Thursday, October 13, 2005

Final Fantasy Tactics

Genre: Strategy, Tactics
Platform: Playstation
Credits: 1997 Square Co., Ltd.

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Cover Description:
Lead epic battles in a new Final Fantasy world.

Betrayal and darker dealings await in Square Soft's game of war.

Fight hundreds of battles across dangerous 3D terrain as an ancient blood feud awakens a deadlier foe.

  • Command knights, mages, ninjas and more
  • Based on Final Fantasy characters and magic
  • 19 character classes; 400 abilities
  • Deep customization options
  • In-game interactive manual
  • Only on PlayStationรค

Why did the piggies have to be so cute??? >>> by skysenshi
I believe that the peak of the Final Fantasy series could be seen in IV, VI, VII, VIII and Tactics. These were the titles that showed how Square was able to polish console RPGaming — from the headache that the first three (and fifth) Final Fantasies were to where the series is standing now. One true test of a game's classic factor is when you unearth an old game and find yourself enjoying it nearly a decade after you played it the first time around. Final Fantasy Tactics is just such. (It’s actually a silly story, why I stopped playing FFT back in 1997 and it’s not even related to the gameplay. I named Ramza Beatrice, after myself, only to find that Ramza is a dude.)

Story and Characters
You start off with a character named Ramza, although you can actually customize his name and his zodiac sign. You are tasked to protect the Princess Ovelia from forces that threaten to topple the current royalty. Pretty soon, you find yourself embroiled in political conspiracies, thanks to your family background, that had been brewing for centuries. Along the way, you discover friends, foes, as well as ancient written texts that told of the Brave (Zodiac) Story.

There are actually tons to read in this game. In fact, while you go around in bars, looking for propositions and listening to rumors, you will excavate artifacts and information about unexplored islands. These would give you clues as to what the Brave Story is all about. The central figures are St. Ajora, whose cover story reminds me so much of the Christians' Jesus Christ, and a traitor named Germonik (Judas?). From there, you will be thrown back and forth between two different factions until you get to the bottom of things.

For a game that has a lot of cute looking sprites, FFT can actually be very touching, especially when you meet people like Princess Ovelia, Mustadio, and Delita. Some of the rebels, like Olan, wear pivotal roles that make you wish for a good sequel. The subquests characters, like Beowulf and Reis, have interesting backgrounds as well.

This is a game from the late 90s so don't expect much in terms of graphics or game translation, as I've found a lot of typographical and grammatical errors. Everyone is in 2D sprite mode, and the jobs generally only have one look per job per gender. What I'm saying is that all female monks look alike; same goes for the males. The only people who'd look different no matter what their class are would be the story-based characters. Nevertheless, FFT isn't completely devoid of any visual aesthetics. The intro and the endings are all 3D FMVs, although I suppose they're not much compared to the eyecandy we get from the Xbox and the PS2 these days.

The music is excellent. Yes, they sound like midi, but you can really savor the medieval feel just by listening to the intro.

Gameplay and Battle System
Addictive. I can't really pinpoint why it's addictive. There certainly are a lot of flaws. For starters, I think there are too many jobs, when you actually just need five or six (main job, ninja, chemist, mediator, monk, knight). Secondly, by the time you reach chapter four, the mage classes would've become virtually useless — especially after you get Cid Orlandu. Thirdly, there's a bug that lets you duplicate Orlandu's Excalibur, which makes it easy for you to cheese your way to the ending. There's even a point in the final chapter where I find myself killing bosses in one hit. Simply put, the gameplay is horribly unbalanced.

So with all these in mind, how come I could hardly tear myself away from my PS? I guess it's because despite the repetitive areas, the monsters level up when you do. Even if you go back to the part of the world map where you first started, rest assured that the monsters you killed back then would have beefed up in time for your arrival.

The battle system is also fairly easy; you absolutely do not need a walkthrough for this. In fact, most of the fun I get from FFT is discovering my own tactics without having to rely on what other people say. I remember when a special friend told me to use shields and I said, "Nah, why go with shields when I can wipe them all out with two swords on each hand? There, see? They're all dead before they take their turns!"

Quests and Extra Features
The bonuses here are Cloud and Aeris of Final Fantasy VII, whom you can recruit while going through a subquest. I didn't really use Cloud, however, because I find him too slow. I just basically recruited him and retrieved his Materia Blade for the sake of expanding my game time. That, and the fact that I really loved FFVII so much that anything related to it would be very much welcome. The thing that even makes this path fun is that you also get to recruit hidden characters like Beowulf, Reis and Worker 8. Beowulf, in particular, was a great asset to my team. That I take so much pleasure in this subquest, even if they remove the FFVII references, says so much about my enthusiasm for this game.

When you visit bars, you also get to take on jobs that range from the most menial (helping out in a restaurant) to the most difficult (catching bandits on the loose). You can send the least useful units out on errands so that they can bring back rewards, as well as level up, without having to fight alongside you.

Poaching is another great feature. You get to kill beasts in the battlefield and if you have the Secret Hunt skill equipped, you can trade their meat in Fur Shops. One of my favorite accessories can be traded for piggy/porky/uribo skins. My only lament is that the porkies are so cute; I felt so horrible whenever I needed to kill them. See, it would have been all right if I just killed them off the field because they were wild. But since porkies are rare, I ended up breeding them, and then sending the piglets out on the field so that I can shoot/axe/run a sword through them. Sometimes, when it's the porky's turn to act, I would make him turn around so that he doesn't have to see that I'm about to bludgeon him. Such cruelty. Sniff. I wouldn't have minded if the porkies were as ugly as the goblins. But no. They just had to make the little darlings so unforgivably adorable.

In any case, this doesn't deter me from believing that Final Fantasy Tactics is one of the best Final Fantasies — heck even one of the best tactics games — ever released. I just wish 21st century game developers would learn a little from the past and remember that games are meant to be enjoyed. With new games lacking souls nowadays, it would be an honor to find something like this.

RATINGS: Gameplay 7; Battle 8; Story 9; Visuals 7; Characters 10; Sounds 10; Replay Value 10

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