Final Fantasy Tactics : War of The Lions (henceforth known as FFT:WOTL) is a port of Final Fantasy Tactics from the PS1 to the PSP. It was released in may 2007, 10 years after the original. The game was also ported to mobile in recent years but for this review I am strictly focusing on the PSP version.
I’m not going to re-write everything you can already read on Wikipedia to pad out a review. You can find all the details of the game here
Before I share my opinions on a game I like to look at what it came with.
FFT:WOTL has gorgeous box art. Take a look.
FFT:WOTL also includes a beautiful full color manual packed to the brim with character back story, class abilities and information about the game play.
Overall the package is very satisfying. One of my favorite things to do before I start a new game is look everything over and read the manual. Something that’s completely absent in 2016.
The proper way to port a “classic”…mostly
FFT:WOTL is a great port. The port includes new cinematics to expand the story, new jobs, new characters and new missions. The game also features a new multiplayer feature that I’m sure would add a lot of replay value if I wanted it. The only downsides to this port are the immense slowdown when casting spells and the stretched aspect ratio. The entire game is in 16:9 and it’s a quick and dirty stretch. Some people may dig it but fortunately for those who don’t there is a plugin that fixes this!
The plugin is an essential install. There is one to change the aspect ratio of the screen back to 4:3 during game play (cinematics retain 16:9) and there is another to fix the slowdown when casting a spell!
You can find the patches and installation instructions here. If your google is strong you can also find a pre-patched ISO.
The plugins fix the only technical issues with FFT:WOTL. It’s an improvement over the original game and It features an excellent story full of surprises and interesting characters. FFT:WOTL is considered a true classic. It’s on every top 10 list you can find on a console flooded with incredible games. What could someone possibly hate about this game? Well…just about everything. I can’t fucking stand this game. After 40+ hours I’ve finally given up. I can’t bear to play it anymore.
I hate this game
Fuck this game. I’ve restarted this game more times then I can count. The game is relentless in its unfair difficulty and I find all the systems at play to be incredibly obtuse.
Today’s Era of games are practically “walking simulators”. They are incredibly easy and hold your hand every step of the way. This makes going back to older games very hard for most but that’s not the issue here. I was born in 1986. I’m from an Era where games were difficult and we’re made even more difficult for the NA market to prevent you from beating it in a 2 day rental period. Games were made difficult to eat your quarters.
I’ve beat Mega Man, I’ve beat Contra, I’ve beat ghosts and goblins hell I’ve beat all 5 “SoulsBourne” games. The difference is these games get the difficulty balance right. They are hard, but you learn from each mistake and each time you progress further. FFT:WOTL is difficult because it’s poorly designed.
At no point does FFT:WOTL ever explain any of the systems to you. It’s up to you to figure out the complex menus and game mechanics. FFT:WOTL does include a lengthy tutorial but it’s outside of game play. You can select it from the main menu but without actually starting the game, nothing is in context. I highly suggest reading the manual before you start. Hell, keep it nearby while you play.
I skipped the tutorial since I’ve played a lot of RPG’s over the years and they usually brief you on game mechanics as they introduce them. I read the manual which covered the basics so I should have been good to go. Not a fucking chance. The start of FFT:WOTL is like going into an exam without taking the course leading up to it. It’s like playing chess without knowing how any of the pieces work.
Right from the starting missions you will get your ass handed to you. You’ll go back and read the tutorial and this time parts of it will make sense because you’ve experienced the game play. You’ll restart the level and you’ll still get your ass kicked and you’ll have no idea what you’re doing wrong.
Within the first few missions you hit a massive roadblock. I couldn’t beat it no matter how many tactics I tried. Upon googling it every post and site I read said the only way past it is to go grind the first mission over and over again until you can muscle your way through it. This is the 3rd or 4th mission and the only way past is to grind???? Fuck that.
THIS IS BAD GAME DESIGN
Many posters even recommend changing every units class to a class that can learn “auto potion” and then grind the first level for hours until you can learn it. Every single time I was stuck and went looking for answers I always found different ways of breaking the game. Having trouble beating a boss? Run in circles for 99 turns powering up your character until you can 1 shot him. Maybe he uses a certain attack and it turns out a certain armor negates that damage. The game never tells you this but Google will.
THIS IS BAD GAME DESIGN
Certain classes and weapons work well against each other. That’s RPG gaming 101. FFT:WOTL never tells you any of this so it’s up to you to die over and over on a mission trying to learn what works.
Another major issue I have with the game is the inability to view enemy actions. The camera is fucking terrible and often times you can’t see exactly where an enemy is casting a spell. Spells take time to cast and usually you will have the opportunity to move your units before it goes off. Spells also have the option of choosing to cast on a particular set of tiles or a unit. If you select the unit the spell will cast wherever the unit moves to. The problem is you can’t check which area or which unit the enemy is casting a spell on. You have no idea if they are casting it on the tile or the unit. Many times I lost units because I was unable to view what the enemy was doing!!!
THIS IS BAD GAME DESIGN
Did I mention the camera sucked? Yeah it’s garbage. You can zoom in and rotate it but quite often I couldn’t see the tiles properly no matter how I moved the camera. Quite often I would move a unit to a tile that looked like I would be in range for attack only to find out there was an obstruction or the enemy was too far away. Once you move you can’t move again. If you make a poor move because the camera was terrible you’re fucked.
FUCK THIS GAME
Every other SRPG or CRPG I’ve played gives you a clear indication of what works well against what and an easy and intuitive way to view your opponent’s actions and movement. Not FFT:WOTL
I tried so hard to love FFT:WOTL but I just can’t. I want to say its a product of its time but I don’t think I would have liked it then either. The story is excellent and the game is worth it for that alone if you can put up with the frustration. I enjoyed the story so much that I went and read a synopsis on what I missed.
The next time you think about playing FFT:WOTL, don’t. Go play Matsuno’s superior Srpg in Tactics Ogre : Let Us Cling Together.