|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Square Enix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 9, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
May 23, 2007 - A long long time ago, there was a system that was changing the look of games. And that system was the PSone. A little ole game came along on this system, two years after its debut that really got people's attention, and that game was the ultra-famous Final Fantasy VII. However, that same year, an equally great and critically acclaimed Final Fantasy game was released, and that was the original Final Fantasy Tactics. Now, ten years later, the original Final Fantasy Tactics is getting a graphical update along with some special features and heading over to the PSP.
Now you may be wondering where the GBA and DS versions of Final Fantasy Tactics come into play, and the simple answer to that is that they don't. However, the complex answer is that they do. Sound complicated? Well, I'll try my hardest to lay it out as best I can. Originally, Final Fantasy Advance was designed as an offshoot of the original with a completely different set of characters and little to do with the title that inspired it. However, Final Fantasy Tactics A2, the sequel to the Game Boy Advance game which will arrive on the DS some time next year, sees a return to the series' roots while incorporating the same characters and situations from the original PSone game upon which the new PSP game is based. And the PSP game, which is basically a re-designed version of the original, will feature a new playable character from Final Fantasy A2. Yes, it's confusing. But the anti-linear nature of this emergent Final Fantasy series is pretty interesting.
Now that we've got the history part out of the way, let's talk about what you can expect from Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions. First of all, as stated above, it'll be getting a major graphical update. All of the cinema scenes have been re-done and many of the actions sequences as well. The look of the game has also been transformed into widescreen to fit the PSP's 16:9 screen.
In addition to the look of the game, Square-Enix has also added some new features that are sure to excite both fans of the original and Tactics newbies. First of all, there's the addition of two playable characters from other parts of the Final Fantasy universe. One will be Luso, from Final Fantasy Tactics A2, and the other will be Balthier from Final Fantasy XII. How these two new characters will fit into the port's vintage storyline is yet unknown, but hopefully it'll be interesting without compromising the classic feel of the game.
Another all-new feature of Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions will be the multiplayer mode. This mode will allow players to battle each other in mini-action sequences and test their strategizing skills. If you don't want to go into an all-out battle with your buddies, then there are also several mini stages that you can battle each other in. One example is a stage which tests who can execute the better special move using sequential and quantitative button mashing. All the multiplayer mode games will be played using ad-hoc local wireless. No online support for the multiplayer mode has been announced.
As far as the gameplay is concerned, however, that will remain largely the same. You'll still be utilizing your own strategy using a turn-based model of gameplay, and have to develop characters based on their inherent strengths and weaknesses. You will have more choices about what skills and jobs your characters have, but aside from that, it'll all look very familiar to fans of the original. Even though some might say that the style of the gameplay is outdated, and there are lots of ways to update it, it's my opinion that the style of gameplay is what made Final Fantasy Tactics such a cool idea to begin with. You mess with that, and it won't really be a Final Fantasy Tactics game anymore.
All in all, this title looks to be one for both old-school fans of the original Final Fantasy Tactics, and those who've been introduced to the series more recently on one of Nintendo's new handheld versions. Either way, this title looks like it will delight both sets of fans with it's unique blend of updated graphics and content, while maintaining it's vintage appeal and gameplay.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer