Final Fantasy Tactics
, the ten-year-old classic that masterfully combined an engaging tactical system of gameplay with a riveting storyline and characters, will likely seek and find great comfort in Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
. This hand-held incarnation fully revisits every aspect of the tale told by its predecessor, ranging from the hardships induced upon House Beoulve by the Fifty Years' War to the legend of the Zodiac Braves, and contributes much to each in stunning fashion.
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
tells the story of Ramza Beoulve, youngest son of the aristocratic war hero Lord Barbaneth Beoulve, through the voice of Arazlam J. Durai, a scholar intent on unraveling the historical confusion behind Delita Heiral and his ascension to power. A number of breathtaking animated story sequences resembling hand-drawn sketches based on Akihiko Yoshida
's artwork have been included in the form of cut-away scenes in order to facilitate the presentation of important events taking place within the game. Each of these full-motion pieces is rendered via cel-shading and feature top-notch voice acting, an altogether new feature to the Final Fantasy Tactics series, drawing fans of the original even deeper into the familiar world of Ivalice. Once again, players must maneuver a motley crew of up to 24 highly-customizable members between areas through the use of an over-world map, triggering random fights as they progress.
All-new battles, some extra items, and improved visuals for special attacks and magical techniques are among the many enhancements provided by this updated version of the PlayStation masterpiece. A pair of additional character classes, Onion Knight and Dark Knight, has been added to the list of available jobs, thus satisfying even the most jaded of Final Fantasy Tacticians. The title, too, takes full advantage of the PlayStation Portable's display, depicting all its action in a truly widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio presentation. Two new playable characters, Balthier of Final Fantasy XII
and Luso of Final Fantasy Tactics A2: The Sealed Grimoire
, add a slightly new perspective to decade-old battles while serving as a figurative tip of the hat on behalf of Square Enix to its loyal consumers. Such inclusions are in the end, while aesthetically pleasing, little more than luxurious pamperings to an existing title with an overwhelming level of complexity and intelligence that is fully capable of standing on its own.
This title also presents another first to Final Fantasy Tactics
: multiplayer battle. Players can team up to take on computer-controlled opponents or engage in head-to-head combat via PSP Ad Hoc gameplay in two modes, Melee Battle and Rendezvous. In addition to this very refreshing feature, the game reveals previously-obscured aspects of the story, illustrated through new events that offer more thorough meaning to the tale and its characters. Most impressive of all, perhaps, is the inclusion of a new, improved North American localization featuring English translations far more accurate than those found in the original Final Fantasy Tactics
. These grammatical corrections effectively clarify pre-existing issues of confusion over location, character, and skill names that have been the source of intense headaches and Hot Pocket-fueled philosophical debates since 1997. The changes also contribute significantly to the game's mood, creating a unique air of classical, romantic thoughtfulness unlike those found in most titles of the genre. As a result, the script and dialogue read extremely well. Alas … gone are the days of poorly-written text and unintelligible pronunciations -- in this game, at least.
The aforementioned new features do a great job of dressing up a ten-year-old title, attracting even those typically discouraged by the slightly-dated graphics of previous-gen games. It is more than safe to say that aficionados of the classic and newbies alike will quickly find themselves completely immersed in the game's challenging battles, extremely detailed schema of customization, and triumphantly enchanting storyline. As a result, there is absolutely no good reason not to pick up Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions.