A decade has passed since the initial release of Final Fantasy Tactics, yet the influence and spirit of the popular turn-based strategy RPG continues to live on in the hearts of fans. Square Enix, much like their followers, has not forgotten the title's impact. In fact, the company expanded the game's original setting of Ivalice through the classic Vagrant Story, and more recently with the Ivalice Alliance compilation. In accordance with this expansion, it was only natural for Square Enix to remake and re-release the game that started it all. Aptly dubbed Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, this remake not only serves as an updated version, but also celebrates a timely, well-deserved tenth year anniversary.
The remake will feature several changes and new additions to the game. Most notably, this includes an all new script translation that compensates for the relatively poor localization of the original. Although the original title was a magnificently ambitious project, the game was riddled with misspelled character names and ambiguous dialogue that made the plot a convoluted enigma. With all things considered, Final Fantasy Tactics was a game with massive amounts of text unlike anything before it or any of its contemporaries, so these issues are understandable. However, these localization issues will remain in the past as everything has now been rectified through the new translation's clearer tone and quality writing style a la Final Fantasy XII. Other translation changes include job names; here are some examples: Mediator is now Orator, Calculator is now Arithmetician, and Oracle is now Mystic. Class-specific spells and job abilities have also been renamed to better suit the more recent, uniform Final Fantasy naming scheme.
"What follows is a dark and ominous tale of political turmoil, class discrimination, religious heresy, war, chaos, and the personal struggles of all individuals involved."
Story content has also been expanded with the addition of fully voiced CG cut scenes that really help bring the game to life in an exciting and refreshing manner. Supplementary to this, new storylines and missions revolving around two new character cameos have also been added. These two characters are: Luso from the upcoming Final Fantasy Tactics A2: The Sealed Grimoire, and Balthier of Final Fantasy XII fame. Balthier fans will be happy to know that Gideon Emery, the voice actor for Balthier, will be reprising his role as the suave sky pirate. With new cameos appearing, fans of the older version of the game might be worrying about the exclusion of the original secret cameo. However, the worrying stops here as that particular character will not be removed.
Two new classes, Onion Knight and the formerly Gafgarion-exclusive Dark Knight, help mix things up with the original 20 swappable classes. The Onion Knight job is easy to obtain, but will be difficult to use initially. At first, it can only use physical attacks, and it will not accumulate job points for learning new abilities. Instead, new abilities are accrued and automatically learned as players master other jobs. The Dark Knight is tougher to get, but also comes with a skill similar to the "Darkside" ability that appears in most Final Fantasy games.
Another new addition is the ad hoc multiplayer battle feature which allows two players to either 1) fight one another in Melee Mode, or 2) play in cooperative battle missions in Rendezvous Mode. Other than that, the gameplay is pretty much the same classic strategy RPG stuff that fans would expect from Final Fantasy Tactics. The lag issues that plagued the Japanese version of the PSP remake have apparently been reported to be fixed for the American localization. Also, on another technical note, the game has been reformatted to suit the PSP's widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. This means that not only will the game look beautiful on the PSP, but will also have a stronger cinematic atmosphere that really shines when watching those CG cut scenes.
Final Fantasy Tactics is the legendary story of the world of Ivalice as chronicled by the historian Alazlam. Players take control of the main character, Ramza Beoulve, whose life during a time known as "The War of the Lions" is the primary focus of the game. The story picks up shortly after the end of the Fifty Year War with the death of a monarch and a blood feud over succession rights to the throne. What follows is a dark and ominous tale of political turmoil, class discrimination, religious heresy, war, chaos, and the personal struggles of all individuals involved.
The thing that really captures the tone and allure of the story is the masterful composition of Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata. The in-game music is nothing short of memorable, and it is without a doubt one of the most acclaimed gaming soundtracks out there today. The combination of outstandingly epic tunes, coupled with a revamped visual style and new storytelling elements could only mean good things for this remake.
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions will be arriving in North America by October 9, 2007. As for our European friends, they'll be able to purchase their copies as early as October 5.