Lead epic battles in a new FINAL FANTASY world. Betrayal and darker dealings await in Squaresoft's game of war. Fight hundreds of battles across dangerous 3D terrain as an ancient blood feud awakens a deadlier foe.
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It isn't suprising to me that Ivalice has established itself as a recurring universe in the FF canon, considering how rich and elaborated its inception was with Final Fantasy Tactics. A far cry from the high fantasy grandiose storylines familiar to the main series, FFT presents instead a self serious political crown succession conflict with a vast number of morally ambiguous characters clashing their ideologies and inner struggles with honor and duty on a shakespearean stage. While not to say that these ideas haven't been explored in previous FF titles, it's clear that director Matsuno has a particular interest for real life history events that make his storytelling more akin to Game of Thrones than to The Lord of the Rings.
So much so, that the FF iconography present in Tactics is for the most part just superficial acknowledgement of the franchise, with the obligatory presence of chocobos, familiar spell names and screen filling summons. The biggest FF contribution in Tactics is however the class system, which allows a plethora of options and strategies in creating a deeply personalized party that feels constructed and earned by the player, giving the game a level freedom comparable to something like Symphony of the Night. But like Symphony of the Night, Tactics freedom is simultaneously its biggest strength and biggest flaw.
Notorious for its lack of difficulty balance, it becomes extremely easy to accidentally build a team in Tactics that can decimate every late stage battle in a few turns. And while you could have the prior knowledge of how not to break the game, the infamous difficulty spikes permeated throughout FFT make it very hard to not do so. Getting save trapped in a sequence of battles with no opportunity to grind inbetween, just to find yourself against an opponent that can one hit kill you if you do not have a very specific set of abilities and stats, is hardly what I would consider fair. While I appreciate the unique challenge of FFT, I find that its chess like diorama battles felt more like fighting an AI calculating my stats and my exact moves instead of an equal battle of the minds.
Still, despite its shortcomings, FFT has maintained its status as a classic for good reasons. A representation of a time when Square owned the world and had free reign to experiment, Tactics remains a deeply engaging SRPG that also boasts one of the most compelling and well written storylines in the franchise, with Ramza and Delita's rivalry being a worthy take of the trope and the ambiguous ending successfully book ending the themes explored in the game. I reccommend going for the PSP port over the PS1 version, the overthought flowery dialogue is essencial to the Tactics aesthetic.
I'm usually not one to be entertained by the politics of an in-game world, but this is absolutely an exception. It was beyond compelling, the story had so many plot twists that I couldn't believe, and it was just all around immersive. It's difficult and tedious at times but well worth it.
A really well done strategy game. The pretty graphics really complement the incredibly deep battle system and heavy story. There are a large amount of classes but at the same time not enough where you are overwhelmed with options. A really well made game overall and a true shame SE never really made another on of this caliber.