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PSP Video Game Review: FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: THE WAR OF THE LIONS

Words can’t describe how awesome this video game is! If you enjoy tactics-based RPG’s, “Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions” is a must have!

VIDEO GAME TITLE: FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: THE WAR OF THE LIONS (ファイナルファンタジータクティクス 獅子戦争)

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

COMPANY: SQUARE ENIX

RATED: T for Teen – Blood, Drug Reference, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes

INFO: 1 player, Memory Stick Duo 512KB, Wi-Fi Comaptible (Ad Hoc – 2 players)

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

One of the best known tactical RPG’s that was released on the original Sony PlayStation was released for the Sony PSP.

“Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions” is the latest of the new Ivalice Alliance Project that first started with “Final Fantasy XII” for the Sony PlayStation 2 (note: the actual latest from the project since the release of the PSP FFT is “Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings” for the Nintendo DS) which are games that take place in the world of Ivalice.

But before we get into all that, let’s do a little rundown of the history of the game.

“Final Fantasy Tactics” is a game that came out on the original Playstation back in 1998. The game was unlike previous “Final Fantasy” video games which were RPG but in this case, the game was strategy and only allowed movement on an isometric plane and your character could move up, down, left or right on tiles. Also, the video game was turn-based but what people loved about it was the fact that it was a game that featured a cool storyline, cool gameplay but also something very unique and different in the “Final Fantasy” series. And it also helped that the game included obtaining Cloud of “Final Fantasy VII”.

Throughout the series, you control Ramza and other fighters which can specialize in different jobs. From squires, they can become knights, archers, white or black mages and much more. And the game is not for the squeamish because for those who love grinding and building their character levels, FFT required strategy because as you advance in level, your enemies also advance in level. You end up spending time finding ways to level up your characters, learn new jobs and finding ways to beat the opponent which is not easy at all.

The storyline is about royalty, kidnapping of a princess and helping Ramza who comes from a power family go on the search for the kidnapped princess. Throughout the game you meet characters but at the same time you can enlist characters and build their levels and whatever job you select them to be, take them on battles and help grow their abilities by earning JP points which allows you to obtain certain abilities from a job. Also, by partnering with other people in your group, the other characters learn other jobs as well, so you can help different characters, learn other jobs.

So, the game was amazingly fun and addictive and it was no surprise that many people clamored for a new sequel to the game and five years after the first Final Fantasy Tactics game was released, came the spin off for the Game Boy Advance titled “Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced” which featured a simpler version of the popular tactics game. Then several years later, another Ivalice inspired game titled “Final Fantasy XII” which was an RPG game and not Tactics related was released.

In 2007, we have the release of “FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: THE WAR OF THE LIONS”, a remake of the popular PlayStation games which feature hand drawn animatics with voice acting, 16:9 widescreen and and jobs (Onion Knight from “Final Fantasy III” and Dark Knight which is now available to learn for all characters instead of one character as in the previous game). The game also includes “Final Fantasy XII” character Balthier and “Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift” (for the DS in Japan) character Luso.

I have been addicted to this game for the past few weeks since it’s release and I’m just enjoying the game. But would you?

If you enjoy games such as “Warcraft”, “Starcraft” and other PC turn based strategy games and also enjoy games such as “Advanced Wars” for the GBA or DS, you’re definitely going to get into this game.

Not only does it feature cool characters, a cool storyline and awesome jobs, the certain chapters that you have to take on is fun and addictive and very challening. No gameshark on this one people. Get prepared for hours of grinding and building your characters.

One thing that you will notice on message boards are discussions of deleveling. For those who are wondering about this, by deleveling gives people a chance to go down a level because if you are level 1-20, your chances of increasing your abilities increase and by using a powerful character that has deleveled to level 1, gives you an opportunity to bring other characters in your team to a higher level and increase abilities as well with their new jobs.

Personally, I have chosen not to delevel and just playing this game for the first time through it. I’m now beginning the fourth chapter and certain final levels for the early chapters have been interestingly challenging that I won by luck at times by one shot. But at some times frustrating that I win a level but I lose a character.

Yes, unlike other games which if you character dies, you can still use them. Not on “Final Fantasy Tactics”. Similar to a “Fire Emblem” game, once your character dies, they’re dead. Granted, you can take that hard earned money you win and create another character with a similar job and build them up but it’s not the same for me, so I end up playing the level again and again until everyone lives.

This is an update to my first glance and blog while playing the game.

After finally beating the game, I found “Final Fantasy Tactics” definitely one of the most enjoyable “Final Fantasy” video game experiences that I’ve had in a long time.

In the beginning, I felt that this game was a bit difficult but one I started to grind (a term for playing for hours and getting into random battles to level up a character) away by having characters get to dragoon/samurai/ninja level, beating the game became much easier. Also, once you get the secret characters and the extra characters in the game, the damage caused by someone like Cidolfus Orlandeau or Meliadoul Tengille is devastating.

