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Final Fantasy Tactics

aka: FFT, Final Fantasy Tactics: Shishi Sensō, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
Moby ID: 4522
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Description official descriptions

Final Fantasy Tactics was a big move for the whole Final Fantasy franchise into different fields. Tactics combines traditional elements of the Final Fantasy series with a completely different game mechanics and battle system. It was the 1st game during the Final Fantasy 32-bit era using a 3D, isometric, rotatable playing field, with bitmap sprite characters and a turn based strategy system.

In the game you build up a team by recruiting many available characters you meet during your travels and stocking up plenty of items, to defeat various enemies waiting on your path. The game features a very complex character class(job) system where each character begins his way with a job such as Squire or Chemist. Successfully participating in battles, characters can later select one of more advanced jobs, with a total of 19 to choose from. In addition there are certain monsters and computer controlled "guests" with their own jobs and special abilities available to learn. In total, over 400 abilities are available which leads to nearly endless combinations.

The PSP version of the game mostly reiterates the original for the PSOne. Visual presentation is almost a 1:1 copy, looking like the old version with a zoomed-in camera to make it fit the PSP screen. Port developer Tose added cel-shaded introduction movies and numerous animation sequences played after each chapter ends. Some maps were completely remade as well, but you still cannot skip event scenes.

Also the PSP version features two new playable characters: Balthier, from Final Fantasy XII and Luso from Final Fantasy Tactics A2. Two new job classes have been added - the completely new Onion Knight and the Dark Knight class which was available on the PSOne only after using a cheat code. There are two wireless multiplayer options available once you've reached the world map (just go into a bar in any town). One is Coliseum (Versus Battle Mode), the second is Cooperative Challenge (team mission).

Spellings

  • ファイナルファンタジータクティクス 獅子戦争 - Japanese PSP spelling

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Credits (PlayStation version)

100 People (95 developers, 5 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 87% (based on 65 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 118 ratings with 5 reviews)

A rich, highly replayable game that shows what difference a good story can make

The Good
Final Fantasy Tactics came out 12 years ago and I've been playing it off and on for 11 of those years. I never reviewed it before now, mostly because I didn't find it necessary, but after coming back to the game for the first time in several years I was struck by what an exceptional game it was--and is.

To start with, the basics: FFT is a 3D tile-based strategy RPG. You act out most of the storyline through a series of skirmishes in towns, wildernesses, fortresses, etc. (as opposed to large-scale pitched battles on a battlefield) You control 1-5 characters in each battle, and are occasionally aided by CPU "guest" characters. You win the battles by wiping out the enemy characters or by defeating their commander, if there is one. There are other, non-battle scenes interspersed, but their significance is purely cinematic; you don't have any control over them other than rare, inconsequential dialogue choices.

Outside the battles, you maintain a small troop of soldiers. You start the game with Ramza (the main character), Delita (a CPU character who joins you in most battles), plus 4 squires and 2 chemists. Other members join you as the game progresses, or can be hired at most towns and cities. All of the characters--except monsters, which you can also get to join you--have changeable job classes which open up different abilities. Characters can mix and match abilities they've learned from current and previous jobs, so you can have a knight with healing spells, a thieving wizard who wields a gun, and all manner of fun combinations. New jobs become available based on experience: a level 2 squire can become a knight or archer, a level 2 archer can become a thief, and so on. Some characters have exclusive classes available only to them; Mustadio (engineer) and Beowulf (temple knight) are examples of this.

One of my favorite things about FFT is the class system. Unlike other games of its era that sported similar mechanics (cf. Final Fantasy V) the jobs in FFT are, for the most part, excellently balanced. There are no useless or underpowered jobs. Even ones that seem fundamentally less powerful at first glance (oracle comes to mind) either become much more powerful when developed or at least have 1 or 2 abilities that can set any character a cut above if used properly. Most of the classes that are fundamentally more powerful (like ninja and... um... ninja) take lots of time and effort to train. There's only one "broken" character (Orlandu), and even he's not invincible.

