A warrior takes sword in hand, clasping a gem to his heart. Engraving vanishing memories into the sword, He places finely honed skills into the stone. Spoken from the sword, handed down from the stone… Now the story can be told…
That’s the intro for one of my favorite Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy Tactics!
The Zodiac Brave Story of Final Fantasy Tactics is one of the most enthralling tales in the several Final Fantasy universes. Although that’s just my opinion, I feel that most people who have played the game to its conclusion would agree with me. Taking several key Final Fantasy elements but using them in a unique way, a unique battle system, and an amazing soundtrack all culminate behind an amazing plot to tell the tale of the Zodiac Brave Story.
Given that Final Fantasy Tactics is an older Final Fantasy game, it has a turn-based fighting system. What makes Tactics’ turn based fighting system different from other Final Fantasy games, or even other turn based games from other franchises, is the arenas that the battles take place. Each battle is held in an arena map, complete with unique topography that players can use to their advantage or could become a hindrance. Because players must traverse the maps to get to their opponents before being able to deal damage, obstacles like rivers, mud, or lava instantly become a nuisance, or in a situation where you are trying to run away from enemies and heal, become your greatest defense.
Another interesting thing about the different maps’ topography is that each space has a height. The height of a space is indicated when highlighted and is definitely something to keep in mind. If you take a look at the image above, you’ll notice I’ve highlighted two spaces, one red and one white. Clearly there is a height difference here but there’s a reason I chose the red tile and not the tile directly adjacent to the white tile that is occupied by a soldier. For the duration of this explanation I’ll simply be referring to Height as H. In relation to the white tile, the tile occupied by the soldier is -1H. This soldier can still be struck by physical attacks from a unit that occupies the white tile, and conversely, the white tile is at risk from the soldier. However, this is where Tactics truly begin to play a roll in the game! Let’s say that both the Red tile and the White tile are occupied by units. They would be unable to strike each other with physical attacks! There are a few exceptions to this general rule though but that really depends on a units job and is generally a later game thing. In general, any tile that is -2H or more in relation to another tile can’t be hit by physical attacks. There are ways around this however, magic attacks, thrown items and certain Job moves would be able to strike from this -2H difference.
Another very interesting twist on the typical Job system in Final Fantasy was Tactics’ use of a Job Tree, effectively allowing any character to become anything they wanted. Certain jobs have requirements however. For instance, the simplest example of this and also the most difficult job to get to is the Mime. You need to reach the level requirement for Six different jobs before you can even unlock the job. But to reach those six jobs necessary for the Mime job, you need to go through practically every other job along the way. It’s a simple system but it can get confusing sometimes and it can become really time consuming as well. It creates a new reason to grind besides just money and levels. You want to improve your character so that they can learn new jobs, but to do so you need to grind a lot. This ends up extending the play time of your game a lot. And I mean a lot. Dozens of hours have been sunk into trying to obtain Ninjas, Dancers, Bards and Calculators.
Jobs can’t just be chosen willy nilly though. Each character has a Brave level and a Faith level. Sometimes they’re very close together, sometimes they’re really spread out. Each B/F spread has advantages for certain characters. In the image above, Vincent would make a great Monk as his B/F are both fairly high and fairly close together. Monks utilize both of these stats as they deal physical damage and magical damage. Brave dictates physical damage and Faith dictates magical damage. These numbers are random but only to an extent. It’s possible to predict who will be good in which areas based on their astrological sign. Yes, this game just got that much deeper. Each character has an astrological sign be it Libra, Virgo, Leo, or anything in between. These signs all have a specific B/F spread that they tend to lean toward. Obviously if you’re training a Samurai or a Lancer, you’ll want a character with higher Brave and the opposite goes for Black Mages and Summoners.
All of this amazing detail and design and I’ve not even mentioned the storyline at all. The plot of the game is amazing, strewn with subterfuge, strife, fall and triumph, and character growth. Perhaps one of my favorite thing about the story of Final Fantasy Tactics is how you can slowly see the characters grow as you progress through the timeline. Tactics is an amazing game, and if you’ve never played it before, I HIGHLY recommend you do. It’s good for dozens of hours of fun. Fans of mentally challenging games and Final Fantasy games alike are sure to be very pleased.
Oh and, the game features a Permadeath system on all characters that aren’t essential to the plot. You can’t toggle permadeath either so be extra careful!
My name is ChristianCoal, thanks for reading everyone!