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

By Aria DiMezzo 30.06.2015 7

Review for Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions on Android

The gaming world has been playing the Final Fantasy Tactics series for nearly twenty years; it has been playing it for so long that the original could almost have been made for the Super Nintendo (and the graphics suggest it might have begun development as a SNES title). While the series has generally become lighter in tone, the original had a notoriously dark and realistic story, which, until the very last part of the game, was deep and thought-provoking. When coupled with the best iteration of the Job System yet, Final Fantasy Tactics proved a success, but certainly not a mainstream success. The series grew more popular with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and Square-Enix has modified the original and now delivered it to a new audience. Is it worth playing for those who played it on the original PlayStation? Is it worth playing for those groomed on the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance series? Cubed3 seeks to answer.

It has to be asked: What in the world happened to the dialogue? How did the travesty that is the dialogue of Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions come to be? What happened to the dialogue of the original, and why was it deemed to be not good enough? Why is the dialogue here so bad?

There is no excuse for this. The dialogue in The War of the Lions wishes it could be as good as the dialogue in Two Worlds, which, for those unaware, was shredded for its dialogue. At least the dialogue here is not voice-acted, so there is that saving grace, but lines like Argath's (who replaced the much more eloquent Argus) "Our luck is ill, that we should chance upon fiends such as these in the wood" might leave players wishing there was voice acting, just to find humor in hearing serious actors attempt to say things like that with a straight face. "Mayhap your ears fail you."

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions on Android

The most bizarre aspect of this full rewrite of the script is that the original Final Fantasy Tactics did not have this problem. It had a circuitous plot that was extremely confusing at times, but it was confounding because so much was going on, not because the characters had no idea how to convey a simple thought to one another. This is a real problem with The War of the Lions, because the story is what makes it worth playing; without the story, it's just a series of tactical RPG battles. This dialogue makes it impossible to take the story seriously.

At its core, most of the gameplay is unchanged, which means that a number of maps will be visited, on which tactical battles are fought. Anyone familiar with Ogre Battle or Disgaea, the latter of which is superior in every conceivable way, will know what to expect from these battles. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions is in the middle between JRPG and tactical RPG, as it tries to appeal to fans of both genres without alienating the other, and the result is a lot of wasted opportunities. Only two stats really matter for each character (Brave and Faith), and the rest are simply a function of character level, Job, and current equipment. A big deal is also made of Zodiac signs, but the effect is negligible, because a character's Zodiac sign can't be modified to adapt to new circumstances, so it can't willingly be capitalised on.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions on Android

Each character can take a Job, and levelling Jobs will unlock new Jobs for that character, but the number of choices here really serves to harm the experience, when it gets down to it. In a random battle, a party of five is used to overcome the enemies; in a scripted battle, a party of four is used. Although there is some room to play around within the archetypes, it pretty much is necessary to play through each battle with a tank character, a melee damager, a magical damager, and a healer. Whether a Summoner or Black Mage is chosen as the magical damager is really the extent of the choice; one or the other is necessary to overcome most battles without unnecessary struggle. Because of the number disparity between random and scripted battles, this also means that at least one character regularly misses out on JP (which is earned by taking actions and used to purchase new abilities) and EXP (which determines Character Level). All in all, it's not good design.

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions also features touchscreen controls as poorly optimised as the mobile port of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and features a camera that is just as uncooperative. Although zooming in and out (something for which there is no use whatsoever) has been added, the camera is still locked into only four horizontal positions. Enemies will sometimes stand on squares that are literally impossible to target with the touchscreen controls. The original didn't have this problem, because choosing a target consisted of moving a cursor with a D-Pad; this port requires touching the enemy or tile, and sometimes that's impossible due to trees that seem to be located where they are precisely to cause this problem. The Siedge Weald is a particularly notable offender.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions on Android

It is easier than ever to select a character's facing direction at the end of that character's turn, but absolutely nothing was done to improve movement or targeting, things that are both multitudes more important than after-turn facing. Luckily, a confirmation dialogue that was irritating in the original persists into this port, because it is needed here; it's so easy to move to the wrong tile or target the wrong character.

These problems all could have been fixed, and they've been well-known for almost two decades. Instead, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions comes to mobile with all the flaws of the original and new flaws sprinkled in. Even the Menu System is unchanged, though players are now expected to operate menus by tapping; a superimposed directional pad, like that made for the Android port of Final Fantasy, would have significantly improved the experience.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions on Android

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Final Fantasy Tactics was a cult classic and a flawed masterpiece. Not only do all of these flaws carry over into the mobile port, but new flaws have been introduced. Some of these are so severe that they destroy the entire experience: enemies being immortal because they stood in a tile that can't be targeted; random abilities, characters, and places being renamed to make even less sense ("Basic Skill" became "Fundaments"… That's right. "Fundaments."); and, above all else, dialogue that ruins any possibility of enjoying the story. Final Fantasy Tactics did so much and provided such entertainment that it's almost sinful to say this of its mobile port, but… Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions should be avoided.

