576: Final Fantasy Tactics / The War of the Lions

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576: Final Fantasy Tactics / The War of the Lions

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions for Final Fantasy Tactics / The War of the Lions for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder that where the feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but keeping it brief is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mostly reading out essays. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

NB: This was intended to be Issue 550, but we have decided to postpone this into Volume 12, date TBC.
Our apologies for any disappointment this may cause.

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Re: 550: Final Fantasy Tactics / The War of the Lions

Post by ashman86 »

Watching a friend play Final Fantasy Tactics is one of my earliest memories of the series. The game's story of political intrigue told by cute, noseless characters completely defied the expectations I'd formed from seeing ads and posters for Final Fantasy VII. Where was the guy with the comically huge sword and spiky hair (turns out he was there, but my friend hadn't found him yet)? Where were the black power plants spewing pollution into the sky? Where was that motorcycle?

Those weren't present in this more traditionally high fantasy strategy game, but that made it no less compelling to me.

Because I didn't have a Playstation, I held out hope over the following years that the game would receive a port to PC like FF7 and FF8 had, but I never had any such luck. Instead, I finally got my hands on a copy after picking up a PS2 with money earned from my first-ever summer job, and I found that even though it was now a last-gen title, it was effortless to fall in love with thanks to a story that seemed more mature than its peers (even if that original translation was *rough*) and a job system that offered infinite possibilities.

Years later, I'd buy the War of the Lions re-release and fall in love with it all over again. Though that game suffered from some slowdown that I didn't remember being present in the original PSX release, the novelty of playing my favorite tactical RGP on the go never wore off, and I have fond memories of grinding my way to unlocking the new Death Knight class on my PSP in the hallways of my wife's university as she attended her night class.

Thanks to the availability of a solid smartphone port, it's maybe more accessible now than ever. I think Tactics holds up even after all these years, though I recommend it to friends with some caveats: the difficulty can be extremely punishing, especially to new players who may not understand how to optimize their parties. Leveling in the game is an oldschool grind and can feel like a chore. The tried and true method of farming JP from an enemy by surrounding them with your team and taking turns hurting and healing them and one another is absurd, plain and simple. On the other hand, trying to stick to the critical path without spending time optimizing your fighters will likely end in a lot of frustration.

But if you're willing to put the time into it and to learn the game's secrets and mechanics, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a better game in the genre.

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Re: 550: Final Fantasy Tactics / The War of the Lions

Post by jackthebluemage »

Very glad you're covering this one, excited to hear what you have to say about it. I wrote the HTML-based guide for the game on GameFAQs, so if anyone's stuck, feel free to hit me up on Twitter. #1 thing going in--use rolling save games in multiple slots.

I'm most curious to hear what the panel has to say on the theater-based design of the game's presentation, especially from anyone with background in such. From the way spell effects mimic stage lighting on the battlefield to how characters are stabbed in cutscenes, I don't think I've ever seen a game lean into theater as much as this one does.

And maybe by the time this episode is released, we'll know more about the heavily rumored Tactics Ogre Reborn, which shares a bunch of DNA with this game.

Edit: Tactics Ogre Reborn is coming in November! That would be a good one to cover next volume! 😉

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Re: 550: Final Fantasy Tactics / The War of the Lions

Post by the_t_time »

Good lord, I have been listening to this podcast for YEARS and am so excited to see you finally covering what may be my favorite game of all time. I take the chance to replay this game literally every time I get a new device, whether its a tablet, smart phone or computer. If it runs FFT, I will use it as an excuse to replay this masterpiece.

I first came across this game as a seven or eight year old when it first came out and obviously did not understand it at all, but I was instantly mesmerized by the music and art style. In middle school I came into possession of my own copy and it was the first game I remember sneaking out of bed to play in the middle of the night. I was totally hooked. I think my favorite aspect of FFT is the ability to set passive abilities from one class onto another allowing for some truly game breaking character builds, such as putting a time mage's teleport onto a monk using the ninja's two weapon ability, creating an absolute beast who can warp almost anywhere on the field and one hit most enemies by the end of the game.

Of course, no discussion of FFT is complete without commenting on the absolutely brutal difficulty of that one Wiegraf fight. I'll never forget my first playthrough being stuck in Riovannes getting stomped over and over again until my Ramza, built with the two punch monk build mentioned earlier, dodged Wiegraf's killing blow and hit him with a counter, killing him instantly. While I'm glad the difficulty was nerfed in War of the Lions so that more people could enjoy the game, beating Wiegraf with his original PS1 difficulty remains one of my crowning gaming achievements, even if it was purely due to RNG.

