Review: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (iPhone)

FFTiOS.jpg

When the original Final Fantasy Tactics was released, many fans of Square Enix’s prized series were caught off guard to say the least. Instead of following the same formula that had proven successful for every other FF release, Tactics added an entirely new strategic element by placing combatants in a battlefield. Although it carried a relatively steep learning curve compared to other titles in the series, the original Tactics has undoubtedly stood the test of time due to its addictive and challenging nature. After fourteen years and multiple platform adaptations, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, a port of the remastered PSP edition, has finally made its way to iOS. You certainly do get a lot of content if you pay the hefty $16USD price tag, but this game isn’t as polished as one would hope for.

For those of you unfamiliar with this installment in the Final Fantasy series, Tactics took on a significantly different approach to gameplay. In typical FF games, the heroes are lined up on the opposite side of the screen to their enemies. Tactics utilizes 3D isometric playing fields – meaning that each combatant is free to roam around a grid-like battlefield. The battlefields can have fairly complex terrain; attacking an enemy from a higher location can make your strikes do more damage, and sheltering your hero behind a wooden pillar can keep you out of a foe’s line of sight. In addition to the traditional turn-based gameplay style, the added challenge of lining your team up in strategic formations can make the difference between a close victory or an all-out bloodbath.

As with other FF games, there’s plenty of customization available in terms of role-playing. There are tons of character classes to choose from, but only a few of them are available in the beginning. Each individual character will need to level up through jobs such as Chemist and Squire if they ever want to reach Summoner or Ninja status. You can only have one official job that you gain experience for at any given time, but each character can use any abilities they’ve learned. For example, a Ninja with Chemist abilities will be adept at melee combat and should have no trouble healing himself. As such, it’s very rewarding to train your squad to be masters of several professions so that your crew will be able to adapt to various situations.

The computer AI is fairly intelligent and the types of enemies you face vary as the game progresses, so you shouldn’t find yourself getting bored with monotonous situations. While the majority of the battles consist of evenly matched combatants, the occasional boss fight will really require you to bring your A-game. Sometimes all it takes is uncovering a specific enemy’s weakness to turn a seemingly impossible fight into a cakewalk, so it’s necessary to explore all of your character’s options.

As is the case with many touch-related applications, the control scheme can easily make or break any game. Luckily, the controls here feel very natural and shouldn’t take too long to get accustomed to. A helpful in-game tutorial can walk you through all of the nooks and crannies, but most of the controls are fairly self-explanatory without this guide. Rotating the battlefield is simply performed by twirling your finger around the screen, and the zoom controls are nearly identical to that of the Safari web browser. Occasionally, you may have a problem where your click is slightly off of where you intended to select, but these mistakes are easily corrected. Basically, if you have any experience using your iPhone or iPad, then you’ll feel right at home with the controls.

While the gameplay is certainly entertaining and the amount of content should keep any gamer busy for hours on end, it’s disconcerting that this release has barely changed since the original Tactics came out fourteen years ago. Even the PSP version had support for multiplayer ad-hoc play, but sadly there aren’t any competitive modes for the iPhone. Furthermore, this game is a bit of a resource hog, and you can expect sub-par framerates whenever most spells are cast – even on an iPhone 4! Tactics on the iPhone feels like a quick and dirty port, and the lack of polish significantly detracts from the overall experience.

In the end, the enjoyment to be had from this game varies greatly from person to person. If you’ve never played any iteration of Final Fantasy Tactics and have no other mobile devices, then there’s a great chance that you’ll have a lot of fun here, especially if you’ve been on the hunt for an RPG that requires a significant amount of strategy. On the other hand, if you’ve owned any other version of Tactics, then it’s going to be very difficult to justify purchasing this release for iOS.

TryIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Interesting and unconventional gameplay mechanics
+ Incredible amount of content for an iOS game
+ Control scheme is relatively easy to work with

Cons:
– No new content has been added
– This port doesn’t feel very polished
– Frame rate issues still persist and the game speed can be slow at time

Game Info:
Platform: iOS
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: 8/4/2011
Genre: Strategy RPG
Age Rating: 9+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

[nggallery id=2060]

About the Author

Andy is a 21 year old entering his junior year at UCONN, where he is also a member of the swim club and a regular improv and stand-up comic performing with the Reckless Gents. When he's not swimming, making people laugh, playing guitar, gambling in some online poker, and majoring in Management Information Systems, Andy is a passionate, opinionated gamer who loves to share his thoughts with other gamers. Before joining VGBlogger, Andy has written many reviews for a number of publications, including Gamer's Hell, Driver Heaven (now Gaming Heaven), and gotFrag's DPAD.