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

When I wrote this review, I'd somehow missed the fact that the Android game is a port of the PSP version. It doesn't change anything, since all the changes are still ultimately stacked against the original (and it definitely doesn't make the dialogue any better), but I'd somehow missed the very existence of the PSP version until after I'd written this.

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

I'd started playing the PSP version a few months back. Wasn't sure which one to play - PS1 or PSP. The two games have their fair share of differences, but if I recall right, the redone cut-scenes in the PSP version are really good.

I loved the psp version of this game. The physical controls helped a lot.

I play games... sometimes.

The touchscreen controls undoubtedly hurt this port. Thanks to the confirmation windows that used to irritate me, navigating the menus isn't too bad. It's movement and targeting that need attention--and the dialogue, but I've harped on that enough.

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Ozzys Soap (guest) 25.03.2016#5

Four chars in story battles? May I ask if author finished at least second chapter?
Another problem is team squad...one tank, one damage dealer and so on...really? Party full of summoners is simply tearing that game apart. So is one bard, two dancers and two mimes. But i guess its too ungeneric.
Ive read only to learn, if that crippling slo-mo from psp version is still there. No info.
And calling disgaea better in every aspect...story? Job system? Flexibility? Tactics? In fft having high enough numbers doesnt mean auto win.
Thats written by the guy with over 1000 hrs in Disgaeas and like 2000 in FFT.
Cheers.

I've been playing Tactics since it was a PSX game, yes, and, at the time of review, wasn't even aware there had been a PSP version, so my experience with FFT goes a long way back, indeed. But you're absolutely right, I should have clarified what I meant about four characters. Often you have story characters who join the party and are in the battle, leading to sometimes seven (I'm pretty sure I've seen seven, maybe even eight, but I haven't played in many months) characters under control, only four of which are freely selectable and of which only four can be player-created. The first battle of the game, one of the story battles, has more than four characters involved--so, I mean, c'mon, I obviously didn't mean that only four characters ever took part in a battle. I was referring to the fact that whatever team of 5 the player uses for random battles becomes a team of 4 for story battles, with (often AI-controlled, but that does decrease as the game goes on, which is why I didn't bring it up) other characters that aren't specifically chosen by the player supplementing. You get to choose four, and the game forcefully supplements this with characters of its own choosing, which I do consider to be a bad thing. It does decrease as the game proceeds, but it's always present.

Fair enough, though, I probably don't have 2000 hours in Final Fantasy Tactics, but I would hazard the guess that no one does--2000 hours is a LOT of time. Higher numbers certainly does mean an auto-win, though, except in those missions where a suicidal NPC has to be protected, which has its own problems as a mechanic. Comparing between Disgaea and FFT, I absolutely stand by what I said. Tactically, they're the same, with the exception that facing in Disgaea affects damage rather than accuracy. With the geo panels, I would even say that Disgaea invokes more tactical nuance. It certainly has a superior job system, with far more ways to customize a character (want a sword wielding fire mage? You can do that): leveling equipment, leveling weapons, leveling the job, reincarnating and changing jobs--there's no comparison. Disgaea's Job System is clearly more robust. As to the story, once upon a time I'd have given the stories more equal consideration, but the butchering of the dialogue lends Disgaea victory here; Final Fantasy Tactics contains some of the worst dialogue I've ever read, and I've read Ray Bradbury! Smilie Since the plot of the game is delivered through these shudderingly bad attempts to emulate Shakespeare, it severely harms the experience. It felt like watching an elementary school perform Macbeth.

I experienced no slow motion, though, which would indicate it's not there. Are you referring to random dialogue slow downs? Those were in the original, as well--the opening text crawl took forever because, at times it literally added one character per second. I didn't notice any of that in the Android version. As I said, I've never played the psp version, so I may be misunderstanding what you're referring to, but I didn't encounter anything that really would have counted as slow motion.

You're absolutely right that my criticism about being limited to character archetypes isn't valid, as I basically said "If you're playing the game normally, then you're playing the game normally." But you're right--even a single calculator can wipe the map. So I'll have to revisit that and try to figure out what I was trying to say, and see about getting it amended so it's not nonsense. Thanks for pointing that out. Smilie

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?
Yaseeda (guest) 04.07.2016#7

Original ps1 version of this game had pretty rushed translation and only thanks to War of Lions I managed to fully understand some lines and events... Giving low score just because you are not enjoying new Shakespearish dialogues, which actualy fit the medieval environment of game pretty well, is wrong.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I have seen numerous debates with skilled translators about this, and almost all of them confirmed that this implementation reflects original japanese script way better.

Liking or disliking is personal choice, but in terms of accuracy war of lion offers better translation than original, and, quite honestly, retranslation was the main reason why I got this version.

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