Final Fantasy Tactics

Final Fantasy Tactics is the first ‘Tactical RPG’ by Squaresoft, and one of the first games of the genre. It takes players through the land of Ivalice as they dig through treachery and heresy within the church that runs the country.

Developer: Squaresoft
Publisher: Squaresoft
Release Date: January 28, 1998
Platforms: Playstation
JustRPG Score:
:+Appealing Characters.
+Great Story
-Late-game characters are too powerful
-No replayability
-Not everyone’s cup of tea


Final Fantasy Tactics Overview

Final Fantasy Tactics is a classic tactics style role playing game for the Sony Playstation 1. This tactics style game has become a legend in it’s own time and is now what all other tactics games are compared to. With many classes to choose from and endless ways to play the game Final Fantasy Tactics provides incredible quality in terms of gameplay for the time that it was released. For a fan of the tactics style game this is a must play but for someone that is unfamiliar with the genre it is still an exciting introduction.

Final Fantasy Tactics Screenshots

Final Fantasy Tactics Featured Video


Full Review

Final Fantasy Tactics Review

Final Fantasy Tactics always reminds me of well performed Shakespeare. You may not follow it all, you might not like every section, but at the end of the play, you know you’ve seen something timeless.

Graphically, Tactics is hardly impressive, but the game has all the visual power it needs for the rest of the game to come together. Tactics makes use of sprites not dissimilar from those of Chrono Trigger or Xenogears, and are surprisingly expressive for a human-based creature without a mouth… or nose. In fact, that may be worth mentioning; the characters have portraits when they have dialog, and no character, in the entire game, has a nose. It can be a little creepy when you don’t expect it. The fields these nose less oddities walk about on are, when you are more than an observer, fully rotatable. Which is good, because anytime you have control you’re in battle, and there is enough terrain to occasionally block your view from certain angles. The spell effects are a bit more impressive, holding their own with any of Tactics contemporaries, with one minor complaint. The summon spells, while very worthwhile in combat, simply don’t mesh with the rest of the game visually.

The sound is much more impressive. I thought the game suffered from a limited number of tracks, but those few were very nice. The problem is that, for a game where 100% of the time you have control, you’re in combat, there are perhaps 4 battle themes, discounting special battles, dependant on the weather or terrain as much as anything else. Conversely, I’ve sat for nearly an hour, more than once, just listening to the intro play. So, its not that I got sick of the tracks, its that I wanted more.

Gameplay wise, Tactics is a true Genre hybrid, in this case using equal Strategy (turn-based, not Real time) and RPG elements. In terms of strategy, all your units have ‘Move’ and ‘Jump’ stats, which determine how far they can advance on a foe. Most spells and moves have similar limitations. Both ‘random’ and ‘story’ battles have a variety of terrain, so knowing your own limitations, and observing those of the opponent, are key. Successfully completing an action, that is, anything but moving, defending, or changing equipment, yields both Experience and Job points. Experience is based on the level difference between the unit and the unit it acted on, and every 100 is a new level. Job points are used to ‘buy’ abilities. The points are given to whatever Job you currently are (say, a Knight or Wizard). A number of cumulative points give you a Job level increase, which makes you gain more Job points per action. Also, as you gain Job Levels, you unlock new (and often better) Jobs. There is a certain logic to these requisites (for example, you must be a level 2 Squire in order to be a Knight), although a few have truly odd requirements, to the point that I wonder if the designers just didn’t want you to be a Ninja. Until the later portions of the game, the Story battles (that is, those you have to complete to finish the game) are challenging without being truly hard. Although you can fall back on leveling out of problems, knowing how to assemble forces for the battle, which abilities to have them learn, and keeping up to date with equipment will eventually lead you to victory.

The Storyline is rather artful, and heavily reminiscent of Shakespeare. Although the hero is not far removed from the RPG poster boys, the “Funny haired young guys with a large sword and troubled past”, he has the distinction of family members besides a mother. The story begins with the abduction of the Princess Ovelia by Delita. The hero, Ramza, a mercenary assigned to protect her shortly before, is stunned by this, as Delita is an old friend, and had been presumed dead. The first chapter (of four) relates how the two left military school, up to the time of Delita’s assumed death. The second then picks up at the present, chronicling Ramza’s trip to locate the Princess, finally stumbling upon a plot to conquer the kingdom through use of Ancient, Legendary Demons. Now, these ancient Demons and the surrounding mythology was the only portion of the grand plot that was lost on me. These plot points were not developed as well as they needed to be, but since the story would be top notch were they completely omitted, and was truly interesting and rewarding to follow, this is forgivable.

Discounting the ‘Generics’ (that is, ‘expendable’ fighting units with no story whatsoever), the characters are similarly colorful. Although some get little screen time, they are all memorable and unique. Also, any character unit also has a unique Job that replaces Squire. Most of these Jobs are very worthwhile, and most people, by the end of the game, use characters exclusively rather than using generic characters.

At this time I will discuss the only truly negative aspect of the game, Localization (usually the translation and sense making from Japanese to American English, at least for American RPG players). Without going into too much detail, I’ve found spelling errors. One of the mission goals reads “Defeat Dycedarg’s Elder Brother”, and Dycedarg is the ELDEST of four siblings! Although not overly noticeable in the beginning, less pronounced errors creep in as the game progresses, almost as though the translation was rushed.

Just as the line “To be or not to be” captures the essence of Hamlet but fails to convey the depth of the character, so does a review of each piece of Final Fantasy Tactics fail to capture the whole. The fun of teaching a learning priest Holy, of flanking a vexing Legendary Demon, and watching each betrayal unfold into the greater plot is something that you have to experience for yourself before you understand them.

Final Grade: 92%


Final Fantasy Tactics Screenshots


Final Fantasy Tactics Videos


Guides / Links

Final Fantasy Tactics Guides / Links

Final Fantasy Tactics Wikipedia Entry