I game of great depth of story, character, and gameplay. A true classic and a gaming masterpiece.

User Rating: 9.6 | Final Fantasy Tactics (PSOne Books) PS
Final Fantasy Tactics is Squaresoft first departure from the main Final Fantasy series in some time. It came out on the heels of one of the best main series games, if not the best, Final Fantasy VII, which may have been part of the reason for so many fan oversights. Final Fantasy Tactics is a game that explores the tactical rpg genre (as small and uncommon as it is) and mixes in a highly advanced version of the common class system from other Final Fantasy games such as the original Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy III for NES, and Final Fantasy V.

The Story in Final Fantasy Tactics is the driving force for the enitre game. Each battle is story relatated and a number of events will occur before, during and after many battles. The first thing you find out about the story is that the narrator believes that something has been left out of history. Something he may have just discovered written proof for. This to me was a very cool concept to begin on. That there is a known history that has been put forth but is shaped by those that write it and those that have power over the writers, as it is common for many histories to vary based on victory and defeat, pride and vanity. Things are often looked over or exaggerated so that people will feel a certain way about things, and you are playing the game through looking into what really happened, the truth behind the curtain of polictics.

The story itself unfolds over the course of 4 seperate chapters. Each chapter has a minor time skip invovled, and generally the story evolves a great deal as you progress. Much like any RPG the true threat is not revealed until farther into the game, but the general story involving politics, war, love, hate, power, fear, and revenge is constant thoughout. You are placed in the world of Ivalice, a country at odds. The 50 Year War has just recently ended as the story begins and many of the common soldiers and common born knights have been left dismissed and forgotten by their kingdom. The King is soon to die and his three year old son is next in line for the throne. Everyone wants a piece of the power and most will stop at nothing to achieve it. You are Ramza Beoulve, son of the great 50 Year War hero Balbanes. You are the half-brother of his two eldest sons, and the full brother of Alma. You begin as a simple recruit going through the common training all young men recieve, along with you best friend and semi-servant (as his family lives on the land of, and serves yours) the common born Delita. You will soon be assigned the duty of helping to dismantle the Death Corps, a group of ex-soldiers and knights who want the respect and payment the king promised them. It is here you first find out the "differences" between high and common born. Where you get your first look at the game of power and betrayal being played by those in the position to benefit the most. From here the story only grows even more deep and twisted as you find out the true goals of all those involved and the true evil that will threaten the world.

As I said the story itself is told to you not only before and after battles, but also during them. Almost every location you visit will have some kind of battle and some will even have more than one. Most events will take place either as you arrive at your location, taking you straight into the event, as you try to leave your location, triggering as you try to move to the next one, or right before, during, and after battles. Every battle will have some plot related elements, even those that are almost entire monster related. Any fight with a specific named character will have dialog triggers that will happen when certain characters turns come up, further expanding the depths of the story as you play. Before most fights you will see a small intro scene putting the events into context and afterwards you often get a bit of exposition.

There are 64 battle you must fight in Final Fantasy Tactics and each will not only give you the afformentioned story elements but also plenty of diversity and challenge. There are also 16 other battles that can be undertaken as part of the side events of the game, however they also generally do a very good job of tying into the main story at some point, never drawing you too far. You can however also participate in random battle while passing over any green dot location, and 2 of these locations are actually only used for random battle and never for story purposes giving you at least some reason to get into a random battle or 2.

This leads us to gameplay. The true depth of the gameplay is too deep to easily describe without creating a review longer than you want to read or I want to type. However with 21 base classes (20 for males and 20 for females), 11 playable special and secret characters with their own unique job class, and 16 different monster types each with 3 different classes, you have more diversity than you will find in a paint store. And while battles can take a good amount of time, they are still very engaging as you try to avoid dangerous foes and pull off powerful attacks of your own. The battle, class and menu system can take some time to get used too, and even then it isn't for everyone. It isn't a quick and easy experience and you can't just get into a random battle or the next story event and be done in under a minute like in most rpgs, at least not until you get very powerful and unlock many of the later job classes.

Graphically the game isn't all it could have been, at least that is how some people see it. With all that is going on, the number of active units on the screen, the different attack, skill and spell animations, and the size and scale of the battle fields I am surprised the game looked as good as it did. I mean honestly FFVII did not fully utilize the graphics engine of the PlayStation, and honestly the sprite and graphical quality that is maintained throughout the course of the game without any slowdown or framerate issues is pretty amazing if you ask me.

The music is simply amazing. Each song fits well and the music does a great job of keeping to the moods and themes so well. However the sound effects could have used a bit more polish. While each action has a sound effect from the different weapon types having different sounds, to different spells having relevenant noises as well, heck even the movement makes noise based on the terrain, some of these just don't sound very good. Many of the noises characters make sound feminine even if the character is male and there are a few sound effects that are down right annoying, I would honestly give the sound a 9.5 if I could, but I can't.

This game has been one of my great passions for a long time now. I have enjoyed the story and gameplay like no other game, even the great FFVII and FFX don't hold a candle to FFT for me though. This is a game that has something for everyone, whether or not they play it long enough to find it. You can play it almost any way you want and differently each time. I have not played a game before or after that offered a story, battle system, or replay value anywhere close to Final Fantasy Tactics. A true gaming masterpiece.