The game mechanics are generally well thought out all around. Unlike some strategy games, battles in FFT are often decided as much (if not more) by actual strategy as they are by which side has the most powerful arsenal. A cautious player can take 5 people into battle against 8 enemies who are several levels higher and win. A player who spends all his/her job points on fighting skills and charges head-on into every battle will have difficulty.

Then there are the side-quests. While FFT's mechanics limit its ability to have a wide variety of mini-games, it is by no means lacking. Players can accept propositions posted in bars and send their characters off to find treasure, unexplored land, or just to earn money. There are a few optional side quests as well, one of which even allows you to recruit a character from a different Final Fantasy game.

But what really sets FFT apart--and this is the element that continues to amaze me, even after replaying it so many times--is the story.

I've noticed that another review on this site compares FFT to Shakespeare's "MacBeth." This does not do it justice, even by half. FFT's story is so richly layered, so well thought out and so human as to put it on par with some of the most celebrated epics in the literary canon.

Of course, that description applies to MacBeth as well (my favorite Shakespeare play). But MacBeth is the story of one high-born man's (or possibly one high-born woman's) reckless ambition. FFT is about the reckless ambition of an entire decadent society in which the nobles backstab one another for political gain, alternately calling the meager masses to fight for their causes and leaving them to starve. We see disillusioned knights put their faith in God only to find themselves in the employ of power-hungry clergymen; we see peasants revolt only to end up killing each other out of blind fear; families are split, heirs are disinherited, innocents are sacrificed to make a quick profit.

We see all this through the eyes of Ramza, the third son of a high-ranking knight (and his acknowledged bastard, I think but I'm not sure--see next section about translation) who abandons knighthood and the care of his elder brothers when he becomes fed up with the way they let (and sometimes make) their own people suffer. Most of the people he meets are, or will become his enemies--but few of them are genuinely evil. They're just human; faulty and misguided, sometimes even by idealism.

Writing of this quality is hard to find in a video game. I'd go so far as to say there was never anything comparable to FFT's story before it came along, nor has there been anything comparable since.

This game really shows what a difference good writing can make. Without it, it was just be fun. The story is what makes it truly memorable.

The Bad
I'm not entirely sure that Squaresoft--in Japan or in America--knew what it had in Final Fantasy Tactics. Brilliant as the game is, it is by no means without flaws, most of them probably due to a smaller budget and limited play-testing.

First and most noticeably, the English translation of FFT is really awful, especially for a game that was released this widely (and, I'm told, has subsequently been rereleased for PSP). By awful I mean that characters' names and names of abilities change. Parts of speech are not always what they should be. Details of relationships are unclear; I'm still not sure whether Ramza is his father's legitimate son or a castle-raised bastard. There are scenes where every line seems to have been translated by a different translator who didn't know what any of the others were writing. In one scene, a character is about to invoke the powers of a magical gem and another character screams "Don't open that!" This is neither the only example nor the most dramatic.

FFT's other big problem is one that many games share, though not necessarily to this degree. Too much of the game is crammed in close to the end. FFT is divided into 4 chapters. Chapter 1 is more of a prologue than part of the main story. No exclusive jobs are available, nor are any side quests or mini-games. Chapter 2 sees the addition of a few side jobs, with a couple special characters coming in at the end, and chapter 3 isn't much different from chapter 2.

Almost all of the special characters with awesome exclusive classes become available in chapter 4, as do all of the playable side quests (unlike the "propositions" of earlier chapters, which you can accept and will get you extra money and experience but in which you don't really do anything). The problem with this is that by chapter 4 you've spent more than half the game developing your bullpen of soldiers--and because you can only have a certain number, it's either kiss a bunch of them (and the effort you put into training them) goodbye or refuse to recruit the only characters who can use some of the funnest abilities in the game. There's a happy medium somewhere, but it could have been better planned. The side-quests particularly could easily have been stretched over 2 or 3 chapters.

Orlandu, a character who comes your way early in chapter 4, is, as I said, way too powerful. Not only does he come complete with a series of super-powerful abilities, he starts with some of the most powerful equipment in the game. Not sure what the developers were thinking here.

And finally one nit-pick about the propositions: while collecting unique treasures and finding unexplored land is cool, and it's fun to read about what you've found in the "Brave Story" section of the menu, the treasures do nothing, you can't actually visit the land, and the reward for collecting all of them is, likewise, nothing.

