So, I’ve recently started playing through Final Fantasy Tactics – a game that I’ve only played through to the end just once, although I’ve played the beginning levels innumerable times.
I’d forgotten what a great game this is.
Oh sure, it’s hard as hell. The strategy aspect of this game is simply sublime, but it’ll kill you (and trap you in a 2-part battle sequence where your party is completely useless with no opportunity to back out, level up, or buy supplies) just for looking at it the wrong way. It’s not unusual for a single battle sequence to take the better part of an hour, if you’re not prepared (or if it’s just a hard one). Given how many chapters there are in the game (4, I think), and how many battles that involves (something like a half-dozen or more battles per chapter), you can see that you have to invest a lot of time in this game if you want to get anywhere.
The RPG standby of “leveling up” is required here as well, which means playing “random battles,” which are just as hard as the story-driven battles – sometimes even more so! And no matter how much you level up, it always seems as if the enemies are just as strong as you, so the battles are never as easy as they can be in some other RPGs. (Go back to the mines of Narshe in FFIII/VI before the world changes and see how easy the monsters are there. The same can basically be said for every other RPG ever made.)
And let’s not forget about the job system. Changing a character’s job to another class to get some of its valuable skills can render that character useless for a few battles – a fact which is infuriating the further along in the game you get. Suddenly your power-house Knight is a wimpy white mage who dies after 2 hits from a black chocobo. The element of “strategy” is taken to an extreme – and it takes some getting used to. In fact, I really have to be in the mood for strategy to even think of picking up this game.
Still, it’s a great game – which fantastic music, cute graphics, a great battle system, and a compelling (if horribly translated) story. I’ve just started Chapter 3 (after nearly a month of playing, mind you) and I’m having a lot of fun – although the 2nd to last battle of Chapter 2 nearly wiped me out; and the battle before that I had to replay 8 different times! For your reference, I had to change my characters’ job classes to suit that battle – it was a hard one; different from all the other battles leading up to it.
If you’ve never given FFT a try, I can only recommend it if you really like strategy or micro-management. Otherwise, you might get bored. People who play chess, Stratego, or other strategy-heavy games (like Tactics Ogre, the game which sort of inspired FFT), on the other hand, will probably fall in love with this game. So don’t blame me when you suddenly find it’s 3am and you’ve been playing Tactics since noon. (And you’ll still have only made it through just 1 chapter!)