FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: WAR OF THE LIONS / Square Enix / Sony PSP
 
 
Jesus Christ, I don't remember this game being this bullshit hard.

I played FFT about 10 years ago, and I don't remember much about it in general, since it's one of those Ivalice games with the tedious "political intrigue" plots that sprawl around too much and have flat, shitty characters that it's impossible to care about. I remember playing all the way through it, though, and I don't remember having any particular problem doing so. FFT for PSP, on the other hand, was consistently making me want to throw the PSP through a wall from about the third battle onward.

Let's start with what Square did right here. It's a very solid port that doesn't mess with the qualities that fans of the original love. The biggest positive change is the improved translation, which makes the plot a million times more coherent. There's slightly better graphics with a bit more detailed animation, and some cel-shaded cutscenes tossed in here and there. The original game's fabulous soundtrack also carries over well.

Little annoyances that could have been fixed were not, however. The biggest is the camera view in battle, which too frequently obscures important things regardless of which angle you choose. There's a small forest map early on where literally no matter which of the angles you pick, the devs put a bigass tree right in the center blocking your view. There's also the irritating system of random battles. Thanks to aforementioned bullshit difficulty, you'll likely find the need often to do some training (Grindan) of your army before taking on some ridiculous story battle that's in your road. Unlike, say, every single other SRPG in existence, however, FF Tactics doesn't give you a way to just train at will. Instead you have to walk over a "hotspot" on the world map repeatedly until you hit the 30% jackpot that gives you a random encounter.
 


Then there's the difficulty. You start the game with shit troops, and nobody can do anything without grindan up Job Points to buy the ability to do it. Want to use a Potion to heal a wounded soldier on the battlefield? Taken for granted in every other game, in FFT you have to change to the Chemist class and then Grindan up them Jerb Points to buy the ability to use each and every single type of healing item individually. You start out WIS NOSSING LEBOWSKI.

 It's a solid 5 or 6 battles before you can even think about earning the right to use Phoenix Downs; this is a particular problem at the outset because if a non-story-necessary character lies dead for 3 turns during battle without being revived, they are perma-dead. This is insanely rough for the first few hours when you only have a tiny ragtag band, and losing someone you just spent 10 battles building into decency could force you to just up and restart the game. Enemies also hit like trucks when they are at or near your level, usually only taking 2 to 3 hits to kill one of your troops who is at full HP. And the AI is programmed to run off and hide in corners when wounded severely or when the battle is almost over, often just long enough to cost you an extra turn or two and perma-kill one of your troops just before you win the battle.

And then there's enemy bullshit. They always move farther and faster than you. They nearly always outnumber you. They're always a level or two higher than the highest-level member of your party. And even with all this, they have loads of little special perks and abilities. The cougar things and the goblins almost always counterattack you with a hit equally as strong as the one you laid on them, turning melee attacking (which is the only thing you can do for a few battles at least) into a zero-sum game. They also whirl around and counter even when you hit them in the back. Delita and uh ... Arglebargle or whatever are your AI-controlled babysitters in the early battles, who were originally supposed to serve the function of basically bailing your ass out if you got overwhelmed while learning the ropes. Here, their AI seems terrible, however; they either seem to hide at the back of the screen and refuse to engage enemies at all, or charge crazily into their ranks at the outset and then get surrounded and killed.

Once you finally get the early enemies in hand by lucking into a few random battles where they don't vastly outnumber and overwhelm you ... the game hits you with a fresh wave of bullshit. It just keeps going like this. Barely scrap your way to competency ... run face-first into battle of even more garbage you can barely hope to compete with. I guess some players of a masochistic bent will enjoy this sort of thing but it was a tedious waste of time to me. Just boils down to more Grindan Forevar, basically.

I really wish I could remember more detail about the original FFT ... but I'm certain it was nowhere near this cheap. I suspect some sort of difficulty inflation to cater to longtime fans of the game who sunk 1 Billionty hours into the PS1 version already, so they don't feel like they're stomping right through it for the 1 Billionty and 1st Time when they buy it. I dunno. This port doesn't really offer any significant advantage over the original game except the new flowery translation ... but you lose the charm of the clumsy Woolsey lines of the original (BLAME YOURSELF OR GOD), and honestly the plot is pretty boring and convoluted like most SRPGS anyway. I'd take the original over this port, but that's just me.
 
 
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