The Bottom Line
This game is practically a requirement for anyone who wants more from their video games. In an era when gamers were crying out for more of the same, Final Fantasy Tactics delivered a unique storyline, solid gameplay mechanics, great scenery (despite it being inhabited by characters who look not unlike Lego men) and infinite replayability.

If it's not the best Final Fantasy game, of its time or otherwise, then it's certainly the most-under-appreciated, even despite its enduring cult following.

PlayStation · by M. Shaw (4) · 2009

Not perfect, but certainly a very fun game to play

The Good
Squaresoft is usually criticized for making their recent games very flashy, filled with fancy graphics and big movies, but lacking in gameplay. Tactics is a step away from that direction, with real solid gameplay and hours of fun, without the flash. Square has also succeeded in combining two genres -- roleplaying and strategy -- with good results. Getting into random battles and levelling up are important aspects of the game, but at the same time shear strength won't let you win all your battles; you need to really strategize and think about every move. I like that.

In a way, Tactics is like chess. And because of that, there are an infinite number of ways a battle can be fought. There is no secret or trick to beating any of the fights -- each time you battle, things are different. This makes replay value very high. It also breaks up the monotony of random battles. Each player, through their job, acts differently -- just like chess pieces. Some stand still and shoot at faraway targets, while others run around hacking with their swords or healing their comrades with magic. Using the job system to customize characters is quite rewarding, and gives you different people with different skills and abilities. It adds great depth to the game and, once again, ensures that no two battles are alike.

The graphics are quite aesthetically pleasing. You can visit grand castles, dense forests, dark caves, and other areas in full 3D. The terrain also affects battles, so fighting in a swamp presents different challenges than fighting in a village. This adds great depth to the game.

So, to sum everything up, I like the shear depth of the game, the innovation, and the high level of "fun-ness." Tactics is just a game that I keep going back to play, even when it beats me to the ground. It's fun. Really fun.

The Bad
Well, firstly, the graphics and sound in Tactics are pretty simple, almost a bit retro. I got used to them quickly, but they aren't exactly on par with other Final Fantasy titles, or many other PSX games for that matter. Don't expect many FMVs or orchestrated music tracks, because they don't exist. Even with the simple media, though, load times are occasionally long, which can get annoying.

The storyline is filled with as many cliches as possible, and can be quite confusing at times. Playing the game over again clears up the plot a bit, but it's still very cliche, and unoriginal. Dialogue sequences appear right in the middle of battles sometimes, and drudging through them can be rather boring if it's the fifth time you're fighting a particular battle, so you've read the dialogue four times already, and you don't feel like reading through it yet again. Which brings me to another point -- difficulty. Tactics is very difficult, oftentimes needlessly so. Beating a battle on your first try is pretty rare, and once I've been killed by Gafgarion or Wiegraf or some other shmuck eight times already, I really don't feel like going at him again. It certainly gets annoying. The difficulty level is enhanced by the fact that you're usually very outnumbered in every battle you face. It's often "four of you versus six of them" or "five of you versus nine of them." With the turn-based battles, this means that the enemy gets many more turns than you, and can crush you like a fly with shear numbers.

The job system is a good idea, but navigating through it can be difficult, confusing, and annoying. It's very hard to make a character with a broad array of abilities, because they can only use two job skills at a time, and have a very limited number of other slots to use the abilities they learned from their jobs. There is also a slight lack of balance. Magic users are useful, but are very easy to kill, so they often fall in battle before they become useful. The slow speed at which spells are cast also greatly hampers their use, and makes them even more prone to serious injury or death. I often find myself only putting knights and archers and such into battle, because other classes die so easily it's just not worth it.

To sum things up, there aren't really any major gameplay flaws, just lots of little things that really get annoying, and often frustrate me.

The Bottom Line
Hmmm, my 'con' review is longer than my 'pro' review. Don't let that fool you, though. I love Final Fantasy Tactics. It can be annoying and frustrating, but for some reason I always go back to it, to play it again. In some ways the difficulty actually enhances the gameplay, making me really want to beat that unbeatable battle.

