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December 19 2007
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions - PSP Review
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Square-Enix arrive with a monster game.
Nowadays, itís nothing unusual for an old game to get remade with all the bells and whistles of the modern day games. Many times this leads to a fairly average release and even loses the nostalgia factor. Square-Enix seemed to have avoided this approach with Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions on PSP, and have instead more or less made an exact port of the game with a few changes. The weird thing is though, 10 years later, the game still holds up beautifully. Read on for more...

Now I never got a chance to play the original all those years ago on the original Playstation console, but I had heard of it. People were amazed by a game with such a deep complex story for its time, and believe it or not it still does the job nicely even now! Itís the usual Final Fantasy affair, full of political conflict, religious mayhem, betrayal and so on.

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Cut-scenes are very impressive.
Basically, the king of Ivalice (remember that delightful place from Final Fantasy XII?) has recently passed on, leaving things a bit chaotic. Two dukes of the land are (forgive the lame joke) duking it out for the crown. Meanwhile, players find themselves, as two apprentice knights, thrust in the middle of this conflict when they are charged with tracking down the kidnapped princess, and eventually are pushed into the inevitable War of the Lions. Okay, now letís get this straight Ė this plot is nothing if not confusing as all hell. There are so many side plot offshoots, random tangents, and external characters that you are going to find yourself lost very quickly. Luckily, the horrid confusion that was prevalent due to the translation errors and such in the original release is not here in the PSP release, meaning that, yes it still is easy to get lost, but itís much easier to find your way back on track.

Readers who have enjoyed games such as Disgaea will instantly find themselves at home here when it comes to gameplay. Rather than the usual third-person turn based action gameplay of typical Final Fantasy releases, The War of the Lions takes a much more strategic-based approach, giving you a battle field where you must move your characters around individually and set up attacks. Once you have done this with each character, it becomes the enemies turn.

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Pop Quiz: What are those birds?
Each character in your party is assigned a particular Ďjobí which defines what sort of character they are in battle. They then have the possibility of a second job, which allows you to really develop and customise your characters in your own way. The result of this is a deep and rather engaging character customisation system that really makes you wanting to use all of your characters rather than sticking to a select few, as is often the case in many other RPGs. Unfortunately, the drawback to this is that, due to there being no real tutorial (well, there is, but itís not part of the campaign Ė you have to play it separately) or anything of the like, you really are thrown into the deep end and will probably find yourself getting absolutely flogged at the beginning til you find your feet.

There are also two multiplayer modes available via ad-hoc. One is co-operative, where you and a friend play through the campaign together, while the other is a 1-on-1 competitive battle. Neither are particularly amazing as both really require each player to be about the same level as the other, in-game and out, but itís a decent enough add-in that might get a few extra hours out of the already ample game.

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You have to love the art style here.
Regardless, combat is definitely something that is going to keep you interested even if the story doesnít. However, thatís not to say itís without its problems. For one, the camera, while possible to manipulate to some degree, often wonít allow you to get the optimal view of the battle field (presented in a 3D isometric way), and can occasionally cause a few problems. Itís far from game-destroying, but it certainly can be frustrating when you canít actually see what square the enemy is on properly and takes three turns to do what should have taken one.

The War of the Lions also doesnít really suit casual pick-up-and-play gamers really, as each battle requires a significant amount of study and planning in order to successfully advance through the game. For most of us, that is great, but for the handful of gamers out there who have a PSP only to play on the bus or for brief periods of time, this probably isnít going to be the game for you. To be honest though, the problems stop here as otherwise, this is an incredibly well put together release.

This is evident when you look at the game. It looks beautiful, even for a 10 year old title. It holds all the character and style of the original PSOne release, and adds to it with beautiful cell-shaded cut-scenes to help advance the story. While it might not be the shiniest piece of work on the system, everything, including menus, characters, levels and effects, looks brilliant. Itís amazing how good a 10 year old game can look.

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Hmm it's getting a bit dark.
Unfortunately, audio on the other hand is a little inconsistent. Great voices and music are definitely strong points here, but sound effects leave much to be desired and almost seem as if they were directly ported from the original without any sort of remastering at all. Pretty average move on Square-Enixís behalf there, but I suppose they still serve their purpose.

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions was a brilliant game when it hit our shelves 10 years ago for the original Playstation. Surprisingly, the game seems to have only gotten better with age. Sure it might not be entirely suited to the mobile nature of a handheld console, but this is still one of the finest releases for the PSP thus far and deserves a home in any gamerís collection. Final Fantasy fans and newcomers alike are going to find an incredibly engaging and rewarding experience with this one.

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse.
GRAPHICSBeautiful. Brilliant art style, excellent cut-scenes and extremely well presented.
SOUNDMixed bag... Excellent music and voice, sub-par effects.
GAMEPLAYTAddictive, engaging, deep, and at-times overwhelming.
VALUEAnywhere between 20 and 80 hours of gameplay here depending on how you play, with a few multiplayer modes for those keen.
OVERALLIn short, buy it. More lengthy response: BUY IT NOW! Excellent game, though not suited to casual mobile gamers.

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