The story remains the best of any FF game as well, with the political intrigue surrounding Ramza and Delita being one of the most intriguing stories of any game to date. While the Tactics Advance games go a long way towards scratching the gameplay itch of the original, I would do unspeakable things for a proper sequel with the mature plot and storytelling of the original. I love this game.

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Re: 550: Final Fantasy Tactics / The War of the Lions

Post by SludgeWizard »

Final Fantasy Tactics is my favorite of the franchise, my favorite game on the PlayStation, and as far as I’m concerned the only game ever released for the PSP.

But I just want to talk about Velius (or Belias if you’d like, but He will always be Velius to me)

Velius is one of the great bosses of gaming. His mere presence dwarfs the rest of the game He is in. Everything both before and after Velius is compared and found wanting. He’s there to show you that your journey up to this point has been a breezy, half-effort joke and He will show you with a Cyclops from the sky that clears your entire party before you even have your boots on. He’s there to grind the naïve and unprepared to dust beneath his blackened hooves.

I’m not a Souls guy, and maybe if I had first played Tactics today I wouldn’t have the patience to fight the same boss seven hundred times in a row, but I couldn’t get enough of it back then. He was a constant talking point between my friends and I and He just whipped everybody who played the game. Maybe He was OP, and maybe it was just that I was 13 years old, but He was my first Super Boss. If you could beat Velius, you were not a 13 year old boy, but a 13 year old man.

I still remember how my cousin had to restart his entire playthrough because he didn't stagger his saves, and could not defeat the unshakeable God-King at the end of chapter 3. I don't know how that didn't break him, but he still considers it one of his favorite games to this day.

Long live Velius, the Horned One.

Just saw that this episode has been pushed and won’t be out this year.
Bummer, but Velius is patient.

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Re: 550: Final Fantasy Tactics / The War of the Lions

Post by Seph »

One of my friends has been telling me for years that this game is the best in its genre and maybe the best Final Fantasy game of all. I bought the War of the Lions version on my Vita many years ago and it was only in the last year I decided to finally give it a shot and see what the fuss is about.

To preface my opinions, I have played the Advance version (fine, but this I was young when I played it) and I've sunk a lot of time into the Shining Force and Advance Wars series (and others), so this genre is not new to me. However, I found this game very difficult to get into and once I did start to find my way I kept hitting brick walls that just zapped away my enthusiasm.

I'd say a lot of this is down to the job system, something I've had some experience with but not to this degree. I'm not saying I need a game to hold my hand, but a bit of guidance as to how the system works for those who aren't familiar with it would have been helpful. The fact I can't see how to unlock certain roles and the level requirements is a bit naff really, as I still really have no idea how to get them. I know I can look them up online but it's like how FromSoft games sell you DLC and you need to consult a guide to see how to access them. It's really not helpful.

The fact that permadeath is a thing is incredibly harsh. I'm not sure if this was explained, but I was shocked to see characters disappear forever the first time. Also, when you send characters on a mission it's not made clear that they are only available again if you return to the town where you sent them from (I think). As it stands I have several characters I can't access because I'm locked out of this area. You can all talk about how genius this is makes the game more difficult (which is supposedly fun), but that is broken to me. If that happened in a modern game it would be patched out.

The difficulty spikes make the game feel cheap and not fun, and with online gaming discourse being full of smug dickheads who scoff and tell you to git gud (I read someone say that someone once beat this game with just Ramza - so see, it's not hard to you idiot), it's not a game I would recommend nor want to sink more hours in trying to level up characters. Especially as grinding in this game really does feel like a complete slog. At least in other RPGs battles can be over in seconds.

I'm currently stuck on the final boss of chapter 2 and I don't care to go on. Suddenly my rend speed has stopped hitting (where it had no problems in this fight before) and I can't get ahead. It's a shame as I was enjoying the story up to this point and I like a game that's not afraid to kill of characters. But I don't have the energy or patience to spend hours gaining abilities and hoping for good RNG with a boss fight that just feels cheap.

I've been very negative, and that's unfair as I did enjoy the game and the feeling you get when winning a fight cleanly is great. As mentioned earlier, I do enjoy this genre and I was liking this game, but the thought of either starting over or leveling up for hours isn't appealing to me.

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