I was getting like easy one hit kills and with Cid getting one hit kills, some three at a time. So, granted, I didn’t want to spoil my gaming experience by using him all the time, but spending the time to grind and build everyone’s levels.

Granted, I was grinding long hours to get my characters to learn several jobs and build their levels but the overall experience was enjoyable as you strategize on how to defeat the opponent and know that you prepared a battle well with the characters you selected.

Is there room for extra gameplay when completing the game? Yes, definitely. Because there is room to build a character to get more secret characters, to get other jobs and so forth.

But here’s the thing, I highly recommend saving two saves of your game when you are not on a major mission. Especially at the end. Because once you get to the final level, you can only save during that battle and can’t go back to the map. So, you want that one save at the map and then the other used as a primary save.

Speaking of saving…definitely save often. No one likes playing for hours and leveling up to find out you didn’t save when your characters die and have to restart over from an earlier save. Don’t make that mistake!

But all in all, this game was fun but what negatives do I have to say about it? Not much, nitpicky if anything. With the release of “Disgaea” on the PSP which comes with an extra segment, definitely will entice someone who has played the game before to play it again. With “Final Fantasy Tactics”, we get multiplayer, new cut scenes with voices and new jobs but those who have followed the story would like to have some closure with the character of Delita. (Something happens after the credits end that will either make you feel hatred for him or feel that the character was pretty much expected to do what he did).

But that is the main nitpick if any that I could find. I’ve always wanted to see a final battle between Ramza vs. Delita but it is not meant to be.

I really didn’t mind the graphics and was not expecting any revamp ten years later. As much as I have been spoiled by awesome graphics with next gen consoles, I prefer to take gameplay over graphics and that is where “Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions” delivers.

It’s not the easiest game for noobies but if you are an RTS or tactics fan, I definitely recommend this game! You’ll put a lot of hours into it but all in all, it was worth it!

Now for those wondering what strategies I used to beat the game without using deleveling or getting the Dark Night Job:

  • You want your characters to get to dragoon, samurai or ninja level. For Dragoon and Archer, DO NOT waste your time getting any level except the last one. Yes, grind away and have something powerful as a secondary power. For Ramza, I used Dragoon but mastered Samurai and had Samurai’s Idio powers as secondary. For another character, I had dancer as primary to get forbidden dance (and eventually all dances since it wasn’t so hard) and then while dragoon as a primary, used dancer to get extra JP during battles.
  • Learn Teleport! You will need to have a character learn Time Mage’s “Teleport”. This let’s you get around the map easily with no restrictions. Granted you could only teleport at certain distance close by but in battles indoor or in castles, works great! Works great if you are a samurai, ninja, chemist or white or black mage. I’ve used teleport for Ramza and used his samurai idio to cause damage. Also, a few knights to get in different areas for quick kills and chemists or white mages to heal people in my team who are farther away in the map.
  • Learn Dragonheart – Some like Shirahadori from the Samurai class but for your main characters, dragonheart (Dragoon) is great because the characters cast reraise. In other words, enemies kill your character, your character will come back to life. They won’t come back to full HP but by coming back to life, you can do that final hit or teleport somewhere else and heal yourself or have someone heal you. Works great on a character who can do multiple damage.
  • Grinding – Yes, you will want to get into random battles to get JP to increase your level for each job. To get certain jobs especially completing missions at the taverns, you’re going to need extra characters. You can buy extra generic characters and build them up. This works great especially in later levels because once your highest level character starts gets into a random battle, the enemies also are stronger. Thus I don’t use the main characters and use generics and build them up to learn teleport, chemist abilities for healing and then a powerful offensive move. Also, you will be grinding away for many hours in random battles.
  • Mustudio – He is very important because this machinist is integral in getting secret characters such as Final Fantasy XII’s Balthier, Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 Luso to name a few. So, when you get into a battle that is marked in red on the map, make sure Mustudio is there. In the end, I had Mustudio as a dragoon and secondary as a chemist (Item). So, make sure you don’t lost him in battle.
  • What to do with the money? – For all Final Fantasy games I have played, I have always bought potions and anything that can heal and have 99 (the maximum) of them in my posession. In Final Fantasy Tactics, your chemists will need these items. So, have a lot of X-Potions, Hi-Ether, Remedy and Phoenix Downs. As a chemist, you want to learn Phoenix Down and X-Potion first. As you win more battles successfully, you’re going to have more than enough money for armor. But if you are going to survive, you need a good defense as well as an offense and in order for that to happen, you want your characters alive. So, have all your characters become a chemist earlier on just enough to level up and learn those skills.
  • Save Often – I said it before and I’ll say it again, save often. Save after each battle on the map. Have two saves which you will need before heading to the final battle. One save created on the map and one before you go into battle.

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