Review by ImperialSchwann
"An ancient and epic tale that is definitely worth playing"
Love, friendship, and war. There is nothing more classic than these 3 elements inside a typical medieval war film or game. Square Enix became very famous after releasing the Final Fantasy series, each game successful in each own ways. This time, Square Enix decided to port their most unique and classic creation into the best portable system yet. That majestic creation is no other than the excellent Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. It is a game that will transport you to a world full of monsters, magic, and swords, a game that will deeply move you in many love and sad scenes, and most importantly, a game that will keep you playing for many hours.
For a PSX game that has been ported to the PSP, FFT:WOTL boast an incredible view of its world, otherwise known as the world of Ivalice. Stunning and beautiful, the dungeons, plains, grasslands, and other various places of this game are truly magnificent for such an old game. Monsters are unique looking while the equipments are designed with such skill. Unlike the previous version in the PSX, FFT:WOTL now contains cutscenes that are not cel shaded, but rather hand drawn ones. This is a major improvement for the graphics since the new styled cutscenes blend in much more perfectly in the game. The battle animations, such as the spell effects, are really good while the sprite and character designs are remarkable. Players that are new to the series, such as I myself, might feel a little bit uncomfortable with the game's visuals, but as soon as the game sucks you in, there will be no more complaining about the pictures.
As soon as the intro plays out, I'm already speechless. I already have this feeling that the game will turn out to be something like The Lord of the Rings. Almost every moment and every scene will drag you in the game as if you're part of the story. The plot itself is very unique in its own ways. You play as Ramza Beoulve, the youngest heir of the royal Beoulve family. As your father, the oldest and noblest figure in the Beoulve family, is about to pass away from a disease, he reminded Ramza and his brethren to always remind people of the family's legacy. As the land of Ivalice began to grow into turmoil, the royal empire's power began to weaken. Coup d'états, rebellions, and catastrophes started to spread like wildfire across the land. Worse, the empire's counselors have reported sightings of demons in Ivalice. There was only one solution to end this chaos. In the old times, legends spoke of 12 hidden zodiac crystals, each resembling a different zodiac symbol, which can change the land of Ivalice forever. If it is cared under the hands of the good, Ivalice will have its peace and tranquility restored. If it falls onto the hands of evil, Ivalice will be doomed forever. As the protagonist and hero of the story, Ramza must acquire all these crystals while saving the world of Ivalice at the same time. Along the journey, Ramza will meet various people that will join him and aid his quest. All the characters in this game are unique and nice in their own ways. To tell you the truth, this is the first Japanese game I ever played who doesn't even have a single, annoying, character in the game. To me, that's a big plus for the story. Right from the beginning, I knew that this game will be the new definition of epic, but it turns out that FFT:WOTL is more than just a typical medieval tale. Friendship and battles commonly occur throughout the story, but I have never suspected romance to take place within the game. Usually I don't like this kind of stuff, but as the game progresses, I began to feel that Square Enix has just made the right choice of putting romantic moments inside the game's script. I have to admit, FFT:WOTL has the best story of any game I played so far. If the gameplay doesn't suit you, I'm pretty sure that the story alone will convince you to continue playing.
Being a Strategy Role Playing Game (SRPG), I have expected no less from such a game. With a solid combat system, many jobs to choose from, and the right difficulty, FFT:WOTL is completely perfect in terms of gameplay. One of the best things about this game is that they were one of the original users of the Job Class system. This system enables you to switch jobs for your character, each job specializing different things from the other. This is essential if you want the best performance in combat. In order to unlock all the job's abilities, players need to earn Job Points (JP) by defeating enemies. These JPs can then be spend to unlock a job's abilities. This system is one thing every other SRPG desperately need. FFT WOTL also uses the experience system for leveling up the characters. There are so many jobs in this game that you'll be hooked by it for a really long time. When you're not battling, you are placed in an overview atlas of the land of Ivalice, or the World Map. From here, you can move to various dungeons, towns, and places of interests. Every area has their name under the area symbol, and a good thing about the game is that the map is really big, so you might expect a really long time playing this game in order to explore the whole Ivalice. You can't actually roam freely around the town, much to my dismay, since you use texts to control your actions in the town. Buying equipments, recruiting warriors, seeking missions, playing with friends, and hearing rumors; all of these can be done inside towns. The battles are also really nice. Before you enter the battlefield, you are given the option to pick which warriors will be sent out to battle and where to place them. To make the game even more challenging and fun, you'll almost always be outnumbered in every battle in the game. I actually find the first few battles of this game to be the hardest, since you're still lacking of good equipments. It might be hard at first for players new to the genre, but I find the game fun because of it challenge. To wrap it all up, the gameplay deserves a perfect score for the solid Job Class system alone.
The soundtrack collection of FFT:WOTL is just amazing. Battle music, peaceful choirs, and romantic themes, this game has it all. Not all are memorable to me, but they are all still truly original and nice. Personally, I really liked the opening theme of this game. Even if the pieces in this game don't sound Final Fantasy to me, they still perfectly blend in with the game. FFT:WOTL has something in terms of sounds that makes it a really special game. What could it be? It is no other than the voice acting. True, the scene dialogues do not contain any voice acting, but what I'm really pointing at is the cutscenes voice acting. Just seeing and hearing the first cutscene in the game already made me decide that FFT:WOTL has one of the best dubbing I ever heard. Does this mean that FFT:WOTL is perfect on terms of sounds? Sadly, no. The only thing that keeps the sounds from getting a perfect score is that everyone's (I'm talking about females, males, humans, demons, and monsters alike) cry when they have fallen in battle sounds the same! It may sound hilarious at first, but as you play longer, you'll eventually be annoyed hearing the same voice over and over. All in all, the sounds really blend in with the game.
After all the games Square Enix has created, this is by far the most successful masterpiece in their collection. Fun, epic, and even sad at the same time, FFT:WOTL has been qualified in my book as being one of the best SRPGs, or even RPGs ever to be created. Truly a perfect game, this masterpiece has successfully revived a system lacking of good RPGS. With a solid gameplay and a powerful story, you should consider picking this up if you're up for a challenge and an entertaining time.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/09/08
Game Release: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (US, 10/09/07)
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