Sure, it sounds a little 1998, but it's still of very high quality. The battle theme changes constantly, which makes it fun to go around on the roads on the world map and have random encounters break your stride. Hitoshi makes good use of strings, drums and bells and to this day these things are his signature mark. Just take a listen to FF XII OST, and compare it to FFT OST.

FFXII actually takes place in the same world as FFT, Ivalice. Apart from a few more jobs, amazingly beautiful cut-scenes, you also have a chance to recruit Balthier - which, admittedly, feels a bit strange and nothing more than a gimmick to make people wanna buy the game even more. But then again, Cloud from FF VII is still around to be recruited again, so I guess he was the bait the first time around.

Seeing as this is a game from 1998 (or 1997 if you count when it was released in Japan), I'm happy to say that I am still blown away by the graphics.

The surroundings change quite a bit, from snowy paths to scorching deserts, to roof tops and dungeons, forests and swamps. The pixel characters are all extremely detailed, though they are quite tiny. Magic spells and summons have a high quality and bursts with light effects that make them very pretty to watch.

But unfortunately there are some flaws to this game, which is only due to the fact that it has been converted. The sound effects can sometimes be very bad, for example, the wind blowing. It sounds nothing like wind! Sometimes the sound lags. Just have a White Mage use the spells Protect or Shell and you'll know what I mean. The animation finishes before the sound does. There are no major flaws in this game, but that only makes these tiny ones so much more irritating. Final Fantasy Tactics is a brilliant classic and it should be enjoyed by every gamer out there. There is so much to discover; items, quests, you name it. I've nearly played 37 hours and I hope I won't finish the game any time soon. But even if I did, I could just as easily start playing it again. Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions is a masterpiece one just can't tire of.


Special thanks to Charlie Sinhaseni and Square Enix for providing a copy of this game.