Final Fantasy Tactics
by Fishface

The most over-rated game of all time. There I said it. I'm so tired of Final Fantasy Fan boys (and girls) circle-jerking off to this pile of crap. I've been lurking the lolgamefaqs message boards the past few weeks looking for a decent SRPG I have yet to play and everyone considers this to be the Holy Grail of the turn based console strategy game. Don't get me wrong, I grew up on Square games, played and completed every single Final Fantasy with the exception of the latest iteration that is XIII. I loved V with the intricate job system and even had a several year long addiction to XI. In addition to growing up on FF games, I also found myself in love with Sega's Shining Force series and as a little boy, could only dream of a Final Fantasy version of it. Well in 1998 my wish came true. What more could I have asked for? A strategy game filled with all my favorite job classes, references and Easter eggs for old school FF fans. After school I would run home and fire up my Playstation and burn countless hours grinding up my troops and unlocking the hidden jobs. Now, many years later, I look back and ask the question: Why? Was the game really that great or was my hard-on for FF and square cutting off the blood flow to my head?

For those of you who aren't familiar with Final Fantasy Tactics I'll break down the game play for you: There are 2 different maps in this game. First there is the world map which consists of a bunch of dots to represent towns, battlefields and dungeons connected by a line. You cannot deviate from this line, or explore new areas that haven't appeared on the map or progress farther on the world map than your current position in the story. Gone is the open world map of Shining Force 2, where you could wander the countryside looking for hidden allies and items. Towns are accessed from the world map, and I use the term town loosely. When you enter a "Town" there is a simple menu for shopping and going to the tavern to "talk" to NPCs. And by talk I mean you have no real interaction with anyone other than selecting the "Hear Rumors" option from the menu. Eventually you can send some of your troops on "Missions" that you don't actually have anything to do with other than selecting who goes on it. Yup, that's right, the missions are completed automatically after a certain amount of game days pass. Deep stuff huh.

The second type of map in the game is the battle map. This is where all the action takes place. The map is grid of varying size and terrain. They are for the most part designed very well. The enemies are placed around the map and you deploy your troops. Now for some reason you can have up to 30 or so troops in your command, yet for battles you can only deploy 5, including the mandatory hero. F-I-V-E people, that's all. Well, actually its four people since you have to bring in the hero. And some battles have guest characters, so for those you can only bring in 3 of your own troops. Shining Force and Fire Emblem let you bring double that. Obliviously, characters not participating in battle do not earn experience. After deploying your "army", the characters move around the map in order of their SPEED status and try to hit each other. Higher the SPEED, the sooner that characters turn. This aspect of the game I actually would have enjoyed if it wasn't so broken. There are something like 20 different job classes in this game. Each one has different stats. Example: a Ninja has higher speed than say a black mage. Not only that but many actions are time sensitive. A ninja can walk up and smack an enemy soldier twice before said Black Mage's spell even casts. That's right sports fans. Magic is not instantly casted, the higher tier the spell, the higher the wait time. I used to think that this was great, an old school throwback to Final Fantasy 4. But in practically, what this does is make a lot, and I do mean a lot, of the jobs in FFT absolutely worthless. This brings me to the jobs system:

It fucking blows ass. In addition to Exp Levels you also have job levels via Final Fantasy 5. But instead of finding crystal shards, you have to level certain jobs to a specific level in order to unlock the higher tier jobs. You start out with the 2 basic jobs: Squire and Chemist. Now if you take Squire to job level 2, you can unlock Knight and if you take Chemist to level 2, you unlock Priest and Wizard. Notice the names of the latter jobs, nice fucking translation, Square. But it's a pretty simple concept except for the more advanced jobs where you'll need multiple jobs at certain levels. You want to unlock Samurai? All you need to do is get a level 3 Knight, Level 4 Monk, and a level 2 Lancer. Lancer?! What the fuck is a lancer? I think they meant Dragoon, but whatever. So what this game does is force you to waste time on shitty jobs in order to unlock the good jobs. I guess that's where the Tactics comes from since if you want to have a good team, you need to spend time leveling with a bunch of useless shitty jobs that you won't touch again after you unlock the hidden job. Hmmm, this kind of reminds me of the whole concept of Final Fantasy XI. Anyways, now there are the three ultra hidden jobs that can be unlocked by spending time leveling pretty much every job. For all your hard work you are rewarded with the coveted Mime, Dancer, and...

Bard! Yeah that's exactly what I wanted for countless hours of level grinding. A team of fucking Edwards. Thank you Square, and allow me to bend over again for a second pounding. Oh, one more thing I should mention about the whole job system is that its character exclusive. Unlocking a job on one character is good for that and only that character.

For a game with "Tactics" in the title there is very little tactics or strategy required. In the storyline battles, which encompass about 95% of the game, the enemies' levels do not increase at all, yet the mobs in the random map battles do. So if you are having a problem completing a story based mission, then go grind a few levels in the random battles then rape the mission fight. This can be done as soon as the world map becomes open to you. In fact you can get to level 99 in the first chapter and have all jobs unlocked, no fucking joke.

How is this accomplished? Well the brilliant team at Square decided that as well as the enemies on ONLY the random battles matching your current levels you also should get full Exp and JP (Job Points) for beating on your own team mates. You heard me right, you get just as much Exp and JP hitting your own guys as you do hitting an enemy. A common strategy is to kill all but one enemy on a given map, then beat the crap out of your own team until you have gained enough Levels and Jobs levels. Wow, that's really strategic.

Now if the game wasn't easy enough it hands you the Trump Card that is Orlandu aka TG Cid. He can literally solo the rest of the game once you add him to your team. But it must be a pain in the ass to unlock such a bad-ass character right? Nope, he joins automatically through the storyline. You have to try to fail at this game. It is that easy and devoid of any real challenge.

Now for some reason people still seem to hold this game in high regard. It's not the worst game ever made, but it is one of the easiest, broken, simple and least rewarding strategy games. No bonus endings, no branching storyline paths, no new game plus, and no hard or ultimate difficulties. But wait! You can get Cloud on your team and he joins at level one whereas the rest of your team is fifty plus. So that tacks on another couple hours into the game.

Fire Emblem is Chess.
Final Fantasy Tactics is fucking Checkers.

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