Review by Psycho Penguin
"My life became more meaningful for the 60 hours I played this game. How sad am I?"
I must have been drunk when I wrote my original Final Fantasy Tactics review. There was so much wrong with that review, it isn't even funny. I spent nearly half of the review talking about how this isn't a ''true'' Final Fantasy game. I realized that the ''Tactics'' written at the end means that this is a strategy game, not a normal role-playing game. I also stated that I only got past the few minutes of the game, that is completely false. Simply put, there was a lot wrong with that review.
I also underrated the game a lot, as I spent the whole review bashing the game, then turning around and giving it a 7 out of 10. I failed to point out the numerous good points that makes the game as good as it is. I may not have liked the game much then, but after going back and replaying through the game some more I discovered that everyone else was right, and I was wrong. This is a great game, although I will still claim that this game does not deserve a 10, in my opinion. Anyways, I hope you give me another chance and hear me out this time.
Final Fantasy Tactics was released in 1998 for the Sony Playstation by a popular video game company named Square Soft. It was not really released to much fanfare, mainly because of the juggernaut known as Final Fantasy 7. In my opinion, Final Fantasy Tactics was underhyped. No big deal though, because sometimes great games come from unexpected places. In this case, it came from Final Fantasy 7's shadow. It wasn't really that popular of a game, until it came out. A few years went by, without much fanfare in my eyes. I never even knew that this game was that big of a deal.
Suddenly, Final Fantasy Tactics went from ''the game released after Final Fantasy 7'' to a popular cult classic. The game produced legions of fan boys, ranging from people flat out obsessed with the game (go to Yahoo! and search for Final Fantasy Tactics to see what I mean) to people like me who enjoyed the game, but did not really get into it too much. Regardless, this game has a lot if fans, no big news there, though. To be honest with you, I hated this game at first. It was too confusing for me, and the gameplay system was kind of boring. Then I got into it, and I found one of the best video games I have ever played.
The story line in the game may seem complex at first, and it will remain complex throughout the game. This is one of the main problems I have with the game, the fact that the story line is very complex and complicated. I am not saying that a game featuring a complex story line is necessarily a bad thing, but I draw the line when it becomes as complex as this. The game's main story line focuses on Delita Hyral, although the story line will shift to other characters and scenes throughout the game. This adds to the complexity of the game even more. Plus, you will never actually figure out what the hell is going on, and the ending will shock you and baffle you at the same time. Good luck figuring out 1/10 of the storyline the first time through, as it's a little too wordy and complex to be picked up in one play through.
The graphics in the game are actually pretty good, as the game combines 3D backgrounds with 2D character sprites to create an unique graphical game. One of the most unique graphical aspects to the game is the fact that the graphics look the same whether you are in the battle or in just some regular scene. I felt this was fairly cool, and I think the graphical style of the game is perfect for this type of game. The game combines a perfect blend of refreshing character designs and unique backgrounds to become one of the greatest looking video games of all time.
Square Soft decided to use the water color look for Final Fantasy Tactics. Do not expect the game to look exactly like SaGa Frontier 2 or Legend of Mana, but there are many similaraties. The backgrounds, while not looking like water color or pastel, are still rather colorful and great. Character designs in the game are solid, and I like how the characters look different (portraits, etc) but same at the same time (taking the various job classes into consideration). The enemy designs in the game are great, as well, and I loved the magic spells in the game, as they looked very well animated.
One of the things that I tend to discuss a lot in the ''next generation'' video games when it comes to graphics is the camera system. At first, you may think that the camera system would mean absolutely nothing in a strategy game, only in a 3D adventure/side scroller type game. I thought the same thing until I actually played this game. The camera system matters a lot in this game, especially during the battles. The camera system matters a lot since the game uses 3D backgrounds. Your characters will tend to go behind a 3D background so you can't see them. Fortunately, it's rather easy to control the camera, so it's all good.
Overall, the graphics in the game are good, although I will go on record and say that the graphics are not perfect. The game uses the 2D and 3D combination very well, think of it as looking like SaGa Frontier 2, only with less pastel-like backgrounds (replaced with 3D buildings, etc.) and you have a good idea what the graphics in this game look like. I did like the graphics in the game, although I know they could have looked better. The magic spells look great, however. Everything about this game just looks well done, from the backgrounds to the world maps. Squaresoft did a very nice job with the graphics and I am impressed. The game actually looks better than Final Fantasy 7 in my opinion.
