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Final Fantasy Tactics

Tactical RPG
Final Fantasy
  • 27 January, 1998
  • 20 June, 1997
A 181 total ratings
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Final Fantasy Tactics

A Final Fantasy Tactics review Author: Steve Ragnone Published: July 13, 2000
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Square knows a good thing when they see it. Take Tactics Ogre. They hired virtually all the staff from that game, had them produce a shockingly similar game, branded it Final Fantasy Tactics, and a legend was born. Or cloned, if you please. Resemblances aside, Final Fantasy Tactics is simply outstanding. The game used a version of Final Fantasy V's Job system, which had not been localized to the United States at the time, so for some, this was a little glimpse into Square's unreleased Final Fantasy.
Final Fantasy Tactics stands very well on its own, even without the legacy of Final Fantasy standing behind it. In a rather original twist, the game tells you flat out how the story will end. You are Ramza Beoulve, the youngest son in a well-respected noble family. Your best friend, Delita Hyral, comes from a lower-class family whose once-great honor has been tarnished. Delita eventually overthrows the corrupt government and reigns as king; Ramza is doomed to historical obscurity. Still, the game's convoluted story manages to keep some players interested, with many religious, political, and personal issues.
Most of the game is spent battling, as it should be. The various 'systems' take a while to get used to, though. The 3-D camera angles can never be perfect, even with various rotations and zooms accesible with the shoulder buttons. Also, the tutorial proffered by Professor Bordam Daravon has become the best example for a botched translation since Square's own "You spoony bard!" Once the controls are mastered, the player can become an unstoppable machine. Moving soldiers and rotating the views quickly becomes second nature.
Experience and Job points are obtained mainly through fights. Every successfully completed action garners a certain amount of EXP and JP. After the fight, JP can be spent buying abilities from the Job in which they were obtained. All abilities learned carry over to other classes, in the categories of Action, Reaction, Support, and Movement. After 100 Experience Points, a character goes up a level. This determines the base HP, MP, Speed, and attack scores. The enemies also gain experience as you do, though, so you won't often be able to blaze through a fight until late in the game, and still there are the occasional nigh-impossible skirmish. The challenge and fun factor for each individual fight remains intact to the very end of the game.
As previously stated, the game's Job system is based on that of Final Fantasy V, in which a character can assume various classes, such as the item-prescribing Chemist, the bare-handed martial arts master Monk, or the beast-calling Summoner. Once a character has obtained access to a Job (through gaining levels in previous jobs), they can equip abilities from that job, such as a Ninja's ability to use a sword in each hand, the Priest's curative White Magic, or a Knight's ability to wear heavy armor. Herein lies the real challenge of Final Fantasy Tactics: creating a perfectly balanced party to suit whatever situation you run into. Do you use a Knight with the White Magic ability, or a Priest with Equip Armor? Give your best sword to the weaker fighter to balance things out and hope he improves, or keep it with your strongest Knight against whom nobody stands a chance?
Technically, Final Fantasy Tactics doesn't break any records. The sprite-based characters and spell effects are fluid and vivid, seeming to meld perfectly on the polygon-based maps. Occasionally it looks a tad awkward when the camera is rotated, since there are only eight (sometimes even only four) directions a character can face. Additionally, the polygons can look a little pixellated and rough at times. The sound effects haven't changed much since the days of the SNES, but then again, they don't really need to be anything spectacular. The music of Tactics, on the other hand, is astonishing. Masaharu Iwata and Hitoshi Sakimoto truly bring the world and citizens of Ivalice to life. Sakimoto also went on to produce the soundtrack for Vagrant Story, which is equally splendid.
All in all, Final Fantasy Tactics is a great addition to any RPG player's collection. It's the ultimate fall-back title for when you've beaten one game, but still have time until you can buy a new one. With its own curious charm, like the oddly humorous translation in the tutorial and nose-less character designs, but still retaining the trademarks set by other games in the series (Chocobos and guys named Cid), Final Fantasy Tactics is worthy of the Final Fantasy legacy, while being an excellent game in its own right.
Editor's Grade
dotted line "Final Fantasy Tactics comes with its own curious charm but still retains the trademarks set by other games in the series. Final Fantasy Tactics is worthy of the Final Fantasy legacy, while being an excellent game in its own right."
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Vapid Buttmunch
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