Final Fantasy Tactics Impressions

Last Friday, when I picked up Freaks and Geeks, Pre-played also had a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics for a mere $30. $10 cheaper than MSRP was a good enough deal for me as I plucked the case off the shelf and proceeded to the register.

The next morning I closed to book on Gurumin, and began my adventures in the infant land of Ivalice.

History

Originally released on the Playstation in February 1998 in the US, gamers flocked to this game thanks to the Final Fantasy brand. Sales were pretty good thanks to Final Fantasy 7's release 5 months prior, but didn't sell as well. It sold a million copies, but eventually diminished off shelves and became fairly difficult to find.

I picked up my own copy the day it came out along with my pal, Justin. Working in the video games section of Toys R Us in those days, made it very easy to get my hands on any video game that was released. I just needed to set it aside when the shipment came in.. The same type of thing we did with Action Figures when uploading trucks.

I played the crap out of the game. I got all the secret characters, beat all the secret dungeons and levels.. I loved this game quite a bit.

Quality

What puts Final Fantasy Tactics on such a pedestal is its fairly simple and well-balanced gameplay. Few Strategy RPGs have been so much fun and challenging at the same time. Even its sequel, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance couldn't even live up to the original.

The musical score and art style are what really kept me in the game. The music is wonderfully orchestrated, and the character art is very old-world european. It feels like you're playing an instant classical masterpiece.

Difficulty

I sometimes wonder how so many people like this game when the first 3 or 4 battles beat the crap out of you. When I first played the game back in 1998, I took me several attempts to complete the 3 battle in the game. This is the battle in the town with the archers picking you off one by one. It's really interesting that the same problems I had starting off with the game in 1998, are the same problems I'm having today in 2007. Those goddamn archers..

So.. either Final Fantasy Tactics difficultly and challenge has stood the test of time, or my skill as a Strategy RPG gamer hasn't improved in 9 years. :shrugs: I played through Disgaea, Phantom Brave and La Pucelle without a problem, so I can't be too bad.. even though, those are level grinders.

Strategy

Those first couple of battles are annoying, but once you've gotten your feet wet and begin diving into the job system, you'll find yourself in heaven learning more skills and finding new strategic ways to implement them on the battle field.

Through playing the game previously, my best strategy consistently killing everyone on the battle field in two turns was having two Mathematicians with 1st turn and Holy. Everyone else on my team had that armor that would absorb the Holy spell, so my Mathematicians would cast the spell on the entire battle field one after the other.

Differences between Playstation 1 and PSP

Squaresoft added a couple new goodies to the PSP version. There are one or two new hidden characters along with all the original hidden characters. There are multiple player maps you can play with or against a friend. There are two new Job classes: Onion Knight, and Dark Knight. (and) There are some cutscenes mixed into the game and pivotal moments.

The cutscenes are quite beautiful and stick with the original art style beautifully.

Another change is a complete re-translation/localization of the entire game. Instead of goofy dialogue and an unintelligible story, you can actually follow along with the plot and figure out what's going on. The dialogue is in "ye old English" style, much like Final Fantasy XII, which continues consistency throughout Squaresoft's Ivalice properties.

Overall

Anyways, starting off Final Fantasy Tactics can be a little rough, but once you learn the Job and Skill trees, you'll have a lot of fun. I haven't gotten a chance to play any multiplayer, but I probably will in the next week or so. I'm still a little bit behind Tony, so I want to catch up. ^_^

If you're a fan of Final Fantasy or Strategy RPGs, definitely pick it up.. Though, $40 is kind of expensive for a 9 year old game.




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