The Final Fantasy series has always been known to have outstanding music, moreso than any other series I can remember (although the Mega Man series does provide some tough competition in this area). Knowing that the music in most of the other Final Fantasy games (as well as most other Square Soft games) have featured great music, I expected the music in Final Fantasy Tactics to be incredible, as well. How could it not be with its impressive pedigree? I definitely expected great things from it. I've heard many good things. How did it fare?
Actually, the music in Final Fantasy Tactics was actually pretty good, almost as good as I expected. Square Soft certainly did not disappoint when it came to the music in the game. There are a lot of fans of the music featured in Final Fantasy Tactics (sic: EPoetker), and after hearing the music in the game I got an understanding of why everyone loves it so much. The music in this game is simply awesome. It is definitely one of my favorite five video game soundtracks of all time. I really enjoyed the soundtrack and would purchase it if i wasn't such a cheap guy. I liked the various battle themes best, but all of the music is top quality. The game does have about 489,901 different battle themes, and I downloaded them all. Hell, I'd go out and buy a soundtrack for this if I could find one. This is the type of music I expect from Square Soft.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the sound effects in the game. I am going to go on record and say that I enjoyed the sound effects in the game a lot. They are not as good as the top quality music, but that is to be expected. I thought a really cool cound effect was the sound that occurs when you killed an enemy or when one of your characters died. It was a scream that sounded great. One of the more interesting sound effects was the sound occuring when you changed the camera angle and the screen moved, it was a whirling type sound. It was certainly unique. I wouldn't say it was the most well done sound effect of all time, but it certainly was not very annoying, which is always a good sign. Once you start to get into annoying sound effects, the sound quality stuffers, and fortunately there's none of that in Final Fantasy Tactics.
Overall, the music and sound effects in the game are great, and to the top quality level I expected. I had heard a lot of hype about the soundtrack in the game, and after listening to all of it, it turned out to be some great music, and all of the people that say the music in the game is incredible are absolutely correct, and I think this is some of the best music ever featured in a video game. Sound effects in the game are fairly interesting, and I liked most of the sound effects in the game, especially the ''scream of death'' which will go down as one of the best sound effects of all time in my eyes. Plus, the various battle themes are just too cool to be ignored. Just wait until you hear the Desert Battle theme, you will get blown away!
Control in most strategy games is usually an interesting subject because, in my opinion, a strategy game has to have good control, no questions asked. Seeing as how the whole game gets fairly complicated when it comes to menus and battles, a good control system is an absolute must. Fortunately, the control in the game is pretty good, I liked how easy and uncomplicated it is. I really liked how easy and smooth battles went, as the control actually helped out the battles, not complicated them any more. I especially liked how you can control the camera system using the top buttons, it was simple and effective.
For those of you that have played any other strategy games out there, you have a basic understanding of Final Fantasy Tactics in terms of basic game play. The battle system in the game is just like any other strategy game (sic: Front Mission 3). You control your characters on a grid-like battlefield, and battles are turn-based. When it is your character's turn, you have two moves. You can do several different things during these turns, ranging from attacking to moving your character. Each character can only move once per turn, however, so you can not move in both of your moves. One of the things I liked about the battles in the game was simple. When you aim an attack at an enemy, it not only shows how much Hit Points the enemy has, but also the accuracy rate and predicted Hit Point loss. This was a great idea that helped me a lot, especially during tough battles.
Just like in a lot of other role playing/strategy games, you can purchase items and weapons from shops. To gain Gold Points, just win a battle. After completing a battle, a meter is shown on screen, and the number the meter stops at is is the amount of Gold Points you earned that battle. You also get random (or sometimes story-based, depending on the battle) items upon completing a battle. You use the Gold Points you earn to purchase items and weapons in shops, which can be found on the world map. The weapon shops could have been done a little bit better, as it's hard to determine exactly what weapon will be best for who, but it's still not a huge flaw. Moving on the world map is fairly simple and basic, just use the directional buttons to get from point to point.
