A Complete and Compelling Adventure
I'm so glad I finally had a reason to go back to this game. The iOS platform has many great apps, but deep SRPG adventures it's surely lacking in. The price tag is pretty hefty as well, but at least with Square you know you're getting a high level of quality.
Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions (FFT) on iOS takes some getting used to, as the controls and camera can be finicky. The text is small, making it easy to click on the wrong menu selections, and you'll need to switch out camera options when wanting to change from moving the camera over the map to merely turning its perspective.
The gameplay also has a few archaic remnants that can be difficult to reconcile, most notably the inability to undo moves; once you move a unit, you're locked in to that move. It might seem a small gripe, but it makes plotting ranged actions more tedious, and the camera being what it is, you can often find yourself misaligned with targets.
In spite of these complaints, FFT is still utterly consuming. The job system is addictive, and this particular translation of the game offers – bar none – the very best story in the Final Fantasy franchise.
Though I absolutely adored FFT A2 for the Nintendo DS, the original game weaves a much more complex and dark tale, complete with realistic relationships between characters. Murder, deception, and folly are the order of the day, but the game doesn't overdo it with just a single emotional note. In my 30+ years of gaming, this might be the very best story I've experienced in a video game to date.
Visually, I think the game still looks fantastic, though the colors are a bit washed out. The sprite design is detailed and varied, and the polygonal battlefields often look like water-color paintings. Unfortunately, the game does experience slowdown during spell animations, but turning off the ally/enemy indicators helps alleviate some of that. Some sound effects – especially those that accompany the over-the-top summons – sound a bit out of date and are rough on the ears, but the soundtrack is phenomenal. Many themes are reminiscent of the older PSX Resident Evil games, while others have a lilt and lightness you can never grow old of. It's an incredibly well-rounded product, both in terms of presentation and gameplay. The cutscenes are simply gorgeous.
Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions comes to iOS less than perfect, but it's still an amazing adventure that has easily withstood the test of time. In the many years after its inception, nothing bests it in terms of story, and aside from a few out-of-date mechanics, the gameplay is still the best this genre has to offer. For the asking price, you cannot do better than this.