Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions - first impressions

It’s been a while since I wrote a game analysis, but the industry news are bit boring today, and I’ve been playing this game more than I play games averagely, so I figured I’d share my experience of this second run through what is arguably the hardest, or at least the most challenging, Final Fantasy ever.

Before I start gibbering on and on about how wonderful this game is, let me make something very clear. This is the only Final Fantasy, or possibly the only video game that never tires me. Regardless of how much you try to levelup, and regardless of how upgraded your equipment is, this game is always challenging.

Not to mention, that this is probably the most down-to-earth story ever to be brought into a Final Fantasy game. Sure there are magic spells, 3-story-building-jumping-Dragoon knights, Knights and Samurais all in the same package. But those characters do nothing but increase the complexity and variety that the game provides.

Thanks to the huge amount of jobs to choose from (although you have to “earn” them), that both you and enemies can become, the number of different battles you perform is practically endless.

Even though you will sometimes fight in the same fields from time to time, the different placement of the enemies alone is enough to make the battles a bit different. And if you don’t organize your troops carefully, you might even lose one of them. And I don’t mean lose as in “he’s dead and you can use a Phoenix Down afterwards”. When one of your characters dies, you have 3 turns to resurrect him or he/she is gone forever.

Considering that the only way to gain access to the later jobs is to advance with the first ones, having a few of your comrades die is not a very good option. You can think of this game as a game of chess. Every game (in this case, battle) is different, it’s always challenging. And depending on how well you move your units the battle will be incredibly easy, or incredibly difficult.

But those previous paragraphs say nothing new about the game. This game is almost 10 years old (in the US), so how does it stand the test of time? First of all, this remake doesn’t improve the graphics a lot. The textures on the 3D terrains are a bit better, the interface feels a bit better, but overall the team that did the PSP port didn’t make it too different from the original.

One thing that is different though is the entire translation. While the original had the characters, who live in a medieval world, talking like your next door neighbor, The War of the Lions does a great job of turning every single sentence into a more classic speech. Very similar to the one found in Final Fantasy 12.

In terms of gameplay, the biggest changes are the inclusion of a few new jobs, and the ability to zoom in and out in the battle fields, and tilt the camera up and down a bit. All of those features are welcome, and should satisfy both veterans and newcomers alike.

Where the game really shines though is in it’s story telling. The game revolves around a complex story about treachery and deceit, and what I found interesting is how similar the story is to some of the events we live through today. Underneath the complex strategy RPG is a very political critique at some of our society’s biggest problems. The game doesn’t rub those issues to you in your face, as if it were trying to teach you something, but if you’re keen enough, you’ll surely notice some of the resemblances.

Whether you want to replay it because of the re-written phrases, it’s the new content or the stylish videos, this game is worth it. And if you’ve never played this game before, this might be your best opportunity for years to try out this excellent title.

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