One of the most talked about aspects, and one of my favorite parts, of the game is the job system. The job system is the best game play system in a role playing game ever, in my opinion, so I was glad to see that Square Soft implemented it into this game, because it made it so much more fun to play. The characters start off the game as a basic job class, but you can change the job class. This is cool because you can have a character learn abilities from one job class, and then the character can use the ability without being the certain job class. So, a chemist could use a double sworded attack if he learned the knight's ''double sword'' ability.
The game becomes so addicting because of the job system and abilities system. It is simply one of the deepest and most addictive gameplay systems out there. I spent many hours in battles just to learn different abilities and jobs. You can learn so many different things, it's scary, and leveling up everyone individually as well as getting JP to level up your abilities. During battles, you can perform a lot of different actions, and each time you perform an action (besides move) you gain JP and experience for your character and/or job class. Job classes rely solely on JP, while characters rely solely on experience. It's quite the fun thing to use an item and get 46 JP for it. Plus, once you learn the tricks of the trade, leveling up becomes less tedious and more fun. Trust me on that one. I loved the battle system so much, as well as the abiltiies and levelling up. I cannot say enough about how fun this game was.
The game does have one or two minor flaws, but it's not enough to take away too much from the game. The lack of a world map is a tad disheartening, as you simply move along from one space to the next, but it's not the worst thing ever. At least the game does have somewhat of a map, and you can visit different places, but it has a linear feel to it. Of course, the game is a strategy game, so it's supposed to be kind of linear. Damn, I can't even find anything really bad to say about the game. Hmmm.. well, the job system is great and all, but some of the jobs are kind of useless, and you'll only find yourself needing a few abilities. It's kind of pointless to learn all these abilities when you can only use a few, but that's life, I guess.
Overall, the control in the game is solid and makes the game easier to play, which is always a good thing. You will never be confused by the complex menu system, well once you get into the game, of course. And the camera is quite good and lends itself quite well to the game, especially considering you can control it. Once you learn to control your characters and wade through the menus, the controls become a cinch. And then you get to discover the immensely fun and deep gameplay system. The game itself is fun to play, and it uses the job system that I love so much. The job system made the game so much more fun to play, and I really had a fun time playing this game. The game became so addicting by the 5th or 6th hour. I was totally hooked.
You will want to replay the game a lot, mainly because the job system featured in the game is one of the most addictive game play systems I have ever played, and it made the game so much more fun to play. I cannot stress enough how fun this gameplay system was, and how much depth and variety it added to it. I spent hours upon hours in battles just leveling up a whole bunch of abilities. The game is perfect for level up and battle freaks like myself, but even those who are into story type games will do no wrong, due to the awesome and complex storyline Square featured in this game. There are a lot of secrets in the game, as well, which added to the replay value even more. I really did play this game a lot once I got into it, mainly because I wanted to build my characters up, as well as discovering all of the secrets.
To say that this is a challenging game may be an understatement. This is one of the most complex and challenging games I have ever played. It is challenging for two reasons. One, the complexity of the game, with the various menus and commands, increases the challenge. It takes some time to get used to, but once you get into it, you won't be so overwhelmed. It will take a lot of hours to get used to the game, though, and the tutorial featured in-game doesn't exactly help. The guy sounds like English is his second language, sort of like this review does. Second, the game itself is challenging, especially some of the bosses. I had an extreme amount of trouble with one of the later bosses, who is a human along with about four demons who kicked my ass so many times until I finally got lucky and pulled one out. So, this game is a challenge, especially those new to the strategy game genre. Proper planning is a must, as this is a thinking man's game for sure.
I have nothing more to really say. This is the most complete and fun strategy game I have ever played. Ignore my Front Mission 3 review, this is the strategy game to get. The job system is incredibly deep, and addictive. I have never been so addicted to a video game in my life. The game is great, and it is just as good as I thought it would be. Hell, it turned out much better than I thought it would. Of course, the game is not perfect. There are some minor flaws, like the lack of a true world map and some crummy sound effects. These flaws mean very little in the overall value of the game. Simply put, it is still a great game, with an outstanding soundtrack, killer graphics, and solid control. The game may seem complex at first, but give it some time and you will find a really solid game that lived up to all its potential and then some.
Squaresoft did it again, they went and made another classic game on me, the bastards.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/23/00, Updated 07/03/03
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