Here's a three-word description: "frustrating but fun." If you can't handle frustration, don't go for Tactics. If you can handle being annoyed and frustrated to no end, you might be a candidate to play one of the coolest games ever made.

Final Fantasy Tactics is part of the 'Playstation Greatest Hits' collection, and with good cause. It combines innovative strategic gameplay with solid roleplaying goodness, providing countless hours of fun. That's the key word here: 'fun'. I often find myself wondering why I enjoy it, why I payed 25 hard-earned dollars for it. After all, my negative review really is longer than the positive review (above). Then I sit down, turn my Playstation on, and all doubt is erased from my mind.

PlayStation · by Alkhanzel (3) · 2001

Impressive Strategy-Rpg Hybrid

The Good
Well-thought battle system and nuanced characters personality. The game's job system allows for a wide array of characters' advancement options which are mostly cool and fun to play. Fascinating plot that slowly unravels through many twists. Nicely drawn Super-Deformed graphics.

The Bad
Long, tedious, sometimes stilted and badly translated dialogue that really drag down the atmosphere and very interesting plot. Cryptic characters' "levelling" system and skills selection make for a steep learning curve, some of the skills are crap and some classes feel overpowered. The battles can sometime last very long and be very difficult, this leads to repeating key battles and backtracking a lot. Repetitive music score.

The Bottom Line
Addictive Strategy-Rpg Hybrid, hard to master but even harder to put down.

PlayStation · by Paolo Cumin (11) · 2005

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Final Fantasy Tactics appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Characters

None of the characters in the game have noses. Not even the main characters or the guest appearance from Cloud.

References

Cloud Strife and Aeris Gainsborough from Final Fantasy VII make cameos in Final Fantasy Tactics. Cloud is a playable character; Aeris is a flowerseller in Zarghidas Trade City.

Re-release

The game was re-released as part of the Playstation "Greatest Hits" collection. Unfortunately, the first batch of CDs for the re-release were defective and would not work on the Playstation. Oddly enough, they worked fine on Playstation emulators for the PC, such as Bleem or Virtual Game Station.

Save games

The game counter for number of hours played on a saved game does not display above 99:59:59 (1 second away from 100 hours).

Spells

For some unknown reason, perhaps an error in translation, the Glacier Gun shoots Fire spells while the Blaze Gun shoots Ice spells.

Tactics Ogre (Spoiler!)

This game actually bears striking similarities to Tactics Ogre, another tactical RPG that was released for the Super Famicom (the Japanese equivalent of the Super Nintendo) two years before Final Fantasy Tactics was made. This is not surprising, as many members of the Tactics Ogre staff were also programmers of Final Fantasy Tactics.

Both games have a similar menu layout, consist of four chapters, and feature "Zodiac Stones" as a prominent part of their storyline. There's also quite a bit of similarity between the game's main characters, as Ramza, Delita, and Alma are more or less mirrored in personality and role as their Tactics Ogre counterparts. To top it off, in both games the final battle features the resurrection of a long-dead legendary hero (often mentioned in the course of the game) who turns out to actually be a demonic jerk.

Awards

  • Game Informer
    • August 2001 (Issue #100) - #45 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll
  • GameSpy
    • 2007 – #2 Handheld Game of the Year
    • 2007 – PSP Game of the Year
    • 2007 – PSP Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2007 – PSP Turn-Based Strategy Game of the Year

Information also contributed by Alan Chan, atadota and WildKard

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  • FF-Fan
    A fansite that offers all kinds of information on the entire Final Fantasy franchise, including walkthroughs, game media, discussion boards and fan art.
  • Final Fantasy Hacktics
    A modding community for the game, providing downloads of patches, tools and other resources (English)
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  • Wikipedia: Final Fantasy Tactics
    Information about Final Fantasy Tactics at Wikipedia

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 4522
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Kartanym.

iPad, PS Vita added by Fred VT. PlayStation 3 added by Charly2.0. Android added by GTramp. iPhone added by CrankyStorming. PSP added by Stratege.

Additional contributors: PCGamer77, Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Shoddyan, SAGA_, DreinIX, —-, Trypticon, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added July 15, 2001. Last modified March 19, 2024.